Ashtanga in Agonda

November, 2011

In 2009 I sat beside a girl with a purple streak in her hair in my first ever university lecture at SFU. During the break my yogurt exploded all over me during the break and that was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. That year we sat on a half wall in the AQ between classes where I remember so clearly Mel fantasizing about doing her first yoga teacher training in India. Simply put, I responded with “I’m in. Let’s do it.” A year later, despite my Dad’s best efforts to keep me home, I had quit my job at Westjet and boarded a plane with the first stop Amsterdam, second and final stop, Mumbai. Mel and two other friends were traveling down from Thailand and Northern India before meeting me in Mumbai.  After a road trip down to goa, we settled in for a month long yoga teacher training at Sampoorna Yoga.

The month consisted of a pretty routine schedule from Mondays to Saturdays which went something like this:

5:30-7 We would wake up really really early to start the morning chanting, pranayama and meditation practice which I sometimes barely stayed awake for but always enjoyed the sound of the ocean, monkeys and roosters keeping me company.

7-9 After a 5 minute pee break where i sometimes smashed a few crackers into my face we would have a vigorous ashtanga primary series practice.

9-10. breakfast, the time in which I consumed more food in one meal than I ever thought was possible. It usually consisted of a gigantic bowl of banana coconut oatmeal accompanied by mixed fruit and usually followed by either peanut butter toast or boiled eggs.

10-12 Lecture numero uno which was philosophy with Kashov whom is the happiest man i think i will ever meet and I have immense love for.

12-2 Lunch time. This was a wild card. Some days it was too hot to even walk along the beach to one of our favorite restaurants and other days we ate lunch on the beach in the sun…if we were lucky, we’d have a few dolphins swim by while we ate.

2-5 Lecture numero 2 was always on topics of anatomy, adjustments and teaching.

5-7 Evening practice. We would alternate practicing teaching on each other and every now and then we would be treated to an evening yin class (where we would get eaten alive by mosquitoes big enough to eat for dinner)

As soon as class was finished we often ran across the road to the beach for a sunset swim and then met up in smaller pods for dinner while we reviewed material, wrote in our journals and made up games for memorizing sanskrit names for various asanas.

There were 10 students in my teacher training and 4 teachers. I walked in knowing two of them well and left with friends from all over the world whom I try to stay in touch with to this day. It’s hard to decide what to talk about in such a blog. Every morning we would wake up with new aches and pains and wonder how we would survive another 2 hour practice.  Eventually though, the practice felt as normal as washing the dishes at the end of the day. It morphed from a HOW AM I GOING TO?? to not thinking of it as an abnormally significant part of the day. The strangers faces turned into ones of a second family and I learned terms for the sensations about the world I  had always felt.  The universal force I had come to personally call ‘source energy’ finally had a place within a structured context.

India Yoga Teacher Training

India Yoga Teacher Training-11

India Yoga Teacher Training-20

India Yoga Teacher Training-19

India Yoga Teacher Training-15

India Yoga Teacher Training-18

India Yoga Teacher Training-10

An excerpt from my journal.

Day 1:

At 5:30 am the crickets from my alarm awoke me. I climbed out of the mosquito net and stood under the shower for a few minutes to cool off and shock my system into waking up. Well, it worked. With my water, yoga mat and textbook I climbed the stairs outside my room to the shala that would become the place I should spend the next month breathing, sweating and listening. 

The sky lit up to the left of me over the mountain from lightening as I placed my things down. I took a seat on one of about 15 bolsters in a circle in the middle. As Deepak and the other prepared the fire ceremony I found peace listening to the sound of the waves crashing on the beach, which i discovered could be seen on the horizon in between the floor and ceiling of the open shala. The birds were waking as the sun started to rise making beautiful ambient noise. The sounds and sights just beyond my practicing place brought me to a soft feeling of bliss. I was about to start this life changing journey with the most extraordinary surrounding environment. I was there, breathing and feeling connected to myself for the first time since leaving home, or maybe even before. The sun came up above the leafs of the palm trees and the fire ceremony began.

India Yoga Teacher Training-9

India Yoga Teacher Training-6

India Yoga Teacher Training-5

India Yoga Teacher Training-4

India Yoga Teacher Training-3

India Yoga Teacher Training-2

India Yoga Teacher Training-7

India Yoga Teacher Training-13

India Yoga Teacher Training-14

While reviewing the journal I kept and wrote in daily during my trip, I found a parting letter my mom wrote to me. Reflecting back on the journey I went through physically, emotionally and spiritually. My mom so elegantly expressed what this blog and my photos can never tell. Within her letter to me she wrote:

“…I once again am reminded that I admire you for setting goals at such a young age. This trip will be truly amazing as you venture to see the sights, taste new foods, experience a whole new culture and I know you will soak it all in and will try to capture so much of the experience as you take photos to not only remember all the things but to come home and share these experiences with us. This trip will touch on your inner growth as well as you take your yoga course and that is something no photo will en-capture but I know when you return you will be changed and we will not see it in a photo but within your being, within you heart and soul. I know you will grow immensely in so many ways and i am excited for you to live that, to breathe that and to want that.”


4 thoughts on “Ashtanga in Agonda

  1. It’s hard to find your page in google. I found it on 14 spot, you
    should build quality backlinks , it will help you to rank to google
    top 10. I know how to help you, just type in google – k2 seo tips


  2. I read a lot of interesting posts here. Probably you spend
    a lot of time writing, i know how to save you a lot of time, there is an online tool that creates
    unique, google friendly posts in seconds, just type in google – laranitas free content source


  3. Pingback: Amsterdam, take two | Jennifer Vallee

  4. Hi Jennifer!
    I found your blog after searching for reviews about Sampoorna Yoga. I am thinking about taking the TTC there. So thank you for sharing your opinions! I was wondering how things went for you after the course… Do you teach yoga now? You feel that it has enabled you to do it?
    If you’d like to talk about your experience, please write back – I am highly interested! You can email me at


drop some love

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s