Hari Om and Namasté, everyone!
Another deep experience along my spiritual journey has come to an end – and led me to a new beginning. A journey “of the Self, through the Self, to the Self” as the Bhagavad Gita – an ancient Sanskrit scripture – puts it very eloquently. After I attended my 200 hrs Yoga Teacher Training in Rishikesh exactly one year ago, I knew for sure that I’ll come back to India soon and continue this path towards my Self. In Rishikesh, I had the necessary surroundings which allowed me to uplift my state of consciousness, to grow along the side of highly knowledgeable teachers in a group of like-minded people. It was a unique transformative experience that needed to be continued. Well, I just received my continuation with my 300 hrs YTTC in Goa/India at Abhinam Yoga.
Before I get into all the nitty gritty of my fabulous experience, I want to emphasize the intention yoga is giving us: It is a holistic approach for seekers who start questioning what they have learned or have been conditioned throughout their lifetime. It supports the individual spiritual seeker along his own journey with scriptures, physical movement, breath and concentration exercises in order to silence the chattering mind and approach the universal truth that lies within each of us. My personal intention is to grow with these tools and pass them on to the world, share them with everyone who is ready for this path by themselves.
“The study of asana is not about mastering posture.
It is about using posture to understand and transform yourself.”
Let’s come back to my 300 hrs Yoga Teacher Training: What’s my impression of Goa, of the school, the people, the food, and in which way did I grow in this place? Well, sit comfortably, take a deep breath, relax completely … and enjoy reading! 🙂
~ Abhinam Yoga in Goa: the place ~
As you can already guess from the pictures, Goa is a tropical place on the west coast of India. You can find palm trees, coconuts, and any type of animal or insect you can imagine. From pigs, hens, dogs, and cows to lizards, birds, peacocks, spiders, and cockroaches. After months of the German winter, my body was yearning for sunshine and warm temperatures. The winters are always a barren run for me, so I felt relieved when arriving at this place. By the time I was in Goa, it turned into the summer season which means at least 30 °C every single day and a lot of sunshine. I guess my body was yearning for vitamin D and I quickly got a nice skin tone.
The teachers, as well as the group, welcomed me with a big heart and I felt totally open-hearted from the first moment. The rooms are vast, pretty simple, but you have all you need for this period of time. Our yoga lessons were held mostly outside at two different places which are about 10 min. apart from each other by foot. You’ll also find many massage places in Goa for a bargain compared to European prices. I went for different types of massages every week, four times in total.
The director of Abhinam yoga school is Namito, a soul of a human being, whose master was B.K.S. Iyengar in person. He also studied with Pattabhi Jois for one year. Thus, the school focuses on Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga with proper alignment, based on Iyengar Yoga. This combination attracted me from the first moment of my online research. What I eventually learned, experienced, felt, and went through at this place was beyond any imagination. Most of the classes were held by three charming ladies: Deepika (Sakshi), Abhi, and Taru. Anatomy class was taught by lovely Siddho, a knowledgeable and adorable woman. You can feel their authenticity, passion, and love in everything they do and “are”.
~ The group ~
In contrary to the group of students back in Rishikesh, we were only five students in the 300 hrs course. To be honest: this was a privilege. At the same time, four more students started their 200 hrs YTTC, so we were nine students in total, staying together and having a few classes together. Looking at the pictures brings me close to tears again. It was a lovely group of people from different parts of the world, mostly from Europe: Sweden, United Kingdom, France, Italy, the Czech Republic, and one girl was from Thailand. As English is the language of my heart, I felt totally blessed again to communicate this way and strengthen my English skills. The teachers could really focus on us students, there was a strong connection and interaction because we were so few people. I felt very comfortable to open myself and gained so much knowledge, wisdom, and experience. Imagine you are surrounded by strongly like-minded people who are not only here for exercising physically but to grow spiritually. I appreciate every single one of them and couldn’t be more grateful to share my journey on such a deep level with these beautiful souls.
~ The schedule ~
Each week we received an updated schedule. We started at 6.30 a.m., ended the day with meditation, and had dinner at 7.00 p.m. Saturday afternoon was our self-study time as we were supposed to write assignments, and Sunday was our day off.
