Interning as a Yoga teacher in Colombia

By Chantal Houde

It’s been just over a month since I returned home from Colombia, and in that time I’ve been able to see some major changes taking place in my life. Many of these changes are things I’ve been working towards for months or even years, and others are changes I’ve more recently resolved to make, in large part due to the time I spend in Medellin, with Yoga Internships Colombia.

I’m now teaching yoga at my favourite Ottawa studio, Prana Shanti. I’ve taught two well-received Hatha classes this past week, and am teaching eight classes through the month of July. I’ve also cemented my involvement with Laughing Falcon Yoga and Wellness Center, a studio opening soon in the picturesque Ontario town of Barry’s Bay.  I’ve taken on a role as a support for their marketing efforts and am organizing a three-day Autumn retreat. I’ll also be teaching the Yoga Nidra workshop I developed in Colombia.

The dynamics of my social life have also shifted as well. I’m making new friends and have readjusted relationships with some of my existing friends and family members. I’m leaning less on unhealthy habits and tending more towards peace and ease in all areas of my life. And it feels so good; so authentic.

The role that Yoga Internships Colombia had in all these changes is, in my mind, in large part thanks to the container for growth it provided. I was already on a path to change in my own life, and the space, support, practice and clarity the program provided was an extra push in the right direction.

As I’ve written, finding space to do what I know is right in my life can be a challenge for me. At home it’s easy to get bogged down by my 9-5 job, relationships, and unhealthy tendencies. By travelling and taking myself out of my day-to-day repetitive thoughts and routines, I always feel a sense of opening of possibilities that allows me to reconnect again and again to what’s really important to me: yoga, building relationships with like-minded and loving people, my health, creating peace in my mind, nature, learning, and sharing my experiences through teaching and writing.

In Colombia, the balance of structured and free time at the internship at Flying Tree Yoga gave me the space to write new articles, begin to plan the yoga retreat, apply for other yoga positions, and to connect with new contacts and friends both in Colombia and in Ontario (not to mention teaching yoga in a foreign country, which had long been a dream of mine).

I also became much clearer on how I wanted to move forward, given my current reality. The support offered by Andrew and Sierra, the program facilitators, as well as other yoga teachers involved in the program, the other interns, and even the students who attended my classes and workshops was invaluable.  The workshops kept us thinking about yoga-related topics (the Yamas and Niyamas, use of hands-on support and the use of language in yoga, to name a few) and how we could apply them in our own teachings. They provided us with resources and ideas to advance our teaching and our personal yoga practice and encouraged us to share our own ideas. No topic, idea or style of yoga was pushed on us; instead we were invited to explore and to establish our own style of teaching.

The same was true of our opportunities to teach classes. We had the option to teach as much or as little as we liked, and the group of interns worked collaboratively to fill the schedule of the studio. It was clearly laid out at the beginning of the program that there would be a chance for us to teach workshops, private classes and/or to provide other healing services as we would like, and then we were left to take the initiative to plan them ourselves. As yoga teachers, I think this was so important, as it can be quite hard and take time and creativity to find a space to teach. Initiative is so important in the sometimes saturated yoga scene. Making new contacts, charting our own path, and creating opportunities for ourselves is just as important as actually having the skills to teach. The internship really reflected this, while providing support when we needed it.

In the end I think this experience, as with most in life, was what I made it. I went to Medellin with the intention to teach as much as I could, to write, to refocus on my health, and to gain some clarity on my next steps. I also wanted, of course, to explore the city and if possible, other parts of Colombia. I was glad to be given the chance to plan and create my own promotional materials for my workshop, to communicate with and schedule private clients, and to participate in the yoga community in Medellin. These are all skills that are so useful to me now that I’m back in Ottawa. I even got a chance to visit Guatape, a beautiful little town in the countryside. I knew very well going into this that it would not be like a teacher training- that I was there to make my own opportunities- and it was the perfect way to do so.

This article originally appeared on Travels With Celery

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Chantal is a yoga teacher, reiki practitioner and a current intern with Yoga Internships Colombia. She is passionate about helping people find and maintain a sense of well-being through Yoga and healthy lifestyle. She loves nature, travel and nourishing food. Follow her wanderings on her wellness travel blog, and onInstagram and Twitter.