I just want to start off by apologizing for my lack of posts these past few days. Everyone for training has now arrived and I just completed day two of my teacher training. So far I am loving it and learning sooooo much!!!
Sunday was my first day waking up in Koh Samui and like I mentioned before, training didn't start until Monday so I had the full day to explore the island and relax before training began. Most of the students had arrived the previous day shortly after I got there but there were still more students arriving on the Sunday.
I woke up early after my long sleep Saturday and decided to go to the free am class to see what vikasa classes were all about. I really enjoyed this class and found the style of teaching and structure of the class was very similar to what I have been practicing back home at The Athletic Club. I would compare it to the intermediate classes at TAC, especially Neil's hot power class which was one of my favourite classes to take back home. Class went really well and I felt very strong and energized afterwards and was starting to get excited for teacher training and learning in this environment. The class was run by Craig who teaches at Vikasa but isn't part of the teachers training so I was looking forward to classes with Kosta and George.
After class a bunch of us sat down together to eat brunch. At Vikasa you only eat two meals a day; brunch and dinner. The food is amazing and we all just chatted and got to know each other better over brunch before heading to Chewang, one of the main beaches in Koh Samui. It wasn't the nicest day so we just stayed on the main street and browsed around at all the shops instead of going to the beach itself. We spotted at spa that had Thai Massages for 180Baht/hour which is about $6 Canadian. Theres a Thai massage studio across the street from us but they charge 300Baht so we decided to check this place out. It was a really nice spa and the staff was extremely friendly. This was my first Thai Massage of what I'm sure will be many, especially at that price. Thai Massage is like nothing I've ever experienced. They bend, twist and pull your body in the craziest positions and it surprisingly feels so good. Especially when practicing yoga so intensely, it's nice to have someone stretch your body for you and make you feel amazing without having to do any work and being in full relaxation. Thai massage isn't for everyone but I definitely enjoyed my experience and look forward to many more. After our massages we stopped off at Tesco so the students who had arrived later and didn't come with us the previous day could grab everything they needed. We got food in the food court at the shopping center before heading back to Vikasa for the 6pm class.
This evening class was intense and I found it much more challenging then the morning practice. The teachers name was Yuko and she was trained by Kosta at Vikasa the previous year so we got a better sense of what training and Kosta's classes would be like from her class. I was starting to get a little nervous for Monday because I knew it was going to be intense and I also knew I was gonna be sore in the morning after that class.
That evening we had a buffet dinner with all the students as everyone has now arrived. Like always the food was amazing. During training we get our two meals a day served buffet style which is good because we will need to eat lots as we will be burning lots of calories and need to fuel up. I'm not used to eating twice a day, I prefer to eat close to 5 smaller meals and snacks a day. The food is vegetarian, although some nights they may have one seafood dish on the buffet.
After dinner a group of us went back to one of the guys room to hangout before calling it a night. We stayed up until about 1130 talking mostly about yoga and those who are already instructors talked about what it is like to be a yoga teacher and all the things you need to consider when teaching. I found this discussing very interesting because although I have done a lot of yoga and different styles of yoga over the past few years, I have never taught anything so being a teacher of any sort is an entirely new concept to me. Hearing what they had to say was all very informative and gave me a new perspective on what it's like to teach and teach yoga especially.
I woke up for day one both a little nervous, excited and SORE!!!!!!! I forgot to mention that in Craig's class we literally did about 25 chaturunga's, for those of you who are familiar with this pose know how difficult it is and how insane that must have been. He basically used chaturunga as a transition into a lot of the poses that we did but I'd say half of them were used in the sun salutation flow which when all done together for that many times is quite difficult and requires a lot of strength. My arms and shoulders were burning in the morning and I remember reading one of the previous students blogs about Kosta's classes and how he would make them hold chaturunga for insanely long periods of time. This had me worried. On top of waking up sore, I did not get the greatest sleep that night because I was having a hard time turning off my brain because I was thinking about what our first day and the rest of this month would be like. All these thoughts were flying through my head and I didn't get the proper rest that I had hoped for.
Our training began with a pranayama breathing and meditation session which was then followed by George's AM yoga class. This meant we had to sit still in a seated cross legged position (lotus pose) for the full hour duration in which we practiced these techniques. I found it hard to stay still for this long as my body would begin to ache and I wanted to shake my legs and uncross them. This is something I will need to work at. Meditation and breathing techniques such as the ones we did in class are all very new to me so I am interested to see how this part of the training will go.
