Last year, I signed up for a 200-hour yoga teacher training course in Rishikesh. Having previously completed a 200-hour course with Deep in Malaysia, naturally many asked, “Why do yoga teacher training in India?”
First, ever since I was little I’ve wanted to visit India. There is an inexplicable magnetism about the place, and it wasn’t only due to gorgeous Bollywood actors! So you can imagine how quickly I jumped at the chance of going.
In India, the course fee was $1500 USD. This includes all course material, plus food and accommodation for the entire duration of the training. Of course, I had to factor in airfare as well as other expenditures such as souvenir-shopping, weekend out-of-city trips, and other tourist activities, but it was worth it.
The experience was nothing short of amazing. Almost everywhere you turn there are sadhus, and the whole city is filled with chanting and spiritual music. Every inch of the city has an aura of peace and serenity, which was a good change of environment from the hustle and bustle of Malaysia.
Because it’s up in the mountains, the river was much cleaner than I thought it would be. Every morning I would wake up early to sit by the river before class. Unlike the horror stories I’ve heard about India being unsafe, I didn’t ever feel like my security was threatened. I think the danger is always present but can be mitigated by following these simple rules: don’t go looking for trouble, don’t take uncalculated risks and always listen to your intuition.
Aside from the spiritual aspect of the city, there were also numerous outdoor activities to participate in.
Our first weekend there we went to the Kunjapuri Temple, which is about an hour’s drive from Rishikesh. I’m not the best traveler, especially when it comes to winding roads, but the view from the temple was definitely worth the trip! Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos of the said view. Maybe it’s a sign that I should return to take more photos!
Other weekends, we traveled to places like Mussoorie, Kempty Falls, and Haridwar, all of which have their own unique attractions. I find that although these parts of India are not as technologically advanced as the rest of the world, they have their own rustic charm.
In Rishikesh itself, there are plenty of opportunities for shopping. The market caters more to the spiritual and hippy crowd, so there were lots of loose, flowing clothes with ‘Om’ symbols or Hindu gods/goddesses on them and religious paraphernalia. For the ladies, if you love accessorizing, there are many shops selling Tibetan-style earrings, belts, necklaces, etc.. We spent many Saturday afternoons at the shops selecting souvenirs.
During our last weekend in Rishikesh, a few of us went rafting. It was one of the most unforgettable experiences of my life. The Ganga is mostly steady and smooth-flowing around Rishikesh, even to the point where our rafting leader allowed us to jump off the raft and drift alongside it or even swim some distance away and just float without a care in the world.
My Malaysian teacher training course was a part-time course, meaning that the course runs every weekend for three months. It was good because I had the familiarity of home, and I did not have to take an extended leave from work, but of course, it didn’t bring with it the opportunities for so many diverse, new experiences. Plus, in hindsight, it did not allow me to fully immerse myself in the yoga experience as the training was broken up between everyday life.
In Rishikesh, we practiced yoga every morning and evening, except on Saturday evenings and Sundays. Meals were purely vegetarian. In between yoga practices, the anatomy and philosophy classes gave me a well-rounded yoga experience.
Having trained with Deep in Malaysia, I was already certain of the quality of the course itself. He takes a very holistic approach towards yoga. He focuses on the alignment of asanas while at the same time emphasizing that yoga is a lifestyle, not just a physical practice. In Rishikesh, there were two more teachers, Gurumukh and Dr. Sumit, who were both equally well-versed in philosophy and anatomy respectively.
For my India yoga teacher training, the pieces of the puzzle seemed to wondrously fall into place at the right time. Are you brave enough to say ‘Yes!’ when the opportunity arises?