Hi there, I’m Mei! Welcome to part 2 of my yoga teacher training diary series where I share with you everything I’ve learned, and how my yoga teacher training at Jiva Yoga Saigon absolutely changed my life.
Missed part 1? Don’t worry—you can read back and catch up by clicking here. Ready? Let’s get started!
My Introduction to Ayurveda & Yoga Philosophy
If you asked me what Ayurveda meant before my teacher training, you would have gotten a mumbly response and a blank stare. I knew Ayurveda translates to ‘science of life’, but I didn’t know exactly what that meant.
I’m grateful to Massimo Barberi, our remote class instructor from Norway, who is a certified Ayurvedic therapist and professional yoga teacher. I learned so much from him and he taught us with enthusiasm and humour.
We learned that Ayurveda encourages the maintenance of health by paying close attention to balance in one’s life, diet, and lifestyle. There are three different energies or ‘doshas’ that are found in our bodies and minds: vata, pitta, and kapha. That is why we are all so unique from one another. We even took a dosha test to see which energy is predominant in our constitution.
Massimo explained that we could be a combination of the energies and how we can make dietary and lifestyle decisions to promote a balance within our doshas. We also learned that knowing how to balance our doshas can help us further improve our yoga practice and customize it according to our specific needs.
My predominant dosha type is vata. Some of the vata attributes that I identify with are restlessness, poor circulation, not getting enough sleep, dry skin, love for travel, and love for oily food. It was interesting to find out things and habits that can throw me off balance, and how I can counter them by staying warm, calm, and maintaining a regular routine.
Meditation, Chakras, and Learning Healing Techniques
After practicing the meditation for about a week, I felt more present and finally found that inner calmness that eludes me. In any instant, there are a hundred and one things buzzing around my brain that keeps me from finding stillness. I usually become restless, then give up and look around the room…or even check the clock.
I wanted to become more attentive and in tune with my life, and I knew this meant I needed to practice meditation daily. With ‘vata’ being my most predominant dosha in the Ayurvedic principle, I knew this would be harder for me as I am usually pretty energetic, and physically and mentally restless. Practicing meditation would be important for me to ease everyday stress and increase clarity.
Suzanne Vian, our teacher trainer, had been telling us all week about another guest teacher, Suzanne Reppe, coming from Oslo, Norway to cover meditation and healing techniques. We were all very excited to meet Suz, as we called her. Suz is a gifted healer and she shared with us some very powerful meditation and healing techniques we could use with our students and at home to stay grounded.
We learned about the seven main chakras or energy centers that regulate the flow of energy in and out of the body. One session that I found amazing was when she taught us how to release tension through the solar plexus, the area below the ribs behind the abdomen.
We got together with a partner and we used a hand-over-hand scooping motion to draw our partner’s rib cage towards us. In almost an instant, I felt my shoulders drop and my muscles relax. Crazy! I’m always tense in the shoulders!
The meditation practice was my favorite. Suz told us to gather to the center of the room, where we sat on chairs and formed a circle. In a soothing voice, she told us to close our eyes. For the next 15-20 minutes, she continued to guide us into a powerful meditation that allowed us to pull the energy we needed from the universe through our chakras and clear unwanted energy.
I really trust that this practice has been very helpful for me when I want to evaluate myself, stay grounded, and stay neutral—especially at times when I need to make a difficult decision.
Here We Go — Teaching Our First Yoga Class!
When Suzanne mentioned our community class was coming up, my heart started pounding a little faster. We would teach two classes in total, and one of them would be an hour and 45-minute class with friends and people from the community. I totally didn’t feel ready yet! I felt like I needed more months of practice to get to that point, but Suzanne assured us that we would learn how to build a yoga sequence together as a group.
She said building a yoga sequence is like painting a piece of artwork. Sometimes you just want to keep adding details to it and in the end, still not feel 100% about the final product. But even so, the most important thing is to just let go and go for it!
After creating and outlining our 90-minute class on the white board, we divided the sequence into sections and were each assigned a part. I got the beginning sequence, ‘grounding’, and part of the warm up.
I was really nervous the whole weekend leading up to my class. I wrote down all the cues and modifications for each pose, practiced my sequence over and over, and did a run-through of the entire class with our group.
On the day of the class, I felt pretty excited. I practiced a couple of pranayamas and it was a really nice (and effective!) way to calm the nerves. The theme of my class was all about gratitude and appreciating the present moment for exactly what it is.
As students began to settle on their mats, it was a great moment when I stood in front and introduced myself—like how I’ve seen and watched yoga teachers do many times before. In just a couple of minutes, I felt like I was in the zone.
The feedback I got from Suzanne was positive and very encouraging! She told me I have a soothing voice and that my cues were on point. I got really excited after hearing this and was all smiles. I started thinking, wow…maybe I can really do this. I can teach yoga!
After the first class, I felt my confidence building and I was ready for the second community class. By the end of it all, I was so proud of myself and every single one of my fellow trainees in the group.
Taking it All In and Bittersweet Goodbyes
I can’t believe how the training has flown by here at Jiva Yoga Saigon. I have learned so much already and shared so much about myself with the rest of the group. We have bonded so much in such a short time and also spent time together outside of the studio. I needed time to process everything.
Suzanne told us it’s possible that after the training, we might feel sad and that depression might even creep in. I could totally understand that. So far, we have had such a close support network and have collectively been working on our mind, body, and soul. We have gone through so many emotions together, have been strong and vulnerable together, that you can’t help but feel a strong connection with everyone. Suz reminded us to try to stay in touch with each other, to reach out and hold space for one another as needed.
This experience has just been so amazing overall, and soon we would be saying our goodbyes. I didn’t want to. I wanted my life to be like one long yoga teacher training program.
Lessons From the Mat to My Daily Life
I’m happy to report that so far, I have incorporated pranayama two times a day in my daily routine: once when I wake up, and again before I go to bed. As a working mom with a hectic schedule, I found I’ve been calmer and I’ve also been sleeping better at night!
I have also modified my diet to promote inner balance and eat less foods that could throw me off balance, e.g. caffeine and red meat. When I’m in a stressful situation or feel uneasy about something, I find that pranayama and meditation work wonders.
I’m so thankful for my soul brothers and sisters supporting me every step of the way, and the teachers who put so much time and effort into helping me find myself. It was hard to believe that after the training, most of us would get on a plane and go back to our regular lives.
As for me, I believe my “training” is far from over. My teachers have given me many gifts that I still need to practice, learn, and perfect. I am so grateful I’m learning how to take what I have learned off the mat and into my life.
Please stay tuned for the last part in my diary series as I do a bittersweet wrap up of my amazing experience with Jiva Yoga Saigon. I also share some things people don’t tell you about the very real, no-nonsense, and incredibly life-changing experience of a yoga teacher training.