Graduation

After four weeks of stretching my mind and body to the limits, graduation day finally arrived! After completing 200 course hours, several homework assignments, readings, a written test, and teaching a 1 hour yoga class we all received our certificates. We gathered one last time at Vikasa with our classmates and some friends/family for a small ceremony to receive our certifications from our teachers.

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It was such an emotional time as I think we were all in shock that it was over so quickly! So it is very sad to say goodbye to the new friends that we made, but exciting to see what lies ahead for us all.

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We decided to take some good advice from a very wise person (thanks Ram!)

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We headed to the beach to light Kongming lanterns to signify our new beginnings…
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It was super windy, but mine finally made it up!!

The night continued with lots of dancing and fun with good friends! (to protect myself and others those photos will not be displayed) hee hee 🙂 It truly was very hard to say goodbye to all of these wonderful people. I want to thank you all for being a part of this AMAZING, life-changing experience. I wish you all the best of luck and hope our paths cross again. Thank goodness for facebook!

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I would also like to thank each and every one of my teachers. You are all so inspiring and I thank you for sharing all of your wisdom! A special thank you to Kosta for creating such a peaceful, welcoming environment at Vikasa, and putting together such a fun and effective teacher training program. I wish you success in your future trainings.

To my girls, I could NOT have done this without you! I will never, ever forget you, and hope to see you all very soon

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And of course none of this would have been possible without the love and support of my husband Tom. Thank you for believing in me and allowing me to be out of the country for 5 weeks 🙂 Not only was the house still standing, but it was clean and organized! What a guy, I love you dearly!

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And lastly my mom and all of my friends and family that were so excited for me and followed my silly little blog. Your encouragement got me through some tough days, and I thank you all! Stay tuned as I will share some of the fun we had outside of the teacher training while in Thailand.

Namaste

Bring on the water works

For the final week of training we had the pleasure of meeting the beautiful Ting Ting from Hong Kong.

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She brought a unique twist to our asana practice, doing more of a “flow” style class along with music. She also walked us through a module called “Yoga in Action” but it should have been called “Yoga therapy” as it seemed to bring out every emotion! We had exercises that involved answering questions like: “what one great thing would you try to accomplish if you knew that you were guaranteed success?” or “what has been a big challenge that you over came?” or “what would you do in life if you didn’t have to worry about money?”. It forced us to think about how we want to live our lives, and doing it with authenticity, staying true to ourselves. We would often discuss in small groups, with our yoga buddy (shout out to Melissa), or with the entire group. I’m not going lie, it was challenging! We also did an exercise where we stood across from someone else (feet touching) and we had to look into their eyes for 3 minutes, no talking just eye contact. Talk about awkward! At first we kept giggling, then after doing this with several different people it was easier to focus. You really don’t know someone until you stare at their eyes. I felt many different emotions, some eyes were sad, filled with fear, and others felt calm, safe, and happy. Overall it was a great exercise!

To lighten up the mood she put on some fun tunes and taught us some acro-yoga postures and stretches that we could do with partners.

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Our week with Ting Ting was awesome, I wish we had more time with her. She truly is an inspiration and I aspire to be just like her when I become a teacher.
So now that we have pushed our bodies to the limit, and now our minds…it’s on to graduation!!

Kick Your Asana!

So far I’m learning so much in my teacher training! We are learning about the many different aspects of yoga like anatomy, philosophy, and sanskrit. But by far, the most difficult part of the course is the asana practice. All of the teachers here provide a challenging class, but Kosta takes the cake! Kosta is the founder of Vikasa and boy does he know how to kick our asanas! Remember how I said George is like a human pretzel?

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Well Kosta is what you get when you combine Gumby and Ken:)

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He truly is amazing and has so much knowledge that he is sharing with us. However, his class is the one that we LOVE to hate! It is more of a strength building class that we all struggle through, but the end results so far have been totally worth it! Here are some examples below…

The warm up! On the first day we did this about 50 times and we thought we were going to die! You hold your arms out to the side, imagine that you are grabbing a doorknob and twisting it rotating your shoulders forward. Go ahead try it…Now we can do it past 100 and he has even added in variations like doing it in chair pose.

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The snail pose pops up in every class. It used to be one of my favorites…

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But not when you have to hold it for 3 minutes!

