Melissa on Yoga Teacher Training Level 1 

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We asked Melissa Allen (pictured below) from Tauranga a few questions about her experience of Yoga Teacher Training Level 1 in 2012.

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How long have you been practising yoga? What is your background?

I discovered yoga in my early 20’s (I’m 37 now!) but my practice was very sporadic until my first pregnancy seven years ago. I found yoga to be a wonderful way to ease my body and connect with my baby. However, once I’d had my daughter my practice again wavered. Interestingly I practiced again more during my second pregnancy.

After my second daughter was born I struggled with fatigue issues (PND) and weight gain which lead me to join my local gym. There I started doing a ‘Yoga’ style flow class and this re-ignited my interest.

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What inspired you to do Level 1 yoga teacher training?

I ended up becoming an instructor for the LesMills Yoga-inspired class called BodyBalance within 4 months of joining the gym. The path was very quick but I found that teaching felt very natural to me and that I enjoyed helping others.

I identified very strongly with the yoga aspects of the class (including the relaxation at the end) and practised ‘traditional’ yoga whenever I could and doing classes at the local yoga centre. It wasn’t very long before I knew that what I really wanted to do was teach yoga.

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Why train with Ashram Yoga?

I investigated a few options knowing it would be a part-time or correspondence course as I live in Tauranga which is 2.5 hours drive from Auckland. A friend who had previously lived in Auckland and had done classes at Ashram Yoga suggested I check it out.

The course content resonated with me. I was especially interested in Yoga Nidra and the study structure looked achievable to me being a busy mother of two young children and part-time Group Fitness instructor.

I had some very encouraging conversations with Andrew on the phone (thanks Andrew) and took a road trip to Auckland to check it out. The minute I stepped through the door I felt at home and following a chat with Swami Shantimurti Saraswati – with no reservations – I paid the deposit right then!

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Mel MeditatingWhat benefits did you get from teacher training?

There really isn’t enough time in this interview to outline all the benefits! You make some extremely wonderful connections with like-minded people and get to share their own unique journey as you travel your own. Every month you come away inspired with really practical things that you can a) use for yourself and b) begin to share with friends and family.

In my opinion one of the biggest benefits is that you learn to discover who YOU really are. You begin to establish your sense of SELF.

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Did you enjoy the training?

That would be a resounding YES!

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Was the curriculum comprehensive enough for you to start teaching yoga?

Yes, absolutely. It sets a firm foundation for you to continue to build on. I, and a number of others, started teaching straight away – and this included some who had never taught before.

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Was it easy to start teaching yoga? 

Tricky question! It was easy in the sense that you have worked on many class plans during the course so you are armed with lots of practical skills to get going, but it’s always a little daunting embarking on a new path.

The wonderful thing is that because you have just spent months on end getting to ‘know’ yourself you’re then better equipped to handle yourself when you feel nervous or apprehensive. It’s truly remarkable just how vast yoga is and how much it can help you. It’s way beyond ‘just’ the asanas (postures).

Teaching-wise, I’m setting up my second term of teaching classes and I started this year with an outdoor session pictured above. My yoga business is called Yoga Ananda, adapted from the spiritual name of Anandaroupa which I was given from Shantimurti.

I’m loving every second of teaching and am gradually building the energy and awareness of my classes. It’s an amazing feeling to be doing something that gives such value to others and how much I learn from every class I teach.

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Would you recommend the course to others? What advice do you have for them?

Of course! My advice is that even if you just have an interest in yoga but are not sure if you would like to teach it DO THE COURSE!

Teaching maybe something that comes easily to you or you may teach already in a different capacity BUT you may also never be that type of teacher who runs classes out of a community hall. You may simply be the friend who recommends some aspects of yoga to help out another and that is also a form of teaching.

Let go of any and all expectations of yourself and the course. Just let it unfold through the highs and lows, as before we can be illuminated we must first come out of the darkness.

Lastly, HAVE FUN!  It’s a wonderful journey. So wonderful that I’m continuing and doing Level 2 this year!

Hari Aum x