When I finished my Kundalini Yoga teacher training, teaching classes was one of the greatest experiences for me. Sharing knowledge and seeing firsthand how yoga transformed people brought me unexplainable joy. But after a year, I felt the need to be a student again. I had been delving deep into Hatha Yoga studies on my own so I decided it was time to seek out a proper teacher.
I longed to go to India to study with a real teacher in an ashram, but you see ::Kevin Hart voice:: the way my bank account set up – lol…well that and the fact that I have a small child and I run a real estate business single handedly – prevented me from going. So I researched other ashrams nearby. It turned out that there was an ashram 8 minutes away from my house that I had NEVER heard of! And the teacher was a legit yoga master! You can imagine how ecstatic I was. I couldn’t go to India but India came to me. So off to Yogi Hari’s Ashram I went.
Our class practicing yoga underneath a Bodhi tree at the ashram
Teacher training at Yogi Hari’s ashram was an immersive yogic experience to say the least. I lived there for two weeks with the exception of sleep – since I live so close, I chose to go home at night to sleep in my comfy bed – don’t judge me! This was our daily schedule:
5:30 am – Wake up
6:00 am – Meditation, Nada Yoga, Lecture
8:00 am – Asanas, Pranayama
10:00 am – Brunch
11:00 am – Karma Yoga
12:00 pm – Personal Studies
2:00 pm – Main Lecture
4:00 pm – Asanas, Pranayama
6:00 pm – Dinner
7:30 pm – Meditation, Nada Yoga, Lecture
It was pretty much non-stop all day. I would drop dead in my bed at 10:00pm…but we learned SO MUCH! Yogi Hari shared his knowledge about the yoga sutras and would give us personal stories to tie the lessons together. He loved to do Nada Yoga and you can tell his heart was in his voice as he chanted. His disciples, Rama and Ambika, taught us how to teach an authentic Sampoorna yoga class for beginners and advanced alike. We learned posture variations, posture corrections, different pranayama methods, and yogic cleansing techniques (those were really fun…anyone like enemas?? LOL). The amount of yogic knowledge I gained is invaluable. It is exactly what I hungered for!
Rama & Ambika teaching us posture variations
- SELF DISCOVERY & SPIRITUAL GROWTH – At the ashram, I felt like a different person. My life didn’t revolve around endless responsibilities, long to-do lists, and other worldly duties. The identity of ‘Nelsy’ and all the labels attached to her ceased to exist (for the most part anyways). Instead, the sole focus was on going inward and discovering the hidden gems that lie within. I had ALOT of time to ‘go inside’…two weeks of intense, uninterrupted focus on spiritual growth helped me tremendously.
Lounging in the patio
- COMMUNITY, TOLERANCE, & LOVE – Living together with 30 other yogis from all corners of the world was so cool. I mean yeah, there were some challenges: some people had quirks, others had certain personality traits, so on and so forth…But regardless of our differences, we grew very close and became a little yogi family. We took care of each other, helped one another, and supported each other. Teacher training was difficult but sharing time and space with these beautiful souls made it worthwhile. They will always have a special place in my heart, including the disciples.
- SUNRISE MEDITATION/YOGA AT THE BEACH – One of the events we had to participate in during our training was a sunrise meditation and yoga class at the beach (gotta love Florida!). The whole experience absolutely blew me away…such peace, stillness, beauty, wholeness. I had a profound moment during meditation that I will never forget and truly there are no words to describe it but I will say this: I strongly suggest to update your bucket list to include a meditation and yoga practice on the beach at sunrise at least once in your life!
Our class meditating on the beach
Graduation turned out to be a beautiful ceremony. We cried, laughed, and reminisced about all of our yogic adventures during those long but short two weeks. Although I was happy to go back to my life, a part of me was undeniably sad. I realized that living a spiritual life in the real world was MUCH MORE demanding than living it in an ashram or a cave somewhere. You have jobs, finances, children, spouses, pets, etc. constantly fighting for your attention. It takes significant effort, dedication, and discipline to lead a spiritual life in the outside world. I knew that going back to ‘normal’ meant that my lengthy practices and newly developed habits would be threatened to take a backseat.
Well here I am, reporting almost a year later, to tell you that my prediction was correct. I do not spend nearly half as much time meditating, chanting, or practicing yoga as I did in the ashram. But I do not feel bad about it because it would be unrealistic for me to meditate and practice yoga 5 hours a day given my current circumstances. Oh how I wish things would be different, but for the time being, they are what they are. So I make it a point to dedicate time to my spiritual life everyday, whether that be two hours or 10 minutes.
I am grateful for having been blessed with the opportunity to live in an ashram and experience the beauty of dedicating one’s life to exploring within, exploring God, and exploring yoga. I will take what I learned with me and continue to share it with the world 🙂 Om Shanti!
Top: Yogi Hari and I // Bottom: Class Picture on Graduation Day