This spring I completed a 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training in Rishikesh, India. My 30-day training was hard, physically, emotionally and spiritually, but ultimately so worthwhile.
Yoga Teacher Training improved me in a myriad of ways, from my posture to my anxiety to my downward dog. Ultimately it was a humbling experience; I realized I had so many things I wanted (and needed) to change about myself, and I left the training a calmer, kinder and more patient person.
My awesome, international classmates!
I chose to go to India for Yoga Teacher Training for two reasons: India is the birthplace of yoga, and India is the cheapest place in the world to do a Yoga Teacher Training. My month-long program cost $1,250 and that included instruction, food and accommodation- quite the bargain!
So I wanted to show you a day in the life of a yoga student in India, as well as share with you you the logistics and costs.
6:30 Wake up
I wake up to my alarm at 6:30 a.m. for my first breakfast of a Luna bar and a handful of almonds. (Thanks to my dad for sending snacks all the way from the states!)
Today we have shatkarma on the rooftop, a cleansing ritual we practice every other day. While one morning this meant imbibing a half-gallon of salt water and vomiting (I chose not to partake for ahem, “feminine” reasons), usually shatkarma just means we cleanse our nasal passages with a neti pot. Which is way, way easier than puking.
7:30 Hatha Yoga
Next up is hatha yoga. It’s a great class to wake up to because it’s a lot gentler than vinyasa yoga!
“Hatha” is a combination of “HA” (our right side, associated with aggressiveness, action, the sun) and “THA” (our left side, associated with stillness, peace, the moon). Thus, Hatha yoga practice is the unification of our right and left. Hatha yoga is the foundation of all modern forms of yoga, and its mastery gives you a solid base to progress in other forms of yoga.” – Vinyasa Yoga School
We end the class with pranayama, or breath control, which I find boring and unpleasant.
9:30 Mantra class
After hatha is mantra, in which we learn to chant Sanskrit mantras. Our resident monk, Swami-ji, teaches this class. While many students complain about this class because they “didn’t come all the way to India to sing”, I love it because I think the hymns are beautiful. And okay fine, I love to sing.
And finally, second breakfast! (Why yes, I am a hobbit who needs two breakfasts.) Every morning we have a western breakfast of fruit and toast, paired with crazy delicious chai.
Though sometimes the power is out during breakfast so we can’t toast the bread. Considering toast is my favorite food I’m quite the sad panda on those days.
11:30 Yoga Philosophy
In yoga philosophy we learn all about important Hindu texts and ideologies like the Yoga sutra, Bhagavad Geeta and the eight limbs of yoga. I enjoy yoga philosophy because I find Hinduism fascinating, though sometimes I mix up the texts- there’s a LOT of yoga philosophy to learn!
Therapy is everyone’s favorite class. In therapy we essentially learn how to give a really good massage. My favorite subsect is marma therapy, in which we learn how to manipulate pressure points and release energy blocks in the body and mind.
Okay, I’ve never been much a of science/math person so anatomy is admittedly not my favorite class. And by 1 p.m. I start to get hungry and I’m kind of over sitting on the ground. But still, it is useful to learn about the body’s muscular and skeletal systems in reference to yoga.
After anatomy is lunch! Lunch is a simple, vegetarian meal of chapati (flatbread), steamed vegetables, dahl (lentils) and fresh vegetables.
I won’t lie- this meal was great for the first week but I grew tired of it quickly as it’s nearly identical each day.
2:30- 5 p.m. Break
After lunch we take a much-needed break. I spend this time either reading Game of Thrones in my room, drinking mango juice on the Ganges with classmates or practicing my yoga flows upstairs. (Okay fine, I did the latter option like twice. A girl’s got to get her GOT on.)
The one thing I don’t do? Walk the streets. This is the hottest time of the day in India so I avoid the heat, cows, monkeys and crows by not venturing outside.
My friend McCall at work doing a headstand!
5 p.m. Vinyasa
After break is the most physically strenuous class of the day, vinyasa. As a person with the natural flexibility of a Russian lumberjack, vinyasa is my daily torture session, but one from which I leave feeling refreshed and proud of myself.
Also during vinyasa it’s often 110 degrees outside and the instructor turns off the fans.
6:30 p.m. tea break
After vinyasa we have our second cup of chai of the day!
We cap off the day with meditation. Interestingly enough, meditation is both a physically and mentally strenuous practice. Although the longest we ever meditate is for 45 minutes, my upper back aches something fierce and my brain takes ages to quiet.
Sometimes we meditate outside under the stars, which is lovely. I love watching the sun set over the Ganges and hearing the peacocks squawk in the mountains.
And after all that work, we enjoy a well-deserved dinner. Dinner is simple and vegetarian, just like lunch, though I’m often too tired to eat much.
In Rishikesh I attended Vinyasa Yoga School. The training cost $1,250 which included training, three vegetarian meals a day, hotel accommodation and a weekly field trip. (Or as I not-so-lovingly called them, the weekly clusterfuck.) The training was 30 days long and six days a week.
I loved the instructors at my school but was less fond of the management- essentially every time we voiced a concern, it fell upon deaf ears. Also the owner tried to get us to pay under the table which was shady, needless to say. The hotel where we stayed was passably nice but the power went out 10-15 times a day and there was no AC.
The last week of classes we taught class to our fellow students. This was the toughest part of the course as we had to put our yoga skills to the test and direct two hour and a half long yoga classes (both hatha and vinyasa). We also had our final yoga philosophy and anatomy exams.
Overall I would recommend doing a yoga teacher training in India- while there are some downsides, it was overall so interesting to learn about about yoga where it comes from. Although if I could do it again I might’ve done it somewhere rather than in Rishikesh as Rishikesh is quite touristy and dirty.