Adam Burt’s YTT Reflections

YTT graduate, Adam Burt

YTT graduate, Adam Burt

Where do you live? What do you do in your life apart from yoga?

My name is Adam Burt. I live in St. Albert, Alberta. I live a fairly active lifestyle. Apart from yoga, I enjoy cycling, hiking, climbing, longboarding, playing street hockey, and in the winter, snowboarding and snowshoeing. I currently work at a rock climbing gym and teach yoga at several different places.

What motivated you to begin practicing yoga? How did yoga come to be a part of your life?

I began practicing yoga when I was in grade 11. I played rugby throughout high school and always seemed to be incredibly sore from the last game or practice, no matter how much stretching I’d do on my own time. One day while shopping with my mom at Costco I came across a set of Yoga Now DVDs. Having heard very little about yoga, but knowing it involved increasing mobility and decreasing muscle tension, I was instantly intrigued. As soon as I returned home I got on my gym clothes and set up in the living room, having no clue that my life would change forever. That first 50 minute practice incorporated breathing, stretching and mindfulness; three things I’d never imagined could be so connected. After that first practice I was sold. I went out and bought a yoga mat and began practicing on a regular basis. I very quickly began noticing changes in my body and my mind. I was no longer constantly aching and sore. I didn’t need to take 3 advil before every game anymore. I felt more alert and aware of my body and my mind. Concentration came more easily and my breath became easier to control.

What attracted you to the SSCY Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) program?

Several years after practicing yoga on my own, I began attending a studio. At this point in time, having watched my only brother succumb to brain cancer and going through a difficult break up, I took my practice to the next level and began going to classes every day, sometimes several classes a day. I believe yoga saved me from slipping deep into depression and self medication. Knowing first hand the benefits of yoga, I began thinking about doing my 200hr YTT to learn how to spread the joy of yoga to others. I knew I didn’t want to do my training at home, where there would be far too many distractions from everyday life. Having a strong connection with the West coast, particularly Vancouver Island, I began searching for somewhere to do my training, preferably with a condensed program and as secluded as possible. SSCY was the first site to come up and the more I read about the program the more excited I became. I’d heard a lot about Salt Spring Island but had never actually been there. I knew without a doubt this was where I needed to go for my training.

What aspect of yoga has had the most transformative effect on your life?

Yoga has transformed my life in many ways. It began with a physical transformation. The fitness aspect is what originally drew me to yoga. I learned to release stress in the body, thereby increasing strength and mobility. Once I started attending classes in a studio with a real teacher in front of me, I began to explore other aspects. To be honest, at first I was pretty skeptical about all this talk of ‘prana’, and the ‘Om’-ing and ‘Namaste’-ing. But after a while I actually started listening to what the teacher was saying and a lot of it made perfect sense to me and related almost eerily to my life. The spiritual portion of my yoga practice is still relatively new but I am constantly learning more about who I am and what I need to do to contribute positively to the world around me.

Please share some memorable moments- or a favourite moment- from YTT.

My favourite moment at YTT is pretty difficult to pinpoint. I feel like my entire time there was my favourite moment, but if I had to choose, I would say the talent show at the end was a definite highlight. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed that hard before in my life. The bonds that were formed during our training were solidified that last night as we laughed and reminisced about what we’d learned and how our lives had changed.

What can students expect from the yoga teacher training at the Centre?

New YTT students can expect to be welcomed with open arms. Never have I been anywhere that made me feel as welcomed and loved almost instantly. Every person I met there was a kindred spirit and a loving soul. Every instructor had a unique point of view and a wealth of knowledge to share. Any questions I had were thoroughly answered. And to boot, the food was amazing. After my first 2 weeks, having not set foot off of the property, I was sad to leave but excited to take what I’d learned into the real world. Salt Spring Centre of Yoga is truly a second home to me now and I can’t wait to return!!!

We are now accepting applications for YTT 2016.

JULY 3 – 16 & Session 2: AUGUST 7 – 17
Both sessions required.
Get all the details here.

YTT Reflections: Linda Rogers

YTT Graduate, Linda Rogers

YTT Graduate, Linda Rogers

Where do you live? What do you do in your life apart from yoga?

I was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta and I am an Office Manager of two dental offices.

What motivated you to begin practicing yoga? How did yoga come to be part of your life?

I started practicing yoga several years ago to find a way to incorporate different workouts into my routine. I used to run a lot and started to crave a different pace for my mind and body. A very good friend of mine introduced me to yoga – which at the time, I believed was stretching for flexible people. I was immediately hooked and looking for ways to go deeper into my practice.

