We had the pleasure of sitting down with the beautiful Monica Danaci, a Yogaventures 200 Hour Teacher Training graduate. Monica shares her story about life durig training and her journey onwards to create her new heart-centred yoga business, Bala Yoga in Melbourne, Australia.
Can you tell us a little about your teacher training experience?
I did my 200 Hour Teacher Training with Emma Ceolin from Yogaventures in Bali 2019. I had wanted to do my teacher training for years! I would research online, often finding myself going back to the same websites looking for answers (the same way you constantly go back to your pantry hoping something delicious magically shows up) but I never took the leap. A part of me felt a little intimidated, unsure exactly what to look for and honestly a little like I wouldn’t be good enough or I wasn’t ‘there yet’. I started doing more yoga and trying different studios and styles to try and open my eyes up a little more on what was out there to gain a better perspective. I had such a huge passion in yoga for mental health and that’s when I stumbled across Emma! I attended her Yoga for Stress and Anxiety Workshop in Melbourne after following her on Instagram. Emma’s yoga workshop was so accessible to everyone. It was everything yoga should be; warm, welcoming, safe, encouraging and she had a way of holding the space that made me feel comfortable. There was no ego. It was the kind of yoga teacher I wanted to be. I wanted people to come into space without feeling intimated or out of place. In the mean time I’d kept up her Online Yoga Classes then months later I received Emma’s newsletter with information on her up and coming YTT. There wasn’t a MOMENT of hesitation. As I read more and more information down the email, I got more and more excited and remember instantly messaging my partner in all capital letters. I’d found the teacher training for me.
Why did you choose this training?
There were quite a few things that drew me to this training opposed to others I’d researched.
Emma was excellent at holding a space and had a focus on mental health. Meeting or practising with the trainer I now believe is an important part of choosing your YTT;
It was a 2-week intensive training held in Bali. I already worked 2 jobs and knew that part time study over a long period of time was going to be unrealistic in terms of keeping up my stamina and focus. I already had a background in teaching, so I knew that would play to my advantage. I wasn’t as stressed about that aspect, it was more all the yoga information I had to take on board;
The areas of study. There were more subjects that Emma offered in her 2 weeks than most other trainings had to offer;
She was a hands on practitioner that knew how the industry was working here and now with a great social media presence;
There was a professional photographer on board, allowing us to use any photos with permission for future endeavours;
Everything in Bali was all-inclusive! Accommodation, meals, training and transfers. All I had to do was my prior reading and book my flights and insurance;
There was no pressure. I didn’t need to be an expert or super flexible. Emma really emphasised that it was training for anyone to gain from;
The most important, she only takes a small group. Our training had only 9 people on board. I didn’t want to be just another number pumped through a system. I wanted to know I could ask 1000 questions about a downward dog and get the most out of my training. It was exactly that!
How did you feel before, during and after training?
Before training I was extremely excited and naturally a little nervous. Emma was super organised with keeping us in the loop with any information or if any plans had changed/updated and made it well known we could contact her at any time with any questions or concerns. We didn’t get our booklist until 4 weeks out to ensure it was fresh in our minds when we arrived. I was initially quite overwhelmed, but continued to remind myself that I just had to get through it, and it would make much more sense once training started and we spoke about it. Which was totally true. I went into the training telling myself that I might not be able to run classes straight after training, but I’d at least be one step closer (Turns out I totally underestimated myself and the training!). From the moment I arrived I was surrounded by like-minding, open and accepting souls. Being a small group, it made it so much more comfortable getting to know one another and being able to totally be yourself.
Looking back, the time went so incredibly fast. There wasn’t a single aspect of the training that was unenjoyable. Learning about something you love all-day and practicing in beautiful Bali morning and night. I was initially unsure about sharing a villa, being someone that enjoys their own space, however I had a super lovely roommate and sharing a 3-bedroom villa with 3 other ladies actually made the experience so much nicer. Being able to debrief about the day just gone and express different ideas of assignments and what we’d learnt that day etc was so nice to know that you weren’t the only one feeling nervous, or unsure or excited!
