Thank you Guruji. Thank you.

 
 

Dear Sir,

I’m writing to you as I wanted to share my thoughts about the most challenging, intimidating yet also rewarding months of my life. As I sit on my living room floor (where else would I be!) writing to you, reflecting about the month just gone, I can’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude and peace for having taught alongside you,Guruji, for the past month. Words cannot describe how important this was for me.

But before sharing these thoughts and feelings about the month just gone, I firstly wanted to recap about how we met.

At a time in my life when work was extraordinarily stressful and life had become mundane and dull, I came across a yoga teacher whose approach (to yoga) so inspired me that I knew if I was ever going to become a teacher myself, I would seek out the person she trained with. I knew they must be brilliant. That person was of course you. When the moment was right to begin this journey as a teacher, I sought you out and committed to three months in India. Leaving my entire life as I knew it behind me was extraordinarily challenging, but nonetheless exciting. Getting to know you during my first visit to Mysore was one of the most memorable and meaningful times of my life. Despite the intense physical and mental challenges faced through your training, life was becoming so exciting with the possibilities I knew lay ahead. Returning to Australia after spending so much time together in the Shala was the next challenge. I was nervous about no longer having your ongoing support and guidance (in person). I knew there so much more to learn from you and that a certification to teach would not suffice. My journey as a your student needed to continue. This was why I made the decision to approach you regarding the possibility of assisting with the upcoming TTC scheduled for March 2016. Whilst this would mean sacrificing being trained by you (as a practitioner), to teach alongside you would be the most incredible experience as I would be granted the opportunity to observe how you interact with your students; how you correct them; how you sequence your classes and more. With a commitment to being the best teacher I can possibly be, I knew this would be an invaluable experience - for whilst there are many brilliant yoga practitioners in the world, there are few equally as brilliant teachers.

Asking to assist was quite possibly one of my most vulnerable moments as to be rejected would have been so disappointing. However, whilst there were natural moments of doubt and fears of rejection, I knew it was important to take the risk and enquire. To have been accepted for this opportunity was quite possibly one of my greatest honours and your kind and welcoming support made this experience even more special.

The months leading up to the TTC were a rollercoaster of emotions. Worry, nervousness, excitement, gratitude… Observing my emotional state during these months was an interesting process. Ups, downs, round and rounds! Fluctuations as you would say.  I feared not having the stamina, mentally, to get through the month. I knew what was in store for the students (after having gone through it myself) and I questioned if I could go through it again - and more!  But worries aside, I knew I needed to be there and that I would find the courage to keep going when the time came. And of course, this time certainly came - over and over… and over again.

In March I flew to Mysore and I came to visit you the moment I arrived. I remember crying last year as I hugged you goodbye, feeling so saddened by the knowledge I would not see you again for sometime. But there I was, back again and now preparing to teach alongside you. How humbled and honoured I was to sitting and talking with you that afternoon. I shall never forget that conversation.

The following day, our month long journey together would begin. During that month I was challenged in every possible way. Physically, as an advanced teacher and practitioner, I was pushed to limits I once never thought possible. Pratima, who trained with me in between the TTC classes, certainly doesn’t settle for mediocrity with her practitioners! But physical challenges aside, this past month has been more a challenge of the mind. There were days when I felt totally drained, inadequate and lacked confidence. Whilst I’m too stubborn to quit anything I commit to (sometimes to my own detriment) there were days when I questioned my silly decisions to put myself through such an intense experience. But of course, the sane and logical part of me always pulled through and reminded me of what a life changing experience this would be. Of the honour it was to assist you, Guruji. So I kept going and gave 2000% to everything - my time, my personal practice and of course my support of yourself and the students…. There was absolutely no way I was going to let you, the students or myself down. This was far too important.

 
 

So as I sit here and reflect upon the month just gone, there are many special moments I shall hold dear for the rest of my life. It could have been just a simple nod of approval, a smile or sitting alongside you at the front of the Shala. Whilst to you or others these moments may have seemed insignificant, to me they were powerful and hugely meaningful.

So as a final word, I want to sincerely thank you for your ongoing guidance and support of my journey with yoga. For believing in me as a teacher and practitioner. I have learned more than I could have possibly ever imagined, and this experience has made me not only a better teacher, but a better student, practitioner and person overall. I cannot wait to return next year to continue this journey with you and step it up to the next level. Thank you Guruji. Thank you.

Much love,

Your student, Jessica.

 

Yogacharya Bharath Shetty

 

Graduation Day - 500+hrs TTC complete!