We went straight into Georges class which I really enjoyed and look forward to learning more from his everyday. His class was challenging but he taught at a slower pace then what I am used to, I think this is mainly because we are in the beginning and he is also teaching us how to do these poses while giving us instructions on how to teach others and deal with students who may not be at the level of intensity in which the poses my consist of or also giving them more challenging variations if needed. Everything he has to say about yoga and spirituality is very interesting and I know I will continue to enjoy practicing under him and listening to his lectures.
After practice we had our much anticipated and deserved brunch. Again it was amazing and I think I will enjoy the breakfasts more then the dinner because there is so much yummy fresh tropical fruit which is to die for! Plus the dinners are really good but mostly just steamed and stir fried veggies which can get a little boring over time. We also had scrambled eggs with diced vegetables, this amazing yogurt with granola which I hope we have everyday and toast and a nice fruit and nut salad. After brunch we all hung out for a bit allowing our food to digest before heading back down to the studio for our afternoon lecture. I should take this time to mention that the resort is built on a mountain and the restaurant and my room are at the very top and the studio where we have training everyday is at the bottom. Someone counted and there are said to be 110 and stairs getting you from bottom to top. These stairs can be exhausting for anyone but imagine practicing yoga twice a day and sitting in seated meditation poses for hours of the day and having to walk up and down the stairs a few times a day. Our legs are already sore enough and the stairs do not help! But anyways, we began this out lecture with an introduction ceremony. There were candles and flowers arranged in the center of the room in which we all made a circle around. Going around the circle we had to introduce ourselves, where we are from and say why we came to teachers training as well as touch a bit on how yoga came into our lives and what our practice is like back home. Normally I hate these kinds of exercises but it was interesting to hear everyone's story as they all had a common thread, that we were there to figure ourselves out and better ourselves in life and within our practice itself. There are so many interesting and amazing people here from all over the world and when put in a room with such like minded people the energy is so positive and so present and it's a really rewarding feeling to be apart of. I am learning so much from my fellow students and I actually made a comment the other day as to how I feel like I've learned so much already and I've only just arrived and started this journey. I said that I have not only learned a lot from Kosta and George but mainly from the people around me and I think in the end that will be the biggest thing that I will get from coming here. Talking to all these people and hearing their stories is very inspirational and making me feel in ways that I have never felt before. Just so many strong connections and energy flow. I know it may all sound cheesy but I think if any of you were here or in my position you could totally relate. I have opened my mind up so much and amazing things are happening all around me. I went from having a very tough time in life and feeling like I had no direction and was so confused as to where to go from here and leaving home and going somewhere so far away, especially here, has opened my mind up to so many possibilities and I am in a very good place. I am so glad that I made the decision to come and do this and I can only imagine what the rest of my travels will be like because I have this new found confidence and sense of self which is so ready for discovery and the adventures I will continue to have here in Southeast Asia.
Lecture was amazing. We talked about "What is yoga" in a discussion style lecture. Kosta and George did most of the talking as we all just listened to them talk about their experiences and knowledge about this topic in awe of how much they know and how in tune they are with both their mind and body. I know I will learn a lot from these lectures and find them very interesting. After lecture we had an hour and a half break.
During our break I went down to the ocean with a couple of the girls for a swim because it was so hot that afternoon and I was just dying to dive in a cool off. The water was extremely warm but refreshing. I'm not used to swimming in salt water so that was also a nice change and the water is so clear and blue, it feels amazing. After swimming we just laid on the rocks and talked soaking up the hot Thai sun and talking about things we wanted to do on our days off.
After break we had two hours left for a bit more theory stuff and an hour and a half evening practice with Kosta. This was the class I was worried about and for good reason. Class was INTENSE!!! I was having a very hard time holding the poses for the length of time in which he wanted us to. Kosta uses a metronome during his class for us to use as a guideline to count our breaths when holding each pose. This keeps us all from cheating and coming out of the poses to early. I have done a bit of yin yoga over the summer which requires holding poses for very long periods of time but they are usually basic stretching poses where as Kosta's poses are still pretty basic but require more strength then just stretching like many of the yin poses which adds an even deeper level of difficulty to his class. The class mainly focused on strength training and because I was working so much to save money for my trip leading up to training I slacked on my weight training at the gym and I am certainly paying for it now. I wish I kept a balance between actual weight training and yoga before coming here because I know it was helping me with my strength during my yoga practice as I was able to do a lot of strength poses this summer before coming here. I'm sure I will build up this muscle again soon but it will definitely require a lot of hard work.
