If there were one phrase to recap my experience this past January, it would be “Life Changing”.
I know that might sound cliché, but haven officially re-entered the real world, I realize now that’s exactly what it was.
So where do I begin..
School Yoga Institute made it easy for me to choose them as my 200hr Yoga Teacher Training School. I was doing my research on quite a few different schools but SYI stood out from the start with their very prompt, kind and informative email replies whenever I had a question (and I had a lot). It was my first time traveling outside of North America and I was going to be all by myself and they made me feel very safe and confident during the process.
A cool coincidence was that I was visiting my Mom in California when I officially signed up to go and after I did, they informed me of one of the readings that was required for the course. It was The Four Agreements, which just happened to be the one and only book that my mom had and she always kept it by her nightstand. I had listened to the audiobook a few years ago and was happy for it to have come back in my life so that I could relearn the teachings and regain the wisdom. I will be posting a Four Agreements Book Review in the next couple weeks:)
My first flight was a little bit delayed but it eventually left Kelowna to Vancouver early in the morning. I hustled to catch my next flight to Toronto where I watched two complimentary movies courtesy of my airline. I arrived in Toronto and had to hustle even more to catch my next flight to San Jose, Costa Rica. It felt like I ran from one side of the airport to the other. I finally reached my gate and they were announcing my name on the intercom as the final boarding announcement. Safe to say I was relieved to settle in my isle seat for the next five hours.
I arrived in San Jose with all of my luggage and spent the night at one of the nearby hotels. I woke up early the next morning and caught my next plane to Puerto Jimenez at the domestic side of the airport, which almost threw me for a loop trying to find it. I must have been tired because the thought of there being a separate domestic side to the airport didn’t even occur to me until I eventually had to ask someone. The plane was tiny and we quickly realized that the 8 out of 9 people on it were going to the same place. These were the first friends I made on my journey and most were the last ones that I said goodbye to before travelling back home.
Another cool coincidence was that the very first person I met on the plane, Daisa, happened to have a very similar past as me, which I thought, was pretty rare. We were both from the same city in Canada, we had both lived across North America (including Oahu, Hawaii) and both our moms reside in southern California.
We waited at the tiny airport terminal in Puerto Jimenez for a couple hours for our shuttle to take us to the resort. This gave us ample time to introduce ourselves and get to know everybody. One of teachers ‘Inka’ arrived with the shuttle to greet us all with a warm smile and hug. It was about a 30-minute drive to the resort ‘Ojo Del Mar’ and we were greeted by very friendly staff once we arrived there. Our luggage was taken care of and our rooms were all thoughtfully set up.
Ojo Del Mar is an eco lodge, which means you are practically outside the whole time. The rooms are basically just these cool jungle huts made from bamboo and each hut has it’s own separate bathroom and outside shower. They all consist of a hammock and the beds have mosquito nets around them; I don’t think I seen one mosquito the whole time.
Once there, we were introduced to our other teacher and facilitator ‘Concetta’ who greeted everyone with such a big smile and heart felt welcome. The rest of the students arrived by their own means over the next few hours. And for the next three weeks, there we were, in the midst of the Costa Rican jungle, surrounded by like-minded loving souls going on this unforgettable journey together.
Safe to say, I was happy to escape the Canadian Winter for a few weeks and was elated to see and hear to ocean again! The beach was just steps away from the main gathering area. The wildlife was abundant and we had many encounters with all types of creatures including many different kinds of monkeys, birds and reptiles.
During one of the first lessons, we did this exercise where we all formed a big circle in the yoga shala. We all took turns going around and had to say a describing adjective that started with the first letter of our name followed by our name and a movement; and then we all had to go around everybody’s name and movement before introducing the next person. It might sound confusing and at the time might have been a little silly but by the end of the training, this is how a lot of us referred to each other’s names. The ones I remember are Incredible Inka, Curious Crystal, Superb Samantha, Terrific Taylor, Courageous Challis, Magical Marcela, Calm Carole, Mystical Mary Kate, Kindred Kate, Dancing Daisa, Kind Karinne, Connected Concetta, and mine, which was Mindful Mike.
