3 Valuable Lessons I’ve Learned From Yoga Teacher Training

Listen to your body

When I’m working out in the gym, I’m constantly trying to keep up with myself. I listen to loud, fast-paced music to tune out from the world and get my head in the zone. My heart is racing and I’m not thinking about anything else other than counting down the repetitions. (Unless of course, when I’m on the treadmill there’s no stopping the endless train of thoughts that run in my head. No pun intended. “What shall I have for lunch? How did my favorite sock get lost in the dryer? Is that thing alive? Goddamn it, I hate running. RUNNNN!”

On the yoga mat, working out is a completely different experience.

Like many people, I was introduced to yoga as a way to stay in shape and improve my flexibility. Along the way, I realized that yoga is not just a form of exercise. Yoga works on so many levels – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. The first and perhaps most vital thing that yoga teaches is body awareness.

As I became more mindful of my feelings and reactions in my yoga practice during the teacher training, I began to notice that where I was in my practice was a reflection of where I was with myself at the moment.

What Is Yoga Nat Fay

On good days when I felt mostly positive, finding focus and balance came as easily as bringing my palms together in namaste. I would pull off any yoga asana (posture) with ease. I’d feel powerful and strong while especially in a Warrior 2 pose. These are the days when I’d walk out of class feeling like I could conquer the world.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, any negative thoughts, doubts or judgment would create resistance and tension in my body. When something weighs me down mentally, I felt the weight physically too. Yoga takes me to those places deep inside myself where my true emotions are hidden.

For me, the process of accepting my body was the perfect lesson in learning to deal with my ego in my practice. Finding my strengths and embracing my weaknesses is at the core of my ahimsa (non-violence) practice towards myself.
When I first learned how to do a headstand, I practiced a lot at home in front of the wall. Eventually, I challenged myself to move away from the safety of my ‘crutch’. For a brief moment I had no idea how to stop myself from falling — so I did. I let myself fall and landed on my back, but good thing I remembered a simple safety trick: tuck the chin in to chest to make sure the neck and spine are always protected.

 

Fay Hokulani Headstand

As soon as I picked myself up, I was ready to do it all over again. I didn’t think I’d overcome my fear of falling that quickly because I was dependent on the wall for months! I was excited about reaching my goal to finally pull off a perfect headstand with confidence, but I was also aware and respectful of my body’s physical limitations.

I took the pressure off by setting a rule to treat my body gently. I learned not to let my ego dictate how deep I would go into a pose or how far I’d push my body.  I’m not counting weights or repetitions; I’m not competing; I’m listening to my body.

Open your heart

I do enjoy taking the time to practice by myself at home as it allows me to move at my own pace and understand my body better. Sometimes I think I can get a little too comfortable in my alone-time that I forget how enjoyable it is to practice yoga with friends!

 My TT classmates having a little fun 'connecting' with each other!
My TT classmates having a little fun ‘connecting’ with each other!

On the first day of teacher training, we were asked to make a short introduction about ourselves and how our hearts found their way to yoga. I sensed that a few of us were quite shy and reserved; I felt the same way about myself in front a big group of strangers. I guess I was a little nervous about meeting so many new people. Little did I know over the next few months how much I would come to appreciate them and how quickly I would learn to let go of my own self-judgment and fears.

A few weeks into the training, our class of 30 students was split into smaller groups so we could take turns to teach and learn directly from each other. Sharing enormous passion for yoga created very strong bonds in my yoga circle.

The sense of community created strong friendships that have been rare in my life; I shall always treasure that time spent bonding with my classmates.

We are all teachers and students of life. As we grow, we help others to grow as well.
We are all teachers and students of life. As we grow, we help others to grow as well.

Love unconditionally

I think the point where we really got to be ourselves and got to know each other more personally happened outside the classroom. Arun and Prakash organized a day out for the class to practice Karma Yoga. No yoga mats required, all we needed was team effort!

 

It's the small things that can make a huge difference in our environment.
It’s the small things that can make a huge difference in our environment.

Karma Yoga is the path of selfless service which involves supporting and giving back to others without expecting anything in return. The way I understand it, Karma Yoga it is about giving love and loving unconditionally. Caring for the environment is one way we can give love to our planet.

