Yoga Teacher Training Retreat: The Real Deal with Kristy Alpert
Ever wanted to participate in a Yoga Teacher Training Retreat? Read all about Kristy’s life-changing experience in Bali.
Tell us about yourself! What do you do when you’re not traveling the world? Where are you from? Where do you currently live?
My name is Kristy Alpert and I’m a freelance travel and lifestyle journalist with bylines in Food & Wine, Men’s Health, American Way, AFAR, Refinery29.com, and more. Although I’m originally from Dallas, Texas, I’m currently living abroad just outside of Frankfurt in Germany, with my husband and my Boston Terrier, Tobias.
What kind of retreat did you participate in? Where was it located? How did you spend your time there?
I recently spent 16 days in Bali at a yoga teacher training retreat with Yandara Yoga Institute at the Gaja Mina Beach Resort on Balian Beach. Although every day held a new surprise, most days followed a similar pattern. I’d wake up and spend the morning in silence as I walked down to the beach for morning meditation and yoga in the open air yoga hut with the other teacher trainees. After our morning session, we’d head up for a delicious buffet-style breakfast (typically oatmeal, fresh fruit, eggs, toast, fresh-squeezed juice, and hot tea). The silence was broken after the last sip of tea was taken, and we’d head back to the yoga hut to study with our instructors.
The sessions during the days ranged from breaking down yoga poses and helping each other get more comfortable speaking in front of a class to learning the business of yoga, watching videos, and practicing teaching. All the meals were vegetarian (with the occasional fish options), and the days ended around 9:30 PM so we could get back and get enough rest for the next day. The schedule was tight, but I never once felt rushed or stressed because the Yandara staff really made it a point to walk through every step of the training with us and, although they pushed us to get out of our comfort zones daily, they created an encouraging and fun environment that made each day exciting and different.
What made you decide to participate in the retreat?
I had been practicing yoga off and on for about six years, but it wasn’t until I returned from a formative trip to Thailand that I decided I wanted to pursue my practice farther. Unfortunately, when I returned to Germany, I had a hard time finding a class. It was then that I decided it would be great to learn to teach. Since I travel so often and I have a career, I knew I couldn’t commit to a training schedule at home. I searched for destination trainings around the world and knew immediately that Yandara was the best fit for me the second I clicked on their website. Not only did they offer 16-day trainings, but they were incredibly highly rated and I loved the interaction they had with their students on social media and on their blog. It was obvious that they had a unique community of passionate yogis, and I wanted to be a part of it!
What were the highlights of the retreat? What disappointed you about the retreat?
Aside from finally getting my yoga teacher hours and credentials, the highlight of the retreat was sharing those 16 days with the other teacher trainees. Going into the retreat, I was so worried that I wasn’t going to “fit in” with other yoga people (I mean … I eat meat and drink wine!), but it turned out that we all had so much in common. I ended up making friends there that I know I will have forever. Since getting back, not a week has gone by when I haven’t heard from one of the girls I trained with in Bali, and it’s been a cool support group with girls living on all corners of the world (Australia, France, Hawaii, Canada, Mexico, and more!).
How, if at all, did the retreat change you? Were there new practices you incorporated into your life following the retreat?
I definitely did not come back the same person … in such a good way. My husband has noticed how low stress I’ve been and I feel like I have a new mindset about so many things in life. I’ll never forget what Craig Perkins (the owner of Yandara, and now a man I proudly call my friend) taught me about loving others and using that love to inspire people to live healthier lives through yoga and meditation. He shed so much light on how important meditation is–especially in the Western world–and I now try as much as possible to practice a daily meditation.
What are some of the benefits of participating in a retreat? What are some of the downsides? Would you participate in another retreat?
Aside from the main benefit of doing something healthy for my body and mind everyday for 16 days, the biggest benefit of this retreat was that I learned to be me again. Being around a group of likeminded people freed me up to rediscover the aspects of myself that make me unique. I started off the retreat timid and by the end, I felt the freedom to dance if I wanted to dance or sing if I wanted to sing. I remembered how much I loved to just sit alone and watch the sun set behind a horizon instead of watching a TV show or movie at the end of a long day. I would gladly participate in another yoga retreat.
Are there any tips you’d give someone else who is considering a similar retreat?
I’d highly recommend anyone else considering a Yandara retreat to not overpack. I brought way too many pairs of yoga pants and way too many yoga tops. Most people re-wore each outfit at least once, and no one really dressed up for dinners except for the last night at graduation. Even though you sweat a decent amount, 16 days is enough time to do laundry so that you don’t have to worry about hauling around a massive bag filled with clothes that you won’t end up wearing. Other than that, I’d just say to come with an open mind and be ready for a truly amazing journey!