Have you ever wondered exactly how you “take yoga off the mat?” Or been curious about how to actually apply teachings from the Yoga Sutras to real life situations? If you’ve taken yoga teacher training then you may have left your 200-hour course full of information but with no direction of how to use yoga’s ancient teachings in your own life, never mind pass it onto your students! If that was you, no shame, because I was in exactly the same boat.
I craved knowledge and loved learning about yoga yet my knowledge wasn’t translating into practical skills that helped me lead the life of calm and clarity that I wanted. Instead I was a bundle of stress, wanting to take action but felt stuck in the muddle of how-to help in both my business and relationships.
Luckily I had one teacher who was a step ahead (or a few) who was able to deliver the practical teachings I needed to bring my yoga lessons off of the mat and into the difficulties of dealing with real-life problems. Enter: Brett Larkin and her exceptional transformation course, Yoga for Self Mastery. A course that, for me, delivered better and more practical results than talk therapy.
Who is Yoga for Self Mastery for? (and why I needed the course immediately)
If you identified with anything from above, then Yoga for Self Mastery (YSM) is for you. It’s for yoga teachers, yoga nerds, and those who are tired of practices that can’t be used in the moments of stress, overwhelm, and anxiety. Because let’s be real, as nice as it would be to unroll your mat anywhere to find calm, it is completely impractical.
It’s for the people who want to work on themselves in real time. No need to go on a retreat, hire a one-on-one coach, or spend countless hours reading self-help books that lead to insight but no effective results.
Personally I was stuck in the same stressful pattern that caused my energy and mood to build and build until I couldn’t hold it in anymore. I would blow-up, most often on my poor partner, who had done nothing but ask about what we would be having for dinner.
I let the little things such as my yoga class not being full disappoint me but then I’d brush it to the side. Then I’d let the construction noise outside of my building irritate me and I’d brush that to the side too. Day after day I did my best to bypass the emotions that were stacking inside. I had no concrete way to dispel all that was layering in my mind and body. “Overwhelm” was all too common as I handled what felt like a million tasks as a solopreneur, navigating a relatively new relationship, and being a partner at home in Canada instead of traveling the world solo like I used to. The immense pressure had me wanting to drop it all and hit the road again.
I was desperate to relieve the tension of daily life – despite everything I had being things that I wanted! But I lacked the tools, resources, and support I needed while I learned how to find what it is that I truly wanted…because what I had wasn’t doing the trick. Something was off and I felt alone in my struggles. Until I found YSM.
What makes Yoga for Self Mastery so effective?
Forget jumping into a vinyasa sequence or melting into a yin pose, YSM will refocus your attention to your energetic frequency. Yes, yoga is a part of the course, but it goes above and beyond using a combination of your favourite poses in long form sequences for those days when you do have time to hit the mat. But YSM also includes somatic, mindful, and breath practices that can be used in the moments when you are feeling it and need to handle it ASAP.
This course uncovers the layers of yourself to get to your true core, your unique energetic frequency. Your frequency is who you are without all the walls and barriers you may uphold, the beliefs that keep you from expanding, and the desires that you keep hidden. Who would you be without all of the learned habits, thoughts, and patterns that you’re currently living on repeat? It’s not about creating a new you, but more so exposing your essence that makes you your most joyful, fulfilled, and confident self.
Yoga to deal with people who aren’t yogic
Even once you master how to handle yourself in your most frustrating, head banging moments, there are still other people who can throw you off, be more difficult than your stubborn inner child, and have you questioning why you even try. That’s why there’s an entire section of the course that details how you can handle these difficult people or moments when it’s not just about or affecting you.
From delivering difficult news with an open heart (I used this when I quit working at a yoga studio), to identifying boundaries with your loved ones (this was useful when I needed to make clear to my partner what my boundaries are when working from home and not getting mad about it), this section delivers exceptional results.
This section was also extremely useful for being light and playful during tough situations or little annoyances. Instead of hounding my partner to do something that I believed he should be doing (turning on the dishwasher every night after I went to bed) I delivered it with such over-the-top sweetness he rolled his eyes, laughed and did it. And then continued doing it without me asking. Like magic!
What you can expect from YSM
Yoga for Self Mastery uses three key yogic skills and applies them to daily life, not just on special occasions when your mat is available. These skills become the framework for you to lean back on and use to get into your energetic frequency, stay in it, and protect it. The three skills are essential to finding calm and confidence. These skills build on each other and work with one another. Without one your foundation can crack but using them all together will lead to infinite inner strength.
