After falling in love at first Down-Dog with yoga, I quickly became passionate about learning more. Five years into my practice I decided to train as a teacher, but all the courses that appealed to me were spread over a year or more. That was a problem for me – since 1995 I’ve worked in the music business as a sound engineer touring with bands. I’m rarely anywhere for long, so being in one place several weekends a year was out of the question. That’s when Santosha came to the rescue!
When I found Sunny’s website, I knew that this was ‘the one’ – I could block my diary out and study intensively for a month, and doing it in the beautiful island setting of Bali didn’t sound like too much of a hardship! The course looked really comprehensive – far more than just an asana training as so many courses seemed to focus on, this seemed like a broad-based, rounded yoga education with a soul. I decided to go for it.
From the moment my application was accepted, I felt supported in my journey. The pre-course reading and assignments confirmed my instinct that this was going to be a life-changing experience, and sure enough I didn’t even make it through the welcome circle without having my first emotional meltdown – MOST un-British! It happened to pretty much everyone at some stage – an immersion training can be a very intense experience emotionally. Spending time in meditation and self-study brings you face to face with yourself in a way that we often avoid – whether consciously or not – in everyday life.
Getting to grips with the difference between your ego, your higher self, and your monkey mind forces you to examine your reactions to situations and people, and attempting to stay fully present really brings home how much time you spend ruminating on the past or worrying about the future. All of this can present some pretty intense internal experiences, and everyone else is going through their own inner journey too… it’s like a month of therapy!
It’s a very loving and compassionate environment, but it certainly pushes you out of your comfort zone; I remember thinking on that first training that I’d spent so much time outside my comfort zone that I didn’t even know where it was any more! That’s a real gift; comfort zones are like leaky balloons that gradually shrink if you don’t continually add to them and push their boundaries.
The information Sunny and our other teachers shared with us was fantastic; in-depth, diverse, and always delivered in an inspiring manner which left me feeling that I was simultaneously bursting with new knowledge and hungry for more! We started each day early with meditation, followed by asana. This class differed from one you’d go to as a regular student, as we would stop and dissect what we were doing, and consider how we would teach it ourselves. Then it was breakfast, followed by the first of the day’s lectures. This might be philosophy; anatomy and physiology; ayurveda; yoga therapy; meditation techniques; all sorts of interesting subjects to delve into. After a lunch break we’d continue with lectures, and finish around 6.30pm. All of this took place in the yoga shala; a beautiful large, open-sided room, set up high which allowed a welcome breeze to flow through.
In the breaks and on days off there was the opportunity to have private sessions with several of the teachers. I decided to schedule some time with our philosophy, meditation and spirituality teacher, Hamid, who is a very learned counsellor, former Buddhist monk and all-round wise man! I had some personal issues to discuss, but had always used the excuse of my touring to dodge counselling. Hamid blew that one out of the water when he told me that he offered Skype counselling! Confronted at first, I nonetheless decided to pursue the sessions after the course, and it’s just one more of the great things to come out of this experience – we still speak regularly and he has helped me more than he could know.
The month of level one flew by, and then it was time to head home and put what we’d learnt into practice in the real world. I had a couple of months off between tours, so I decided to offer 3 free classes a week in my local park – a fun way to give something back and polish my teaching chops at the same time! When I went back on the road I thought I’d only be able to teach between tours, but then I started to teach one-on-ones and small group classes to the musicians and production crew I was travelling with, and happily that has now evolved into me being hired as both a sound engineer and a yoga teacher to give private classes to the artists I work with. It wasn’t a path I had foreseen but it works really well and allows me to combine my passions for music and yoga!
I returned to Bali to take the level two in July, and that proved to be just as incredible an experience as the first time. Different; if level one was eye-opening and illuminating, this was enriching and deepening; and a wonderful bonus of the level two is that every other person in the room is also an experienced teacher who you can learn from! We went further into all of the aspects we had learnt about previously, and explored fascinating new areas like yoga therapy and interesting ways to teach meditation. I felt like Alice-in-Wonderland at times – every new door that was opened for us seemed to have a hundred more fascinating doors behind it! It’s so exciting to know that you can remain ever a student as you grow as a teacher. Both levels are challenging – wonderfully, life-affirmingly so – but you are supported and nourished every step of the way by Sunny and her inspiring team.
So now I’m back on the road and equipped to help my students – and myself! – more fully than ever before. I’ve learnt to share my passion for yoga in a way that treats every student as the unique individual they are, and I’ve made some really good friends along the way. I have grown personally, professionally and spiritually in ways I couldn’t have imagined, and I am forever grateful that I stumbled upon Santosha’s website that day. If you’re thinking of studying with Sunny, I’m standing in front of you jumping up and down and saying “do it! Do it do it do it!” I promise you it will be one of the best decisions you ever make.
Find me at rocknrollyogi.com