The Sivananda Yoga Teachers’ Training Experience
Personal Experiences of the Teachers’ Training Course
The first Sivananda Yoga Teachers’ Training Course was taught by Swami Vishnudevananda in 1969. Since that time over 39,000 students from all over the world have undergone the training. Here are two personal experiences from recent graduates of the course.
Yoga is a Gift
I enter the Centre on a bright sunny afternoon. Immediately some thing inside me tells me something special exists here. An inner subtle presence in me seems to be linked to this space. It is the same air I am breathing, but something here is beyond words. A harmony, a colour of life, a vital preserved energy. I walk into the Asana classes, the students are getting ready in silence for their class. I can sense a true respect for what will be taught. The teacher starts the class, she chants. Her voice is profound, the sounds and vibrations seem connected to a higher sphere, I can feel a gentle release inside me, a peace within. I know this is the right place. I know something miraculous happens here. My mind cannot grasp it, only deep inside me I sense a truthful pure impulse that I have to train within the Sivananda Yoga Centre.
The TTC begins a few days later
Like a child I sense my whole being ready to learn. I know nothing. I will let myself be open to the teachings of the Masters. Day by day, gently, something inside me opens to new dimensions. The physical awareness of my body grows, the voice gets released in chanting in Kirtan, the spiritual practices gently guide me. Challenges happen and I suddenly realise there are beautiful challenges that are meant to be. I surrender and decide to go with the flow. I realise there is a “Big Picture”. Day by day light comes within. The group grows and learn together, and I can now clearly see that each step of each one of us counts.
An instrument: journey through a body, a voice, a spirit.
I start to grasp deep inside that we are instruments for something bigger, and if we are brave enough, if we surrender, the flow of energy comes to us and the instrument can play its part into the world. If there is a sacrifice to the higher consciousness, light and energy can flow and the knowledge that we are always held and protected comes to us.
One afternoon, during asana classes, a real stillness appears to me for the first time. The experience is both from beyond and within, there is no duality there. The inner being opens up and is suddenly at rest. A whole new dimension has been open in my existence and I realise: there lies the gift of Yoga, there lies what can be given to others. We can transmit to others the tools to access rest and inner peace.
Become a child and learn: exist
It is almost the end of my TTC, I can see the transformative experience that each one of us has been through. I see more clearly within and without. I look at the others: their eyes are brighter, the smiles and laughter are truthful, the bodies are lighter. People seem to be dancing through their lives. I understand I have been given a gift through this experience with them and that there is no time to loose now. Each breath counts in this existence.
Mirabai Student of the Sivananda Teachers’ Training Course, London, UK, Autumn 2016
A Life Changing Experience
It would not be a lie to say that the experience of taking the Sivananda Teachers’ Training Course changed my life. I came to the Sivananda Ashram in Orléans, France, with some experience of yoga and a certain familiarity with the Sivananda organisation. It was still very different from what I expected. It was, in fact, much better. Speaking of the Ashram alone, it is a place with very high energy and dedicated people.
The Ashram is in the midst of nature and stumbling across the occasional wild rabbit was a pleasant side experience during the course. The classes and lectures were highly inspiring and we didn’t want to miss any. Learning the yoga postures step-by-step and getting to teach them was a joy. Even when our joints and muscles felt somewhat tired, we could still get a lot out of the classes. The intensity of the classes increased over the course of the month, but it felt natural.
Once in a while our bodies needed a break, but it very much seemed like all of the amazing and experienced teachers had heard the “my body is so sore”, “my knees hurt” or “my neck feels funny” type of complaints before we could express them, showed understanding and helped us to get over the aches and pains and move on. The great bonus of four weeks of yoga classes twice a day is a wonderful lightness of the body, an increased flexibility, a sense of balance and agility that you never thought you could reach.
Once we started teaching each other in groups, it all finally felt real. At first it was quite nerve-wracking, but just as with anything else, we grew, we received feedback and we improved our teaching skill with each session. What was most important was that we stuck together, we supported and helped each other. No one is perfect at the beginning, but that’s also not what was expected of us, neither by our teacher, nor by our fellow students. Some took the teaching certificate home with the clear intention of teaching, some did not, but everyone can decide that for themselves.
The lectures were a similar experience, yet much more on the spiritual and intellectual side. We started with everyone sitting on a meditation cushion, but as time went by, some of us shifted to a chair which felt like a welcome relief to our tired backs and knees… The lecturing swami gracefully commented on this: “That is how I can tell we are at week four – the number of chairs”! But all the sitting was worth it. In just 4 short weeks we were able to dive into Vedanta, a fascinating ancient philosophy system, still completely relevant in our modern time.
We learned about the inspiring lives of Swami Sivananda and Swami Vishnudevananda, studied the Bhagavad Gita, practised sanskrit chanting and much more. What I personally like most about Vedanta philosophy is that it is adaptable to and most certainly compatible with any faith and any religion. The participants of the course were from all walks of life, all kinds of backgrounds and religious or spiritual beliefs, but I never heard a single person complain that the teachings that they received disturbed their beliefs. On the contrary, they all felt like I did, that it is universal and works with all faiths.
We also covered anatomy – which was directly connected to the benefits of Yoga – and meditation, a highly fascinating subject. It was certainly good to hear that I wasn’t the only one to have trouble with it and to fall asleep repeatedly, but even better to learn how to stay in the moment and be focused.
What really made those four weeks the most incredibly inspiring time of my life, were the people around me: the teachers, who were also guiding us by offering helpful insights both on the spiritual level and the more practical side of life. I also appreciated the guest speakers, who brought their own spark into our experience.
Finally, I felt very connected to my fellow trainees: we felt like one big family supporting each other. Throughout the course, we felt part of an extended family, and taken seriously if we had a problem we needed to address or if we simply needed guidance in our personal journey. I came out feeling almost like a different person – energised, inspired and filled with gratitude and awe for this incredible experience.
Vani Devi (Vera Zoller) Student of the Sivananda Teachers’ Training Course, Orléans, France, Summer 2016