15th July, Mon – Opening ceremony
1st day of TTC, I walked into the Big Sala with mixed emotions. I was so anxious that this day finally came, realizing my dream. There were 24 other girls from all over the world, & we are all here for the same cause, to learn. We finally met our teachers: Kosta, the course director & founder of Vikasa Yoga, Co-teacher of TTC, George from US & Swami Tattvarupananda from India. Swami was leading the opening ceremony, chanting mantra & followed by fresh flower offering to Lord Ganesha, for a smooth & fruitful training.
We were all then being seated for a game called name circle, whereby we are supposed to share our names, place of origin & reason being here, then everyone call out your name. It was kind of scary to be transparent to all other fellow yogis on our first met, & imagine to remember all their names & faces… *stressed*. There were 2 yoginis from Malaysia, Irene & R2, who were the 1st batch of Vikasa students, came back to assist the training. It was very nice bumping into a Malaysian in a foreign country unexpectedly.
After lunch, the first philosophy class begun. Swami started the class by asking us 3 questions, ‘Who am i?’ ‘What is this world?’ ‘Where is God?’ I had a shock of my life, I thought I know about yoga but what I knew was only a tunnel version of it. There is so much more that I need to seek. I enjoyed Swami’s unique way of teaching, he’s funny & very random! I particularly love his stories & life experience, always make me wonder, ‘What is real?’
5pm, first practice with Kosta. All of us were so excited, wanted a full 2 hrs practice, ambitious!!! 30mins later, we were half drained & Kosta said, ‘That was warm up.’ I can’t remember how we pull through the entire class exactly, all I remember was my 4 limps didn’t feel like mine after class. Despite the tiredness all over my body, I was so certain that I made the right choice. This is what I was looking for…a strong & challenging practice.
Dinner has never felt so satisfying before. After dinner I took a nice long shower, get into bed by 10pm. Can’t remember when was the last time I slept before midnight. Lying on my bed, reflecting my day & feeling so fulfilled, that concluded my first day of TTC.
16th July, Tue – Our daily routine
Day 2, we begin class with a big mistake, breakfast!! Kosta & George started 8am pranayama class with Nauli. My light breakfast was going upwards, total disastrous! Thereafter we begin pranayama practice, started with shoulder breathing, nadi shodana, ujjayi breathing, kapalbhati, shallow breathing & bhastrika. I was so thrilled with all the different breathing techniques for a 45mins class. It was new to me, a mixed feeling as I didn’t feel at ease & get tired with certain pranayama. Well, just hope it’ll get better. We had a 5 mins wee break, then back to asana practice with George. George’s class is very flowy, very soothing & heal our souls. As much as I love Kosta’s tough love, it’s such a good blend to have George’s gentle touch in the morning.
After class, it’s brunch!!! 1030-1130am is the happiest time of the day, we get to eat our first meal! The buffet has a great variety of healthy sumptuous food & freshly squeezed juices. A good practice for soul & body in the morning, tasty healthy tasty brunch being served at breath-taking cliff view of Samui, surrounded by great teachers & yogis, it’s a bliss to be here.
After lunch, time for yoga philosophy. Swami’s class is still mind blowing, never know yoga is this BIG. I really enjoy Swami’s teaching, his chanting calm minds & purify souls. After class, light snacks were served at the sala before break time. What to do for 3 hrs? Some of us went sunbathing, some when up to Vikasa cafe for drinks & light bites, some went out exploring Samui a little.
5pm, back to sala, class begun with yoga methodology, no one dare to ask for 2 hrs asana practice anymore after yesterday’s class. We were given training manual & loads of reading materials. The beauty being in ttc is to have the opportunity to learn, discuss on all these knowledge, from teachers, with fellow yoginis all over the world. I really love Vikasa concept being open minded & logical, teachers & students shared their thoughts freely, without worrying it’ll antagonize anyone. Best of all, the information being given is up to individuals interpretation, though I must say, Vikasa imposed a strong influence to me & my practice. We were not being mold in a their own way, in fact we were being encourage to find ourselves. That’s the whole concept of Vikasa, the evolution of yoga.
19th July, Fri – End of week 1
Day 5, woke up early for meditation & eye exercise by the beach! Silver beach is 15mins walking distance from Vikasa, it’s such a lovely quiet beach. Kosta was introducing us an exercise to improve vision. I live in an island, but I’ve never been so much in love being around the beach, like this. It’s magical…
After the beach, we walked back to Vikasa, took a quick shower & get ready for class. Seated in Big Sala, I realized my limps were not my limps anymore, literally. Our routine started as usual, each movement was so heavy. I pulled through George’s class, prepared to walked up to restaurant for brunch. When I reached the stairs, I paused. The exact thought in mind was “I can’t do these stairs today, I’m so so tired.” The only motivation keep me going was my growling stomach, I was awake since 5am, all the walking & practice had me kind of hypoglycemia now. I dragged myself up the 100 steps of staircase very slowly, filled my stomach.