What attracted you to the SSCY YTT program?

I wasn’t looking for a YTT program! I was looking for a “yoga retreat” that would bring me to a beautiful, tranquil west coast destination! Something relaxing, an opportunity to recharge, in hindsight, something fluffy. I called the centre and had the joy of talking to Daniel and after a lengthy conversation, he really listened to who I was and peeled away the layers of the onion that were hiding what I was really looking for, what my goals were for my practice and how I wanted to find a way of life that was more fulfilling and wholehearted. Once I spoke to him, even though I didn’t believe I would ever teach yoga, I knew the YTT Program was for me!

What aspect of yoga has had the most transformative effect on your life?

Since YTT, the aspects of yoga that have had the most positive effect on my life have not had a lot to do with asana! The spiritual side of yoga has transformed many aspects of my life. Regular Sadhana has become a daily practice that brings yoga into more and more of my daily tasks and changes the way I interact with the world. Going to YTT, I never considered teaching yoga. Now, I enjoy sharing what I have learned, and encourage others to begin their own personal journey towards a more peaceful and engaged life. YTT was my own personal “springboard” which has launched me back into the joy of learning about things I love!

Please share some memorable moments – or a favourite moment – from YTT.

There are SO many! Just reading the question brings tears to my eyes. Tears of joy and tears of transformation…

The day we arrived at YTT, we played a game to get to know each other and my competitive nature got the best of me and I ended up injuring my hamstring. It was devastating! Here I was at a YTT program hobbling along with an inflamed hamstring that, at times, did not support my weight, made sitting excruciating, and frankly, brought up all my insecurities about being at YTT. I wasn’t young enough, thin enough or strong enough to be there. Who did I think I was?

Chetna took me out to the back porch and sat with me while I wallowed in my own self-judgement. It was on the steps that I discovered why I was really there. I will be eternally grateful for the lesson I learned that day and every day at YTT after that. Self-compassion, love, encouragement and finding meaning in all that happens in life – the good, the bad and the ugly. At YTT, it was the beginning of my journey of acknowledging that “I am enough” – just the way I am. My personal journey continued with the support of the many friendships that I formed on Salt Spring Island. Words cannot express how connected I feel to my teachers and fellow students.

What can students expect from the yoga teacher training at the Centre?

Students can expect a solid foundation for teaching yoga and a personal journey that is transforming. Salt Spring YTT fosters an environment that instills confidence in one’s ability to teach and encourages everyone to open their heart to continued learning.

Any favourite quotes?

There are SO many! And I make a point of reading many of them on a daily basis!

“Contentment, compassion, and tolerance are the pillars of peace.” Babaji

“There is an unspoken language. It comes from the silence and can’t be heard by the ears, only by the heart.” Babaji

My heart still skips a beat when I sing “The Food Prayer” too. Yum Yum!!

YTT Reflections: Craig Stewart

YTT Graduate, Craig Stewart

YTT Graduate, Craig Stewart

Where do you live? What do you do in your life apart from yoga?

Since 1991 I have resided in Smithers, B.C. as a practicing geoscientist with the BC Ministry of Environment. I left that position in July 2015 and although I’m technically “retired”, I feel more like I have just started a new career pursuing various other interests and passions. My time is taken up by a multitude of interests and activities, from hiking, biking, skiing, kayaking and hockey, to learning piano, playing guitar, gardening and volunteering. I’m really enjoying not having a prescribed schedule all the time, and appreciating the time to reconnect with other aspects of my personality.

What motivated you to begin practicing yoga? How did yoga come to be part of your life?

Yoga intrigued me many years back for its grace, beauty and physicality. I will also admit it didn’t hurt being the only male in the class! I dabbled in yoga sporadically, and quickly noticed the benefits in terms of flexibility and strengthening. It was after a hip injury from playing squash that I seriously took to the mat to improve strength, flexibility, balance and body control. I could no longer ski, skate, run, golf or do many of the activities I loved and there seemed to be no solution. I knew that yoga had been generally helpful overall, so I turned to it to help improve my hip and to provide the physical activity from all of the activities I could no longer comfortably do. It seems to have worked as I am back doing pretty much everything as before. My hip will never be what it was, but I feel stronger, fitter and I think many of the activities I pursue have been greatly improved by my practice. I have also met many wonderful people through my practice. My biggest challenge is making my practice consistent, as it really is something that needs to be continually cultivated.

What attracted you to the SSCY YTT program?

