Recently, a friend from the US was visiting me here in the UAE. As we were catching up, I was sharing the rewards and challenges I am encountering through my 200 hour yoga teacher training (“YTT”) in Dubai. She made the suggestion that I blog about it and I think it’s a fantastic idea. This journey has been one of the biggest endeavors of my life and hopefully my blogs will be of value to others as they consider YTT.
I wanted to do a YTT to deepen my practice more than to become a yoga teacher. I have practiced yoga off and on since the late 90s and have always loved it. I have only ever gotten up to an intermediate level, but either way, it’s been a long-term passion of mine.
My class has 23 women of all ages from all around the world. It is a special dynamic to say the least. We meet every weekend (Friday and Saturday = weekend in the Middle East) at the yoga studio in Dubai. Friday class is 5 hours, Saturday is 8 hours and the course is 12 weekends long.
This course is run by a yoga company in the US. i was really attracted to it since I used to practice at their studio in San Francisco. There are so many courses here and in the UAE and also great options just a few hours away in India. In the end, this seemed like a good option since it runs on weekends in Dubai so would not cause any major disruption to my regular life and/or family. So I thought.
I started the YTT just one month after finishing up at my full time job, at the same time that I launched my health and wellness business and just a month after moving house 2.5 hours away (and the 3rd move in 2 years!). I was very excited about this course and I also knew it would help me along the journey I embarked on in January of 2016 to heal my body from years of stress, adrenal fatigue, etc. I hoped for not only enlightened spiritual bliss but also strong muscles and weight loss.
The days we spend at the studio are full of hours of challenging yoga practice enveloped in friendship, love and support. One huge surprise about the time we spend there is how hard the yoga practice is. We practice yoga for 2.5 - 4 hours per day, depending on the topic and day.
Our instructor is amazing, she runs a tight schedule and teaches yoga from a standpoint of strength and safety. I never knew that I could literally stand in Tadasana (mountain pose) and sweat buckets. She has helped us to build a very strong foundation that we are adding to on a daily basis.
I was still pretty out of shape when we started and it’s been a tough journey for me to get used to what I consider a proper a$$ kicking every.single.weekend. I am a lifelong sufferer of migraines and triggers are stress, strenuous activity (the definition of strenuous changes as my fitness levels increase/decrease), lack of sleep, etc. There are very few weekends that go by that I don’t end with a splitting migraine that is accompanied by sheer exhilaration and contentment at what I’ve accomplished that day. It’s major. It’s this crazy mix of contrasts physically, spiritually and mentally.
An additional challenge has been leaving my children for the weekends. I thought it would be much easier since I now work from home and see them every day after school but I am literally missing all the weekend free time and they’ve not been shy to remind me of that. :) I thank them for supporting me in achieving one of my lifelong dreams and truly believe that the time and money we have invested as a family is a very good thing.
I pass the weekdays preparing mentally for what is ahead while keeping up with the homework, which ranges from yoga sutras to anatomy to Sanskrit. I try to take every week in the present and set the intention to not wish it away in order to get back the weekends with my girls. I spend every weekend accepting that pain from the migraines is part of my journey and trusting in my body that as it heals and becomes more fit that the migraines will continue to become less frequent. (Thankfully, there are already signs of this!)
For me, YTT has been so much more than the physical asanas and how to teach them. It’s truly been one of the hardest things I’ve experienced for the reasons above and more that I will blog about in future weeks. I have seen that it has tested and pulled each and every one of us in various ways and with that comes growth and new discoveries.