Choosing between a lush tropical island and India?
If you’re thinking of completing your teacher training abroad, you’ll probably tend to gravitate towards a European getaway, jungle paradise, or lavish island somewhere overseas. Very few have an interest in the hot, humid, and crowded atmosphere of India. But those who do have a rare desire to study yoga in the heart of its origins, are unknowingly being called to Mother India and all of its rich offerings. Having completed my 200-hr RYT in Rishikesh, India, I've listed below all of my most impactful experiences to help sway your choice in the right direction.
It’s Hot, Humid, and Crowded
The sweltering, moist, and overpowering streets of India are jam packed with people, cows, monkeys, cars, and markets. Plan for extra time to commute to your classes, visit cultural spots, and enter temples. You'll be bombarded with hoards of families shoving for taxis, cutting in lines, and pushing you from side to side.
But don't worry, you'll eventually get used to exchanging sweat with strangers and showering multiple times per day. Everything in India is spicy, hot, and sticky! Doing yoga multiple times per day in this atmosphere will thoroughly condition and cleanse your body from the inside out. While you won't find a tropical beach or a luxurious resort spa nearby, cooling off your long days with a fully clothed dip in the Ganga River is an excellent alternative.
The Gurus are Authentic
Becoming certified in the birthplace of yoga is magical. The instructors and masters of the training programs in India have studied yoga and meditation for years in universities, institutions, and ashrams. They have a deep faith in yogic philosophy, extensive knowledge in Vedic theory, and devoted daily practices of their own. They are eager to share their perspectives and to teach their findings. The information you'll receive from the gurus in India will fill your heart, exceed your expectations, and give you confidence in what it truly means to become a teacher of yoga.
You'll leave India with inspiration to guide people through a journey, instead of just a heated fitness-based sequence. By learning the truths behind yoga, experiencing the light of its truest intentions, and witnessing it through the hearts of those who have given their whole life to it, will forever alter your outlook.
It’s Not a Vacation
Getting certified in an international destination, unfortunately, doesn't make it a vacation. It's hard work and requires more effort than one would expect. Throughout the entirety of your program, you'll have multiple tests, teaching opportunities, and group leadership assignments. For this reason exactly, therewill be hours in the day blocked off specifically for studying.
Not only will you be going into depth with anatomy and specific body parts, covering ligaments, joints, and muscles, but you'll also be focusing in on the chakras, energy channels, and metaphysical locations throughout the body. This combined with taking multiple classes a day for your own practice, learning how to sequence and lead classes, memorizing Sanskrit mantras, and understanding the philosophy and theories behind the overall purpose of yoga, will become slightly overwhelming during your stay abroad.
Fortunately, in India, you'll find less distractions. Instead of lounging at the beautiful beach outside of your villa, or hiking to the lush waterfall behind your cabana, you'll be craving the air conditioning comforts of your room, or savoring the food at nearby restaurants. Both of which, compliment the multi-task of studying. Your time in India will be truly devoted to the purpose of becoming a yoga teacher.
Training will Fuse with Traditional Culture
By immersing yourself into Indian culture you'll discover just how tightly woven yoga is with the nation's customs, religions, and lifestyles. Although it is not a religion in itself, you'll find that the discipline, beliefs, and practices of yoga are shared by all natives and that even when you leave the yoga studio, yoga will still surround you. This is what makes India the perfect place to truly understand, study, and learn from.
Yogic philosophy and Vedic principles will be practiced in local ashrams, meditation will be respected in public places, and asana classes will be advertised on every corner. Everything surrounding you will relate to some shape or form of yogic faith. Experiencing first-hand what it means to live a true yogi life will strengthen your own intentions. In India, you will experience yoga far beyond the yoga studio. You will see it in every gesture, believe it from every scripture, see it in every building, and talk about it with it every person that you meet. Most importantly, you will begin to understand yoga far beyond the physical practice.
Rishikesh is the World's capital of yoga. It's known by natives as a beautiful, clean, and sacred city. Home to some of today's most popular meditation and yoga gurus, it has several established studios and teacher training academies. Located in the northern region of India, it's said to be slightly cooler than the south and is largely influenced by Hinduism.
As a sacred location, it has a city-wide ban on alcohol and meat, so you'll find many vegan and vegetarian options when dining out. Most of the yoga schools are located on a large strip just outside of the main village. Here you'll find a wide range of bakeries, food, markets, and shops. If you fancy a trip into the main village, you'll find that it is much larger with more opportunities for shopping and socializing.
There are several Himalayan treks, mountain ashrams, waterfalls, and activities nearby to sightsee and explore. Cooking classes, henna tattoos, water rafting, and ayurvedic treatments are accessible on almost every corner. It is one of the most beautiful cities and I felt quite safe during my stay as a solo female traveler.