I felt beaten up at this point. My body has never experience such fatigue before & I was loosing faith. This was only the 5th day, how am I gonna pull through the rest of the training?? I doubted myself…
Evening practice, Kosta was very kind, the class sequences & holding time was relatively easier/shorter. After class he told us to wind down, have fun & enjoy our day off. He specifically reminded us not to practice on tomorrow, let our body to rest. After dinner, Betti, Vikasa Marketing Manager, arranged Tuk Tuk for us to explore local night market at Fisherman Village. For the first time I was being reminded this is Thailand. Had my coconut ice cream & fresh fruit shakes. It was a great night chilling out with yoginis at a beach bar, to wrapped up my first week in Vikasa…
21st July, Sun – Changes in our body
2nd week has begun. Physically feeling better after a nice massage during day off, which lead to a fresh state of mind. Daily routine as usual, morning pranayama & asana practice, brunch, philosophy class & evening practice. We were doing Vikasa warm up with Kosta, shoulder rotation of 100 times (which usually 80 will be killing us). However, something strange happened. Shoulder was not hurting by 80, neither is 100!!!! Kosta asked jokingly, ‘When are you guys gonna get tired?’ While proceeding with the warm up, I realized the changes in my body. My arms were not shaking as much, my core was super strong. Although Vikasa warm up still worked us out, it felt more like a challenging sequence rather than a killer sequence now! I truly surprised myself, the progress I made in 5 days. The feeling was way too awesome!!
23rd July, Tue – The rocks
Morning pranayama by the rocks day!!!! We gathered at Big Sala 8am, grabbed a cushion & headed to the rocks. This place is my favorite spot in Vikasa, I feel so close to mother nature everytime I’m here. The sea breeze through my skin, the sound of wave lingers in my ears, the view of ocean is magnificent. We all love practicing here so much!! I started enjoy pranayama in week 2, feel more at ease, as well as the stillness in mind. Not just that, I’m starting to like meditation, which was never been my cup of tea. There was so much changes, I’m beyond please, & embracing every bits of it…
25th July, Thu – Wonderful birthday!
Woke up today missing my family. It was my birthday & I’ve not been spending this day being apart from my loved ones. Walked over to Big Sala for morning class, felt so much love immediately. I was greeted by fellow yoginis, & the hugs from my good friends Pamela, Renate & Ferna warmed my heart. During our afternoon break, Soo Yeon, my Korean friend who lives here offered to show me around. It was so kind of her taking me out for shopping, followed by chilling by Lamai beach. I love this place so much, beautiful beach & not overly commercialized.
Evening practice with Kosta was challenging as ever, towards the end of class after chanting Ohm with eyes closed, everyone sang a surprise birthday song to me in the dark. It’s the best birthday song ever as it was from all these awesome yogis from all over the world. That’s not all yet, a surprise birthday cake sponsored by Vikasa was sent to me during dinner. I was deeply touched, I felt so much kindness & love in a foreign place, with all these newly met friends. It was an unforgettable birthday indeed…
27th July, Sat – End of week 2
Our 2nd week day off!! Betti arranged transportation to bring us up to Jungle Club. It’s located at the highest point of Koh Samui, the view was magnificent! R2 helped us took lots of yoga photo, chilling out with the girls overlooking Samui. We hang around at Jungle Club till 5pm, then head back to Vikasa for dinner. A nice & simple relaxing day off…
29th July, Tue – Saying goodbye to Swami
Today was the last day of philosophy class, it was assessment day. Swami chanted a long mantra for us, even though we didn’t understand the meaning of the Sanskrit words, we certainly felt the sorrows. Some of us were weeping at one point. I was so amazed by the way how one get connected to an ancient language, without knowing what it means & yet being touched. Swami’s teaching changes my perception towards yoga, in fact my perception towards life. I’m so lucky to have the chance to learn from a real swami, one with such wisdom & humor. I’ll remember his exact words, “Being a yogi, be flexible to fit in any situation. Find contentment, peace & harmony. Yoga means simple living, high thinking.”
