Santosha

»Blissfully rigorous Teacher Training in tranquil Canggu«

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Santosha means contentment and satisfaction - and this beautiful Bali retreat lives up to its name. Santosha offers many retreats in multiple locations including the increasingly popular surfing-and-yoga retreat and family packages. Their crowning jewel is the 200 and 300 hour Yoga Teacher Training Course – a comprehensive certification that produces skilled and well-rounded yoga instructors – taught in the paradisaical setting of a peaceful corner of Bali.

The underlying philosophy of Santosha is one of giving. As they say themselves: “The energy of Santosha's is not ours to keep. It is a precious gift to be shared with everyone.“ This attitude, coupled with their staunch commitment to Ahimsa (non-greed) has resulted in the best value yoga retreats and Teacher Training Courses to be found.

Santosha conduct retreats in a few locations, including the virtual world. Online yoga study is still a relatively recent phenomenon, but thi yoga school has embraced it and conducts high-quality education via the internet. For real-world contact, the retreats held in Canggu – a tranquil and fairly untouched part of Bali – are hard to beat. Beautiful surroundings, world-class yoga instruction, and food that is bursting with life and color, all for a price that is so modest it practically blushes.

The courses that are run out of the lovely Canggu in Bali are more training-based than retreat-style. Think Yoga Teacher Training Courses that go beyond standard Hatha. An exciting Yoga Nidra course introduces existing and aspiring yoga teachers to the graceful Nidra style which is a sort of meditation-in-action. Nidra has been called 'yogi sleep' and refers to the state of complete relaxation achieved during meditation. Another Teacher Training Course specializes in yoga for children – even the unborn ones. Called Pre, Post Natal, Children's & Teen's Yoga Teacher Training, this is a three-day intensive that follows on from the Level 1, 200-hour Teacher Training Course offered by Santosha just prior to this shorter course. Teaching yoga to children and pregnant women is a very different prospect to teaching a 'normal' class and the delicacy required is well-communicated by the excellent Santosha instructors. Applying to be part of these courses is not as simple as signing up and plunking down a fee. There is a fairly detailed questionnaire about general health, lifestyle habits and overall attitudes. It's not that there are correct or incorrect answers – teaching yoga is simply not for everyone. Santosha takes a responsible attitude toward the qualified teachers it sends out into the world and if anyone is clearly a bad fit, they will be gently (yet clearly) told.

Santosha is the brainchild of Sunny Richards-Glasser, who is as sunny in nature as she is in name. With a raft of qualifications to her name, including the 40-hour Ashtanga Teacher Training given by none other than David Swenson (one of the heavyweight names in the Ashtanga world), Sunny created Santosha as a way of making a living while sharing the power of yoga with the world. Her yoga-and-surf retreats are hugely popular, which come as no surprise given that she is a champion surfer.

Villa Serenity is Santosha's long-time accommodation affiliate for many of their Bali retreats. Styled as an eco-minded home away from home, the Villa does not have the 5-star service and facilities of large resorts. What is does have is a peaceful and welcoming air, simple but lovingly-tended rooms, and environmentally friendly practices like water-bottle refill points, no air-conditioning, and garbage recycling. Given that the nature of yoga is to seek harmony with one's surroundings, it's a refreshing change to see the accommodation on a yoga retreat take these harmonious principles seriously, instead of belying them with plastic-wrapped disposable everything and a decadent attitude to Mother Earth. When booked with a Santosha retreat, accommodation starts at US$12 per night and food at US$5 per day for a meal package. The food is usually vegetarian, and organic whenever possible. As Bali is an island, fresh seafood is a popular protein option.

Santosha's serene and skillful approach to yoga is a breath of fresh air in a world that seems to have a yoga retreat on every corner – retreats often more designed to connect with your wallet than with your spirit. Sunny and her team have crafted retreats and courses that not only bring balance, lightness, and fun back into yoga but also produce excellent yoga teachers. Any teacher trained with Santosha is one to trust, and any Santosha retreat or course is one to put on your bucket list.

About the area: Canggu

Twenty minutes north of the upscale, uber-cool town of Seminyak is a smiling Balinese village where time seems to drift on the tides rather than being ruled by the clock. Known for its black-beach surf spots and very quiet way of living, Canggu is the best destination for travellers who are looking for a way to get off the grid and ease into the authentic local culture rather than the homogenized and repackaged version. The weather is typically beach-side Balinese, with a steady average temperature of 28C (82F) year-round.

Image credit: Santosha

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