For the past 20 days I and my fellow students have risen early for yoga practice, pranayama (breathing exercises) and meditation. Our course to become yoga teachers had an optional module to learn about Kundalini Tantra Yoga and philosophy, which extended our morning yoga practices to include Sanjeevani Kriya. This particular morning we were contemplative as we had our final exam after breakfast and this was our penultimate practice. This written exam and a short oral examination with our teacher would determine the final outcome of the past 3 weeks, but it would also conclude the time we had all spent together growing, learning and bonding.

Despite the deprivations we dreaded, meat for some, alcohol for others, being away from family and friends, we had gained so much. We learned Jala netti on the first day and quickly assimilated the lifestyle we were encouraged to undertake to make this once in a lifetime journey.

The past 3 weeks had been as intense as we were told, we ate healthy vegetarian food, attended classes and two yoga practices a day. During this time we all underwent transformation. We didn’t just learn to instruct yoga, we learned a lot about ourselves and many of us let go of significant emotional baggage through the three week course.

Surrounded by the lush scenery of Mitcheldean in Gloucestershire we found peace, tranquility and a lack of distractions to keep us focussed on the goals we set ourselves before we arrived and those we discovered once we got here. Asanas, physical yoga practice, was only part of our journey, learning about it’s foundations and the importance of being in the present through meditation and silence also enhanced our self-awareness. Learning there was science underpinning a lot of what we were doing gave our determination to be better yoga practitioners and effective teachers a strong base.

Coming from different walks of life, circumstances and places, we all had a passion for yoga and a drive to want to spread it’s practice for the many benefits yoga brought us all personally and the opportunity to bring it’s positive effects to the lives of those we would have the privilege to teach.

There was a collective relief when we had finished the last of our assessments and we began to acclimate to the fact this time tomorrow we would be heading back to our lives away from our idyllic setting in the forest that witnessed our transformations. Everything we would need to do the course was already within us, we just needed to recognise and have faith in those tools. Under the tutelage of Ildiko Bakos Ji and Sri Vijay Anand we were illuminated and nurtured.

Watching our new friends, whom we had shared so much with, receive their yoga teacher certification was a moving ending to this holistic experience that gave much more to each of us than it promised at first glance. Our unforgettable 3 weeks were over but the ceremonies and events of the last day when we graduated underpinned all we had achieved together. We arrived with singularity but we left as one seeing ourselves in each other.