I did it. I’m a certified yoga teacher. 🙂
Ah, the journey it took to get here.
When I started practicing yoga in 2016, I had no idea that I would love it so much that I’d want to take a teacher training course someday. My practice back then was hardcore—I’d attend 90-minute classes five times a week, sometimes even twice a day. I stopped in mid-2017 due to personal reasons and slowly resumed later in the year. Things were never the same, but I got to practice my “yoga off the mat” more during that time.
In 2018, I signed up for a local YTT course set to be held the following year. I used the time to mentally, physically, and financially prepare myself for what was about to happen. I often heard that it’s a life-changing experience, people cry a lot, and you’ll never forget it for the rest of your life. What I didn’t anticipate was the heartbreak of finding out that it wouldn’t push through, six days before the course was supposed to start.
So no, I didn’t get to do my YTT in 2019, and it crushed me. I won’t go into much detail, but it’s worth mentioning because that’s what led me to find the school I ended up attending. If this didn’t happen, I would’ve never considered taking my training out of the country. (Eventually, everything connects!)
There aren’t many YTT courses in the Philippines. So, in one of my heart-to-heart conversations with a yogi friend, the suggestion of taking my practice overseas was brought up. At the time, I was very hesitant.
First, should I be thinking of looking at another course so soon? What if the cancellation was a sign that I shouldn’t do YTT? Second, it’s abroad. I even wondered out loud if I could do that since I’ve never traveled alone, and being away from familiarity for a month might get too intense for me. Besides, how would I even know which location or school to pick among the hundreds out there?
She simply told me it would feel right once I’ve found the one.
I Choose You
The real sign turned out to be that something else was in store for me. My friend was right. About a month later, I opened myself up to the possibilities and did intense research, looking at schools in Indonesia and Thailand—countries both close to home, and ones I’ve been to before. After weeks of nonstop Googling, one school stood out to me: Power of Now Oasis (PONO) in Sanur, Bali.
I wrote to the school right away. I had so many questions! I also started to calculate my expenses outside the course fee, like accommodation, pocket money, and airfare. Was it doable? Turns out, yes. I started planning eight months before my selected training schedule (March 2020), so I had a lot of time. I informed a few close friends and my family about my plan.
Later on, I was able to arrange things at work and home. I settled my payments. I set my intentions. Time went by until the day of my flight was here. My yoga teacher training was here.
Taking a Leap
It’s February 29, 2020, and I’ve officially landed in Bali, Indonesia. Sanur is a quiet beach town 20 minutes away from the airport, and it’s one of the reasons why I chose Power of Now Oasis. I stayed in Sekar Waru Homestay, a peaceful and simple B&B, which was a 10-minute walk from the studio. And have I mentioned that the studio overlooks the beach? Yup, that was another deciding factor for me.
The opening ceremony was the next day, and preparing for it gave me butterflies in my stomach. Who are my classmates? How many are we? Will I earn good friends throughout this experience?
I met eight other beautiful souls on the course: Lou (Germany), Neli (Lithuania/Denmark), Trine (Denmark), Emily (USA), Tasha (Philippines/Hong Kong), Jeanette (Norway), Judith (Hungary), and Saud (Kuwait).
The first thing I loved was we were a small group. Nine is perfect! It was intimate and not intimidating. Second, I was shocked to find out that there was another Filipina and Kuwaiti in the course. What were the odds? It felt like the Universe was giving me pieces of something familiar since I was away from home. The energy was amazing. And so I was very excited for the next four weeks to come!
So It Begins
The first week of the course was an info dump. There was a lot to wrap your head around, from asana alignments and philosophy subjects to anatomy and Sanskrit terms you have to memorize. Our days were filled with learning, interacting, and sweating. With a lot on our plate, there wasn’t enough time for us to process our emotions… or so I thought.
A couple of days into the course, I was surprised to feel so sad.
Flying alone and leaving my home, cats, and everything behind took a great emotional toll on me. I wasn’t used to it. Before leaving, traveling solo was the only part I was a bit scared of throughout the trip. On the fourth day of the course, I opened up to Sandeep, my head teacher, about it. I ended up crying to him for about an hour straight about missing everyone. (No, I’m not joking!)
This might seem silly to some, but it was pretty intense for me. I let my emotions bubble up and burst. And I couldn’t be more grateful to Sandeep for patiently listening to me, not once making me feel like I was shallow. He told me that I was crying because I had so much love to give, and I didn’t know where to channel it. So, I could start by dedicating it to the people around me in the training.
