When applying for the 1-year part-time YA 500 Yoga Teacher training course at the Auckland Yoga Academy I was unaware of the significance of joining the 5,000 year old Ashtanga Yoga lineage and studying the pure essence of the eight limbs approach.

I distinctly remember sitting at the Black Dog cafe in Matakana earlier this year with my friend Toby who was visiting from the UK when he matter-of-factly said to me: “After a year of following a spiritual practice you will become a different person”. Within a month on the course, practicing Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga as taught by Sri K Pattabhi Jois 4-5 times a week I stopped drinking. For someone who has been associating New Zealand for over 10 years with drinking chilled Sauvignon Blanc on the deck this was incomprehensible! Interestingly, it was not a conscious decision; my body just stopped craving it. It felt so liberating to so easily stop a habit. I got fascinated and curious about what else I could so easily, almost magically change in my life that wasn’t serving me well. The process had just began.

Jude Hynes and Peter Nilsson who own and run the Yoga Academy in Auckland have both been daily practicing Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga as taught by their Guru Sri K Pattabhi Jois for a combined period of over 50 years. Unlike other yoga teacher training courses and there are many to choose from, their teaching offers a unique blend of in-depth knowledge and understanding of the practice, deep love and respect of their Guru and his lineage, practical wisdom and humility woven in with humour and graphic detail of Mysore stories from their 17-year old study with their Guru at a time when not many people in the West knew about Ashtanga Vinyasa.

The teacher training is led by Jude and takes place at the Yoga Academy’s wonderful warehouse-style studios on Federal street (this satisfies my urban, industrial aesthetic after living for 25 years in London), their beautiful home in leafy Ponsonby and the Stillwaters Retreat Centre on Kawau Island, an intimate native NZ bush experience.

Not many courses offer you the opportunity to practice your skills with real people of all ages and varying degrees of ability in a real yoga setting while at the same time savouring the beautiful New Zealand landscape with like-minded people; taking Philosophy lessons under the Pohutukawa tree on Granny Bay at the Long Bay National Park in Auckland or learning healthy cooking from Jude and pranayama from Peter at their beautiful retreat on Kawau.

The first Block Course of the 3-week intensive training has just ended. It’s like waking up from a dream. We’re now all embarking on the next stage of our training: the 7-month supervised practice, meditation, yoga application of anatomy and numerous teaching assignments in a real classroom setting of 30+ yoga students.

The training and personal transformation that eventuates is intoxicating.
I just can’t imagine not doing this for the rest of my life and wanting to help others discover the sheer joy, beauty and freedom experienced through the regular practice of this method.

2015 YA500 Trainee

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