Hello, my name is Charlotte, and I have just graduated from Shades of Yoga’s 200 hour yoga teacher training course in Bali! Woohoo! It still feels so surreal! Back when I was trying to decide on a teacher training programme I was hungry to learn more about people’s experiences of training. I hope me sharing my journey helps to give you an insight into what yoga teacher training is really like.
Why I Became a Yoga Teacher
I have been practicing yoga on and off since I was a teenager. However, it was only when I started working full time as a psychotherapist that yoga became an important part of my daily life. I primarily used yoga as a way of balancing out the stress of my job; it became my non-negotiable ‘me time’, which is so important in a field where you spend most of your energy and time helping others. Although I have been passionate about yoga for a long time, I had never dreamt of becoming a yoga teacher until this year.
A few months ago I was sitting in my London office, the same office I have been sitting in for the last 4 years, thinking there must be something more, when I saw a post pop up on instagram of a friend doing yoga teacher training in India. I thought, wow that’s so amazing, I wish I could do that. The seed was planted. After a pretty stressful week, I messaged this friend and asked about her experience. She told me about her life changing journey and I felt so inspired that I decided to take the leap out of my comfort zone and into the unknown.
Why I Chose Shades of Yoga
Choosing a yoga teacher training programme felt completely overwhelming! There are just sooo many courses out there! It has always been a dream of mine to experience living in Bali, one of my favorite places in the world. The energy in Ubud is beautiful, the local people are so kind, the food is incredible and it always feels super safe, so I started my search there.
It was very important to me to do my training with a school that aligned with me personally. I wanted a really nurturing course that had a strong focus on alignment and safe practice. This is Shades in a nutshell! I was also looking for a more intimate course with a small cohort. Shades of Yoga cap their groups at 16 people, so it feels like a little family and you always have a lot of support.
The final decision was made after I discovered an old school friend had also done the Shades of Yoga course earlier in the year. She told me the course was well established, highly organized and reliable and that the teaching was amazing. I was sold!
How I Prepared for Yoga Teacher Training
After confirming my place on the Shades of Yoga Course I was so so excited! I had been warned by my friend that the course was super intense and so I wanted to be prepared. I cleared my work schedule and I found a lovely place to live. A lot of people assume you need to be super flexible and able to do complex poses, like headstands and handstands, in order to start yoga teacher training. This isn’t true. Yoga is not about being flexible or doing handstands, it is more about the journey. So long as you have a regular mindful practice, you can do yoga teacher training!
Saying this, doing asana classes twice a day, every day is physically demanding and so I wanted to make sure I was fit. I kept up with my regular yoga practice and weight training, with a particular focus on strengthening muscles that are used regularly in yoga. I started the training feeling super strong, which really helped! I would highly recommend this; it will make your journey so much easier and it will help to protect your body from injury. You don’t need to be a member of a fancy gym, you can do yoga and bodyweight exercises, like tricep dips, at home. I loved practicing asanas twice a day but it is demanding on your body.
The First Day
I remember feeling so nervous and full of self doubt on my first day! My heart was beating fast as I walked tentatively into the garden of Taksu Spa. I was greeted with a warm smile from the lovely Charlotte (same name!) who is currently Shades of Yoga’s primary teacher trainer. She gave me a delicious welcome drink and led me to the garden Shala for the first time. I remember thinking, wow this is beautiful! The Shala is made of stunning wood, it has a rattan roof and open sides overlooking the jungle and there is a waterfall that runs beneath it!
When everyone had arrived we sat in a circle on the floor around a stunning mandala made of fragrant Balianese flowers. We were encouraged to take a moment to look around the circle and to make eye contact with everyone, acknowledging them without speaking. It was so exciting to see the people that I would be training with for the next month! Charlotte said a few words and we did a beautiful short meditation. Almost instantly I felt so calm. It felt like a very safe space. We were invited to privately set our intentions for the course; mine were strength and confidence.
Afterwards, we went around in a circle and introduced ourselves, saying where we were from and why we had decided to do the course. We were a group from all over the world; America, Malaysia, Germany, China, England and Switzerland. It was interesting to hear that about half of the cohort wanted to teach and the other half just wanted to do something for themselves and to learn more about yoga. There was also a common theme that emerged, we were all going through some sort of transition in our lives, we all loved yoga and we were all foodies! I was so excited to get to know everyone!
