My Yoga Teacher Training Retreat: Part 3

It’s freezing! So cold that I am writing very slow because I cannot feel my fingers. I decided to get up a little earlier today (4:45am) – yes the world exists at this time and it’s heavenly. It was a much more peaceful beginning to the day for me. I had a slow warm shower, got dressed -the Ashram plays a Sanskrit song over giant speakers to wake people up at 5am. Today it’s noticeably quite a beautiful song and I rather enjoy getting ready to it.

As I made my way across the grounds to the yoga hall for our morning practice I noticed the sky is still dark, yet you could sense the sun is somewhere nearby and it was so clear like I could see into eternity. The moon was as bright as I have noticed it in a long time as well as a fair few stars scattered about.

I was the second to arrive – the yoga room is big, there’s a small table to one side with a candle and a statue of Ganesh (elephant), pink-ish carpet and brown hanging mesh on the walls. Yes, it’s about as 90’s as it sounds 🙂 but it’s beautifully kept and this room has an instant sense of peace the moment you enter it, like you begin to whisper without even realising why.

I set up my mat and meditate while others trickle in.

7414_10152678404306041_611543351858088627_nThis morning we did yoga blind folded. So. Much. Fun.

It’s interesting when you can’t see how much slower you move in and out of poses. It became quite a meditation and really allowed me to tune inwards and listen to my body. My body was tired, it aches, my neck, oh my neck! I have just this past day realised how much tension I am holding there so I am being very kind to it in all my asana.

Another interesting fact that came out of our blindfold practice is that I couldn’t allow myself to drift off ; I couldn’t be a robot and copy the teacher because I couldn’t see! At one point my teacher came over to me and gently grabbed my hands and guided me into the pose that he was teaching and not the one I was doing. When I laughed out loud he says to me “You’re not doing the wrong pose but we’re just all doing this pose”.

I could hear my yoga buddy crack up behind me too.

As the class was winding down I peeked out the bottom of my blindfold, where the once dark room (5:30am start) was now flooded with the morning sunlight. When I looked down I saw my legs and my first thought was that they seemed so small.  I felt my presence was so much bigger with my eyes closed. I love to work out so that I feel good about my body but in this moment I had a realisation – I like how I look but do I actually like who I am?

One other interesting aspect of the blindfold is that it was nice to not feel watched. I always feel like I’m being watched but with everyone else blind folded in the room I could really let go and truly feel. By the end of this practice I sort of felt like I could see, I could see my limbs as well as the beams on the roof.

Karma yoga– urgh, again I was seriously annoyed by this. It’s not that I don’t want to help, I WANT TO SLEEP! What I did enjoy about it most today was getting to know Amber – one of my fellow yogis – a little better. It was really nice to have some one on one time with her swapping stories of why we both turned to yoga and how we have ended up here together folding blankets in a Satyanada Ashram after the mornings chanting class.

Chanting! – another first for me. Tanya asked me what I thought of the chanting over breakfast and we would later crack up at my response.

“It was nice but I don’t think I’d do it again”.

The chant is in Sanskrit which just has a certain magic to it. Needless to say I mumbled my way through most of it.

Next yoga class. By this point I am hiding in the back row, fighting back tears. I’m tired, my head aches so much so that it’s actually making me feel nauseous. When my teacher explains that we will be doing something a little different today. Get rid of your mats, close your eyes, lay on the floor in a fetal position and we’re going to act as if we’re being born out of a sack. At first waking up stretching the sack a little, moving with our breath into bigger movements, in any way or shape we feel like. Now while he’s telling us this he’s demonstrating. And yep, like I’m sure you are right now my first thought is – This guy’s lost it! I signed up for yoga OMG what am I doing here?