Upon deciding to take the 200hr course, basically to improve my personal practice, I started hunting around for locations. The exotic ones appealed greatly to me….a Greek Island perhaps? Looked pretty nice…but I really wanted to have a total immersion to focus on the learning and completing the course. My main instructor in Smithers turned out to be a SSCY YTT alumni and said I would love going there, so I checked it out. Given that there is a three week break in the middle and I did not want to come home in that time, my being in the Vancouver Island area allowed me an opportunity to stay down there the whole time and save on the travel hassle. So logistically it made a lot of sense and turned out to be a great benefit, adding to the whole experience of the summer. The program layout, teacher reputation, immersion aspect (staying onsite), the high recommendation and the allure of Salt Spring Island made it a perfect choice. I may still get to Greece though, or Italy, or Costa Rica, or….

What aspect of yoga has had the most transformative effect on your life?

Pause for thought here to try and picture the before and after….

On the physical level I feel stronger and more attuned to myself. At a more subtle level I feel I am becoming a better person and believe more strongly in my life path and choices. I feel a better energy within and I think send better energy to the outside world as well. Yoga has been reaffirming to many critical aspects of who I am while also introducing me to new thoughts and ways of being. It has made me more aware of conversations, energies and what I want to be around. For example, by being attuned to negative energies from others or myself, I can try to influence them in a more positive manner. Definitely not everything is perfect and likely never will be, but my awareness level has definitely increased. It has certainly influenced how I want to be as a person.

Specifically from the course, the breath connection was a large revelation and I have added Pranayama to my practice; it’s an area that I was not really aware of or interested in. This quite surprised me, but I find it very enjoyable and beneficial on all levels.

Actually guiding classes has been a big step – just being able to do it for one. I realize how hard but enjoyable it is and appreciate my instructors even more. And the biggie: noticing how much of a difference can occur to a student’s day, energy, mood, and attitude from attending a class. It is a remarkable feeling to help someone transform their energy over the length of a class and notice/hear the incredible positive changes that have occurred from their being in the class.

Please share some memorable moments – or a favourite moment – from YTT.

There were so many unforgettable moments: the amazing final talent night, the funky final dance with a billion stars in the night sky to the accompaniment of croaking frogs that drowned out music and thought, the emotional closeness shared, the food (with the odd side trip for necessities such as coffee and chocolate), the wonderful helpful staff, music in the Pond Dome, caring and thoughtful instructors, so much humour, gentleness, learning people’s stories, meaningful conversations, overcoming challenges…..and the difference between the first half and the second half. Transformation for sure.

What can students expect from the Yoga Teacher Training at the Centre?

YTT students can expect to spend time with students, teachers and staff in a wonderfully relaxed and peaceful setting. The long days, substantive subject matter, and close proximity to a group of like minded but very different individuals can test their comfort zone and individual boundaries. The time spent together creates a wonderful intimacy to share and learn about one another, creating wonderful experiences and memories. Learning the hows and whys of the journeys that led students, teachers and staff to the centre was amazing and I think provided a basis for more personal openness throughout the course and beyond. The classes will test their belief system, openness, willingness to experiment, and how they deal with failures and successes. The course changed my perspective of yoga and my personal practice; it has given me permission to have a gentler, kinder, more meaningful practice.

They will gain from hearing people’s stories, observing incredible hidden talents, watching people change over the duration of the course, personal surprises, releases of all kinds (physical and emotional) and many subtle things that won’t really be noticed until after the course is completed.

And there will be lots of fun, laughter and enjoyment!!!

Do you have any favourite quotes?

“Teach to Learn”….so true.

When I initially decided to attend YTT I had no interest in teaching. As the course advanced, and after some positive interactions with students and staff, the thought of teaching (although I prefer to use the term guiding) started to creep in. Upon my return to Smithers, I tested it out on some friends over 10 karma classes, and found that it seemed to work out – they came back and signed up for more – and paid! So I have led classes since and will do so in the future, slowly learning and building a repertoire of knowledge.

Back to the quote. As soon as I decided to lead classes, the emphasis on knowing what I was doing became rather important. The act of doing my own practice vs. demonstrating and explaining a class in a clear, succinct, comfortable manner for students of various skill levels, are very different. Suddenly, the way I looked at my practice changed considerably. I realized I had to learn so much more, (YTT is just the start) in terms of mechanics, vocabulary, sensing the class dynamics, class structure, atmosphere and a myriad of other things. Now when I attend a class, I pay very careful attention to the sequencing, the lead in, languaging and other aspects of the class to find those things that resonate with me and that are effective. “Teaching” brings out your preferences, your style, your personality and you learn more about yourself as a person. I believe I get as much or more back from teaching the class than I impart.

