My yoga teacher training experience with Esther Ekhart

"The spectrum and quality of teaching and care is 5-star" - Claire Martin shares her transformational experience of Esther Ekhart's Yoga Teacher Training.

Yoga teacher training with Esther Ekhart

Esther’s 2017 Yoga Teacher Training was my second training with Esther, having completed her 200-hour training in 2016. My first experience was deeply revealing and transformational. When Esther offered me the opportunity to join again, I couldn’t refuse…

This time was an opportunity to consolidate some of the knowledge assimilated during my first training, get some hands-on assisting experience, teach a class myself (teaching students is one thing,  teaching three of my teachers is quite another - to say I was feeling nervous is putting it mildly! - and experience it from a different perspective. This time, I knew beforehand more or less what was to come…

The effects of yoga teacher training can be powerful, and are unique to each participant.

I would be doing lots of yoga, absorbing copious amounts of information, and spending time self-reflecting and accessing deeper layers of myself, under the care of four wonderful teachers in a nurturing environment.

The effects of yoga teacher training can be powerful, and are unique to each participant. Knowing that I would embark on another journey of self-inquiry with a supportive network around me was important. The previous year, I had expected only to develop my physical practice, learn how to teach others, and bury myself in books, but I achieved a lot more than simple asana practice and studying. I had the unexpected pleasure of meeting myself again. The experience was powerful and liberating, and being in a caring environment was what allowed it to happen.

 

Our daily routine (plus a few afternoons and a full day off):

6:45 Pranayama and meditation
8:00 Asana practice
9:30 Breakfast and morning break
10:30 or 11:00 Asana lab or anatomy
13:30 Lunch and afternoon break
16:00 Teaching practice
18:00 Philosophy
19:00 Dinner

A journey into self-inquiry

There is a subtle power that comes with the practices that we undertake, and which cause a shift within us all, whether physically, mentally or spiritually. Esther and Tracey Uber Cook's meditation and pranayama practices are deep and revealing. Frustration, mind chatter, and over-thinking the fact that at times I can’t sit still or get comfortable, gradually give way to inner space, peace and connectedness. I’m able to acknowledge thoughts and not get involved. I step outside them and simply observe, finding space between the breaths where I glimpse the essence of myself. I sit with the stillness and harness it a little more each day.

The hours of morning silence are incredible. What I initially thought was going to be strange, being with people without talking, is sometimes the best part of the day. It allows for much-needed introspection. Daily asana practice, led by Esther, Gilda Goharian and Jennilee Toner allows my body to become stronger, open and more supple. I deepen my personal practice and move closer to a mind/body balance, coming to accept yoga as a journey and stepping away from “needing” to get into “that pose”.

Glorious surroundings

SuryalilaWith the whole practice - Mouna (silence), asana (body), Dhyana (meditation), pranayama (breath), and Esther’s self-reflection exercises - space opens up in body, mind, and spirit. Deep-seated stresses, experiences and stuck energy start to break free and travel to the surface, to be processed and let go. At times I want to run from the daily physical demands of asana practice, the turbulence of my mind, having to confront my past, and the pain, sadness and feelings of sheer inadequacy. But by persevering, coming back to Esther’s instruction to “just sit with it” and trust in the process, I cry, feel, settle, and connect. I move through it and beyond it.

My journey allows me to acquaint myself with parts of me that I have never met before, and others that I’m familiar with but have forgotten or pushed aside over the years. The peace, isolation and natural beauty of the surroundings contribute greatly, and I can see why Esther has chosen this glorious place. The early morning moonlit walk to the yoga dome every day, under an expanse of velvety dark sky sparkling with a million stars, is magical, and I realise I’m part of something bigger.

The early morning moonlit walk to the yoga dome every day, under an expanse of velvety dark sky sparkling with a million stars, is magical, and I realise I’m part of something bigger.

I listen to birdsong, crickets, and the distant braying of the resident donkey, spend time watching a solitary beetle making its slow journey across the path, and watch the rising and setting of the sun each day, turning the sky into a spread of golds, oranges, and cherry pinks. I become aware of the rhythm of the earth, my own human nature, and have time to ponder the philosophical teachings delivered by Tracey.

The peace, isolation and natural beauty of the surroundings contribute greatly, and I can see why Esther has chosen this glorious place. After spending more time with Esther, I realise that walking the path of self-inquiry and facing myself are necessary steps to transcend certain aspects and transform others, in order to step into my role as a teacher. Being able to share the experience with others on their own journey is very much a part of it.

Community support and quality of teaching

Esther Ekhart's yoga teacher training groupThe sense of community, support, and openness that is fostered between the participants and with the teachers is precious. I can be myself. I share and communicate, knowing that I am not going to be judged and am not going to offend, because others are going through the same in their own way.

The spectrum and quality of teaching and care is 5-star.

Esther and her fellow teachers hold the space for us and allow us all to be exactly how we need to be, whether silent, talking, screaming, laughing or crying. They are open, understanding, caring, always ready to help, and inherently knowledgeable, each with their own unique wisdom. The spectrum and quality of teaching and care is 5-star, with Jennilee’s infectious energy and unrivaled anatomical knowledge, Gilda’s fantastically creative and challenging sequences, and Tracey’s gentleness, presence and philosophical wisdom. Esther particularly, as leader of the training, strikes me with her intuition and uncanny ability to know exactly what needs to be done and how to shape the training. Although she has a syllabus, she adapts it to the group. On the first training, there were 37 of us, and she addressed everyone’s needs and progress without making anyone feel held back or forced along. She accommodated us all and where we were on our journey. I observed the same on the second training – Esther quietly sensed the energy emanating from each student and provided a cohesive training experience for all.

Laying invaluable groundwork 

The beauty of the yoga journey is that it never ends. As I left my training last year and took my first step into the world as a teacher, I realised that becoming a yoga teacher wasn’t just about teaching poses or regurgitating yoga philosophy. It was about embodying and living my yoga, being able to share it authentically with others, to learn from them in turn, and continue growing, changing and evolving – something that each of our four EkhartYoga teachers exemplifies. Esther’s unforgettable teacher trainings helped me to lay invaluable groundwork to continue learning and exploring my yoga path. Stepping back into the world after this latest experience, I know how much more I have to learn and how much I’m looking forward to it. The beauty of the yoga journey is that it never ends.

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About the author:

Claire is a content creator, yoga teacher and artist. She is a copywriter for Esther and works in client support for EkhartYoga answering many of your emails. After training with Esther, she started teaching in London. She is based in Portugal, where she teaches yoga, focusing on holistic stress relief for mind and body. You can find out more about her at www.clariayoga.com.

This article originally appeared on estherekhart.com

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