I subtly look around to see if anyone’s face is as gobsmacked as I’m positive mine looks right now but everyone seems ok with this…

Out of sheer determination I give myself a pep talk that I came here to experience everything and I am bloody well going to give it a go. So I started with my eyes closed in the fetal position. The music is playing and I begin to get sucked into it and move with my breathe, a little embarrassed I come back to stillness. I move a little more, before I know it I’m on my knees like I have completely let go of any inhibitions and am simply just, moving. We’re up standing and the beat in the music changes, this music is incredible, lots of tribal drums and bongos when my teacher invites us for the first time in our 45 minute class to open our eyes. I’m very hesitant at first but when I do I open my eyes to the first sober dance party I have ever been to. Everyone’s jumping around, laughing, dancing, moving and flailing their arms in the air like they just don’t care. It was really nice after all this serious yoga to just let it all go and smile.

I continue to dance around for a while with these girls that I am slowly falling in love with one by one.

This afternoon I decide to come back to the room and nap. It’s amazing the difference a bit of sleep can do. While I still feel quite tired, I feel more myself now than I have the past two days. The aches and pains are still screaming in my body but I feel lighter, happier.

I wake up just in time for afternoon tea, an apple and some peppermint tea mmm. Then I find my group to go through the class that we are teaching tomorrow. I’m a little anxious but confident that I know my stuff. I am just going to get up there and trust that the right words will come.

Dreaded circle time. We begin to joke about throwing the tissue box around.

Tonight is a little different though as one of our other teachers has arrived and she joined us in our circle to remind us of all the reasons yoga is good for us. So what is yoga?

Yoga is getting over yourself.

Learning that we are all one. Attachment and separation. Here we are in our circles each night confessing all the things that we think make us feel disconnected when in fact it’s these very insecurities that make us all the same.

We learn to show compassion to ourselves first and others, cause if we can’t show compassion towards ourselves how we can ever feel it for someone else. On this note, we closed the night on a ‘metta meditation’ in which you close your eyes, see an image of yourself and repeat the following:

“May you find peace, may you find love, may you be without suffering”
Than we we’re asked to see our families and repeat the same thing.
“May you find peace, may you find love, may you be without suffering”

Next an acquaintance, someone you may see every day and I am surprised by the first person that popped into my mind. Repeat.

Next, someone you find difficult to deal with and lastly, for the people who are at war or homeless.

Finally, we tuck them all into our heart

This ended finishing up a little earlier than usual so Mauna (silence) hadn’t begun yet. I get back to my room feeling a little perkier than I have been and got into one of those uncontrollable laughing fits with my best yogi friend Tanya. You know the ones where you laugh so hard that nothing comes out and you find yourself  gasping for air just to try and get the next sentence out but even then that gibberish and makes no sense and this sets you both off into another bent over stomach holding fit?

It was so nice to laugh, I honestly cannot recall the last time I laughed so hard.

Tanya and I clicked from the very beginning and it’s a true honour to be able to spend this time with her. She is a busy super mum of two with a third on the way and getting to spend this quality time to get to know her has been amazing.

There has been lots of ups and downs in the last few days not just for me for everyone. However, the love and support that surrounds this group is intense and incredibly touching.

Nothing like I have experienced before.

So all in all today got better but I don’t want to jinx it. Here’s to more sleep and not having to pick up possum poo again tomorrow 🙂


Hi, I am Sarah Keenan, a Yoga Australia certified level 1 hatha yoga teacher. I completed my Teacher Training Diploma with Nikola Ellis, Joan Miller, Mysan Sidbo & Mark O’Brien at Qi Health & Yoga in 2014.
I am also a qualified infant massage instructor and a Sydney city corporate receptionist.

imag2657_1Life can be challenging, so here in my Yoga blog I write about my successes, struggles and how yoga along with all the wonderful influences I am surrounded with help me to over come them.

My spare time is made up of going to the beach, a lot 🙂 Living in Australia I am lucky enough to have access to the most beautiful beaches in the world. I also love hiking, meditating, getting lost in a good book, oh and of course lots of Yoga!

Catch more of Sarah’s personal blog at Innercitiyogi

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