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(updated) Teacher Training Class of 2023: A Journey of Love, Growth, and Self-Discovery

Here we go again, embarking on another 200-hour training journey. But this time, something feels different. It's our second training without our dear Christine, but we've gained a new addition to our team, the wise and guileful Paul Allen. And of course, my amazing wife Laura, who not only happens to be the best yoga teacher I know but is also the epitome of organization. Trust me when I say, no one loves what we do more than Laura. Together, we make a dream team, armed with years of experience and a touch of yoga magic. The students are in for an extraordinary treat, as another incredible 200-hour Yoga teacher training program awaits them.

pic - Left - Paul Allen, senior yoga teacher. Middle - My wife and course leader, Laura Akram. Right - Me. Back when I thought I looked respectable with a yogic man bun.

Class of 2023 - Graduation Video (click image to watch the video)

However, this blog isn't just about us, the tutors. It's about the students. Let me tell you, this group has been an exceptionally rewarding bunch to teach (spiritually speaking). It's been nine years since our first course way back in Woking. Back then, as trainee teachers, both Christine and I were a bit rusty. Looking back, I can hardly recognize myself in that role. I've evolved and grown so much since then. And guess what? The training has evolved too, now offering the absolute best quality you can find. We've poured our hearts and souls into this endeavor.

Teaching the class of 2023 has been an incredible rollercoaster of emotions. It all began with the usual house rules before diving into the enriching world of yoga. But hey, one crucial rule: no putting full coffee cups in the bin. Boundaries are important, you know.

We started with name games and general introductions, setting the stage for mind-boggling insights to come. One of the biggest misconceptions we tackled right from the start was the belief that simply adopting a yoga pose automatically stretches our bodies. In reality, it's quite the opposite. Initially, our bodies resist, hitting the brakes to protect us from harm. So, how do we override this natural reaction? The answer is surprisingly simple yet profound: breathe slowly. Who would've thought that such a small act could have such a transformative effect?

After laying the foundation with some basic anatomy concepts, we delved into my absolute favourite subject—the history of yoga. From a very specific perspective, mind you. And let me tell you, based on the feedback from this group, it turned out to be one of their favourite modules too. We explored a seemingly simple question that a woman asked her husband 12,000 years ago in a moment of pure love: "Oh Shiva, what is your reality?"

Together, we dissected the question, searching for meaning and drawing inspiration. Through the grace of Devi's inquiry, we started unraveling our own realities. It caught many on the course off guard, but that's the beauty of this simple question—it has the power to penetrate our minds, making us ponder and explore the depths of our own existence. What is our reality? Or as my wife Laura so eloquently put it during one of her sessions, what truly makes our lives meaningful?

For me, the answer, which I've tried to share throughout the ten months I spent with this extraordinary group, is life itself. But hey, you can read more about that in an earlier blog where I poured my heart out.

Over these ten months, we've formed deep connections and gotten to know each other in ways none of us ever expected. We've opened our hearts and shared parts of ourselves that we've never shared before. I felt an overwhelming comfort with this group, a sense of belonging that allowed me to reveal information I've never shared with anyone else. It speaks volumes about the collective kindness and love within the group, creating an environment where vulnerability is embraced. It's a true testament to the incredible individuals within this group and their willingness to dig deep and unravel the profoundness of Devi's question: "Oh Shiva, what is your reality?"

The previous group had a stronger focus on anatomy, so I shared more wisdom in that realm. Perhaps I overwhelmed them at times, but I was simply following their vibe. But with the class of 2023, we found ourselves continuously circling back to that question from Devi, always exploring our realities together.

This journey has been the most spiritually rewarding experience of my life. We've all grown and evolved together, and my hope is that our connection remains long after they qualify as yoga teachers. Each person in this group has brought their own unique character to the dance. They've shared valuable insights and moments of brilliance, making our time together truly remarkable. And that, my friends, is the overarching message of our ten months—each one of us has immeasurable value, purpose, and stories to share. Our experiences, no matter how small, have the power to positively influence the lives of others in unimaginable ways if we find the courage to speak up.

Each one of them had a voice, flair, personality, quirks, and a unique perspective. Some of them were even pretty funny. They laughed, they cried, they got confused, lost, smiled, and experienced every emotion under the sun. I'll genuinely miss them when they leave. I feel like they've all grown and flourished in their own way and will make incredible yoga teachers.

above - Sara finding a moment of peace in the afternoon practical session

above - Laura leading the afternoon session

above - Laura teaches Carly how to remove the fear of falling. At its core, Yoga is a very psychological practice.

above - Laura demonstrates the handstand. You're not anticipated to perfect your handstand by the conclusion of the course. The reason for incorporating this pose into our teacher training is to explore the obstacles we set for ourselves. Yoga is psychological, and practicing this pose helps shift our perspective from viewing yoga solely as a physical practice.

above - Carly (left) and Sara having fun in our partner yoga / adjustment session.

above - Richard (left) and Lydia (far right) join Laura and Emma at the Alexander Palace for the Om Yoga awards where we were nominated for best Yoga Teacher Training.

Getting prepped (emotionally) for an afternoon practising all 84 asanas from their manuals.

Practical afternoon in the main studio

The class of 2023. Starting top left - Gemma (very pregnant at this time), senior teacher Paul, our resident air stewardess Lisa, Halla, my beautiful boy Zaccy, my wife and course leader Laura, Tayabba, our Matron Sara and far right (not politically) Noosh.

Bottom row to the left, former bean counter Richard, Coffee wench (in her own words) Carly, Hairdresser extraordinaire Laura Gibson and Lydia who travelled all the way from Brighton.

To conclude, I want to share a quote from Kahlil Gibran's "The Prophet". The teacher referenced in this poem I see as Shiva and Parvati. Not a god and goddess. Simply the first Yogi's.

Then said a teacher, Speak to us of Teaching. And he said:

No man can reveal to you aught but that which already lies half asleep in the dawning of your knowledge.

The teacher who walks in the shadow of the temple, among his followers, gives not of his wisdom but rather of his faith and his lovingness.

If he is indeed wise he does not bid you enter the house of his wisdom, but rather leads you to the threshold of your own mind.

The astronomer may speak to you of his understanding of space, but he cannot give you his understanding.

The musician may sing to you of the rhythm which is in all space, but he cannot give you the ear which arrests the rhythm nor the voice that echoes it.

And he who is versed in the science of numbers can tell of the regions of weight and measure, but he cannot conduct you thither.

For the vision of one man lends not its wings to another man.

And even as each one of you stands alone in God’s knowledge, so must each one of you be alone in his knowledge of God and in his understanding of the earth.

From The Prophet (Knopf, 1923). This poem is in the public domain.

Zahir Akram - eternal seeker

If you're eager to delve deeper into the world of yoga, we invite you to explore our Yoga Teacher Training program. Whether you're starting from scratch with our entry-level 200-hour course or seeking advanced knowledge with our 300-hour course, our training equips you with the skills to become a certified yoga teacher. However, this journey isn't limited to aspiring instructors alone. If you share the same passion for learning and desire to expand your understanding of the art you adore, like me, then this course is perfect for you.

Embrace the opportunity to deepen your love for yoga.


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