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This is one of Kosta’s favorites. Iron Bridge…

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And another favorite that is repeated several times throughout class. You bring your knees into the chest, coming onto your toes and your body weight is in your hands. OUCH!

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And of course the basis for all arm balance poses…chaturanga. We either hold this for almost a minute, or do a sequence repeating the hold several times. I think my biceps have been sore ever since I arrived.

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This is just a little taste of what our evening practices entail. Every pose is held for MANY counts and there are also lots of arm balances sprinkled in for fun! As difficult as the classes are, I feel myself getting stronger everyday and am thankful for Kosta and his teachings. More to come later!

Namaste

Thai-isms

Well I’m about halfway through my trip and I thought I’d share some fun facts about Thailand so you can get an idea of what life is like on Samui…
1. I think by now you all know that wi-fi is NEVER dependable.

2. I just recently learned that the same thing goes with electricity.

3. It is respectful to take your shoes off at most places before you enter.

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4. The people here are SO NICE! Very friendly, helpful, and have so much pride in their land and culture.

5. The driving is insane here. They drive on the left side of the road and there are no rules what-so-ever. Everyday I plan on renting a scooter and then talk myself out of it. In case you’re wondering that little head is a small, small child on the front of the red scooter!

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6. Samui is the largest producer of coconuts in Thailand, so there is never a shortage of fresh coconut water

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…and coconut yogurt

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coconut shakes, soup, shrimp, I could go on and on. So delicious!

7. Be careful when you flush!

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8. Every morning I’m awaken by the sound of a rooster and some other animal, bird, or reptile that I can’t figure out. Just when I forget where I am, they remind me and I love it.

9. Everything is so inexpensive here, especially the Thai massage. We are lucky enough to have a spa in our apartment complex, but you can pretty much find them on every corner. 400 Baht is roughly $12 USD. I swear it’s better than Ballantyne Resort! I haven’t gotten the Manicuse yet. LOL!

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10. Meet my pet lizard. I know it’s hard to see in the pic, but this guy has been with me since I moved in. I appreciate the fact that he eats all of the mosquitos for me, but sometimes he likes to pop out when I least expect him. I’m glad he’s just a little guy, some of the other girls have found MUCH bigger ones!

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11. It’s very rare that I sit in an actual chair. We have cushions that we use at the studio during lecture and when we eat. I’m hoping it will help my posture, but in the mean time we try to think of as many different positions as possible to get comfortable…

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Sometimes you’re lucky enough to get a spot up against the pole

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When all else fails, strike a yoga pose

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12. Good to know, I guess???

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13. I’m totally getting used to washing my clothes in a sink and hanging them out to dry on my balcony outside.

14. It’s so hot and humid, my hair never stood a chance (think Monica on Friends). Also our sunglasses fog up every time we leave the apartment!

15. That being said…we never, EVER get tired of the beautiful beaches and scenery here. This place truly is paradise, and I’m so lucky to be here!

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More to come on my teacher training progress!
Namaste for now

Let the training begin!

Here we go!

I had LOTS of anticipation building up to the first day of training. What is my day going to be like? Will my yoga skills be up to par? Who will I meet? Did I bring all the right things? This is such an emotional adventure-very exciting, yet scary doing it all by myself.

Let me back up by telling you about Vikasa and why I chose to come here. I was browsing online researching several different yoga schools. After comparing almost every studio in Thailand, this website jumped out to me and I felt I really connected with it. For one thing, during the program I would have several different teachers, with different perspectives instead of just one teacher covering all the material. EVERY single teacher here is amazing so far (I will go into more detail later). Also, I’m all about being one with nature, but I do prefer air conditioning, a decent bathroom, and NOT sleeping in a mosquito net. The accommodations here are reasonable and I don’t have to share a room with anyone. We do need to work on that wi-fi thing though 🙂 We are just a short walk away from the studio and several different shops, banks, food etc. One other very important factor that influenced my decision is that Vikasa has an organic raw food cafe. So this course not only covers the material for a yoga certification, but we get to learn about eating healthy as well. Meals are included in the program (even on our days off) and the food is incredible!! I will admit at first I was a little scared that I wouldn’t like the food, or would crave a big hamburger or something, but all of our meals are full of variety and the taste is amazing! Here is my plate from breakfast 🙂 YUM!