Our beginning introduction ceremony took place in the evening and it consisted of a fire on the beach. Another cool occurrence was that on that night, it was the first full moon of the year 2020 which also meant it was the first full moon of the decade. So that was pretty cool and there was definitely lots of energy in the air.
I went in to this experience with zero expectations and I’m glad I did. There were so many amazing moments that happened during those three weeks, it’s hard to put it into words. Overall, my favourite part about the trip was getting to know and spend time with my fellow students and teachers. In a matter of days or you could probably say hours, we came together as a family and everyone’s love was unconditional. Everyone was accepted and embraced for who they were. There were lots of laughs and a few tears throughout the journey, by the end it was hard to say goodbye.
Our schedule consisted of a morning meditation from 6:00am to 6:30am and yoga from 6:30am to 8:30am. It was a beautiful way to wake up to and I will be implementing a similar routine going forward. I loved the yoga anatomy and sutra classes and found everything very interesting. There were times when I was exhausted but I still just wanted to learn more and have more discussions with everyone.
We also had a lot of ceremonies throughout the program, including a couple of cacao ceremonies, which were all carefully thought out and done with so much love. Also, the food was amazing and I am definitely taking some creative vegetarian and vegan recipes back home with me, including avocado and lime ice cream.
During the three weeks, I kept getting feelings of nostalgia about being a little kid again. It was the feeling of complete freedom and bliss to be exact. During one of the meditations, I tapped into memories that I have never remembered before of when I was probably 3 or 4 years old. I was in my grandpa’s old red brick house and was sitting in different cross-legged positions and putting my legs around my head. I was having the time of my life. I then had a self-realization that I loved doing yoga at a very young age but had no idea it was yoga at the time and I had completely forgotten and disregarded my flexibility. About 16 years later I was introduced to yoga and fell in love with it. Fast forward five years and I have been doing yoga pretty much everyday since. Coming back to that meditation and the nostalgia, it was definitely one of the highlights of my trip and it made me feel like yoga is what I am meant to be doing.
Some other highlights of the trip included going on a couple of different nature hikes in the jungle. One was at night in the middle of the dark, which was kind of scary, but exciting at the same time.
We seen and swam in these beautiful waterfalls with these big blue butterflies flying around.
And since there was basically no light pollution, you would often get caught starring up at the starry sky every night.
Oh and there was also a huge thunderstorm and earthquake that woke everybody up except for one(Arwen) that happened in the early hours of the morning. We all talked about it during are fruit filled breakfast the next day.
Another one of my favourite moments was the night we stayed up around this table made of wood that had a big candle and wick built into the middle that you could refill with candle wax. Mary Kate who was “one of us” (inside joke) was doing our tarot card readings and then about 6 or 7 of us would discuss what they might mean and how they might apply to us.
Near the end of the training, we did a talent show during our evening time slot that was also MC’d by Mary Kate and each of us had five minutes to demonstrate one of our talents. We learned how to kick box, how to write Japanese, how to give a massage and Challis and Samantha had a guitar and sang a song among other performances.
Those three weeks came and went like the wind and I wouldn’t trade that experience and those people for the world.
The teachers, Inka and Concetta, were both amazing in their own ways and worked extremely well together. I feel very grateful and blessed to have been able to learn from them and will forever cherish their teachings and continue to spread their love. I will definitely consider School Yoga Institute for continuing education courses and my 300hr teacher training.
In the meantime, I am very happy and excited to bring all my new knowledge and insights and to express them in my free weekly YouTube Videos. I am very optimistic for 2020 and have a bunch of creative ideas I can’t wait to share with you!
I can now proudly say that I am a Yoga Alliance Certified 200 hour Yoga Teacher 🙂
Are you Interested in doing your Yoga Teacher Training?
Mention “Mike Weisgerber” at School Yoga Institute and get $100 off any training!
I also plan on making a YouTube Video review of my experience so stay tuned for that.
Peace & Love,