1st Aug, Thu – Teaching assessment
My very first teaching assessment day! My heart was pounding, & my thoughts were all over. As much as I kept reminding myself Cinta Mastu (don’t worry), still it didn’t quite happen. I spent 2 days to plan out my sequences, & last entire night went through my sequences over & over again. When I came to my mat this morning after pranayama, facing my other 3 students, who are my BFFs, my heart was at my throat. We begun practice with Vikasa warm up, whenever students were into child’s pose, my mind kept thinking ‘what’s next?’. I kept checking my timing & the clock was moving way too slow! I tried to stay calm (or looked calm), & started to fill the time with whatever poses I can recall at that time. Upon holding in an asana, I walked out my mat to do some adjustments on student. I felt a little anxious & uneasy to touch them, even though they are my friends. I thought it would have been easier, but it was not at all. It didn’t help when I saw Kosta & George walking around, I got even more nervous. Finally we’ve came to Shavasana, I felt hollow, inside out. Honestly I didn’t enjoy the class, despite all the good comments given by students. Kosta & George feedback that class sequences was good, but I can work on my voice & approaches to students for correction. But how come I didn’t feel the same way? I felt like a fraud that time, they were just being nice to me. I didn’t feel that I was ready to teach, there’s so much more room for me to improve.
3rd Aug, Sat – Last of anatomy
After 5 hrs a day of anatomy class for the past 3 days, we’ve came to last class of Michelle’s. Never thought we’d survive that! Michelle is such a great teacher, her interactive teaching style has made the boring & dry anatomy class so fun & interesting. Instead of memorizing all the names of muscles & joints, we focus more on practicality. Other than theory, we were divided into pairs, study each others’ anatomical structure. We also get to observe anatomical limitation, be trained with ‘x-ray’ eyes to dissect each asana posture & best approach to make correction accordingly.
20 hrs is never enough for anatomy, I wish we were given more time with Michelle. There are so much more I’d love to learn from her, she smile & said, ‘Come back for 500 hrs TTC then.’ Most of us (except those who are already teaching back home) didn’t feel confident to make body adjustment for students, especially you’ve learnt about bad examples & the consequences from improper adjustment by teachers. As for me, I cherish this great opportunity to learn from one of the best. We became more alert & cautious with our command & correction, it differentiates us from others. I’d said we all are so grateful to be in Vikasa TTC, having to meet all these great teachers for different modules based on their expertise, whereby most TTC usually have 1 or 2 teachers for entire training.
4th Aug, Sun – End of week 3
Rise & shine on our 3rd day off! Week 1 we had a 5 days practice week, week 2 was 6 days & who would’ve thought week 3 with 7 days, the longest week passed by with a blink? Today was self pampering day, it was our last day off before graduation. My BFFs & I decided for a chillout day by the beach, so we went to Nikki Beach for a posh buffet brunch. This place was awesome except it was overly crowded. Best of all, we bumped into some other trainees, as well as Kosta, as if half of Vikasa was there. We spent the day enjoying good food, sunbathing with great company, absolutely love it!!
6th Aug, Tue – Judgement day!
Yesterday we started week 4, which also round 2 teaching assessment. Everyone was nervous, you have this little voice in your head, ‘What if I didn’t improve from my last assessment? What if I can’t pass?’ Last night I try not to over-stress myself, just glance through the planned sequences, visualize it in my head, over & over again, & slept early. Today is judgement day!!! All of us had to regroup with new people instead of previous group, to teach other trainees. We ended up grabbing people around us, I was with Grace, Laura & Amanda. It was scarier to teach different students, but It was for our own good. Somehow we’ll have to face & teach a class with people we are not familiar with, once we leave Vikasa.
When class begin, I got the students into seated position, stayed few breath to calm their mind. I placed my Note 8 by my side, tempted to refer to the sequences. At that very moment, I decided not to, I want to be different that the last time, I want to be more natural today, I want to be me. We started with Vikasa warm up, & proceed to Vikasa Sun Salutation. Then I realized some of them were struggling with plank. So I took them off their mat, gathered them around me. Explain & dissect the pose, get them to feel my legs, then resume from where we left of. I just kept teaching till I heard George reminded us there were 20 mins left. I was only 1/3 of my sequences, how could it be? I decided to continue with vinyasa, then wind down with cooling sequence. While the students were in Shavasana, it’s hard to believe time passes so fast, I only managed to carry out less than half of my plan. When we close the class, the students clapped. They told me they love my class, I was speechless. It felt so good. Kosta & George came to our group for feedback & evaluation. They asked me how I feel, I felt contentment. I realized I was teaching today, I was sharing what I know to the students, trying my best to help them. I wasn’t being bothered by either of them, in fact I didn’t recall their presence after I begun. Kosta told me I have tremendous improvement from my last teaching, & he was very happy with my chaturanga. George said the same thing, he mentioned asana sequences were good, so as attentiveness to students & voice control. He praised that I’m ready to teach now. Words were real, this was real.
