Being a Bodhiyoga teacher - Part 2 - Jackie Albert in Valencia, Spain

being-a-bodhiyoga-teacherI completed my Bodhiyoga teacher training intensive in 2013. After an intensive process of moving to live and work in a retreat centre in Spain and simultaenously leaving a long career in the NHS in London, previously occurring dreams of becoming a yoga teacher began to take on a more realistic shape after meeting Sadhita and Sudaka, directors of Bodhiyoga International. Initially I accompanied the newly founded school on its initiation teacher training in Solterreno 2012 as the cook. The first four students, the teachers and the retreat team enjoyed beautiful September weather, balmy nights and, naturally, healthy vegetarian cooking.

As my interest in and practice of Buddhism grew, the invitation of this course to merge yoga practice and Buddhist Dharma became more and more obvious as the correct yoga teacher training course, I thus completed the teacher training in September 2013, this time in the delights of the Olba Valley near Teruel, Spain. 

I began teaching almost immediately in the Triratna Buddhist Centre in Valencia where I had recently moved to live with my partner. I was very fortunate to be given these classes by my now friend Sudaka. I started with two morning classes and vividly recall the first class where five or six students turned up with the promise of a free first class. I don ́t think any of them returned. 

Starting teaching is a daunting task, especially in a foreign city in another language, not your own. The challenge of not only trying to understand how to plan teach everything I had learnt and do it while not knowing simple commands of bend forward, or turn your left foot out, let alone the more subtle instructions of yoga, was enormous and sometimes still is. 

It ́s also one of the best experiences I ́ve had. Yoga to me is not just how I face myself on the mat but also how I face and deal with life and myself off the mat too. My favourite yoga quote, “yoga is not about touching your toes it ́s about the journey that happens on the way down”, sums up for me succinctly yoga in practice and life. 

As my foray into both yoga, Buddhism and secular mindfulness (I am a certified Respira Vida Breathworks mindfulness teacher) grows deeper both as a teacher, practitioner and student, I find more and more synthesis between the complementary practices. 

Earlier this year I participated in a Respira Vida Breathworks course called “Transforming arrows into flowers”. The course focused on the Brahma Viharas translating the four divine abodes into an understandable language. This opportunity to deepen into metta, karuna, mudita and upekkha in a physical yoga was evident and irresistible, and epitomised the fusion of the practices offered by Bodhiyoga. 

It is true there are core differences in the teachings and philosophy of yoga and Buddhism and the spiritual paths outlined are distinct. In my teaching the compassionate heart of Buddhism compliments the more aesthetic practices of yoga, while the discipline I find on the mat translates into the mindful integration expounded by Sangharakshita.