After class we had another amazing dinner and I decided to call it a night right after and fell asleep at around 9pm. I was exhausted from the first day and had an awesome sleep which was good because I would be good to go for day two.
So today was day two and it went a lot better then yesterday in terms of my practice itself. Yesterday I was starting to doubt myself a little and feeling like I wasn't at the level in which I wanted to be at to go through this training. I was feeling frustrated yesterday because I was having difficulty with poses that I have always been able to do very well in the past. I think the lack of sleep I got and my nerves got the best of me and I was just having an off day because today I felt much better. Both Kosta and George were walking past me and saying "good" and impressed with my poses today and I felt more like my regular self. I wasn't falling out of my poses as often and although I was being challenged I was able to still push myself. I need to remember to stay positive and have faith in my abilities because I think a lot of yesterday had to do with the fact that I was scared that I wasn't going to be good enough for the classes I was about to take and this fear and negative energy really tore me down. It's amazing what the mind is capable of which I am learning more and more about everyday.
Breathing and meditation also went a lot better today as I am slowly getting a hold of the breathing techniques and feeling more comfortable in my cross legged position but it is still a little hard on the knees as I have really bad news and tight hip flexes don't help either. It will come! I was able to get in a deeper state of meditation as I felt more relaxed today.
George's class was amazing again, even better today because I felt a lot stronger. His classes are great to have in the morning right after meditation as they are not quite as intense as Kosta's class so it prepares us for what's to come later. His classes are just as challenging but in a different way.
Brunch was great again. We had this amazing french toast with all natural honey and the regular yogurt and granola, fresh fruit, toast and this delicious watermelon juice. During each meal we have these amazing drinks that the kitchen prepares for us. In the morning they tend to be fruit and or vegetable juices and in the evening there is always a different variety of iced tea.
This afternoons class was about chakras which I was really looking forward to learning about. We didn't get as deep into chakras as I was hoping but hopefully we will touch more on it when Ram arrives and we start our philosophy classes. We did a meditation that focused on chakras and the visualizing the colours and chanting a certain dialect for each chakra and linking them all together which was hard to take seriously because no one really knew the chants and we were all saying different things so it was hard to focus on the exercise and not laugh because we were all so lost. We're supposed to get the chants written down so we can know how to pronounce them and hopefully will be able to try this meditation again.
During our break me and a couple others went to speak to this lady who we were told holds private Thai cooking lessons in her own home. We got to her shop and she was not there but the lady working at the time was vey helpful and got in touch with her to set us a class for us on Saturday which is our first day off since starting training. We were able to choose 6 out of about 12 dishes in which we want to prepare. I am happy about the dishes we chose and really looking forward to this class. It's and organic raw food cooking class which I have very little experience with so I am curious to learn this new technique. After booking our class we crossed the street where there was a really nice resort in which we snuck in to use their beach. It was an absolutely beautiful day, the nicest and hottest we have had so far. So we spent the afternoon hanging out at the beach, lounging, taking pictures and playing in the water. There was a rope swing which we were able to swing on right into the water. Im surprised by how much free time we still have to do things like this during our training. I posted a bunch of the pictures from today and will probably post them on here as well later on.
After our fun afternoon it was back to hard work and training as we still had Kosta's evening class before dinner. I really enjoyed this class and came out of it feeling strong and energized. Like I mentioned earlier I was doing a lot better today and my practice was a lot stronger today then yesterday so I obviously enjoyed it more. It was very difficult but in a good and challenging way. I'm excited for what tomorrow's class will bring and hoping that I will continue to strengthen my practice and feel good afterwards. Kosta did warn us that we will be having a "chaturunga challenge" very soon were will will have to do 10 pushups then hold chaturunga, then 7 and hold, 5 then hold, 3 then hold and then 1 and continue to hold for a long period of time. I am dreading this challenge and hoping I will be able to build up my strength enough before he throws it at us. I need to start doing pushups to practice and build up and arm and shoulder strength.
Dinner was really good and afterwards I stuck around with a small group in which I ate with as we were having some very interesting conversations. Two of the guys in which I have gotten along with really well and enjoy talking to are both in the health and fitness industry and they were explaining to me more about the human anatomy and muscle tissue and how the body is all connected. It's crazy all the knowledge that some of these people have and how I have benefit and learned so much just from talking to them. I am finding myself more interested in the human body and how our bodies work then I thought I would be. All of our anatomy training starts next week which I am now really looking forward to exploring more about.
Anyways I should probably get some sleep so I am well rested for tomorrow, I feel like its only gonna get harder and harder.
Thanks again for reading!
Miss you all and hope all is well back home!