You have everything you need to turn your existence into joy. Mix them! Mix them!” Hafiz
I have loved this quote by 14th-century Persian poet Shams-ud-din Muhammad Hafiz for many years. So much so that I have it posted on the River Rock Yoga website. Hafiz’s message of empowering alchemy speaks to a central theme in yoga philosophy: yoga as transformation. So without a doubt, transformation is also a profound aspect of going through a yoga teacher training program. In the description of our 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training Program, here at the studio in Ocean Springs, we proclaim, “Expect Change”.
One of the most rewarding and magical parts of my professional life is teaching River Rock Yoga’s Yoga Teacher Training program. Each year, since 2007, I have taught and hosted this program with my friend and colleague, Laura Tyree of Dragonfly Yoga Studios in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. The program, held in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, has evolved over the years to become more informative, more efficient, and more reflective of what the students in each program need individually, and as a group.
As teachers of the program, Laura and I are dedicated to being highly attuned to supporting what happens when well-intentioned practitioners come together to explore and apply yoga on a deeper level. We know that you are embarking on something to lift consciousness and, in turn, create a life that expresses more joyfully and authentically. So many things evolve over our 10-month yoga teacher training program: deep relationship bonds form as the group becomes a family, and the richness and effectiveness of yoga is revealed, as the student’s understanding deepens. Perhaps, most notably, members of the group will encounter old, personal patterns that are no longer serving them, and see to change them. Alchemy is inevitable.
Pantanjali’s Yoga Sutras describe yoga as a transformation practice. Pada 2, Sutra 2 states that yoga is alchemy, and changes the practitioner on three different levels. The Sanskrit Sutra reads, “Tapas svadhyaya ishvara pranidhana kriya yoga”, which translates that through application, enthusiasm, self-study, and surrender, the practitioner will transform physically, mentally, and spiritually.
The concept of alchemy has always fascinated people, and it is easy to see why. What if it is possible to change our suffering into joy? Can we create a calm, focused mind where once we felt overwhelmed with distractions and anxiety? Is it possible to make our weak and painful bodies stronger and more comfortable? Can we free our fearful souls, and connect with our divine purpose?
The answer is “yes” with steadfast practice, and the willingness to let go of attachment to specific results.
The dedication to the practice of yoga over a saturated 10-month time frame allows for the repetition of practices that lead to personal growth and changes in several realms. Various types of practices are committed to over the course of the program, including:
- Yoga Postures (Asanas)
- Breathwork (Pranayama)
- Drawing Attention Away from Distraction (Pratyahara)
- Meditation (Dhyana)
- Various Ethical Practices (Yamas and Niyamas)
These practices are repeated frequently during the program. Repetition is an alchemical principle. Through repetition, the magic is forced to arise. This magic changes you. Everyone who has been through yoga teacher training can attest to that.
Personal Changes You Can Expect During Your Yoga Teacher Training
1). Discipline (Tapas)
You will change physically. The physical practice of yoga means that you will regularly move and heat the body, while increasing tone, strength, detoxification, agility, and flexibility. Yoga works on all the physical systems:
Just to name a few…
You will practice breathing techniques that enhance your respiratory health, as well as change the way your body responds to stress. Yoga practice is designed to holistically enhance the health of your physical body, and ancient proclamation, as well as modern science, supports this to be true.
2). Self-Study (Svadhyaya)
You will change mentally. Yoga asks that you become more aware, more mindful, and that you study yourself (svadhyaya), observing your own thoughts, actions, and emotions and how those affect one another. As your self-awareness develops, you will have a deeper insight into who you are and who you want to become. Yoga practice supports authenticity and self-acceptance. Yoga practitioners learn to live their truth, and express it, which is calming to the mind, promoting peace and a sense of well-being and ease.
3). Surrender (Ishvara Pradidhana)
You will change spiritually. A consistent yoga practice inspires letting go of many of the ego constructs which keep us spiritually bound. The need for things to go our way, and to uphold our separate existence seems less important when practicing connection through mindfulness. Experiences of the present moment, which occur more frequently with regular practice, open us to the sense of “being connected”, rather than separated. This connection lends itself to sensing profound stillness within yourself, and to a sense of well-being that is not dependent on external circumstances.
A realization of being part of the universal fabric is a deeply healing and sincerely peaceful experience. Feeling connected to a vast Divine network is supremely freeing, spiritually. That kind of freedom has the possibility to transform your life for the better. You will learn to trust the natural unfolding of life. You will connect to your purpose and to your inherent “wellness”. You will learn to believe that you are an infinite, eternal, and whole expression of universal love. How would you live your life if you truly believed THAT?
A Personal Experience
A yoga teacher training program is experiential, meaning a practitioner will expand their perception in ways they may not understand until they actually experience it themselves. This immersion into yoga asana, philosophy, teaching theory, wellness, self-study, discipline, freedom, and connection is YOUR time to marinate in life-enhancing practices that truly evolve your consciousness and can change your life!
I welcome you to join us.
This year’s 200-hour yoga teacher training program begins September 16th, 2023.