After training I was so incredibly inspired. Training was so much more than teaching yoga. We all took so much away in terms of our own personal development and growth beyond yoga. I left ready. I had 101 ideas, and Emma gave us the tools and confidence to implement them.
What was the highlight for you?
Such a hard question! Being immersed in something you love while eating fresh foods and soaking up the sunshine, you can’t really go wrong! But I LOVED our daily practise. Sunrise flow and sunset yin. Through all the emotions, long days and full brains, it really demonstrated how much the practice of yoga helps you stay focused, regulated and release. Emma is an incredible teacher!
What were your thoughts on the intensive-structured training?
The 2 weeks intensive was my preferred structure of training. I went into the training expecting it to be quite taxing and strenuous. However, considering how much we learnt, it was very well done. Every day we had time aside to either self-care or work on assignments. I managed to complete them all whilst on training and still felt like I had snippets of time to breath! If anything I’d say it would have been nice to have an extra day to do something fun together as a team! The training modules were fantastic. Everything was taught very well. The theory sessions would have hands on elements and fun videos to break up the reading/writing time and all the practical session were very hands on. We literally taught and adjusted every single pose in our manual!
The best part was that it was obvious Emma didn’t take a cookie cutter approach here. She’d taken so much of her own research and findings over the years to include into the YTT beyond what others had to offer. Our training had such a huge focus on mental health and making everyone feel comfortable and accepted in classes. We learnt how to be very mindful yoga teachers. She also included a few workshops that a lot of other trainings do not offer such as, pre/post natal, restorative and adjusting of poses. As mentioned above, Emma has such great knowledge on the current business of yoga, which is truly beneficial and gave us so many tips of starting out.
Where are you now that you have graduated?
A lot of people emphasised that if I didn’t start teaching straight away, I would struggle to get into it later. I think this can be very true! The first class I took was in my backyard with family and friends and I was so super excited to share with them what I’d learnt. Not long after I took a class for a group of lovely ladies on the morning of a wedding. This was the first class I’d taught to strangers, and with such positive feedback it gave me the confidence to get started. I started teaching a class a week on my back deck while the weather was still warm in return for feedback! With all the guidance through training and practise sessions, I then started to plan starting a business. Finding a name was honestly the hardest part!!!! I opened a bank account, build my own website using the tools/options Emma recommended and I was lucky enough to have some great friends help me with a logo, setting up the ‘business’ and the photography for the website. I’m now running my own classes out of a gym and slowly building up my own business as a yoga teacher! This was all through doing my 200hr YTT, asking ALL the questions and taking all the advice Emma had to offer! Teaching yoga has been such a super-rewarding job so far and I can’t wait to see what the future holds! (Hopefully more training with Yogaventures!).
Any teachings that have stuck with you?
One major teaching to me was the huge focus we had on longevity in yoga and keeping the body safe. It made me realise how many of us do classes without knowing or understanding enough and putting our bodies and spine under unnecessary strain. I’ve made this a big focus when teaching to always give plenty of cues to protect the body and ensure people don’t feel pressured to come into every pose 100% compromising their long-term health or movement. My yoga teacher training also taught me so much in terms of ‘facing my fears’ and having confidence in my own judgements. I learnt so much about myself as a person and can confidently say I’ve lived a happier, and much more accepting lifestyle since. I believe I can confidently speak on everyone’s behalf when I say this experience was so much more than just becoming a yoga teacher.
Anything else you want to add?
I have such a passion for mental health, so doing yoga therapy training ended up being exactly what I was looking for. This training really gave me all the tools and confidence I needed to start and I absolutely cannot recommend them enough. As mentioned earlier, doing research prior to ensure the course is for you and getting to know the instructor if possible I think is really important. Follow their socials, try and do their class/workshop to see if they align with your values and what you’d like to learn. Emma really catered for all different learning styles, and no question was ever to small or too big. She has such a big heart and so much to give. If you’re planning on teaching yoga or not, there is so much to gain from the 200 Hour Teacher Training even for your own self and own practise.
👉🏽 To know more or practice yoga with Monica see below
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