It brings absolute joy and warmth to my heart to see these beautiful smiles. My lovely classmates and our teachers Arun (left), Prakash (right) and guest lecturer, Dr. Satyam Tripati after a lesson on Ayurveda.
It brings absolute joy and warmth to my heart to see these beautiful smiles. My lovely classmates and our teachers Arun (left), Prakash (right) and guest lecturer, Dr. Satyam Tripati after a lesson on Ayurveda.

I wish to express my gratitude for the practice of yoga that I have been taught by my extraordinary teachers, Arun and Prakash at Pure Yoga Singapore.

I learned so much from the 200-hour Hatha Yoga teacher training: a deeper understanding of yoga, body and mind awareness and kindness to all living things. I feel inspired to share this knowledge and insight and will make it my mission to pass the benefits of Yoga on to others.

 

 

Dedicate ‘Me-Time’

Iyengar Quote Nature

Practicing yoga gives me the much-needed quality me-time to stay centred and renewed. Share an Instagram photo of yourself enjoying some me-time and you could win one of 20 spots together with me on 12 February (next Thursday) at a Pure Yoga Universal class led by Copper Crow at 7:30PM, at Pure Yoga Ngee Ann City.

I look forward to trying this specialised style of yoga, which is a balance between strength and flexibility, while offering special techniques for focus, awareness and coordination. The 20 winners will also receive a complimentary 7-day pass at Pure Yoga after the session. Make sure you tag #puremetime @pureyogaofficial @fayhokulani when you submit your posts to qualify.

 I look forward to your Instagram posts!

A New Chapter Begins At Pure Yoga

Five years ago, I attended my first yoga class on a ‘hot date’ with Charles. He initiated the idea since he had a couple of trial passes to a 90-minute Bikram yoga class. We had just started dating and we were very keen on trying something new together…

I must admit that I didn’t fall in love with yoga immediately. In fact, I felt a little intimidated by it.

Thirty minutes into the class, I started to feel light-headed and had to lie on my mat in a child’s pose (aka balasana). Charles’s mat was soaked with sweat; he had to get another towel. His biggest struggle was maintaining his balance while trying to stretch his stiff muscles. But doing yoga is not about having a flexible body, it’s about working with your body. We knew this. But still. Bikram Yoga was haaaaaard. I thought I was going to pass out.

I was willing to give it another shot, in a non-heated room at least. Yoga wasn’t really Charles’s thing, but we trained together in the gym and played sports instead. I started getting into weight training which eventually led me into taking up a personal training course.

I wanted to work on my flexibility and soon found myself in another yoga class. And another. I continued to take classes sporadically over the years while doing my self-practice at home. I fell in love with it.

Simultaneously, I began transitioning away from occasional yo-yo dieting and strict workout plans focused on some number on the scale to a mentality of self-care and mindfulness.

Yoga taught me not to be so hard on myself in so many ways. It has given me an entirely different relationship with my body, where I judge it by what it can do, rather than its shape.

I thought about doing Yoga Teacher Training for a while…  I want to immerse myself in all aspects of yoga. I want to understand correct alignment, the history and philosophy of yoga, and deepen my meditation practice. I explored various possibilities on when and where I could do the teacher training.

If the circumstances weren’t right, I was fine to put it on hold. Perhaps it was a sign that I wasn’t ready?

Then, a week before Christmas, I found out that Pure Yoga was doing a teacher training on the ‘Roots of Hatha Yoga‘ between January until March.The timing is right for me. I decided to go for it!

Hatha Yoga provides a great foundation as I would learn basic postures (asanas), relaxation and breathing techniques, and terminology that is found in almost every other style of yoga.

Fay pure yoga
Sign me up!
pureyogasingapore
The newly revamped studio is conveniently located on the 18th floor of Ngee Ann City Takashimaya.

The teacher training is led by Arun and Prakash, who have profound depth of experience in Hatha yoga and also teach classes at the Pure Yoga studios in Ngee Ann City and Chevron House.

Here’s a glimpse at what the training looks like so far:

pure yoga teacher training prakash
Prakash explains the eight limbs of yoga.
pure yoga teacher training arun
Hatha yoga practice with Arun.
my pure yoga girlfriends
Lunch break with a few of my fellow yoginis.

The weekend schedule is pretty full-on, with training from 8am until 6.30pm.Weekday training is from 7pm until 9pm, which is more manageable for working professionals. The training time is well organised and every minute is used purposefully. I look forward to the practice everyday and connecting with the other students attending the course.

Nothing beats a room full of strong, shining yogis, on their mats, inspiring, challenging and sharing in this beautiful practice.