Why I’d choose Yoga Teacher Training over a holiday any day of the year…

Valencia pool picI spent 10 beautiful days in Valencia in October last year beginning my Yoga Teacher Training with Bahia Yoga. It was amazing. I got a few quizzical looks when I told people I was spending 10 days of my precious annual leave on a course. “But don’t you want a holiday?” was a question I was asked a lot. I did (and still do, to be honest!) but this was better.

Before I start to rave about the weather and the stunning surroundings (which I am going to, you have been warned!), it is worth pointing out that this was a serious study course, not a yoga retreat. Every day I learnt so much physically, academically and emotionally that my brain hurt and my body ached.  Despite the fact I am usually a chronic insomniac, I fell asleep almost instantly each night, which was a good job given that our alarm for morning meditation went off at 5.45am. I enjoyed the whole process though, massive geek that I am. Having spent five years as a teacher, there is something lovely about allowing yourself to be a student again, and completely focusing on learning from others.

Once I’d chosen to train with Bahia Yoga, I had a choice as to whether to study one weekend per month in Nottingham, or to do the course over two 10-day stints in Valencia. Now, I am a big fan of Nottingham – it’s my home city and I think it’s massively underrated, but I have to say, it was a no-brainer for me. The opportunity to study in beautiful Valencia, where we could practise outside, and relax by the pool during study breaks was one I could not turn down. Even the weather was on our side – it was October, but still beautifully warm and sunny.

Being so far away from everything, we were in a secluded little bubble. It was still pitch black when we got up each morning, but this meant I experienced for the first time the magic of practising yoga as the sun came up. Meals were eaten in silence (or at least we tried!) and the daily meditation practice meant I felt more relaxed and at peace than ever before.

That’s not to say that it was a humourless affair. It’s possible I’m slightly biased, but I am of the firm belief that people who do yoga are especially interesting, lovely and funny. And the wonderful people I trained with in Valencia proved my theory. It was like spending 10 days with old friends, except old friends whose stories and jokes you haven’t heard before, so you still have all the enjoyment of getting to know each other.

Admittedly this desire to learn more about each other did lead to some bending of the silence rules. Particularly around bedtimes, mild hysteria tended to kick in, as we dissected the day, whispering while we completed our homework. Decidedly un-yogic mosquito massacres also became part of our shared routine.  My new yoga buddies provided light relief when the physical practice became too intense – my favourite quote of the course came from one fellow trainee (who shall remain nameless!) who gasped after lifting up into Bow Pose. When the teacher asked her what was wrong she announced to the room, “It hurts my fanny!”

The whole experience was brilliant – I returned feeling rested, re-energised and motivated to make the changes in my life that I had been avoiding for a long time. I could not be more pleased that in April I will be returning to Valencia to (hopefully!) complete my Yoga Teacher Training. It turns out there are some things that are even better than holidays.