7th Aug, Wed – Shooting by the beach
Today we planned to meet R2 at Silver Beach for yoga photo shooting! Woke up at dawn, freshen up, left my room with the right timing for sunrise. I seriously gonna miss this view so so much. Pam, Renate & I reached the beach around 6.30am to meet R2. Aljona & Xenia joined us shortly after. We have clear blue sky today & the sunlight was so great for photo shooting! We took turn for shooting, while waiting for others, I found this gigantic puffer fish, being washed up shore. Poor little fella was struggling for breath. I used my beach towel to grab this cutie, carried it & released it back to the ocean. Hope this cutie made it back to where it belongs. Just a simple rescue but it felt totally awesome & it certainly brighten up my day!
9th Aug, Fri – Very last class of TTC
This morning woke up feeling emo. I still can’t believe 4 weeks has came to an end. Every bit of this training is so memorable. I recalled my conversation with George last night.
G: ‘Which part do you think can be further improve for this training?’
R: ‘I feel that 4 weeks it’s too short, we have so much more to learn, 6 weeks will be ideal.’
But again, I’d probably said the same thing if the training is 6 weeks. Deep inside, I know it was personal attachment that I wish this will not end, at least not so fast.
I walked into Big Sala, started observe every tiny bit of details. I took some candid shots, wanted to remember how I felt, but I believe I’ll never ever forget this experience. Before class begin, Kosta & George said, ‘Welcome to the last day of your training, give yourselves an applause for coming this far.’ I had tears in my eyes, as I felt so much joy by achieving my goal, yet so sad that have to leave Vikasa & my awesome girls soon. Last pranayama class, last George’s class, it felt as amazing after 4 weeks as our very first.
5.30pm, our very last class of TTC, Kosta’s class. We had life music tonight!! George was playing guitar for us, so sweet. We did Vikasa warm up as usual, I gave him the very best of me without holding back. I was able to hold Eka Pada Koundiyanasana for 10 beats, & continued with the rest of sequences (usually would have been drop dead after). Kosta made us hold chaturanga forever tonight, & he said , ‘Imagine you are floating in space.’ It cracked us, we were all laughing out loud! That quote became our trademark. Tonight, I really felt the changes, my strength, my stamina, my flexibility, my state of mind in practice were different. Kosta’s tough love, it’s part of me now.
10th Aug, Sat – Graduation!!!
Graduation ceremony begun at 5pm. All the girls were prepared on dolling up for this big day. While I was having brunch at Vikasa Cafe, I can never get over this gorgeous view. I’m truly thankful to be here, to be part of Vikasa family. Kosta was signing our certificate, in few hours shortly, I’ll be a certified yoga teacher.
5pm, all of us, including some families gathered at Big Sala. Kosta gave his last speech, he said he is proud of us to come this far, to have tremendous improvement in our practice. Kosta even told us he’d be more than happy if we were to called ourselves Vikasa yoga teacher. That’s a lot of trust in us, i feel. I remember vividly when he said, ‘A true teacher is transparent.’ A real teacher is to assist in finding your own style, your own teaching, your own awareness. We as teachers, are students too. So teacher or student, is just names & forms. What matters most is, self realization.
When my name was called, I felt joy & contentment. This moment was so overwhelming, it was one of the best moments in life! I’m ready to go back, spread love & light…But first thing first, graduation party with my beloved yogis & yoginis tonight!!!
Things I learn from these past 4 weeks, made me understand yoga is everywhere, it is within one self. Asana practice is just a tool to trigger realization, to remove what’s not in order to see our true self. Vikasa is such an ideal place, to have great teachers, breath-taking views, zen environment, sumptuous healthy food & awesome yogis!! The other unexpected thing I earn, is friendship. Thanks for sharing this piece of important part of me, Kosta, George, Swami Tattvarupananda, Michelle, Ferna, Pamela, Renate, Norman, R2, Irene, Betti, Si, Soo Yeon, Meng Meng, Grace, Laura, Amanda, Therese, Bob, Jodi, Brittany, Ana, Calley, Cris, Allie, Crystal, Soo Wee, Anne, Rita, Mckinley, Frannie, Frances, May, Aljona, Xenia, Vadim & all the family-like staffs from Vikasa.