5 Survival Tips for Yoga Teacher Training in India

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I use the word “survival” in the title because it is exactly that. Yoga is taught and practiced differently to what we know in the West, and you need to be prepared if you want to get the most out of your course. There were a few questions running through my mind when I decided to undertake a yoga teacher certification.

Do I learn yoga in India? Or do I learn in Australia? Where I am guaranteed the training will be professional? Will my creature comforts be accessible, too?

After much research I found the ideal school for me in  Rishikesh, which is situated in Northern India in the foothills of the Himalayas. It is said that is the very place yoga was born so that was the tradition I wanted to learn.

Here is a guide to help you stay healthy, happy and strong in mind, body and soul. I hope it gives you a little help if you do decide to learn in India.

1. First aid kit

This is number one because this is foundation to get your body through the 200 hour certification process. Any yoga teacher training is hard on the body but training in India is harder in my opinion considering the climate (it can often be very hot or very cold) the food, the exposure to environmental stress and the physical impact of strenuous yoga on the body.

Here are some items you will want to include:

  • Hand sanitizer, soap, and tissues
  • Muscle ointment for sore muscles 
  • Bandages, plaster, and support stockings in case of injury
  • Anti-parasitic herbal capsules. You’ll have to go to your naturopathic doctor or good health food shop for this. The idea is you take them daily to prevent picking up bacteria or parasites from any food.
  • Heat stable probiotics, such as Saccharomyces cerevisae (boulardii) to take as preventative or treatment of diarrhea. I find this to be as effective as pharmaceutical medication.
  • Digestive enzymes, to help with digestion and prevent constipation. (You’ll be eating vegetarian Indian cuisine, which is not the easiest to digest.)
  • Paracetomol or ibuprofen pain relief in case of serious injury.
  • Anti-inflammatory, like turmeric to keep the inflammation in body and digestive system down. 
  • Insect repellant

2. Nutrition

In new territory, it's ideal to give your body as much nutritional support as possible.

  • B-complex vitamins, for energy
  • Magnesium citrate, for sore muscles and sensitive nervous systems
  • Iron, to supplement the vegetarian diet
  • Zinc and vitamin C, to strengthen immune system
  • Powdered green formula, including wheatgrass, spirulina as you won’t be getting many fresh greens and it will help keep your body alkaline and energized
  • Protein powder, sprouted brown rice or pea protein is best as this will help support your muscles after the asana practice
  • Whole food protein bars, for snacks

3. Clothing

In the winter you’ll need plenty of layers (in the North) and in the summer a lot of light, natural or dry wick clothing. A few pairs of leggings and enough tops to change daily as you’ll be getting quite dirty. Floors are often dustier in India even though people take their shoes off before entering the studio.

Quite often if you’re learning in an Ashram, the yoga room is on the roof top, which is nice when the weather is perfect but quite challenging at other times. Bring a towel and flip flops for the bathroom along with enough sanitary napkins. Bring a hair dryer if you’re studying in northern India in the winter. Bring your own yoga mat to avoid sharing others. Ear plugs are nice if you’re staying in Ashram style facilities, for you might be sharing a room and will enjoy the increased silence. 

4. Communications/ Technology

India is famous for its power outages so Internet is not always available. I found that investing in an Indian Sim card with data to be the most reliable way to keep in touch with loved ones. As much as it’s nice to cut yourself off from technology, the yoga process can open you up emotionally and it’s a great comfort being able to speak to your support network.

5. A positive attitude

This is probably the most important piece of advice. The right attitude will make or break you during this experience. The external pressures will either push you to draw on your strengths or bring out a few weaknesses. Feeling waves of positivity and negativity is actually quite normal during the opening process, just ride those waves as best as you can and take as much time out as necessary to ensure your peace of mind.

Any yoga teacher training will be a challenge. Yoga is, after all, a tool for transformation. Learning to teach yoga in India is on a whole other level of challenge. Expect to have your body pushed, pulled and opened, and possibly injured if you don’t respect your limitations.

Expect your mind and emotions to play tricks on you and observe your class mates go through their individual melt-downs, some nice and some not so nice.

Most of all, expect your soul to be touched by the experience. Learning to teach yoga in India is what I describe a game changer. It is chaotic and you’ll encounter so much resistance on all levels, perhaps even sickness, but when you recover and “get back on the mountain” so-to-speak you’ll have changed and most likely for the better.

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I am an Acupuncturist, Naturopath and Yoga teacher, following the Bhakti path. My favourite style of yoga to teach is restorative, Yin, meditative or therapeutic, focusing on women's health, natural fertility, prenatal and postnatal yoga. Some of my passions include health, herbal medicine, Vedic philosophy, ayurveda, nature, spirituality, travel, cooking (raw/ vegetarian/ vegan) and writing...READ MORE