Goa, India - Inside the Shiva Shakti Yoga Teacher Training

[October 2015]

The Monsoon Season in Goa dries up around October, where you'll find a once empty beach propped up with the scaffolding of soon to be restaurant fronts, bars and nightclubs. The Shiva Shakti Yoga Centre is on the bank of a beautiful river, surrounded by palms and dotted with colourful wooden boats. The accomodation is very basic and consists of a small tin shack with no hot water, but you'll eventually become accustomed to the thud of coconuts falling the roof every night or the odd visit from furry eight legged creatures. 

The teachers at the centre are extremely dedicated to their practice from an early age and both of them have practiced yoga from a really early age as it had been passed down through generations. At $1300, it was one of the most affordable trainings available and also one of the most authentic.

After only two years of a consistent practice, I thought it was too soon to do a teacher training, but when I arrived, I found that everyone's experience level varied from 2 months of practicing yoga to 5 years — one couple booked their training a week in advance just for the experience. 

The day-to-day included practicing Kiryas or 'cleansing practices," which involve things like pouring water through your nostrils or 'flossing' them with a piece of string, but you can opt out on these practices, though our teacher encouraged it, he said ultimately to listen to our own truth. 

Each morning began with a half hour Kiryas followed by a half hour Pranayama session or 'breathing practices.' We then had a short food break before doing a two hour yoga practice. After lunch we did theory with our teacher Jagi, including philosophy, anatomy, mantra chanting and a short half hour meditation. The last part of the day involved teaching methodology, where our teacher Chida taught the alignment of each pose in detail, it's contra-indications, benefits and how to teach. 

The food at the training was vegetarian and mostly cooked food, including curries, rice and all the usual suspects, but they were cooked with very little oil, salt or spices. This yogic way of eating, avoids over-stimulating foods, as it's said to bring balance to the mind and the digestive system. It felt really good to eat this way. 

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On our breaks, we would take a Rickshaw called Palolem just 20 minutes away. Palolem is filled with stores selling Indian textiles, jewellery, crystals, bookstores and healthy vegetarian and vegan cafes including Space Goa; a beautiful oasis of healthy food including kombucha, juices and fresh salads. 

40 minutes north of the yoga centre is a waterfall and a Sacred Bubble Lake, where it's said bubbles surface when you chant to it. We chanted one of the 9 mantras we learned at the training at the Netravali Bubble Lake and watched the bubbles miraculously surface. The locals believe that the bubbles happen because they worship Shiva deity in Gopinath temple next to the lake, but scientists say that it's the ;limestone, co2 or sulphur dioxide content in the water. 

The faith and spirituality present in India is woven everywhere, from the things you buy to the food you eat, the rituals you take part in and the cab drivers with their religious iconography strung around their rearview mirror. The Shiva Shakti Yoga Center wasn't a Balinese luxury experience, but I felt like an honour to learn yoga in the country it originated.