With hundreds of yoga postures (asanas) and many various styles, contemporary hatha yoga may well be leading today's seekers into confusion about where to start. From the ancient science of yoga, the last few hundred years has sprouted such a vast variety of popular approaches that today we are overwhelmed with choice. As the Western influence has brought its love for physical exercise into the search for peace and harmony within, hatha yoga has adapted, evolved and stretched itself to appeal to the many who are making time to “be on the mat“.
At the base of this growing fascination with yoga is the teacher training facility that is attracting people to study hatha yoga, and to offer classes for their communities, where a curiosity about personal energy and meditation is rapidly building. It's a beautiful thing to become a part of, and many new teachers have made the transition from their old daily life to working with yoga and helping others.
The most common format for studying yoga is the 200 hour Teacher Training Certificate (TTC) which is offered by many different yoga schools, each offering its own approach.
One of them, The Swara Yoga School, went one step further in helping future yoga teachers guide others to that inner balance and harmony. Drawing from the wisdom of nature itself and combining traditional teachings of yoga wih the knowledge of Ayurveda, and oriental medicine. The Swara Yoga School has incorporated ancient studies about the five elements of nature, found in yoga, Ayurveda and the orient and created The Elemental Yoga Teacher Training.
This teacher training aims to show students how to create hatha yoga classes that can help others move through the stress of daily life with confidence and self-awareness. By understanding the essence of each of the five elements, we can experience how our own being, as a perfect mirror of nature, is comprised of those same elements.
Imagine how the earth, with its qualities of solid boundaries, can help water to flow along, by using the earth's riverbanks. As the earth element remains true to its qualities of solidity and form, it allows the water to express its own: to flow effortlessly toward a lower place. Our whole multi-dimensional being works the same. As we learn to raise, lower, harmonise and dissolve each force of our nature, we gain the wisdom that the quality of each element represents. In this example, earth and water yoga will bring us to the wisdom that as we maintain our own boundaries, we will flow more easily toward peace.
The elements are not a whimsical metaphor, they are qualities and concepts we can witness in everyday life, reminding us that our health and balance are dynamic states of being. Everything changes.
Using Asanas, Pranayamas, Visual Meditations and Meditations on the Five Senses, (Indriyas) students can create yoga practices that are ideal for their personal state of elemental balance.
If you are a hatha yoga teacher already, knowing how to work with the elements will give you a great advantage. As many health imbalances are seasonal and cyclic, you will be able to create medicinal practices to help your students, based on some very simple observations of the energy of our seasons. A lot of students chose to do two or three teacher trainings with different teachers to find the form that fits them best, often mixing up different qualities to find an appealing approach that fulfils their students. The Elemental Yoga Teacher training is designed to bring more choices to the students.
A typical day at Elemental Yoga Teacher Training begins with a hatha yoga practice that activates and balances one of the five elements, followed by the breakfast, which highlights the Ayurvedic and Macrobiotic guidelines taught within the course. An hour to sit in the garden, overlooking the valley, before an interactive lecture on one of the many subjects taught during the training. Lunch is always superb, and can be enjoyed in a social setting or taken in silence, and there is plenty of time to digest, take a walk in the surrounding bushland and orchards.
An afternoon practicum uses many different approaches to develop the teacher skills in a live atmosphere, until the afternoon hatha yoga session helps to restore the mind to a rested state. A rest before dinner allows the appetite to grow, with recipes perfect to calm the body and easy to digest. Some evenings there is Kirtan ceremony, Conscious Cinema, though usually it is free time to absorb your experiences and lessons, or to connect with the other students. Once a week there is a session of Ayurvedic yoga massage where students can learn a great massage routine and practice it on each other. Days off are often spent walking on the beautiful nearby beaches, or just relaxing in the centres comfy lounge or garden. Meditations, silence sessions, (Mauna) and holistic diet support the daily lectures and practical studies.
The philosophy of this course is to return to one-to-one yoga teaching, as the energy created by doing Elemental Yoga practices is unique to the needs of each individual.
The Elemental Yoga concept has been used and clinically proven by The Swara Yoga School teachers, Jai Garuda and Sofia Araujo for over a decade, as yoga teachers, professional counselors and practitioners of many holistic healing arts. Sofia and Jai have focused their teachings on demonstrating the energetic purpose and therapeutic benefits behind the many different approaches to yoga.
swara-yoga.com to read more about the Elemental Yoga Teacher Training in Malfra, Portugal.