For the last few years I’ve struggled with depression. I was sluggish, tired all the time and nothing really felt real or like it was actually happening to me. It was like I was looking into my life from the outside on most days. What I learned from it, is how to truly and deeply be happy. Yoga became my medicine. I realized that by keeping my body moving I could be happy without artificial chemicals going into it. I started yoga about 2 ½ years ago in the summer of 2014.
I was in and out of a regular yoga practice based on my class load but I knew even doing yoga twice a week would make me happier and keep the depression at a distance. I always had bad days but they were bearable and I have been strong enough to push through them and try to get shit done.
I started thinking about doing a YTT a year ago while I was in the middle of my last year of undergrad. I thought it would be nice to learn more about a practice I had neglected a little bit to have more time to study. I am also a very academic person and love learning so it was in my character to eventually ask more questions about yoga.
I was looking into trainings domestically at first but they were expensive and took about 3 months to complete. I started looking internationally in Costa Rica or Bali. International intensive programs take about a month. I liked the intensive nature of those programs so I could fully immerse into yoga. Costa Rica is a very expensive place to train (around $5000 not including flights), and they didn’t have as many amenities. Bali was around $3000 or more, which was more promising to me, so I had thought I would do the training there.
In the spring I took a course on the history of yoga at my college. We started all the way back, about 2000 years ago, and ended to present time. We read ancient texts, excerpts as well as the translated Patanjali Yoga Sutras, and interpretations of other texts for the modern time. I loved learning about the ancient cleansing techniques and the philosophical ideas of classical yoga and tantric yoga. The yoga we know now is heavily based around the body and postures but that is a relatively recent evolution in yoga. Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice by Mark Singleton is a great book to understand the whole timeline of yoga.
After taking this course I knew I really wanted do a yoga teacher training, and I started looking into courses in India. I wanted to learn yoga in the place in originated. I found a website for a training in Rishikesh, but after looking into it and reading reviews it didn’t look as enticing. Then I found Siddhi Yoga Academy. They had a training in Rishikesh too, but I was drawn to Dharamsala. It is nestled in the Himalayas, and looked much more peaceful than Rishikesh.
I paid around $1300 because I enrolled at the earliest time I could. It included tuition, reading material for the course, the hotel accommodation for the course, and 3 vegetarian meals a day. (I will talk more about the details of the course, and the accommodation with Siddhi Yoga in a review)
I came into the course with an open mind, and expected to return changed. I haven’t left the country in almost 15 years, and that was only to Mexico on a family vacation. I was doing this trip on my own, and I chose to go to a developing country. I knew I would grow, but I didn’t know what to expect.
I learned a lot from the course but I learned even more from the people who were there with me. I fell in love with each one of them in different ways. In our closing ceremony, one of my friends, Kayla, said that we were all her soulmates, and I feel exactly the same way. Each person was so unique and beautiful. We went through so much together. We were on our own personal journeys but our paths supported each other. We didn’t know all of our struggles that brought us to that place, or the issues we may have been working through. I know I had a few, most I didn’t share with my new friends. Even though they didn’t know mine and I didn’t know theirs, I felt a warmth from all of them that makes me emotional thinking about how amazing they were.
This past month may have been the happiest I’ve been consistently in my young life. My friends taught me a lot. I also taught myself. I was able to work through a couple of my demons, and I am so thankful for that.