Namaste everyone! I’ve been super quiet on here and social media in general lately as I’ve spent the last month in India doing my 200hr yoga teacher training! So now that I’m back I thought I’d give you a quick run down on my experience.
From mid Jan to mid Feb, I lived in an Ashram in Rishikesh, at the AYM Teacher Training School. Having checked the weather forecast before I left, I didn’t bother taking many warm clothes as I was promised a balmy 20 something degrees celsius. However, on arrival I very soon realised that this was basically one big fat lie as it was freezing! Everyone was soon running down into town to buy wooly socks and jumpers; not something you’d expect to be doing in India but hey ho!
The course started with an opening ceremony on the first day, and then normal classes started on the second day. We soon settled into the routine of piling on the layers every morning before heading to our first class of the day. The schedule was fairly busy:
- 7-8 Pranayama/Meditation/Shatkarma (it changed every two days)
- 8-8:45 Tea time (best time of the day!)
- 8:45-10:15 Hatha Yoga
- 10:15-11 Breakfast
- 11-12 Teaching Methodology
- 12-1 Mantras (for the first 10 days, after which teaching methodology was extended to 2 hour classes for us to practice our teaching)
- 1-3 Lunch break
- 3-4 Philosophy (my favourite class!)
- 4:15-5:15 Anatomy
- 5:30-7 Ashtanga Yoga
- 7:15 Dinner
There was even an opportunity to do a short Ayurveda course which took place in the lunch break and on Sunday mornings, which quite a lot of people did! I was tempted, but I’m glad I didn’t as I was knackered enough as it was!
The first week really dragged. Although I was loving every minute of it, the days felt so long! I thought the whole month would be the same, but after the second week time seemed to speed up drastically, and before I knew it I was sat back at work thinking “did that month even just happen?!”
But it did, and it was incredible. I learned so much yet at the same time I know there is an endless amount still to learn. The classes were all great. In the first class we learned various breathing and meditation techniques, and also the yogic cleansing processes which weren’t quite so fun! Jala Netti wasn’t so bad, sticking a spout of water up one nostril and letting it pour back out the other one, but I didn’t even attempt Sutra Netti which involved pushing a piece of string up your nose and down your throat before pulling it out of your mouth!
Teaching methodology was probably the least helpful class, as the lessons seemed a bit less structured and everyone found it a bit difficult to understand. We got the important bits though and luckily our Hatha teacher did a great job of explaining a lot of the teaching points towards the end of the course which helped a lot.
We had our teaching exams throughout the last couple of weeks where we each taught a 30 minute class, and I absolutely loved mine! I’d been a bit worried that I’d get up there and totally forget everything, mess up my sequence, just basically crash and burn. But the opposite happened! I felt totally at home leading the class, and I had some really lovely feedback afterwards.
Mantra class was great fun, especially for me coming from a musical background. We learned lots of different chants and it was a nice relaxing hour full of singing, plus our teacher Mandeep was just the loveliest guy, clearly very passionate about his work.
Philosophy was my absolute favourite class, which I think was true for a lot of people. We learned a lot about the history and meaning of yoga, different practices, how to bring it into daily life etc. Our teacher Mahesh was hilarious and had a great way of explaining everything, which made the class even more enjoyable.
Anatomy was difficult to get your head around when you’ve been sat still in class for several hours so everyone’s getting a bit hungry and restless. To be honest I was glad I’d just done my fitness instructor exam at the end of last year, which involved a thorough understanding of basic anatomy. So I could treat the class more as a refresher, whereas I think some people who’d never done anatomy before did struggle a bit. There was an exam on this subject so if you’re planning on taking a teacher training and you’ve never studied anatomy before, I’d recommend doing a bit of reading and research before you go. There are also some great books available, my favourite being Yoga Anatomy by Leslie Kaminoff.
The physical yoga classes were also superb quality. Both the teachers were very skilled at what they did, especially our Hatha teacher who struck the perfect balance between discipline and fun throughout the class. We learned how to properly perform all the asanas of the Primary Ashtanga sequence, and more. We went in depth on the correct alignment of each pose, and in the last couple of weeks spent more time going through the series as a whole so that we could learn it all – there was an exam on this too!
The food was always delicious. Most meals consisted of rice, chapati, dahl, curry and a raw vegetable dish. Breakfast was a bowl of fruit and then something like oatmeal, muesli, healthy pancakes or sometimes a spiced rice dish. Everything was very healthy, and sometimes they did something different like pasta or noodles – though I actually preferred when they just cooked Indian food!
I only really had two complaints about the school. The first was the size of the group, as they advertise around 20 people but when we turned up there were actually 50! Apparently this happens regularly, so be prepared! We did split up the groups for the physical practice, and fortunately everyone was very lovely anyway so it was nice to get to know a lot of people, but sometimes we’d go off on a tangent in classes, or something would take a long time to explain because there would be a lot of questions!
The only other thing was the rooms. We all paid the same price yet the quality seemed to vary vastly. Some people had double beds and huge bathrooms, others single and teeny tiny rooms (like mine, but it was fine for me!). Some people paid for a single room but had to share a bathroom, and the people on the rooftop had to use the public bathroom, they didn’t even have their own! So I think maybe the room prices should be structured a little differently.
Other than that, I really would highly recommend the school. It was in a great location, up a bit of a hill about a 15 minute walk from Tapovan, where there were lots of shops and cafes to look around, as well as Lakshman Jhula and the Ganga of course! There are lots of other schools in the area, as well as places to do drop in yoga classes (just in case you’re not doing enough in your training!). It was great to be in the home of yoga; I found it the perfect place to be studying and am so glad I decided to travel to India to do it.
And of course, for me, it was the people who really made the experience totally incredible. I couldn’t have asked for a better group to share the training with. We all got on so well, and although it was hard to get close to such a massive group, I have definitely made some life long friends from all over the globe who I can’t wait to go visit some day!
I’ll do a separate post on a more personal level of how I actually feel about going on to teach now, but I hope you found this post helpful if you’re considering doing a training yourself and wondering where to go!