It has now been seven years since I graduated from my first Yoga School in 2006 in Bali as a 200Hrs Yoga Teacher. I was living in Dubai working for a diamond company as an area sales manager building a successful career, living in Downtown Dubai right next to the tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa, watching the dancing fountain from my balcony … I guess what I am trying to say here is that one would think I had an amazing life, however, I was not happy. I felt uninspired at work, I felt emotionally empty, I had no desire to continue to live this way.
At this point in my life, I was attending weekly yoga classes at a local studio just down the road from where I lived, with my Indian yoga teacher Anand whom I felt connected to. Yoga gave me a sense of belonging. I remember always feeling grounded and balanced after each yoga class, which was a combination of a physical practice (asanas) and breathing techniques (pranayamas).
It was a wonderful community to be part of, where for an hour I felt present, happy and, as we like to say, “zen”. The more I practised, the more curious I became about diving deeper into this Yoga World.
At one point, my teacher told me: “Why don’t you do your TTC (Teachers’ Training Course) and teach yoga? You would be great at it!” And there was I, thinking: “Are you crazy, changing my diamond career to become a yoga teacher?”
With my dance background and my father introducing me to the fitness industry from a young age, I have always enjoyed challenging my body physically. I tried many different fitness classes and sports which gave me that physical challenge, but what made me more curious about yoga was that it wasn’t just about the physical practice, it was the whole philosophy of it.
Yoga is about the connection between your body, mind and soul. So, as I was moving my body physically, practising all these different poses in yoga classes, becoming a more advanced student, I also started learning about the power of being in the present moment, the power of the mind and the breath.
There is an endless amount of literature and books about this topic, and I still continue to learn about it, but I must mention the book by Eckhart Tolle, “The Power of Now”, which has been a life changer. And until today, I keep on recommending this book to anyone who wishes to go beyond the physical practice and learn how to find stillness and happiness in the present moment. As Eckhart Tolle states very simply: “When you live in complete acceptance of what is, that is the end of all drama in your life.”
Learning how to live in the present moment is not an easy task. The same way we train our physical bodies, we can train our minds and this is where yoga practices come in handy. The meditation, the stillness, the breathing, even the physical practice that is connecting you to your breath are all tools you can start using to become more aware of what is “NOW” and becoming more present.
Being inspired by Eckhart Tolle and wanting to learn more about yoga, I made a decision. I resigned from my job as a sales manager, I applied for YTT (Yoga Teacher Training) in Bali with Blooming Lotus Yoga School, I booked a flight and flew there in July 2016.
I will never forget the day I arrived in Bali. The moment I entered Ubud (an area in Bali full of vegan cafes, cute little shops, temples and yoga studios), I immediately felt the sense of spirituality in the air. I was so excited to experience this journey, I could barely sleep. I stayed at a local hotel for a night before I checked into the Yoga School, journaling through my emotions of excitement, not knowing what this will bring into my life, what kind of people I will meet, what my teachers will be like, will I be good enough to take this course …
Questions in my mind were never ending but, above all, I was so curious to learn and find a way to fill this void of emptiness I had been feeling.
To complete a 200Hrs YTT takes about three and half weeks, ending with a ceremony of everyone dressed in white receiving their certificates and wisdom from their teachers.
The journey was much more than I expected or could even imagine. There were lessons in everything I went through and everyone I met and, until today, I still keep in touch with my fellow yogi friends from all over the world.
We woke up every day with a sunrise, practicing meditation, sitting in stillness for an hour, which was probably the most challenging part for me at this point, eating very moderate portions of vegan food and attending endless daily anatomy and yoga classes together. We were a group of 35 girls at the school not realising how much this experience would impact our lives.
Some of us became yoga teachers, some took the knowledge and applied it to their lifestyle, some opened yoga studios, some even moved to Bali. I returned to Dubai feeling out of place there and not really knowing where to start with all this knowledge I had just soaked in.
Eventually, a few months later, I started teaching yoga in a female-only yoga studio in Dubai and continued to learn, read and apply the knowledge wherever I could. I never looked back since nor worked for a corporate company again in my life.
I continued my yoga journey and attended another YTT, this time in Mallorca at a Green Yoga International School in 2018, at which I now call my “Spiritual Home”.
I return to GYI every year as a teacher now where I conduct Yin Yoga Teacher Training for those who wish to learn about Yin Yoga and Yoga Nidra. This training is a week-long 50Hrs which includes lessons in Anatomy, Yin Yoga Classes and Yoga Nidra Practices.
Yoga Teachers’ Training isn’t only for those who wish to become teachers, but also for anyone who wishes to create a balance in their life, learn more about yoga tools and practices, learn about themselves and have one of the best experiences in their lives.
Here are answers from some of our graduates from Green Yoga International School in Mallorca, on what yoga means to them and I truly hope this might inspire some of you to learn more about yoga itself or about some of the practices.
ADAM | Age: 42
“Yoga has become a way of life for me, it provides me with a sense of well-being physically, mentally and spiritually. It helps me to maintain balance and guides my path in this beautiful journey. I see myself more peaceful and grounded after training at GYI. Knowing yourself and having direction are only a few of the amazing characteristics that YTT and GYI can help you with.”
SHANE | Age: 33
“Yoga for me is my escape, it’s my focus and my constant in life. It keeps me moving forward one step at a time. I see myself as someone capable and able to help others discover the benefits of the practice. As someone who is strong and knows themselves a lot better than they did before completing my TTC.”
ANASTASIA | Age: 33
“Yoga means everything to me. Yoga helped me to rediscover a true me, becoming my lifestyle and my occupation. I have definitely become more resilient physically and mentally, I have learned compassion for myself and others.”
ANDREA | Age: 35
Profession: Fitness Instructor
“Yoga has been an extraordinary teacher in my life. What at first was a simple workout soon became a ritual that led me to a greater understanding of myself. Obviously, the body and practice of each of us is different from person to person, but the underlying model is the same. Some are looking for an intense workout, others for inner harmony and balance, some are driven to practise by pain or suffering and look to yoga as a way to heal and recover health. Others consciously approach yoga, seeking spiritual growth and connection.”
To know more about yoga course and teacher trainings, check out GYI website www.greenyogaindia.com
By Elena Menci
Elena Menci is a 700hr International Yoga Teacher who studied in India, Bali, Mallorca and Dubai. She teaches private and group classes in Vilamoura and hosts workshops, weekend and week-long retreats for her “Haven” community in the Algarve, which she is a founder of. Elena’s passion is to pass on what she has learnt from all her gurus and teachers to those around her.