With our training only a month away, I thought I’d take some time to address one of the more general and common questions that I get: Why should someone do an Immersion based Yoga Training?
I’ll admit that when I first started to teach Yoga Teacher Trainings I was a bit skeptical of the immersion model. I wasn’t sure that it would be possible for the students to learn and integrate everything that they needed to in the short time of a month. At the first immersion training I taught at the Sanctuary at Two Rivers, I was pleasantly surprised. In the last week, when the students were teaching their sample classes, I was impressed by how much they had picked up on and what they were able to do.
By the time we were developing the curriculum for our Tantric Alchemy Institute Advanced Training, I realized that the really beautiful thing about an immersion based training is the way it allows you to fully live the practices as you learn about them. Our students have a rare opportunity to practice under almost ideal conditions and circumstances and feel the full potential of what these kind of practices and this kind of lifestyle has to offer.
Ayurveda often emphasizes the importance of Dinacarya, or a daily routine of self-care practices, in order to maintain our health and balance. In ordinary life, this has profound effects on our well-being, but it is often difficult to establish without a firm foundation. During our training, this foundation is set and many of the components of a proper Ayurvedic Dinacarya develop naturally just as a matter of course.
We start every morning of our training with meditation. The type of meditation that we utilize grows and develops over the course of the month, so that students without much experience can build a fluency with the skills that meditation builds.
After that, we proceed to a physical practice of Asana, Pranayama, and Kriyas, which allows us to work our bodies and gain strength, flexibility, and awareness. Each day builds on and contrasts with the previous day and we include themes that work through the elements and planetary influences that form some of the symbolic backdrop of Yoga.
The meals at the Sanctuary are world-class and I start to salivate in anticipation every year when the time approaches where I will be headed back there. Aside from being delicious and nutritious, it’s amazing how wonderful it feels to just rely on the stability of regularly timed, deeply fulfilling meals. Ayurveda often recommends that we eat at the same time each day in order to have a good rhythm for our digestive processes and I always marvel at how much mental space is freed and how much ease arises when I realize that I don’t have to meal plan, worry about timing, or juggle between having something delicious and having something healthy.
Ritual is another component that our Immersion Training allows people to experience fully. The students have opportunities to lead and hold space for little rituals each day and we have fire ceremonies each week and circle practices where we get to chant and sing together. You can palpably feel the energy building and stabilizing over the course of the month each time we come together to practice.
There are different kinds of learning that we can find in this world. When most people think of learning, they probably think of reading, listening to a lecture, or trying to retain particular information. Our students definitely have opportunities to engage in this through our course work. However, there is also a more hands-on and embodied learning that we can find when we really have the ability to observe the theory put into practice. This is what we really hope to bring to our Training and I have been truly moved by the transformations that this has brought forth in our students each year.
Our students gain skills which will surely make them better and more successful Yoga Teachers, but even more than that, the practices that we are aiming to bring to life help all of us to be more awakened human beings. Yoga isn’t just something that happens in a studio, it is something that we bring with us everywhere we go in life.