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Well, it’s all over. With laughs, hugs and tears (I think the tears part was mostly me) we all said our goodbyes tonight. Writing this now I’m still in a disbelief that the course has come to an end. I’ve been in Mysore now for 67 days, 69 by the time I leave on Wednesday. Not only has this place become my home, but tonight I’ve also said goodbye to the small family we created during our time here. For those people who have traveled alone for any period of time, you would no doubt be able to understand why these friends are so important.

Today will be such a memorable day. For one, I was one of the four teachers in the final class. Then lunch with the group at the Royal Inn Hotel followed by our graduation. Memories to last a lifetime. 

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Preparing for my led class!

This mornings class went really well. I felt quite confident teaching, even with Bharath at the back of the room observing like a hawk. The last thing I want to do is disappoint that man, so there was some added pressure to teach well. But at the end of the day, it’s about teaching from the heart, and I feel I did that (in between counting asanas, adjustments and teaching in Sanskrit). The feedback from my peers was lovely. They think I’m a great teacher - very gentle. People at home might laugh at that, but it’s true! Somehow I’ve learned to find my ‘inside’ voice when I teach. Who would have thought?! Straight after class I asked Bharath for feedback. He looked at me, nodded, smiled and just said, “keep going.” That was it.

This evenings graduation was really special. We sat in a semi circle surrounding Bharath, who sat in his usual place at the front of the class directly under Om. Each of us shared our experiences with the group, how we felt, what we got out of the course, our gratitude etc. It was really special hearing how this journey has touched each of us. It was also interesting to hear how different the journey was for us all, despite being in the same classes everyday. Then, after one final speech to the group, Bharath called our names one by one and presented us with our certificates. It was a really special moment receiving my 500+hr certificate. 

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I cant help but think back to the moment when Owen and I let go of one another as I had to board the plane, feeling as though it would be an eternity until we see each other again. And now here I am, with two certificates in hand and only 3 weeks off coming home. How quickly time can fly.

As the class left to go downstairs and enjoy some jackfruit Bharath’s wife had prepared for us all, I took a moment in the Shala, alone, to say my final goodbyes. To reflect upon the journey I’ve been through in that room over the past 2.5 months - sitting in that Shala all day, every day. I now realise the woman who walked into that room 2.5 months ago is not the same woman who just walked out for the final time this evening. Fundamentally, I am a changed person. Emotionally, physically, spiritually. Maybe I’m a little too sentimental and emotional, but for me that room has been my ‘temple’ if you will, and I have many memories there so it was really emotional leaving it.

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The last to enter into Bharath’s home, I found everyone in my favourite front room with the bay windows, eating pieces of vibrant yellow jackfruit which sat in the middle of the coffee table. Next to the two plates of fruit were two small metal cups, each with a spoon and filled with honey. Bharath told me to try the jackfruit with honey on it - that it’s the best that way. It turns out he was correct. I’ve never tried this fruit before but it was so delicious, and the added sweetness of honey made it even yummier. Bharath explained it’s a fruit you eat before a meal as it’s quite heavy, whilst a mango you should eat after you‘ve eaten a meal as it helps with digestion. Fun fact!

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As Bharath is leaving Mysore this evening at 8.30pm to catch his flight to Belgium, we all said our goodbyes at about 7.40pm. I first hugged Bharath’s wife, and sincerely thanked her for the pleasure of getting to know her. Not only is she an amazing singer and cook, she has this beautiful warmth about her which makes you feel safe and welcome. Every time I saw her, she would smile brightly - and one just can’t help but smile back. This is how people can change the world - one smile at a time.

I then said my goodbyes to the rest of the group and waited patiently to speak with Bharath. The last person in the room and with tears welling in my eyes, Bharath stood from the couch where he was seated and walked over to where I was standing. With his usual gentle smile and eyes which looked at me as if to say “it’s ok Jessica” my teacher wrapped his arms around me and gave me the warmest hug. I sobbed quietly in his shoulder. As though he knew I couldn’t get the words out to say the final thank you, Bharath continued to hug me, making it ok that I was unable to speak at this point. As we parted, I managed to incoherently thank him and wish him well on his next adventure to Europe. I also assured this would not be ‘goodbye’, but ‘see you later’ as I will be sure to return for ongoing advanced training.

As I walked away from the Shala, with tears still running down my face, I felt a sense of calm wash over me by realising the hardest part of this course, saying goodbye to Bharath, was done. Now it’s time to enjoy my mini holiday in India and prepare myself to return home and begin my new life, with the new me, with my little family - the loves of my life.

This course was more than a course. It was also spiritually uplifting - an only now is the journey truly beginning.

Thank you Bharath Shetty. For everything.

Namaste xx

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Last day of training

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My Shala


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The girls