Skill #1: Svadhyaya (or self care)
I’m not talking buddles baths, spa days, and face masks here. I’m talking what Brett calls level 2 self care. Self care that is not marketed as being self care. Level 2 self care is whatever feels nourishing, over-the-top, or so bougie that it’s not something you regularly do. It’s extra special self care. Svadhyaya is most often translated into self study, but this course spins it around and studies that ways in which you do (or don’t) care for yourself. When you practice self care that truly leaves you so nourished, feeling sparkly, and relaxed you can show up better in your own life and handle the next two skills with so much more ease.
Skill #2: Tapas (or cultivate the opposite)
Tapas is Sanskrit for discipline, it’s the skill in the 8 limbs of yoga that yogis associate with doing. When you do, take action, you are disciplined, devoted. But instead of being disciplined and doing the same thing over and over that may leave you with the same results consistently, you cultivate the opposite. Instead of starting your day doing that fiery yoga practice that leaves you sweaty, why don’t you cultivate the opposite and try yin to slow down? How would that affect your day differently? For me, instead of yelling at my partner when I was feeling all the things and needed to let loose I cultivated the opposite, kept it to myself, and did an energetic practice to help me release first. Then I was able to go to my partner and explain the situation calmly without confronting him in an explosive manner. A win-win for both of us.
Skill #3: Ishvara Pranidhana (or relinquish control)
Otherwise known as surrender, usually to the divine, God, a higher power of some sort, Ishvara Pranidhana in this case asks you to relinquish control. But how??? How do you stop being the one to plan the trips, pick up the groceries, do everything in your business, or have your yoga students feel what you want them to feel? You relinquish control! Perhaps the most difficult skill of the three (in my opinion), Ishvara Pranidhana will help you test the waters of releasing the pressure off of you to do everything and see what happens when you really let go of control. Good things happen, I can confirm from practicing this skill that I was originally so resistant to.
Apart from the three skills YSM also offers:
- Coaching vault of pre-recorded group coaching (lots of tidbits to be learned in here from others)
- Transformation guidebook for USA residents (yes, you will most definitely journal through all of this!)
- Weekly tracker (this is key to practicing and staying on track with the skills)
- Private coaching sessions (invaluable!!)
- Group calls (pending when you sign up!)
- 30 hours of Yoga Alliance CE credits
My biggest (and most mind-blowing) takeaways
On top of everything above, there were a few key takeaways that left an impact that continues to surprise me.
Realizing what I can control
I’m your typical type A that loves to control any and every situation. You could call it trust issues as I always used to think that things wouldn’t ever turn out in my favour if I wasn’t the one in charge. Through YSM I was handed on a tiny silver platter just how little I could control. And instead of it being frustrating, it released a ton of pressure. Knowing that I can control what I choose to wear but not when my partner chooses to wake up has left me with a whole lot more room in my mind and immensely more energy to focus on what’s infront of me instead of others.
Transforming complaints into desires
Being the victim and complaining used to be my favourite topic to discuss. “I’m so tired” was such a regular comment from me in conversation that I don’t think anyone actually believed me anymore. But instead of saying “I’m so tired” now I’ve turned it into a desire. “I’d love to go to bed early today”, or “I’d really enjoy sitting in the sun instead of working this afternoon.” I can now identify what it is I need, instead of just focusing on what I don’t want and continuing to manifest it.
Identifying what’s me – and what’s not
My unique energetic frequency is now so clear that I can tell you what colours are me, if a mood is my own or if it rubbed off from someone else, and if a want is something society is putting pressure on me or if a house with a white picket fence is not for me. Being able to know what is mine lets me shake off unwanted emotions, sticky beliefs, and learned patterns with so much more ease. Once a toxic complainer, now I practice staying in my own lane and remember that my frequency is the only thing that I want to identify with.
Can yoga teachers use YSM with students?
Yes! This program is fantastic for yoga teachers and life coaches alike. Not only do you get 30 hours for YA continuing education credit, I’ve also taken the skills and have applied them into my yoga privates, and as themes in my group and online yoga classes.
I can’t recommend Yoga for Self Mastery enough whether you’re a yoga teacher or not. Whether you have your 200-hour or 500-hour training, I am confident that you will get immense value from what’s taught.