Advanced Yoga Teacher Training: A Conversation with Amelia Travis
When she graduated from the Teacher Training Course (TTC) as a Sivananda Yoga teacher four years ago, Amelia Travis had no idea that a business concept formed during that training would lead back to Sivananda, this time to the Advanced Teacher Training Course (ATTC) at the ashram on Paradise Island in the Bahamas in January 2015.
“Stoked Yogi was a concept, yoga for surfers, that I had during my teacher training, sometimes doodling in the margins of my notebook during class,” she admits.
It took a while to get started. For a year, while managing an art gallery in California, Travis did Karma Yoga in a shared collective space, teaching donation-based classes. Then she and her husband moved to San Diego, where there was a huge yoga community and she took on her next job, teaching yoga on stand-up paddle boards (SUP). It was a natural fit. “I live on the ocean, in a sailboat,” she says.
Travis created a SUP yoga class, giving participants beginner paddle lessons then inviting them to link their breaths with a silent paddle. Once anchored, the boards became the yoga mat, the routine loosely based on the Sivananda sequence. After a couple of years — and a spiritual experience that helped her decide to take the plunge — she opened her own business. “Literally from that experience I went the next day, bought boards, a van, hired a web designer, created a calendar for the whole year. I just went for it and had astounding success in the first year, my measure being how many lives were affected by it.”
The beauty of this practice, Travis says, is in using the suggestion that the mind is a lake, so when the waves calm down you can see a reflection of yourself. “On a paddleboard you actually have feedback: if you’re having a lot of thoughts, you can see it in the energy of your body on the board. So you slow down the breath and heart rate, and your innate ability to balance comes into play. You can watch people think that it’s impossible and over the course of 90 minutes, they see they’re capable.”
This year, ready to indulge her passion for coaching and teaching, she chose to take Sivananda ATTC so she could start her own yoga teacher training program. “This is the first yoga practice that I knew at age 17; I’m 29 now,” she says. “It’s still the deepest and it’s valuable and rare in today’s yoga culture, which is mostly asana, specifically in the West.”
Though she is a successful participant on social media, which often feeds that western image of yoga, something about the Sivananda lineage continues to draw her back, challenging her to explore layers that are deeper than asana, she says. “For the true aspirant looking for spiritual truth, I think this is where you can get it.”
With the goal of deepening her practice and her knowledge, Travis is now considering requests to put together a local satsang in San Diego. “I’ve been reticent to do it because I felt, ‘Who am I to be spiritual leader in the community, to lead a lecture on yoga philosophy?' But then I realized, ‘Who am I not to do that?’"
Sometimes, when you’re in the experience of yoga teacher training, it’s hard to see the forest for the trees, she says. “But I can feel there’s been some wonderful shifts, even just in my approach to the practice. It’s a lot more peaceful than I expected.
“I do feel like I’m right where I’m supposed to be.”