Talking to him and opening up to my batchmates was an early turning point. I was surprised to cry so much on just the first week of the course—they did say you’d cry a lot, but I didn’t expect it so soon!
Every person in my batch had an impact, but I’d have to give special mentions to Emily and Lou for making a deep connection with me. All our after-school study sessions and stories shared by the pool were some of the simple joys of the trip. I’m glad they were with me on this journey.
Going Deeper Into the Rabbit Hole
The second week of the course was when the batch collectively felt sore and worn out by our daily schedule. We learned nonstop every day and practiced yoga from Monday through Saturday—all that mental and physical work was starting to catch up. We did have Sunday off, but with homework and self-study sandwiched in there, it flew by pretty quickly.
Day by day, we were learning more about spirituality, philosophy, ayurveda, pranayama, and other non-asana related yoga topics that broadened our worldview. (Yes guys, yoga is more than just the poses.) We were also slowly starting to find our unique way of cueing when it comes to teaching our partners during asana labs, which was always fun, challenging, and tiring at the same time. Alignment class was my favorite subject, and I’m glad we had it every day!
Sometime during the midweek, I led my first Yoga Nidra class using a script I wrote and ushered my batchmates in what I hoped was a refreshing 20-minute power nap/meditation. It warmed my heart when Jeanette told me that she had tears in her eyes after the session.
The realization hit that we only had another week and half of learning to go before our practice teaching sessions and practical exams in the fourth week. The class hours go by quickly, but the days are long—it was a bit hard to process that we’d be teaching our first public class so soon.
It wasn’t until the weekend when the news about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic slowly started to plant seeds of worry in our minds, ultimately changing our whole YTT experience.
Dealing With the Pandemic
Even as I’m writing this down, I still find it crazy how much the world changed just a couple weeks after I boarded that plane to Bali. The threat of the virus was already present, but things escalated so quickly. Suddenly, borders were shutting down, countries were ordering lockdowns, and the world was turning upside down.
The studio temporarily closed, too. No public classes were held starting Monday, March 16. It was just us, the teachers, and the staff.
On March 17, the Power of Now Oasis team and our batch had a meeting about possibly wrapping up the course earlier than planned. Our graduation day was originally March 27 (Friday the following week), but given the situation, Sandeep created a schedule where we could finish as early as March 22 (the upcoming Sunday).
The catch: We’d be having 12-hour days starting the next day (instead of our usual eight) to fit everything in. And for this to push through, everyone has to cast a vote. Majority wins.
It turns out everyone agreed to speed things up. New timesheets were handed out to us. Our course was ending five days earlier, and my friends who wanted to stay in Bali after the training had no choice but to cancel their plans.
It was a lot to take in all at once:
- We’re graduating this Sunday
- We’re on the last week of the course
- Our final written exam is a few days away
- We’re going to design classes and teach them only two days apart
- The world is fighting a pandemic
- Our flights are getting canceled
- How are my loved ones back home?
- Should I go home soon?
- Am I going to get certified?
- Am I gonna get stuck here in Bali?
Emotions were high as people dealt with these thoughts in their own way. A lot of crying, worrying, and snapping happened. After all, we’re only human.
Despite the Universe giving me small reminders that I’m where I’m meant to be, I couldn’t help but worry about the possibility of not graduating from the course. I unraveled an insecurity I didn’t realize I was carrying due to my previous experience of a canceled YTT. I was terrified. We all were.
Thankfully, my batchmates (now dear friends) and my ever-supportive boyfriend were there to calm my nerves. We helped each other focus on what truly mattered—making the most out of our last few days in the course.
Honestly, the last few days of the course seemed like a blur. I only really remember creating and practicing a 75-minute Hatha Flow sequence with Lou. I was grateful to be paired up with one of the people I turned out to be the closest to on the course, and our dynamic worked well together.
We decided to create a heart and hip opener sequence, and we were mentored by Krisna, one of our teachers in the program. We flowed, laughed, and ate throughout our given practice time, until the day of the exams finally came.
It’s Time to Teach
THIS IS IT. March 22, 2020.
