My First Aerial Yoga Teacher Training in Thailand
I gave my first aerial yoga teacher training course in Thailand, July fo 2016.
By volunteering at yoga centres in Asia I was able to teach aerial yoga at resorts and studios 3-4 hours a day for 6 straight months. Plus I had already been practicing Ashtanga vinyasa flow yoga in California since 2007. Despite all that, I lacked confidence and didn’t think I was really experienced enough to give an official aerial yoga training. My students however believed in me and deeply wanted to learn to teach aerial yoga. The yoga school on Koh Phangan I worked for, Samma Karuna, also encouraged me since no one else was offering a yoga alliance certified aerial yoga teacher training course.
I searched for aerial silk training and acro yoga groups on Facebook for inspiration since they offered the most popular yoga retreats in the world. My friends showed me how to create a Facebook event for yoga. Then we researched how to promote yoga retreats and how to get bookings for yoga teacher trainings. Finally I listed my event on Book Yoga Retreats and emailed everyone I knew. Unfortunately most of friends preferred antigravity yoga in Thailand or yoga fly as it’s commonly known. So, I only got two of my regular students to join as volunteer yoga interns. One girl just wanted to learn the health benefits of aerial yoga and how to cure back pain with inversions for her husband. The other girl was interested in how to get a yoga alliance certificate of continuing education to teach aerial yoga in Australia. I felt tremendous pressure since she had just finished the best 200hr yoga teacher training in Thailand.
I didn’t have enough money to even pay my rent but I was determined to go through with the Aerial TTC. Just a week before I had been living in a free volunteer dorm at Samma Karuna yoga center on Koh Phangan, which offered 200 hour yoga teacher training courses and some of the best yoga retreats in Thailand. Many of the other volunteers were just 20-year-old girls where as I was 36! So I felt rather silly staying there totally broke and nearly homeless. I also didn’t have enough money to rent a Yoga studio on Koh Phangan. The only feasible option was to move out of the free dorm and rent a cheap bungalow in Sri Thanu where I could hang some aerial yoga swings for a private yoga training.
For 6 months I had mastered how to teach aerial yoga, but I couldn’t find high paying yoga jobs. So I barely had enough money for one months rent. After that, if I didn’t get yoga bookings I would really be homeless. Another big cost was how to register a yoga school on Yoga Alliance so I could give an official aerial yoga certificate course. And so after all that I absolutely had no money left.
Fortunately at that time I was teaching at the best yoga studios on Koh Phangan. So the plan was to take my students to my regular daily drop in yoga classes at Orion Healing Center and where I was a volunteer at Samma Karuna Awakening and Healing Center, plus have other private yoga workshops in Sri thanu at my house. And so every couple of hours we would hop on our motorbikes and drive to a different location. It was rather ridiculous, but free yoga teacher trainings in Thailand are hard to find, so my students gladly went along with it.
Finally it was time to begin my first Thailand aerial yoga course. So on Monday morning my two volunteers and I met at Orion healing Center. I had been waiting and hoping for another person to sign up at the last minute. Several people had emailed me but finally no one else had committed. I remember walking into the studio and laughing knowing that I wouldn’t be able to pay my rent regardless if I did this aerial teacher training for free or did nothing at all. If I canceled the yoga training I would be a loser. If I completed the yoga course I would be homeless winner. And so I figured what the hell let’s do it, I got nothing to lose.
My aerial yoga classes in Asia were surprisingly not so popular at first. I was giving classes at several yoga centers in Cambodia and Thailand, but it was low season so there weren’t many backpackers traveling SE Asia and aerial yoga training was still quite new. Many people were afraid to try aerial yoga or just didn’t know what it was. That morning only one other person joined as a regular drop in yoga class at Orion Healing Center. I thought well at least I’ll make five dollars this morning, which made the whole situation even more absurd and hilarious. Despite all the stress and doubt and hard work it was to create a certified yoga course, the consistent driving force that is my love to teach aerial yoga could not be deterred. Oddly enough, being the masochist that I am, I find it extremely empowering in cases like this where you push through despite all. I get high off of beating the odds and accomplishing things which no one has ever done before and think are impossible.
Teaching aerial yoga for me is like heroin, not that I’ve ever tried it. I get a tingling rush each time we roll out the mats and hook up the aerial yoga swings. It’s especially thrilling with new yoga students who have never tried aerial yoga before. For them it is a whole new experience of self discovery, which I have the privilege to guide them through and share. It was with the random girl who dropped in on the first class of our aerial yoga teacher training. She was just a passing tourist backpacking in SE Asia with no definite plans. She had practiced yoga in America and completed a 200 hour yoga teacher training course, but had never tried aeriel yoga before or consider doing an aerial teacher training in Thailand nonetheless.
But she loved the class and especially liked the custom made aerial yoga swings I had created, which in my opinion are far superior to regular antigravity yoga hammocks and aerial silks. She had only just learned about this aerial yoga class that morning from a coffee shop flyer near the ferry terminal that I had put up months ago and completely forgotten about. She could tell that we were a group of some sort and we told her this was the first class of our aerial yoga training.
You should join I told her half jokingly. The other girls encouraged her as well. Now the odds of a random person dropping into an aerial yoga class in Thailand from a flyer they had just seen a couple hours before advertising a strange unknown style that they had never tried before are very low. The odds of them dropping into the very first class that was part of an aerial yoga teacher training course, which in 2016 were virtually nonexistent in Asia, are even lower. The odds of them having the time and money to join that course and choosing to do so on the spot are astronomically unimaginable. But that’s what happened. As we walked out of the studio I could see her head turned down low in deep consideration and after five seconds was asking for more details. The other girls chimed in with passionate enthusiasm about how amazing my classes where and what a wonderful aerial yoga training it would be. Then after a couple minutes, to my incredible surprise, and the gracious blessings of karmic divinity, she agreed to join. All of a sudden the entire course of my life radically changed.
ULU Yoga Aerial teacher training was officially a successful reality and viable means to provide sustained financial support. If I just got one or two paying students a month to join, I could live out my life doing what I loved without worrying too much. Thanks to my two volunteers the course had a supportive life force and thanks to the one official paying student I could make my rent and survive another month. Thanks to the hundreds of regular drop in students who had joined my Thailand yoga classes until then I was able to refine my skills and confidence as an Ariel yoga teacher. Thanks to the love and support of all these wonderful angels ULU Yoga is now a worldwide success. The school offers aerial yoga teacher training courses in Thailand and 200 hour yoga teacher trainings in Bali and Thailand. After 4 years ULU Yoga has lead over 100 Yoga ttc’s and yoga retreats in Asia. Each month new graduates find great yoga teaching jobs all over the world and start a new career in the health and wellness industry. It’s come a long way since the starting point of our first aerial yoga teacher training in Thailand.
Most recently ULU yoga has begun offering meditation retreats in Thailand based on Buddhist philosophy. The school has refocused its goal to nurture caring individuals and inspire them to go out and help others and create an abundance of love to share with the whole world.
Written by: Edward Pawlak
Dec 15th, 2018 @ 6:10 am