Starting my yoga teacher training journey in Morocco

I’m back from what feels like a month away. In reality I’ve been in Morocco for one week, the beginning of my 200 hour yoga teacher training course. Perhaps it’s the fact that it’s been bookended by flu and a stomach bug that makes it feel so long, I’ve been kind of out of it, or perhaps it’s something else. Perhaps, though, these illnesses aren’t just coincidental.

Our taster day of the course began on the day of the Aquarius moon. As The Astro Twins put it on Mind Body Green “Aquarius represents community and idealism” and is “the sign of hopes and dreams.” The perfect time to start a new course, and get rid of old toxins in the body by having the flu perhaps? The course ended on the 11th February, right in synch with the Lunar Full Moon Eclipse in Leo which is all about opening new gateways, letting go and making changes. Not to put too graphic a point on it, but who knows maybe my stomach bug was in synch with the solar system too?

The power of the moon, really?

Travelling back on a dirty budget airline I’m practicing my non-attachment, and withdrawal of the senses (Pratyahara). A fellow teacher in training sat next to me tells me to look out of the window in excitement. She’s pointing at the moon; glowing just like an orb, making the bed of clouds below look like an impressionist painting (or the land where the Care Bears lived).

If you talked to me about the power of the moon a few years ago I would have snorted with cynicism. But perhaps now I have a little bit more belief in magic. In the power of the universe, the strength of groups and the incredible connection felt between a group of women. Honestly, I would have thought this was all rubbish just a few years back.

But maybe, just maybe, the Earth (this planet we reside on) that we too often forget is a living thing too; maybe we are connected to it. Maybe it does have some power over us and maybe we can work in collaboration with that rather than trying to have power over it.

 

Be-Yoga Teacher Training class of 2017

The class of 2017 on the Be-Yoga Teacher Training course. Photo taken by Bryony Hamerton of Be-Yoga.

The potential to change is within you

The week has been transformational, inspiring and for sure one of the most challenging things I have ever done. Before I left I was in tears. Afraid of the unknown, of what it would be like, but also of how it might change me. I know how powerful yoga is, and honestly I was slightly scared to start harnessing that power.

As the week progressed, and we went through our 12 hour days we all started to change. Physically we were much more open (who wouldn’t be after four hours of yoga each day?) but there was more than that. A confidence, a glow, a clarity, a strengthening, an awakening. And you know what? The thing being awakened, the change happening, was something already inside all of us. Not a scary change that happens from the outside, but an organic and holistic change coming from within. All it needed was to be nurtured.

Arriving in an unknown land

The Atlas Mountains seen from the plane

The Atlas Mountains as seen from the plane on the way to Morocco

We land, it is dark and all is foreign. A new group, unsure of each other. New land, learnings and people to traverse. Into the buses to begin our journey, as we approach the villa we hit a bumpy, sandy track across the beach. This leads to our home for the week. We are now completely off road, in the presence of the new and unknown. As we exit the bus we can hear it, the sound that will accompany us for the whole week. Supporting us, being there at morning and evening meditation. Its strength often carrying us through the physical practice. The roaring ocean. Many people come here to surf the waves; we’re here to see if we can stand in the deep waters of yoga theory and practice.

A nurturing week

From the very first practice we did together, on the theme of Ahimsa I knew this would be a kind and nurturing space. We were encouraged to listen to ourselves, rest when needed, take the easier option, push ourselves only if it felt right. I believe each and every one of us in society could do with this permission.

Our days began at 7am with half an hour’s meditation, from 7:30 – 9:30am we did morning yoga. An hours’ breakfast was followed by lectures on everything from anatomy, posture breakdowns, Ayurverdic health, chakras and yoga history. This was continued after lunch and finally we ended with afternoon practice and sunset meditation. An intense day for sure, but we were completely nurtured the whole time. Our bodies with the food and the physical practice, our minds with the learning and the meditation, and our whole selves with the supportive presence of the group.

Yoginis know how to party

And it’s not all ohmming and meditation. On Thursday night there’s a party at another resort and we’re invited. Let this be a warning to you now: invite a group of yoga women to a party and they will transform into wild, dancing goddesses by the light of the moon.

There is drinking, eating, plenty of dancing and even the invention of the ‘disco warrior’. And this is the thing about yoga, it allows you to be who you are. 100%. Some stay out late some, like me, return home earlier. All are back in the shala for meditation and morning practice.

Moroccan sunset viewed from our yoga shala

Our view at sunset meditation

Grounding back home, continuing the yoga teacher training

We land, late, delayed. They can’t get the doors on the plane. Maybe they know we just don’t want to return to reality? But we’re here, we made it. As a wise member of the group said

“the beginning of any journey is always the most difficult, and we made it”.

I’ve been nervous about how I’m going to bring what I’ve learned in Morocco back home. And it’s a practice for sure, the roaring sound of the sea has been replaced by the noise of the road and meditation suddenly becomes so much harder. But, to return to my one word theme for 2017, I trust. I trust that I can do it, that we can all do it and – if you’re considering yoga teacher training or even starting yoga – I trust that you can do it.

Peace: It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.

This chalkboard at Villa Mandala had a new quote each day.

Namaste and thank you to everyone at Be Yoga, all my fellow trainees and of course the wonderful Surf Maroc team and gorgeous Villa Mandala.

About ecarr

Ellen is a writer and theatre maker who has just taken the freelance plunge after too many years of 9-5 office life. She is a yoga teacher in training and passionate about pursuing your dreams.

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