With nerves and mixed emotions, I had no idea how I was going to survive that day. Lou and I were teaching the first class out of three groups, starting at 7:30 AM. We got there earlier to prepare everything, and our students slowly arrived one by one. Since the studio was closed, our batchmates and Power of Now Oasis staff were our students. Nine people came. Perfect.
As soon as 7:30 hit, a different feeling came over me. I was in charge of leading the first half of the class, and it was a thrill. To this day, I’m still in awe with all the yoga teachers out there who can perform the asanas, cue them, and not lose their breath, while reminding you to catch yours. It’s a superpower, guys. LOL.
Before I knew it, the class was over, and it was a success! Sure, we fumbled here and there, but I was really proud of Lou and myself. We did it!
To my shock, I found out that Saud cried during the class. After coming out of camel pose (ustrasana), he said he felt the tears running down his face in child’s pose (balasana) for no reason. I was so happy that our heart opener class worked out for him, and he released whatever that was that he didn’t need anymore.
We attended two more classes (Traditional Hatha and Vinyasa) led by our batchmates, which were also a success. When lunchtime came, we were in for a treat as the Power of Now Oasis team surprised us with a graduation lunch. It was one of the highlights of the day so far!
The Graduation Ceremony
By 4:00 PM, we had done three yoga classes, ate to our heart’s content, did a final written test, freshened up, and changed into our white clothes. The graduation ceremony was about to begin.
With so much going on that day, I couldn’t help but feel emotional as we went up to the studio one last time. Seeing the marigold garlands and mala beads laid out for us was surreal, as I’d dreamt this moment so many times.
I felt the tears rise as our teachers, Sandeep, Krisna, Ulfa, and Menik, each spoke about how they were proud of us. We received our certificates, said our thanks, and hugged and congratulated each other. We were just a ball of emotions. We couldn’t believe it was over.
After the ceremony, Sandeep announced that I scored the highest marks in our final written exam. How awesome!!!
Goodbyes Are the Hardest
We all knew this was coming, but it didn’t make it any less sad.With every beginning comes an ending, and it was time to say goodbye to my friends. Some of them caught flights earlier on before borders in their home country shut, which was why they weren’t able to attend the closing ceremony anymore. Jeanette immediately had to leave after our graduation because she had a plane to catch.
Due to the limited availability of flights and upcoming Hari Raya Nyepi on the 25th, I had to leave Bali as soon as possible. The only option was to head for Jakarta, where flights bound for Manila were still running. I booked my departure for the evening of March 23.
On my last day in Bali, I had breakfast with Tasha and lunch with Lou. I also requested to meet with Sandeep to express my gratitude for everything he did for me and the batch during the course. At around 5:00 PM, I said my last goodbyes to Neli, Saud, and Lou while fighting tears. It’s so crazy how close we’ve grown in that short amount of time. They, along with the teachers, really became my family in Bali.
My Takeaways From This Experience
There’s truly a lot that I learned from the course, beyond 150 asanas, Sanskrit terms, and parts of the body.
- Sometimes things don’t go the way you plan because the Universe has bigger things in store for you. It might’ve hurt a lot then, but I’m grateful for that canceled yoga teacher training. It taught me patience and trust. I also wouldn’t have gone to Power of Now Oasis.
- Embrace those emotions! Celebrate the tears and snot rolling down your face just as much as your toothy smiles and laughter. There’s no “perfect reaction” to any situation. Let go of the fear of judgement, and just feel your emotions.
- You CAN. And you are enough. There will be moments of doubt, but your belief in yourself should be greater than that.
- Every person you meet is put on your path for a reason. And this might not always have a positive translation. Maybe they’re teaching you to open your mind, or they’re bringing out a whole new level of kindness or understanding you didn’t know you had in you.
- The magic of friendship and love can heal almost anything. Lean onto the people who love you, because they will always support you. Always.
- Try your best to be kind. You never really know what other people have been through or are going through.
- Yoga will forever be one of the things I treasure the most in this lifetime. It’s a gift to experience, and I am thankful to have found it.
Before writing this, I thought I wouldn’t have the words to describe my experience. I am so grateful to my amazing teachers and lovely batchmates at Power of Now Oasis for making those 24 days of yoga teacher training in Bali worthwhile. I learned new things about myself, developed a bit more confidence, shed some insecurities, and fell in love with yoga even more.
And now, it’s time for me to continue my yoga journey and start honing those teaching skills. Maybe I’ll see you on the mat one day? 🙂
Check out more pictures below.