Yoga Teacher Training in India

Yoga Teacher Training in India

While I’ve always loved attending Yoga classes, it took me a really long time to think that teaching Yoga was something I’d like to try – 12 years in fact.

It was during a Hatha Yoga class, as I moved through the Asanas a thought came to me – wouldn’t it be nice to be in this environment all the time? Calming, peaceful, nurturing. The seed was planted – I was going to learn how to be a Yoga Teacher.

For me the most obvious place to learn to teach Yoga was India. I’m involved in a deep love affair with India. I’ve travelled to India three times so far and am bewitched – the culture, the food, the people and the Yoga.

It was in December 2012, my second trip to India, when I travelled to Kerala to attend a month intensive to become a Yoga Teacher.

The month long Yoga Teacher Training intensive was held in an Ashram near a remote village about a 90 minutes drive from Fort Cochin. The Ashram was a 30 minute walk from the nearest village, closer if you hired an Auto-rickshaw. There wasn’t that much in the village that a Western Yoga Teacher Trainee would be interested in, other than the bakery that sold coffee. Apart from the bakery there was little distraction from learning all about Yoga. 

Every student had come alone to undertake the Yoga Teacher Training. There were about 30 students, mostly women – just three men. This demographic is certainly the same as most Yoga classes I’ve attended over the years and the same for the Yoga classes I teach – although I am seeing a change. The age range varied quite a bit – from one 18 year old to a hand full of students in their 60’s. Most people were European with a few Americans, Australians, South Africans in the mix too – there was a nice international atmosphere.

We all had Yoga in common and the majority of people were pretty chilled out and focused on getting through the teacher training and being supportive of each other.

The days started at 6am with Meditation and finished anytime between 8 – 10pm. The Yoga Teacher Training included learning about Yoga philosophy, anatomy, Pranayama, learning the Sanskirt names to the Asanas (postures), learning to teach a Yoga Asana class (how to teach individual Asanas, sequencing Asanas) to name a few different areas but this list is certainly not exhaustive.

An average day looked like this – six days a week for a month:

Hatha Yoga Teacher Training – Sample Daily Schedule

06.00 – 06.40 am:   Meditation
06.40 – 07.00 am:   Neti / Kriyas
07.00 – 09.15 am:    Yoga Asana & Pranayamas
09.30 – 10.30 am:    Brunch
10.30  – 12.00 pm:    Yoga Philosophy and Anatomy class
12.00– 02.00 pm:   Free time
14.00  – 14.30 pm:    Snack time – usually fruit or some Indian goodies
14.30  – 16.00 pm:    Yoga Sutras
16.30  – 19.00 pm:    Yoga Asana Workshops / Teaching Practice
19.00 – 20.00 pm:    Dinner
20.00 – 21.00 pm:    This varied – sometimes videos or special presentations or Free time 

We were silent from 10pm to 10am – Meditation, Neti/Kriyas, a Yoga Asana class and brunch was all undertaken in silence everyday. I really enjoyed it – it was not as intense as it initially seemed. Most of that time is spent sleeping and Meditation, Neti/Kriyas and Yoga Asana class is silent anyway. Brunch was a little tougher, but it didn’t take long to get used to eating in silence.

I love Indian food and I’m a vegetarian – so I was in food heaven! However, some students had problems with the food as they weren’t Indian food fans. The cooks did their best to try to accommodate everyone, but it was pretty hard on those students as there weren’t many shops or markets nearby were you could self-cater easily. There also wasn’t much time to be cooking for yourself.

Things got a bit tougher toward the end of the month, there were written exams and practical assessments. The practical assessment comprised of teaching two 90 minute classes. I was someone who has never taught anything to anyone and found this very stressful. I spent many nights prior to those practical assessments muttering Yoga Asanas in Sanskirt, re-writing my lesson plan, practicing queuing each of the Asanas (postures). 

We weren’t expected to teach the entire group of 30, we were broken into small groups of about five people and the practical assessments involved just teaching your small group. Still, you were being assessed by the Yoga Teachers and Teaching Assistants – it’s nerve wracking, but great and necessary Yoga teaching practice. 

One Happy Yogi – 200 hours Yoga Teacher Training completed!

  • I did my training in India’s winter (December and January) – I’d been to India during this time before and know that even “winter” was hot but this was something else. I sweated all day, every day. Then I sweated some more during the four hours or so your Yoga Asana (Yoga class in the morning and then a Yoga workshop/Teacher Practice in the evening). I did a lot of showering and clothes washing in that month.

  • I was really, really busy – all day, every day. Even on the free days – the Ashram organised day trips so students could see a bit more of India. Some students didn’t attend the day trips but I felt that the trips helped ward off cabin fever.

  • While I’d been attending Yoga Asana classes for over a decade, I’d never known that Yoga Asana was only a small part of Yoga. It was one of the biggest things I learned from the Yoga Teacher Training.

Is Yoga Teacher Training for you?

Deciding to follow your passion for Yoga to undertake Yoga Teacher Training is a big step. It’s a lot of commitment — not just the time and money required — but also creating the mental space to be open to the process.  

You don’t have to be a Vegetarian, or chant Om, or chant Mantras, or know what Mala beads are to attend – but you’ll be served Vegetarian meals, chant Om a lot, chant Mantras and may be given some Mala beads for Meditation. If you’re open to it, you’ll enjoy it all. 

If you decide to undertake a month intensive (or even a 10 day intensive) being ready mentally, physically and emotionally is important –  because it can get tough. You may be in a new country, new culture, new climate, you may be alone and without your usual support people (there is Skype but that’s not always the same).

Of course you may decide to undertake Yoga Teacher Training in your home town over a longer period of time.

Asides from ensuring that your well-being is in check, it’s an investment. And I’m not just talking about the course fees.

Depending on where and how you choose to undertake Yoga Teacher Training, you’ll need time. Taking the time in your life to fit in Yoga Teacher Training takes consideration and planning. You may need to negotiate time away from family and work, consider possibly being away from loved ones for the holidays – I was away for Christmas and New Years.

It’s also important to note that you don’t have to want to be a Yoga Teacher to attend Yoga Teacher Training. They are a great way to deepen your personal Yoga Asana (postures) practice and understanding of Yoga generally. 

Finally, you don’t have to decide right away if you’ll be a Yoga Teacher – I didn’t. I wasn’t sure, I was digesting everything I had learned – it took me more than a year to start to teach Yoga classes regularly.

If you do decide that Yoga Teacher Training is for you, research potential Yoga Teacher Training courses through the Yoga Alliance. They have a registry of schools that are certified Yoga Teacher Trainers.





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