In addition, the fact that “Teach to Learn” spawned an outstanding rap tune at our final talent night sealed the deal, making it the most memorable quote!!!

Reflections on the Centre’s Yoga Teacher Training Program: Ginny & Kim

Ginnys’s Reflections on the Centre’s YTT Program


YTT Graduate, Ginny Kloos

“I feel…” were the only words I could get out before the tears took over. Finally I managed to add “I can’t even get out the word ‘blessed’!”

It was the closing circle at the end of our 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training at the Salt Spring Centre. Emotions had taken over in a huge wave throughout the circle. We sat in a group sharing our experience, the changes we’d faced, the fears we’d overcome, and our intense gratitude and appreciation for the centre, for our teachers, and for everything in our lives that led us to this training.

The Salt Spring Centre of Yoga truly emcompasses the qualities of Yoga. Love, compassion, care and devotion flood from the people, the building and the land to create an atmosphere that moves everyone who is lucky enough to find themselves there. It was an immense honour to have begun my training and my journey as a teacher in a place with such a pure lineage of teachings.

I have been practicing yoga for seven years. Yoga was my rock through a lot of difficult times. It slowly guided me down my path even when I didn’t feel connected to it. I now see it was leading me to this centre the whole time, where I could connect with a true yogic community, a family and solidify a foundation underneath me, at a time when I really need one. Once you open your life to yoga it is with you forever. Baba Hari Dass said many times “if you work on yoga, yoga will work on you.” It’s true. Once you set foot on that path, it stays with you, holding you. The Salt Spring Centre provides to perfect framework of practice and teachings to help us understand and feel that support.

I am amazed at the depth and structure of this program. As you work your way through this training, it becomes more and more clear how much time and effort went into designing and tweaking every aspect of the course. It creates a very solid foundation of teachings to understand and practice yoga from many different perspectives. But the experience of this training is so much more than that as well. It provides a detailed and well-rounded knowledge basis for new teachers, but beyond that, it creates the perfect environment for self-discovery, healing and connection. It is a place that brings you home.

Thank you to my teachers. Thank you to my fellow students, who are also my teachers. I am forever grateful. Namaste.

Kim’s Reflections on the Centre’s YTT Program

Kim Gilette

YTT Graduate, Kim Gillett

If you have ever visited sacred space in the world, including your own, you may recall a certain magical feeling that arises from being present in such a place. Perhaps a warm sense of peace washes over you, or calm subtle grounding lands you gently in its roots. You may find yourself captivated by its beauty, or notice a feeling of being home when you have never been there before. The Salt Spring Centre of Yoga holds all that and more and its offerings are true gifts to the world.

Over the months of July and August I was blessed to participate in the SSC 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training program and I could not be happier. From the moment I applied I was gently guided and it was clear the Center was a place of love. Even before I set foot on the property it felt as though it was calling to us all. As we began to gather on the first day, I found myself feeling like everyone looked familiar. At first it surprised me and I had to take a second look to make sure I was wrong, but as it continued to happen I realized something profound: we all looked familiar because we were already connected, and we all felt at home because we were. The students, teachers, and supporting staff are all so devoted to the program that it was as if we were one family embarking on a journey together. There was no feeling of strangeness, no separation, only one community living, breathing, and practicing together in the name of yoga, union, and peace.

The YTT program is founded in the Classical Ashtanga and Hatha Yoga systems and the curriculum incorporates the eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga. Inspired by the Center’s guru, Baba Hari Dass, the teachings begin at the birth of yoga and reflect its pure nature by referring to the sacred texts and practices of its origin. All of the facilitators and supporting staff practice Karma Yoga and devote their time freely to the cultivation of the Centre and its visitors. They are yogis in their own rights, with deep personal practices that reflect in their joyous and humble actions daily, and they wholly embody their mantra of “teach to learn”. Like skillful gardeners they carefully tended our soil, nourished and protected us, and raised us from seedling students to flowering teachers, all the while receiving their own lessons through personal studies and applications. Each day was carefully crafted, layering lesson upon lesson, so we had a perfect balance of powerful learning and were never overwhelmed. Though the schedule was full and the hours intense, we were continuously reminded to listen to our bodies and rest as needed. Incorporating sadhana, satsang, kirtan, asana classes and clinics, theory, history and much more, the teachers of this sacred place bestowed years of knowledge upon us in just several weeks and empowered us to go forth and share this wisdom with the world.

Through their embodied practice, each member of the Salt Spring Centre of Yoga showed us the meaning, purpose, and result of yoga, and what we could be if we wished to dedicate ourselves to love.