Hi Loves!

I just got back from Belize this past Saturday, slowly recuperating and trying to catch up on life. A week full of learning to teach yoga is EXHAUSTING, mentally and physically, and I feel like I am still processing the entire experience. 2+ hours of yoga a day + 4+ hours of classroom learning everyday for a week straight can take a lot out of a person! I kept track of my schedule for the week, and I wanted to share with those who are interested and/or curious about what REALLY happens and what one learns in order to become a certified yoga teacher.

YTT_Belize

I decided to get my 100 hour certification in Belize through Go Yoga, and finish off the rest of my 200 certificate back in Ohio in August (anyone can take the teacher training through go yoga, no matter where you live – they offer 100 hour training in Belize in May + the 200 hour certificate completion in Sedona in July every year). The total cost of the trip, including my flight, was around $2,000. Most studios offer 200 hour teacher training over the course of 9 months, and it can be pretty intense – and expensive. I decided to take a vacation at the same time I got my certification + I wanted to get half of the training done in 1 shot. It was actually LESS expensive to take the trip, including the cost of my flight + finish off my 200 hour training locally at the end of the year through Go Yoga! Total no-brainer decision for me.

I did go to a few informational sessions at local studios to see what their training was like, and Go Yoga just felt better and seemed less daunting/stressful. I went with my gut – I would encourage everyone to look at all options until you find a good fit for YOU. The time commitment with the other studios was way too much for me, and I would of had to drive 20-30 minutes to the studio for training. Add in teaching practice hours + minimum hours of classes that needed to be taken in order to get certified – no thanks. I would have been overwhelmed and really sick of yoga by the end of my training!

Below is a recap of my week at Ak’Bol Yoga Resort in Belize – with pictures, of course! 🙂

***I am so, so incredibly grateful for being able to do the training at Ak’bol Yoga Retreat – the owners are such AMAZING people, and they took care of every single need for every person there. I highly recommend staying here, or at the very least, stopping in at their little resort for a bite to eat (Brandon, one of their cooks, makes the most delicious food!) or a yoga class if you are ever traveling to San Pedro Island Belize.

Saturday:
7 am – 7 pm(?) : Fly from Columbus, OH –> Houston, TX –> Belize City –> 1.5 hours water taxi to San Pedro Island –> 15 minute taxi to Ak’Bol Yoga Resort

When I arrived, my luggage was taken to my room. I shared a room with 1 other person – the rooms were a little small, with 1 ceiling fan and no AC – but it didn’t matter, since I really only went to my room to change and sleep.

The bathrooms were absolutely ADORABLE – just look at those sinks!!

Maya,the Ak'Bol Guard dog :)

Maya,the Ak’Bol Guard dog 🙂

There were 14 of us total for the week of training + 2 teachers leading the training. Most of us met at the airport or at the water taxi, and when we arrived at the resort, we were able to settle in a little and chat more. We were all given a little more instruction as to how the week would go, since no one knew what exactly the schedule would be like. I didn’t really have any expectations, although I did think we were starting the training on Monday – but surprise! our week was going to start bright and early Sunday morning! Our days were jam-packed:

7 am: 1 hour meditation walk along the beach
8 am: breakfast – usually fresh fruit + yogurt made from a woman in the mountains (ah-mazing!) + eggs/coconut french toast/baked oatmeal
9 am-10 am: Power Yoga class #1
10 am-12 pm: class room yoga learnings
12 pm: lunch – usually something light, like salad, with a fish/vegetarian option
12:30 pm-2 pm: free time!
2 pm-4 pm: class room yoga learnings
4 pm-5 pm: Power Yoga class #2
5 pm: shower/get changed
6 pm-8 pm: dinner + more yoga teacher learnings + journaling
8 pm: bed time!

I was exhausted from traveling all day, but had a very hard time sleeping that first night – it was SO hot! However, I was able to adjust as the week went on, and I survived without AC 🙂

Sunday – Day 1
Hot, Sticky and jam-packed. We spent about 6-8 hours of our day practicing and learning Yoga in a Palapa everyday! But it was PERFECT. The ocean underneath us, a perfect breeze the entire time… I would not have wanted to practice anywhere else. However, the yoga classes were intense, and we began to learn the power yoga sequence for teaching a basic class. By the end of the day, I was ready for bed!

First Morning Sunrise, Ready for some Yoga!

First Morning Sunrise, Ready for some Yoga!

Dinner Menu! Carrots Cake was the BEST

Dinner Menu! Carrots Cake was the BEST

Monday – Day 2
Woke up at 5 am and ran 1-2 miles along the beach. By the afternoon, I was wondering how the hell I was going to make it to the end of the day, let alone the rest of the week! I also had no appetite and didn’t eat that much the first few days due to the heat. By dinner, I wanted someone to spoon-feed me. I definitely slept well Monday night!

Tuesday – Day 3
My Body. Is. So. Sore. Luckily, the yoga classes today weren’t as demanding. However, the amount of exercise going on every day was around 4 hours – it takes a toll on a person! I was drinking electrolyte powder with creatine in it, which really, really helped with the soreness and recovery. It rained a little bit this day, which helped with the heat. Day 3 was also a mental overload – we learned the rest of the power yoga sequence, and each student taught part of a class for the 4 pm yoga class. It was really nerve wracking, at least for me – being a perfectionist, I don’t like to mess up!

Cuddled up in a Blanket after the rain!

Cuddled up in a Blanket after the rain!

