Years 2 and 3 of the IYT yoga teacher training diploma are delivered entirely over residential weekends and retreat weeks. The residential aspect of our course is a unique and fundamental part of our teaching style. The residential environment provides a truly immersive experience and allows students to fully benefit from the transformational effects of yoga.
The retreat venues we use offer peaceful and beautiful surroundings ideally suited to the deep nature of our work. Students have to make a significant commitment in making space in their day-to-day lives to attend the weekends and retreat weeks. It isn’t easy when we have demanding jobs, perhaps young children and/or partners, to give ourselves this amount of time and space away from home but the benefits are invaluable.
What is a typical weekend like?
A typical weekend begins around 3 or 4pm on a Friday evening when students arrive and get settled into their accommodation. The first of the weekend’s asana class starts at 5pm and is followed by an evening meal which is always wholesome vegetarian food and usually extremely delicious!
Around 8.30pm, everyone gathers for an evening group sharing (satsang) and meditation before stepping into ‘silence’. This silence is kept until after the early morning asana and pranayama class, which is usually around 7:30am and, weather permitting, is frequently outside. Some people find the silence challenging at first, whilst others welcome the private ‘space within a shared space’ it offers for reflection. Very quickly, a trust develops within the group and strong bonds are formed.
After breakfast at around 8:30am, students gather for a study session which is followed by an asana class and then lunch. The early part of the afternoon is given to private study, opportunities for one-to-one discussions with teachers, meditative walks in the countryside or simply rest. Saturday evening follows the same format as Friday. The Sunday morning timetable follows the same pattern as Saturday with the teaching ending shortly after lunch. Students and teachers step back into their day-to-day lives but with new understandings of their personal yoga journey and what it offers.
Making space in our too often hectic day-to-day lives enables us to detach from the everyday stresses, relationships, habits and patterns that we wrap ourselves up in. Detaching from them, even for the relatively short period of a weekend, often gives us a different perspective on our lives, which in turn can enable us to make great change. These residential teaching times are deeply nurturing on the physical, emotional and spiritual levels.
This process of personal transformation that yoga practiced in this way can bring, may be felt in different ways by different students. It can be experienced on many levels, some of them deeply healing and profound. Throughout the courses, students are supported by their teachers, course administrators and fellow students. Strong, supportive connections develop that often continue long after the course ends.