Basically, we started with Ashtanga practice (Primary series) in the morning, followed by breakfast and a short break. At 10.30 a.m. we had a theory class, either philosophy or anatomy, followed by a “non-defined” class where we either practised different asana styles (Vinyasa Flow, Yin, Restorative, theme based class), Yoga nidra (yogic sleep technique), learned about mudras, chakras, massage techniques during Savasana (final relaxation pose), or we went to the beach for a swimming meditation (swimming with full awareness). Lunch time was at 1 p.m. and the next class started at 3 p.m., usually “Art of teaching” where we learned how to adjust students as a yoga teacher. We also went through a lot of asanas from the Ashtanga Intermediate Series in this class to deepen our own asana progress. After that, we were supposed to practice teaching on each other for an hour. Before meditation class at 6 p.m. we had a short break and were served tea. We usually ate dinner at 7 or 7.30 p.m. together which was always a beautiful way to end our days.
~ The food ~
As Goa is a tropical place in India, you can guess that we were surrounded by an abundance of fruits and coconuts here. The school provided us with three meals (vegan) per day, except Saturday evening and Sunday where we ate outside. They offered lots of fruits and a porridge (plus cinnamon and coconut oil) for breakfast. Lunch and dinner were very similar, yet super tasty: salads, steamed vegetables, sautéed spinach, different rice variations and dhal or another type of soup/stew with legumes.
I spent most of my money on fruits– well, besides the massages ;-). On our days off, I ate only fruits during the days and had a cooked Indian meal for dinner. I am super happy that they also focused on a vegan meal plan and matched exactly my taste. Although the food was pretty simple and almost the same every day, I didn’t miss out anything, because that’s basically what I eat as home as well: yogic (sattvic) food. 🙂
~ My personal experiences: what I’ve learnt ~
The first and foremost thing I need to mention is that I found the type of yoga practice that is so deeply aligned with what I was looking for at this place. As I mentioned further above, the school combines Ashtanga Vinyasa with Iyengar Yoga. The use of props and the correct alignment in order to prevent any injury is key, especially in a physically challenging practice like Ashtanga. It is not about getting into the pose no matter what, but to practice each asana properly by supporting your current body’s condition. If you feel really connected to what you’re doing, you come so much closer to your inner Self, you learn more about yourself. I couldn’t be more grateful for the precious wisdom I absorbed from all the teachers and everyone around. Although I am a certified yoga instructor now, I will always remain a dedicated student and see where this path will take me.
“Yoga is the perfect opportunity to be curious about who you are.”
In our philosophy classes – which I absolutely adored – we dove deeper into the spiritual experiences of enlightenment by reading texts from the third and fourth chapter of Patanjali’s yoga sutras. For the ordinary mind, these texts are pretty intangible. However, if you drop your analytical part of thinking, stay open and curious, you will absorb these texts right from your heart. I also read a book from Osho, a spiritual master from India, called “The Independent Mind”. I came across a few eye-opening passages in his writings that I used to forget in the ordinary cycle of life. Essentially, it is always the active mind which holds us back from love, joy, health, and overall happiness. Although you might know tools and techniques to align yourself theoretically – but do you apply them into your daily life? Do you witness your thoughts, love what you do, and choose to honestly take care of your body?
These are the three levels of life:
The body which is dependent and cannot become independent;
the mind which is dependent, but can become independent;
the soul which is independent and is incapable of becoming dependent.
In meditation classes, we went to the beach for a few times, walking in silence, chanting together, being completely present with nature and becoming a witness of our thoughts. As simple as it sounds, it has always been a deeply emotional (healing) experience for me. The close connection to nature invites me to open my heart and come to a point of stillness within my mind. At this place, I became very aware of how often I am unconscious in my day to day life. Whether in terms of exercise, work, nutrition, or my blog – although many habits may be considered as “good”, I must admit that I’m very often a victim of my mind. The three phrases that popped up in my head again and again were:
- Find balance.
- Tap into alignment.
- Realize your true Self.
If you’re interested in what I exactly mean by this, stay tuned for some upcoming articles. 🙂
I highly recommend this place to anyone who is ready to dive deeper into his own yoga practice, not only physically, but in a holistic way. Plus, anyone who yearns for becoming a confident yoga teacher will find the necessary tools and surroundings here. You will be able to focus on supporting your students in their practice in a safe, yet progressive way.
Thank you to everyone from Abhinam Yoga. Thank you, Namito, for offering this place with so much love and an open heart. May you all be blessed!
Om śānti śānti śānti!