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