Growing into a senior yoga teacher – written by Angela Sykes

This year I was made a senior yoga teacher by Yoga Alliance Professionals. This is awarded when a yoga teacher has been teaching for 8 years+, has taken part in a required amount of CPD training hours and taught over 4000 hours of classes (that’s quite a few downward facing dogs!). I wanted to share a little about my path to becoming a yoga teacher and how excited we are at Kula to start training teachers in 2018.

I decided I wanted to become a yoga teacher when I was living in Japan. I stumbled upon yoga by accident when I was studying Karate and Tai Chi. I loved that it was both physical and meditative and that unlike my karate practice I didn’t end up in pain and covered in bruises after every session (I was one of just two girls in our class with lots of black belts, and no English was spoken – it was a tough learning curve but one that made me rather determined!).

I wanted to learn more about yoga but found it difficult as I didn’t have my own laptop – I used a shared computer at the school where I taught English for emails (no Facebook back then!) and as I didn’t want to hog it, I couldn’t easily find out more about yoga online. My yoga teacher couldn’t speak English so even though I loved the classes I knew there was so much nuance I was missing.

I went to my local library and found a book on yoga in the English section, it was a very old fashioned book but it ignited a spark. I discovered yoga came from India and began to understand more about the spiritual nature of the practice and the many benefits. I was already living in the East and becoming very familiar with the approach to life, health and the deep sense of spirituality. I continued my yoga practice in Japan and started to dream of an Indian adventure.

I started researching training courses in India (a real minefield but luckily, I chose the right course for me at the time). I saved up and booked the course and the flight. I was so nervous and so excited all at the same time. At this stage, I loved the idea of becoming a yoga teacher but knew it was something I needed to put lots of time into and I wouldn’t be fully prepared after this one course – I used this as a way to deepen my yoga practice, have an adventure and broaden my horizons.

My Teacher Training Course in India was an amazing experience! I studied in a school whose Guru was a disciple of Satyananda of the Bihar tradition and I just loved my teacher Sandeep (who as well as teaching us was also the personal yoga teacher to the King of Kazakstan). We woke up at 4.30am every day to chant and practice. In the Bihar tradition, there is lots of karma yoga so I spent a lot of time cleaning and pulling up weeds as well as on my yoga mat. I shared a room with three other girls who I still keep in touch with about our yoga adventures all over the globe. BKS Iyengar came to our ashram to teach us and we performed a show for him one evening – I had to feed a long, wet cloth into my teacher Sandeep’s mouth to demonstrate an ancient cleansing technique – it was very surreal!

My five weeks there went by so fast –  I felt like I had packed in so much knowledge, culture, experiences, friendship and fun. For me training as a yoga teacher was a bit of a turning point, for the first time I felt truly inspired, creative and free. I knew I could do whatever I wanted to do and didn’t need to fit into any box – in fact, I started making sure I didn’t fit into boxes on purpose!

This was almost 9 years ago now and in that time, I have filled my life with yoga and more yoga.  I have had the chance to study with so many amazing yogis, returned to India to continue my yoga studies on several occasions, meditated with monks and nuns in Sri Lanka, taken part in more silent retreats than I can remember, completed another 200 hour TTC course and completed several Teacher Training yoga immersions. I have always believed in the need to continue studying and understand you will never get close to knowing enough – this is what has kept the study of yoga so exciting and engaging.

As BKS Iyengar once very wisely said:

‘Yoga is a flame which once lit will never dim. The more you practice, the brighter the flame’

Burn bright Kulis.

A x

#seeyouonthemat

Yoga Kula is running a teacher training course at Yoga Kula which will start in January 2018 and we are now taking applications.