Personal Development on the Ashram Course

This is the fourth and final post in the series of blog posts by Mukti Mani exploring aspects of the Mandala Yoga Ashram Yoga Teacher Training Course (YTTC). In this post she looks at how the course encourages personal development. The next YTTC is accepting applications now and starts in September 2019. For more information see here.

There are lots of essential elements to training to be a yoga teacher, from learning anatomy and physiology to understanding the underpinning philosophy and of course how to be a good teacher to whomever walks through the door of your classes. But at Mandala Yoga Ashram there is a second focus to the teacher training course on personal development. This can perhaps be a little harder, a little more subtle to grasp before engaging on the course.

I remember the first weekend of my teacher training course in September 2016 when Krishnapremananda warned half-jokingly that we shouldn’t get swept away with making any grand changes. It’s not about wholesale abandonment of former jobs, partners and friends, but rather a gradual shift towards new long term habits that may even help you embrace all the things already in your life more wholeheartedly.

So practically what is it that causes this change to occur? Well firstly, consistence of self-practice at home every day and with your teacher every week. In addition, lots of reflection on your yoga experiences as you encounter new practices. I was an experienced yoga practitioner when I started the course but still had profound encounters returning to the simplicity of lovely sequences like the Pawanmuktasana series 1.

The Ashram environment, energy and teaching team also encourage you to really be yourself here. It is a time when the self-image we often have to portray when in work or dealing with other responsibilities in our life, can drop a little, and we can be with our true natural self a little bit more. There is spaciousness here both in terms of the environment but also the timetable which allows for long walks after lunch.

Finally the last six months of the course is focused on your own personal research project. These were broad, wide and full of so much colour and joy when they were finally completed and presented in the final retreat fortnight. So much love and time was poured into this work, which seemed a bit daunting at the start, but it was well worth the effort. I think these individual research projects really helped people blossom and grow. I did mine on Bhakti yoga – the devotional form of yoga which encompasses practices like chanting. In my time at the Ashram I also re-found my voice, learning harmonium and ultimately to feel confident enough to lead chants. It’s not something I could have imagined happening. Perhaps it is through curiosity, openness and play with practices that we all evolved the most. So if you do come on the teacher training course you may find yourself surprised by how your own journey evolves.