It's been a baptism of fire, but I've made it through the first week of the Sivananda Teacher Training (or TTC, as it's affectionately called) course with mind and body just about intact.
There are 50 of us taking the course, from all walks of life and all corners of the globe; from Japan and South America to Turkey and Germany.
A more diverse bunch of people would be difficult to dream up - the age range starts at around 20 and climbs to the 50s, a wonderful cross-section of the yogic community!
For the month-long duration of the course. we are living in cabins, rooms or tents (tenters, I salute your forebearance) scattered around the grounds of this northern Californian ashram.
It would be easy for an outsider with little knowledge of yoga to suspect us of having joined a cult for a while... Dressed in our yellow and white uniform, which are obligatory for Satsung and which sybolise purity and learning, we resemble a group of grown up yoga brownies, scuttling from class to class.
One of the distinguishing features of the Sivananda Teacher Training course is its packed schedule. From 5am to 10pm the day is mapped out in an endless succession of satsung, asana classes, philosophy lectures and karma yoga (light manual work - an hour a day.)
The two free hours a day are taken up with showering, hand washing and a considerable homework load, so free time for chilling out is just about non-existent.
It's a tough, jam-packed day, but the theory behind it is to instill a sharp sense of self-discipline in the student - which, taken to its full course, may lead him or her down the full spiritual, yogic path.
There are good days and bad days, and you learn to value the little spare time available like gold-dust. I am writing this on my day off, and the 10 hours I have free feel more luxurious than I can say!
It's not all work, work, work. The on-site boutique sells Green & Black chocolate (horrrray!) and there are massages available to those in need of a pamper. You wouldn't believe how sore hips and knees get from sitting on the floor 10 hours a day.
When it gets hard - which it frequently does (hard to focus, hard to sit still on a cold floor, hard to have your days mapped out to the upmost degree) - I remember that this, like all experiences, is temporary and precious.
'Normal' life seems far removed, but I will back in it soon enough, submerged in emails; sitting at a desk. Right now, it's time to focus on the here and now.
PS) There will be further updates during the remaning three weeks of my course. Keep an eye out for postings!
See also - setting off for teacher training
Lucia Cockcroft, editor