Review – Samma Karuna 200 hrs Yoga Teacher Training
If you are considering to enroll to a 200 hrs Yoga Teacher Training program and Samma Karuna is among your options, this summary might help you to get a little insight to the program. My personal experience of the training in November 2017 is availabe on my blog, the aim of this post is to provide a more objective overview with technical details.
Samma Karuna is located on the western side of Koh Phangan, a thai island southeast from the mainland. It is easily accessible on the road connecting Thong Sala with Haad Chao Pao and has its own beach. It is really easy to get there on one of the main roads, no need for navigating on a dusty dirt road as it is the case for may oher yoga schools, but still it is not noisy, you can’t hear the traffic in the yoga halls. It is easy to come to the island, there are several flights daily from Bangkok and other cities in Asia to Surat Thani on the mainland or to Koh Samui, both just a ferry ride away from the island.
You have everything you might need during the course in a manageable distance, but still having the chance to spend this intense period in a calm and relaxed environment.
The school has 4 yoga halls, one is a closed, indoor only area with projector and air conditioning for smaller, more intimate or louder sessions. The remaining three yoga halls have roofs, but have no walls facing the sea. Two have wooden structures and wooden floor, one has a steel structure and concrete floor. All three have palm roofs.
The school provides all yoga mats, cushions, seating cushions, foam blocks and other props.
The backside of the amazing location and view is, that after the big rains the props tend to be humid and the cushions are not totally dry. Even though the palm roof has regular maintenance work, they can’t protect the halls fully against the monsoon, and the water is dripping into the yoga space. There are releasable side curtains to protect against the heaviest rains, that it a great solution.
It is also a side effect of the open spaces, that they do not protect against the mosquitos, though the mosquito repellent coils are continuously burning. Still, attention is needed on the non-stop protection against the mosquitos because of Koh Phangan being in the dengue danger zone.
Structure – 9/10
The teaching and curriculum meets the requirements of Yoga Allianz. There are theory classes and practice every day. The 200 hours are really intense, in a four weeks block, full day programs six days a week, from 7 am to 7 pm. Of course this includes the breaks, but still, prepare for a super intense experience.
The ratio of theory and practice – 10/10
The days are balanced, practice is followed by theory classes, there is always a break for the body to recover. There is a 2 hours long session in the mornings, and a 1,5 hours long practice in the afternoons, adding up to be at least 84 hours yoga practice throughout the four weeks. Additionally there are classes to analyze yoga asanas, where theory and practice is combined.
Curriculum and subjects taught 7/10
The yoga practice covers different styles of yoga, dominantly dynamic classes of vinyasa flow, combined with the more static hatha classes and yin yoga classes.
Theory includes history of yoga and yoga philosophy. Both could be more structured and deeper. We also analyze 20+ asanas, focusing on the correct posture and alignment, the best cues to give to the students, the adjustment that can be performed to correct the pose, the benefits and contraindications of the asana. We practice in pairs how to lead others safely into the pose and adjust each other to prevent possible injuries. This hands on experience helps later when we already lead classes for our peers.
The anatomy classes are not structured enough: the TTC manual provided by the school covers the needed knowledge, but having the classes more prepared and structured, maybe more in the beginning of the course would support better understanding the basic anatomy principles and also to learn this important topic easier.
We spend at least one hour per day with meditation, mainly with a focus on the better known vipassana meditation, but there is a great variety of other type of meditations encouraged to be experimented.
There is a focus on cleansing processes (kriya) – implemented in our daily practice – and many pranayama techniques. Teaching a variety of pranayama, breathing techniques, is excellent.
I found it refreshing and unique to have self development practices in the curriculum as well.
Nutrition classes are only about ayurveda, so more science on nutrition would be welcome.
Teachers – 8/10
The group of teachers teaching during the TTC is really colorful. The school has more lead teachers, so you might meet different teachers at different TTCs. Which yoga teacher we like the most depends on taste and personal preference, but based on technical and teacher qualities the teachers I met are excellent. The teachers or theory and their methods need some improvement (better designed classes, clear structure, scientific facts / results of scientific researches).
Satyama was the lead teacher in November 2017. She is a really inspiring teacher with a deep experience in many different styles of yoga. She easily tunes in to the energies of the group and adjusts the class to meet the group energy. Her adjustments are effective, her classes are easy to follow and every yoga practice with her is challenging on its on right and is really informative. She has a strong focus on building community. – Open to Bliss
Karen Lumi Tanaka
Karen has a strong ashtanga practice, and brings in the best of dynamic sequences to the course. Her practice is strong, the classes are demanding, but still, she has an eye on details, shares smart cues to assist everyone understanding the core of the poses. Her explanations on alignment are unbeatable. She shares many personal examples. Her practice is highly inspirational. – Lumière Yoga
Darina gives good anatomical background information in the yoga practice. She is comfortable in dynamic sequences as well, but personally I liked her yin and restorative classes the most. I appreciated the insight into the secrets of anatomy and how are muscles and body parts are connected in many levels and how we can create yoga classes using this knowledge. – Darina Samuel
Developing teaching skills – 8/10
The teaching practice starts already in the second week of the course, teaching 10-30 minutes long blocks. While receiving continuous feedback from the teachers and peers, on the third week participants teach 90 minutes classes twice, and the final assessment of the teaching practice is on the fourth week. Teachers observe the students continuously and give great value feedback. It would be even better if only teachers, who have an active yoga instructor practice would give advice on teaching practice, and videorecording the classes to enable analyzing the teaching.
Further development options – 9/10
The marketing and business class of the school is really basic, but they recommend a follow up course right after graduation on this topic for those, who consider opening their own studio. There are two different alignment courses available, focusing on preventing injuries, correct alignment and posture.
The internship program of Samma Karuna is really great, as the fresh graduates can practice teaching right after the course for one month. If many people stay to participate in the program, then you can only teach one class per week. But if you are lucky, you can teach more times, and in an extreme case even six times per week.
For contacts and more info: www.sammakaruna.org