I chose All Yoga Bali for my yoga teacher training mainly because a. it’s in Bali b. they have a great website c. the timing was perfect. The one thing I couldn’t really find was reviews, hence this post. Granted, googling isn’t my strong suit, so it’s fully possible that there are many super helpful and informative reviews out there already.
Just to be clear, I did not go with All Yoga simply because their website is aesthetically pleasing, though it certainly is. What I mean by a “great” website is that all the necessary info is laid out there in great detail. Such as the price, date, accommodations, curriculum et. Cetera. One of my pet peeves is when yoga studios are purposely vague about their prices online, so that you have to go to the studio in person just to find out what sort of packages they offer. Then they try to rope you in with a splendid “introductory package” that’s a GREAT DEAL and only available if you sign up THAT DAY. Sorry, I just went a little off topic. Anyways, back to my main point which is when I’m going to make a big investment both financially and time wise, I most certainly want as much information about the specifics as I can get. Furthermore, they were very quick to reply to the many questions I had about the training.
Moving on, I decided on Bali instead of another exotic place or one in Taipei because I had my heart set on doing a YTT in Bali and that’s all there is to it. Which was a very wise decision on my part, if I do say so myself.
A free airport shuttle bus was arranged for those of us arriving in Bali the day before the training. Thanks to my great fortune, my flight from Hong Kong was delayed by a day due to the volcanic ash. Therefore, I took a taxi to Azadi Retreat (where we stayed for the entire training) all by my lonesome. The drive from the airport to Azadi is only about an hour long if the driver knows the way. Very big IF! My taxi driver most definitely got lost and many of my fellow students had similar experiences. I arrived late on the first day of training, just a little while before the day’s lessons were to end. Needless to say, I missed the entire first day of classes.
YTT is definitely no joke and my fellow trainees must have been pretty spent as they walked up the stairs to the common area after their very first day of training. Still, they found it in them to welcome me with such friendliness and kindness. Our head teacher Vari also greeted me with much warmth and reassured me (as the others had done) that I would be all caught up in no time at all. Truth be told, I was the teeniest but intimidated by Vari at the time simply because he’s this giant Puerto Rican guy from New York (keep in mind that I’m only 5’1/155cm) and my social circle is severely limited to people who are more or less like me. Obviously, my first impression was way off and he’s the most amazing, awesome, terrific, excellent, and outstanding – I’ve run out of superlatives – instructor trainer/yoga teacher one could ask for. In my, very unbiased, opinion that is.
Our head teacher Vari and assistant teacher Rachel are both very knowledgeable yoga instructors and I felt very fortunate to have the chance to learn from them for three whole weeks. Before Bali, my practice was mostly a physical one. After all, I started yoga simply because an actress I really liked was a yogini. Yep, that’s my yoga story and I’m not ashamed of it. I don’t know if it was something about the atmosphere or being in Bali or the whole yoga-ness of it all, but I found that I was excited and eager to learn about the other aspects of yoga. In addition to Vari &Rachel, we also had Anatomy Chris and Dr. Ganesh as guest teachers, to teach us about anatomy and philosophy respectively. To be honest, I may have spaced out one too many times during the lectures, but I blame it on my lack of sleep and generally poor concentration skills. Even so, I got a lot out of the lessons and am mentally kicking myself for not paying more attention back then.
I never really had experience with pranayama (breath practice), chanting or meditation, and my knowledge of the history and philosophies of yoga was painfully limited. Therefore, it came as quite the surprise to me that I thoroughly enjoyed those lessons. The chanting was definitely my favorite. I remember the first time we chanted, and if I’m being objective here it was pretty terrible. By the end however, everyone was bursting into chant randomly I kid you not.
Everyone has their own reasons for attending YTT, for me personally, it was simply to deepen my practice and boy did that happen. Thanks to the two-a-day practices as well as Rachel’s & Vari’s awesome teachings and adjustments, I feel like I improved more in those three short weeks than I had in the previous months or even year. Another thing that helped immensely was the asana clinics. Breaking down all the poses of the MPS (modified primary series), getting down to the nitty-gritty, was a very great learning experience in addition to being loads of fun and quite tiring. Especially so since we had to fill out our asana workbooks after class every day. One of the great things about attending an intensive YTT like this is that you can get into “study” groups with your fellow trainees and work on your homework together after dinner. Spending as much time as we did doing yoga, learning, laughing and crying together is the perfect recipe for creating amazing new friendships with like-minded folks.