We then did our first physical asana practice, which was amazing!! Charlotte is an incredible yoga teacher! It was such a relief to see that there was a complete mix of physical abilities in our group. There were a couple of super flexible people, but most people were just like me, very average!
The day continued with a delicious breakfast at Taksu Spa, an introduction to the course, lunch together at Clear Cafe, a lecture on meditation and then dinner together! The word I would use to describe the first day is ‘safe’. It felt like a really safe space, where you could open up and really be yourself.
The Course Content
I loved everything about this course! Charlotte is just wonderful, she is so passionate and knowledgeable about yoga. I respect her so much.
The course content was really interesting. I quickly learnt that there is so much more to yoga than just physical asanas! We learnt about everything from anatomy to meditation to chakras and so much more. My favorite lectures were about the yamas and the niyamas, the ethical principles of yoga. These lectures really opened up my eyes to a new way of thinking about the world. The lectures are interactive and we had some amazing discussions about connecting with yourself, discovering who you are and finding your purpose. It gets deep and it is super therapeutic! I felt safe to open up and be vulnerable with Charlotte and our small cohort.
I loved the physical asana practices that we had twice a day. I am not going to lie, it was tiring! My body ached A LOT, especially at the end of week one, but it quickly adapted and I felt super strong! It was amazing to see how quickly we all progressed and this made me feel motivated to continue pushing myself! It was never my aim to change my body but I was happy to see the physical gains I got from training. Despite eating SO much, I became super toned very quickly; I currently have abs of steel!
The posture clinics were so helpful for learning about safe alignment. I have had a lot of problems with my back in the past during yoga due to an old injury (I herniated a disk a few years ago). I learnt so much about how to keep my back safe when I practice. I usually experience back ache when I sit or stand for long periods of time, but since this course I haven’t experienced any pain in my back. This was pretty life changing for me!!
When I first heard that we would be doing meditation for 30 minutes every morning, followed by 20 minutes of pranayama, I was like oh my gosh I can’t do that! However, it soon became one of my favorite parts of the day. Meditation has taught me invaluable skills that are transferable to everyday life, like how to let go of difficult thoughts. I feel like yoga teacher training has made me mentally stronger! The course was very therapeutic; there is a lot of self-reflection and I learnt a lot about myself. I feel like I am leaving the course seeing the world in a slightly different way.
What I ate
Yoga teacher training is hungry work! I ate A LOT! More and more every week!
Breakfast: Oh my gosh, the breakfast is amazing!! Breakfast is provided by Taksu Spa in their garden restaurant. There is a buffet of fresh fruit, pancakes, muffins, rice and noodles with vegetables. Or you can order whatever your heart desires from the kitchen, including omelets, scrambled eggs etc. There is also Bali tea, coffee fresh smoothies and ginger tea. I miss this food so much!
Lunch and Dinner: In my opinion, Ubud has some of the best food in the world!! The Shades of Yoga course does not provide you with lunch or dinner, which is actually a great thing as there are sooo many amazing restaurants to explore. Lunch will cost you anything from 25IDR to 100IDR, depending on the type of restaurant you chose to go to, so it is super affordable and you can eat like a queen!
These are my favorite places to eat in Ubud…
- Warung Sopa
- Clear Cafe
- Seeds of Life
- Atman Nourish
There are lots of different types of accommodation in Ubud. You can stay in a hotel, a guest house or a homestay. For me, I always choose to stay in homestays when I travel as I love staying with local families and getting to understand their culture. Homestays also tend to be a lot cheaper. I paid roughly 175,000 IDR a night for my accommodation, which is incredibly affordable compared to back home in London! I had my own pretty little bungalow in a traditional family compound with a terrace and a view of their beautiful garden. It was basic but it had everything I needed.
Overall, I would say that my experience of yoga teacher training with Shades of Yoga was wonderful and magical! I would recommend it to everyone, whether you want to teach or to do it just for yourself to learn more about yoga. Now the journey continues… I am excited to continue learning, practicing and I am looking forward to teaching my first yoga class very soon!
I hope you have found this helpful. Let me know if you have any questions, I will be very happy to answer them!
Want to know more?
If you would like to hear more about my experience, watch this youtube video:
And check out my instagram story highlights here: @charlotte_amber_rose
I wish you all the best for your journey! Much love, Charlotte xoxo