Finding a Path Back to Self – Steve’s YTT Story
We are so lucky to feature a yoga super-hero on the blog today – Santosha graduate Steve Gorelashvili. Of course all our students are stars to us, but Steve does have a bit of a special story! He shares how his time on the teacher training not only taught him how to teach yoga – it bought him back to following his own unique path in the world. He has since made massive changes in his life, bold steps which have led him back to his true calling and enabled him to benefit others in his community. We hope you are as inspired by Steve’s story as we are….
Steve joined our Santosha 200 hr Yoga Teacher Training in Bali to broaden his knowledge of Yoga – he was looking for specifics that he felt were missed in classes and wanted to guide his father, a recovering cancer patient. However a few months after graduating opportunity struck – and Steve became a yoga teacher in a Belgian prison teaching a weekly class to prisoners.
Steve says the Santosha YTT 200 gave him the broad knowledge and confidence to guide group and individual sessions. He applies and adjusts the basics of Hatha practice, depending on the target group. The knowledge he acquired on the YTT 200 hour helps him to create and adapt practices for different groups who have their own specific needs.
His time on the Santosha 200 hr Yoga Teacher Training had also given Steve the insight that the path he had been walking was not one he wanted to keep following – so he gave up his job as a police officer and returned to the non-profit sector, where he now works as head counsellor in a residential setting for minors with troubled backgrounds. He uses yoga with these teenagers as a tool to do something physical together, as well as to connect with them – and to get them to connect with themselves.
Steve was kind enough to answer a few questions about his experiences working on the prison program for us.
What do you think are the benefits of practicing Yoga in a stressful environment such as prison?
The ones that I notice, and heard of by the detainees are that yoga gives control in an environment that controls you. It gives the opportunity to escape. They get in touch with their mind and body, and the external world disappears for the session. Yoga also mobilises and is relaxing for the body and mind that is enduring stress and immobility.
How have the prison residents responded to Yoga?
Response has been very positive, starting from the first session. Classes are always full (I place a limit of maximum 10 participants, excluding the guard). They often ask for exercise for specific problems after class. From healing exercises, to physical challenging exercises, to routines for their cell. Since justice departments is low on budget I work in two blocks of 15 sessions during a year. For continuity I offered a meditation app and three high quality commercial DVD’s of yoga practice so they can practice in their cell. These are made available on an intranet system ‘prison cloud’ so they can use it whenever they are in their cell.
You made a pretty big step in changing careers from being a police officer! What do you think gave you the strength and courage to do this?
I was already on the point of changing when I got to Bali for the teacher training. However, being in the environment of the teacher training and fellow students, made me realise I side-tracked too much from a path I was walking. At Santosha I saw my path again that I used to walk and that helped me feel better to make the decision that I was postponing as long as possible to make.
What advice would you have to others wishing to follow a similar path and help in the community with yoga teaching?
Find out how much you’d like to teach – full time/half time or less (for me this is two classes a week) Be creative by creating your own way into yoga. Design sessions for a target group within your life experience or a target group you prefer. Then get in touch with organisations that work with these target groups and inform them on what you have to offer. If there are not any existing groups, place flyers in the area of your target group. Start small (in the sense that it is comfortable for you) and increase from there.
Thank you Steve for sharing your story with us! There is much to take away from his experiences – I am sure that Steve would agree that the fulfillment that comes with following your own unique path cannot be beat. Please share in the comments if anything resonated with you. And let’s get out there and share our gifts with the world like Steve is!
Steve Gorelashvili is a Santosha 200 hr Yoga Teacher Training graduate from Belgium, Antwerp. He was a regular yoga practitioner for 4 years, mainly focused on the physical part, before he joined the Santosha course. Besides the professional contribution, Steve says YTT 200 hr gave him the tools he needed for creating and adjusting his self practices to his goals and needs, by integrating and balancing all eight limbs of yoga in his life. These eight limbs provide the needed tools and contribute to finding peace and health in his many hobbies, including running, swimming, free-diving, calisthenics and bouldering. You can contact Steve at steve_gorel(at)yahoo.com.