The portion of the training that I had the biggest love/hate relationship with was the practice teaching. After all, speaking to large groups in general is certainly not my forte, actually, speaking to anyone I don’t know very well is quite the challenge for me. Every afternoon we were divided into pairs to teach each other one on one so there was A LOT of practice teaching. On my first day (the 2nd day for everyone else) we dove straight into teaching. Teaching Surya A for the first time was a fun new experience even though I fumbled through the breath and Sanskrit, a lot. Then again, the only way to get better at something is by doing it over and over again. During one of our morning led Ashtanga practices on the second week, someone was suddenly called up to teach a round of Surya A, then another and another person was called up. I remember counting my lucky stars every time someone else’s name was called. When Vari told me to go up and teach vrksasana and utthita hasta padangusthasana D I froze up for a moment, then my mouth started sprouting words out on its own accord. Teaching to an entire class for the first time, even if it was only two asanas, was a truly nerve wracking yet exhilarating experience.
I really liked that we switched up teaching buddies every day so that we got the chance to work with different body types and learning styles. It was also a great opportunity to get to know each other, especially for someone like me who is much more comfortable just listening on the side instead of jumping into conversations. I met so many amazing people from all over the world and from various walks of life during this training and I should probably stop gushing about the fabulous All Yoga Bali Class of August 2015 right about now.
Besides the asana clinics and the lectures, there were also quite a few workshops sprinkled in. The adjustment workshop was one of my favorites. Actually it was more of a tag along sort of thing, so during the evening mysore style MPS practice, a few people would go along with either Vari and Rachel. Those students would observe the adjustments made by Vri & Rachel then try them out on the other students. It was quite challenging but also loads of fun. I learned that we should use our bodyweight to give adjustments rather than using our muscular strength. Also, due to my short stature, I’d have to do adjustments differently from someone who is basically an Amazonian god or goddess. It did get a bit tricky adjusting people who were way taller than me, but it all added to the fun.
There was also this savasana workshop where the class was split into two groups, half the class had to give 2 minute savasana adjustments to every single person in the other half of the class plus Vari and Rachel. At first I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, but by the last few people I felt like I had gotten the hang of it, well sort of. Then it was my group’s turn to get our 30 minute massages savasana adjustments.
The sequencing class was great too, I’m very much looking forward to the day I get to teach MPS as well as my own vinyasa based flows. And it would be nearly criminal if I didn’t mention the EPIC jump through/back workshop which was more like a yoga party if you ask me. We started with some exercises to help build strength and prepare for jumping through and back. I’m not there yet, but I’ve been working on the exercises and it’ll happen when it’s meant to happen. Then it turned into unconventional but super fun partner exercises, before going into bear walks and frog jumps. Obviously, yoga is not a competition, but the frog jumping race was certainly a blast.
I’m not going to sugar coat it, YTT is very intense. Many, myself included, were kind of surprised by how much studying there was to be done. But there’s no need to worry about not knowing enough before heading into YTT. As Vari said, “ If you knew everything, you wouldn’t have to be here.” Some rudimentary knowledge of the Sanskrit terms and the like would definitely be nice, but as long as you’re willing to make an effort and put in the work, you’ll be fine.
Not that it was all work and no play. We spent one Friday funday taking cool yoga pics and simply lounging about at “toxic” beach. On another funday, we had the mantra showdown and I might have rapped for the very first time in my life. Go Yogangsters! Saturdays were our one day off and we spent them sightseeing, shopping and just exploring Ubud. Monkey forest was quite a unique experience to say the least and I really enjoyed visiting the traditional Balinese temples.
Vari & Rachel are not the kind of teachers who simply run out once class is over like their teaching duties are done for the day. In fact, they’re exactly the opposite. They are very kind and caring teachers with amazing work ethic who will try to help you in any way the can. I decided that YTT would be the prime time to work on inversions so I usually stayed after class to work on pincha or handstands or anything else that tickled my fancy. On most of the days, they stayed and helped me and others in between their own inversion/strength practices. Vari’s tips and exercises have helped me immensely and even though I cannot hold a handstand yet, I’m way closer than I was before.
All in all, it was the experience of a lifetime and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. So this ended up being more of a Shawn can’t stop rambling post instead of an informative one and I sincerely apologize for it, especially if you were looking for a well written review. In case you couldn’t tell, I highly recommend doing a training with All Yoga.