On the 9th October 2015 I travelled down to London ready to check-in to Bloc Hotel in Gatwick Airport. Having finished a relatively standard day at the office (sat facing a computer feeling square-eyed and tense in my shoulders), I was excited to finally be on my way to Suryalila for a three week intensive Yoga Teacher Training. What was not to love? I was escaping city life for three weeks as it was getting colder and darker to go immerse myself in yoga whilst getting some sun!
I had booked the Bloc Hotel because it was set on the runway so I had a stress free morning making my way to the departure gate. By the time I made it to the hotel it was about 11pm and with my flight departing at 7am the next morning I ignored the usual urge to splurge on room service and a cheeky glass…or two…of wine. As I settled in for the night a rush of nerves came over me and a flurry of questions followed: Three weeks… maybe this is too long? How will I cope with meeting so many new people at once? What if I want to leave? Am I ready, am I good enough?
What if I struggle to learn everything? *Spoiler alert* The learning never stops, and this is the real beauty! So on and so forth. Realising this was a good time to practice calming the “chitti vritti” I had been reading about in one of our course texts. I focused on my breathing, eventually drifting off to sleep.
After a relatively dramatic flight, during which an elderly woman sat next to me started to vomit and had to be given an oxygen tank and an injection, the plane landed in Seville. After an hour of winding around unfamiliar roads our driver turned onto a dirt road. The violently bumpy road spat dust everywhere as we drove ever closer to my home for the next few weeks. After a good few minutes into leaving main roads we started to approach Suryalila. The driver pointed out to the Om Dome which stood proudly in the distance. The dome was where we would be practicing asana and learning for the next few weeks. I felt a big smile spreading across my face- I was finally here ready to learn and experience nearly a year after booking my place on this training.
Suryalila is truly breathtaking. Set within Southern Spain neatly tucked away from the hustle and bustle of life, it boasts gorgeous panoramic views of rolling hills. Each morning we were greeted by sparkling skies as we walked silently to morning meditation.
I quickly relaxed into my new home. Memories from Suryalila could unravel themselves into a book as every little detail about the experience was magical and tonnes of memories were made within three weeks…but this will have to work for now!
Reflecting on this experience, I am filled with gratitude for the awesomely individual individuals that I shared three weeks with. Spanning most places in the world, 46 strangers came together through a desire to be immersed in yoga. All ready to unlearn, learn, feel and grow. I quickly noticed a theme threading through us despite such unique personalities- we all sought a deeper experience in life. None of us wanting to settle for a prescribed version of living. Curious and in this little oasis we were ready to connect.
My roomie Jess and I instantly hit it off and I loved our stupid pointless chats after intense days of taking in new information. A beautiful synchronicity was crossing paths with Charlie, who practiced with the same teacher as me the year I lived in Edinburgh! So there was an immediate sense of familiarity despite such different surroundings.
It’s hard to put into words the bond I feel with those I became particularly close to- I sometimes feel like it’s a yoga version of big brother because you really need to have lived it to know! I never could have imagined how filled with love I would feel by the end of it all, or how thankful I’d be to everyone who helped create that experience. But suffice to say it was transformative. Meditating, practicing asana, and delving into yogic texts everyday for three weeks opened me up in a way I didn’t even know was possible…Our teachers were strong, empowering, fearless women who truly inspired. Little nuggets of wisdom were scattered out to us. Our job to take them home and sit with them. Every now and then these seeds develop and a eureka moment will occur. It’s a gift that just keeps giving and I am eternally grateful for the tools we were given.
The teachers instilled a sense of confidence in my ability to take back this knowledge, and understanding of creating a sequence and put it to use. I was keen to get my ten free classes underway. During this time I taught the owner of Yoga Hero in Leeds, and I’ve been fortunate enough to teach two classes a week there. Each time I step onto the mat as a teacher (and student) I gain more confidence and have more fun with this.
Leading a class is magical. I get to see students work on themselves, and witness their practice develop. Ultimately yoga has taught me to live from a place of compassion and with an open heart. Who could have known being dragged along to my first yoga class would have unfolded this way…Find what makes you feel alive and run with it, never looking back. This is what I hope to spark within those that come to my classes, because life is not a one-size fits all. Live a life that is authentic to you and embrace your uniqueness.