Adventures in Advanced Teacher Training: A photo essay

This spring, I began advanced teacher training in the Viniyoga lineage. This tradition, led by the incomparable Gary Kraftsow, focuses on adapting the practice to the individual practitioner in a highly intelligent way. Eventually I will work toward my certification as a yoga therapist, which is an emerging healthcare profession in the US, capable of integrating with Western healthcare to treat a wide range of conditions, mental and physical. I'm thrilled to be a part of the future of a new type of wellness care.

This training was serious business. We were in sessions from 6:30am-8:45pm with some breaks for meals. This is the 600-page manual for session one, and, yes, we did go through it all. I will travel to California 7 more times to complete the therapist training. It is thousands of hours of work and I must admit I was a little nervous!

Plus, I had to leave this face. We've been together 11 years this year, and rarely have we spent more than a few nights apart. I'll be honest, there were tears around leaving for two weeks. But he was really encouraging.

The retreat center is located in central coastal California, among the mountains and the redwoods...

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Do you see the people on the bottom of the frame for reference as to how big and beautiful these trees were?

The property also included a temple to Hanuman, the monkey god of faith in the Hindu tradition. In yoga, Hanuman is a mythological figure that hops over the ocean out of love for his friend (he needs to grab a mountain with special healing herbs and carry it back...no biggie). His pose is, therefore, hanumanasana, or the splits. I attended a ceremony honoring our inner faith on the first morning. We walked through the dark mist, wrapped ourselves in blankets as we sat on the stone floor of the temple, and sang songs like this one (so beautiful). I couldn't get the tune out of my head for two weeks.

I met some wonderful people during my time in training. Students had traveled from all over the world to attend: Norway, New Zealand, all over the US. And we came from all professions: doctor, physical therapist, psychological therapist, moms, editors, writers, respiratory therapists. There was even a Marine on leave! One of my favorite people was Miss Adeline, pictured below. We clicked right off the bat, and I announced to her that we would be friends. Later, we found out that we had some amazing similarities!

The first session of the training focused on the biomechanics of movement. We also spent time sequencing, chanting the Yoga Sutras, and discussing yogic philosophy. We set the stage for the integrated therapeutic training many of us will complete! I have to tell you...we worked hard and there was not a slacker in the group....

I thought I'd be skipping home. And in a way I was: I was excited to get back to the comforts of home and especially my little family (Andy and da Fuzz). But I felt a longing for the simple connection to the teachings and my incredible teacher, Gary, fellow yogis, and the beautiful natural world.

So I'm excited to go back in October for session 2! Meanwhile, come enjoy the fruits of my labor in my regular classes. I'm incorporating a lot of what I learned. More to come!

I am forever a student.