I will say at this point that I needed some alone time. I was always rushing from one thing to the next, with no time to absorb anything, let alone reflect on the experience. By the time it was ready for bed, I was too tired to write or journal. I wish I had a little more time to myself or a longer break in between classes. It was hard enough finding time to fit in a shower everyday!

Wednesday – Day 4
I think my body finally started to adjust to the heat, and I wasn’t as sore on Day 4. During our classroom learning time, our group was split in half – one instructor took half the group , the other instructor took the other half. We were all assigned a part of the yoga sequence and taught half the group. What I loved about this was that our instructor was able to give feedback while we were teaching – more one-on-one attention in a smaller setting, which was great.

Thursday – Day 5
Today was the best day, since we got the afternoon off. I woke up at 4 am and ran 2-3 miles along the beach this morning, getting some AMAZING sunrise pictures. I went to the Palapa immediately after my run and did some self-awareness meditation. There were some emotions coming up during the week that I felt like I needed to deal with, and it was the perfect time and setting to just let it all go in meditation. I even had a nice little visitor hanging out on the pier with me that morning 🙂

After our morning practice, we split off into 2 groups and each taught a different section of a power yoga class. It was amazing to see how much everyone had improved from the day before! Practice, Repetition and Confidence all seemed to be the secret to success here. Afterwards, most of the group got together to go snorkeling. And let me tell you – I had a very incorrect idea of what snorkeling was. I thought we would go off the coast and maybe snorkel around some coral. NOPE. We took a boat all the way out to Hol Chan – jumping out the boat, snorkeling in 4-5 feet deep water… then swimming to the drop-off near the reef. It was. breakthtaking. I felt like one of those divers you see on TV! I couldn’t believe what was going on under the water! All the fish, stingrays, sharks, coral… just totally unreal.

Afterwards, we went to shark ray alley – our guides threw chum in the water to attract the sharks and big fish… then we all jumped in! It was terrifying, but at the end, I didn’t want to get out. It was so fun!

Afterwards, we went back and showered, getting ready for the night. Half of our group went to a resort for dinner, but I went with the other half to explore town. I shopped at the local vendors, bought some Belize chocolate and ate at a local restaurant. After dinner, we all got a drink and walked around town, ending up at the chicken drop. The world-famous chicken drop is basically chicken-shit bingo: 1 person bets on a number, a chicken is placed in a pen on a large bingo board, and whatever number the chicken shits on, that person wins a small amount of money. There is a DJ with loud music, and everyone crowds around the bingo pen. This alone was worth coming into town for!

Friday – Day 6
Today was the final day of teacher training! We learned about assisting others on poses, practicing them with a partner, working with the elderly, and modifications for new yoga students. At 4, we all taught part of the class – the instructors moved our mats in the order we were supposed to go, giving us each 4 minutes to teach. It was the most entertaining and fun class I have ever taken! Everyone has such a different teaching style, and I loved being able to share such a beautiful practice with such beautiful souls (even if we all strayed a little bit from the sequence we were supposed to teach ;)).
Immediately after, we had dinner an hour early, and did final journaling afterwards. We all had to answer the questions What Does Yoga Mean to Me? and How Will I Share My Yoga Practice? When we were done, we all gathered at the Palapa for one last mini-yoga class, sharing our responses to the questions with each other. At the end, it was extremely emotinal for me, knowing that I have 13 yoga sisters for my life. I love each and every one of them so much, for so many different reasons.

After the final “ceremony”, champagne was opened and we all celebrated on being officially certified yoga teachers! We then headed to bar down the beach to continue our celebrations… still in our sweaty yoga clothes from earlier that day, but no one cared. We were all so happy to have completed our certification and have such an amazing experience! We just wanted to spend time with each other and celebrate 🙂 On the way back , a few of us went for a late-night swim off the dock – yoga clothes and all! We swam with the baracudas and sting rays in the night, with just a little dock light shining in our swim area. It was the perfect ending to the week 🙂

Saturday – Day 7
Back to the states! I took a 9 am taxi to the San Pedro Airport and a 15-minute flight back to Belize in a 13-seater plane. It was such a perfect, peaceful ride, and I couldn’t stop looking at the view beneath me. Flying into houston, then to Columbus – I finally arrived at 11 pm at night, so, so, SO happy to be home. Back to air conditioning, back to hot, clean water, back to my bed and my bug-free apartment.

“Expect Nothing, and Accept Everything.”
I went into this Yoga Teacher Training with no idea on what was to happen. I didn’t know what I was going to learn, what the schedule was going to be like, the people I would meet, how physically demanding the week would be… I just went with an open mind, open to all possibilities. My heart cracked open just a little bit more, I learned to let go of things/people that I had been holding onto, learned how to teach an entire yoga class, got pushed to be myself, ate AMAZING fresh food everyday, and gained 13 new friends. It’s amazing how your perspective, your life can change in just one week.

Nina Elise yoga

So what’s next? Refining and practicing teaching on my friends and family, eventually teaching private lessons for beginners… who knows. I am still processing this whole experience, and am open to whatever comes next! I’ll be finishing up my 200 hour certification beginning in August, traveling to Europe for a few weeks in September, and in the meantime, loving on my new lop-eared bunny, Stumps <3

Stumps, my little lop-eared bunny

Stumps, my little lop-eared bunny

I hope this was helpful to anyone deciding on whether to get yoga-teacher certified, where to go, what to expect… Every experience is so unique and different for every person, but I love being able to share in the hopes that it might inspire or give even just one person some insight. Is there anyone else out there thinking of becoming a yoga teacher? or who IS certified  – what was your experience like? I would love to hear from you all!

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