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Every morning we have fresh juice made for us and it’s something different every day. For example: watermelon, pineapple/celery, carrot, and green juice. And if you’re wondering how I’m getting by without any desserts, think again…I’ve pretty much tried ALL of the desserts and they are ALL DECLICIOUS!

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So far I’ve met some wonderful people from all over the world. It’s funny how we all have such similar stories on what lead us to Samui and Vikasa for teacher training. I seemed to instantly bond with 3 girls and we stick together pretty much everyday. We have such a good time together as you can see. Meet Amanda from Singapore, Aline from Montreal, and Rethabile from South Africa.

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So here’s a glimpse into my first week…
We start each morning off with Pranayama (breath work) and meditation for an hour or so. We even got to practice on the beach one morning! There are some pics on my FB wall but here is one of the ocean…so peaceful!

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Then we have a practice with George, who is a human pretzel. So fun to watch him get into these poses!

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This week we had Michelle Lam who is a registered physiotherapist in town from Hong Kong teaching us Anatomy. For a few of the days we had lecture instead of practice. I really enjoyed the anatomy section as we learned about our bodies, injuries, and the correct way to get into postures. Michelle is brilliant and a little sassy as well 🙂

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Then it’s on to breakfast…

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After breakfast we have a 2 hour lecture. This week we studied sanskrit with Ram

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Ram's lectures are so interesting and he is so much fun! He even got us to write our own names in Sanskrit!

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Then we typically get a 2 or 3 hour break during the day. Yes sometimes we go to the beach and sip on fresh coconut water…

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But most of the time we are so tired and exhausted we can’t even see straight.
After our break we have practice with Kosta. Words can’t describe how unbelievable he is, so I’ll have to post some pics of his crazy poses later. His class involves a lot of conditioning and strengthening, so I can hopefully do poses like this one day…

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We usually leave with sore wrists and arms, but I really do feel like I’m getting stronger. At the end of each practice we get about 10 minutes or so on our own to work on whatever we want.

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Then we have a yummy dinner and we’re done for the day. Sometimes we go for a quick swim or a massage, but again we’re normally way too exhausted for anything as we wake up early to do it all again!

I feel like I’ve already learned so much here! The word Vikasa means “evolution”, so I’m excited to see what changes and developments lie ahead for me in the weeks to come. I’ll try to update as much as I can!

Namaste

Sawatdee Kaa (Hello)

Hello all! First off I apologize for the delay. Apparently my first lesson learned is that “free wi-fi” doesn’t mean that the wi-fi actually has to work. I have now been here in Samui for a week and have been able to log in here at my apartment only twice. Some days the internet is down all day and other times it’s just a bad connection, and that’s just how it is here. So I will try to update as much as possible when I can.
My plane ride over was…well…LONG! I flew into New York (JFK), then on to Frankfurt, Germany. We ended up sitting on the plane for 2 hours for some technical problems before we were able to take off. After finally landing in Singapore I realized I just barely missed my flight to Koh Samui. Since everyone on the plance had been traveling for 20+ hours the airline offered to send us to a hotel in the city so we could sleep since the next flight out was not until 8 hours later. I have to admit I was very excited to see Singapore, even if it was just for a few hours. So I managed to take a nap, eat some delicious (but very spicy) lunch, and walk around the city for a bit. It was beautiful!! I attempted to take a shot out of the cab window 🙂

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After a total of 48 (ish) hours, I finally landed in Samui. I was bummed that I didn’t get to see the beautiful views since I was flying in at night, but it was pretty cool to see the Kongming lanterns light up the sky.

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After checking in at the Boonjumnong Apartments, I was finally able to sleep with lots of anticipation of what was to come.
The following day I was able to walk over to Vikasa and meet some of my fellow trainees. We decided a day on the beach was needed before our training, so we headed off to the W Resort to soak up some rays. Everyone here is so nice, and I ended up meeting some amazing ladies!!

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As you can see, the island is GORGEOUS, and the weather is perfect. Well, just a little humid for the sake of my hair 😉 And even though I have layers and layers of bug spray on, I am also covered head to toe in mosquito bites. Small price to pay for paradise. The people here are VERY friendly and everything is so affordable! We went out to a nice dinner and paid under 200 Baht (which is around $6!!). So far this place is unbelievable. Stay tuned as I fill you in on the first week of teacher training…