The Time I ... Went to India For Yoga Teacher Training

India has always been a mysterious place to me. I’ve seen it in movies such as Slum Dog Millionaire and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel which show it’s overpopulation, it’s strange customs, it’s pollution and poverty that have made it seem dangerous and unappealing…But then whenever I have spoken to anyone who has travelled here, they spoke of the delicious food, the kind people, and the spirit of the land. When I decided I wanted to do my Yoga Teacher Training (YTT), I felt drawn to this mysterious country and Rishikesh in particular, the birth place of Yoga.

Choosing a Yoga School:

There are sooooooo many schools in Rishikesh that offer Yoga Teacher Training courses. I spent hours googling and reading reviews! I ended up choosing Siddhi Yoga because it offered multiple styles of Yoga, had smaller class sizes, had many good reviews on their well constructed website, and provided clean and air-conditioned accommodation. I am pleased to say that I made a good choice as i found the course very rewarding.

What my days looked like:

6am wake up
615am warming up/self practice
630am Iyengar yoga
830am breakfast
10am alignment
1130am anatomy
1pm lunch
4pm Vinyassa yoga
6pm Philosophy
7pm Dinner

Sleep and repeat 5 days a week, half day on Saturday and free day on Sunday for an entire month. 

So basically you will be doing 4 hours per day of Yoga! You need to be fairly fit and really enjoy yoga to do this course but you do not need to be super flexible, I certainly am not! I have runner hamstrings which means I can barely touch my toes in a forward bend.

My favourite class was the morning Iyengar practice where I learned all the major Yoga poses in great detail and then broke them down in steps during the Alignment class. I also really enjoyed the Philosophy class although I have come to realise that it would take a life time to truly understand the philosophy behind Yoga. It is such an intricate and ancient philosophy, in a month of study I barely broke the surface! All of these classes were taken by Parveen Nair who I believe now teaches at Nada Yoga School. He really was made this course worth while for me. 

Finishing the course brings a huge sense of accomplishment. There were definitely moments where I wanted to quit, moments when I cried, moments where I was frustrated but I learnt an incredible amount in a very short time. Many of my fellow Yogi’s reported having vivid dreams during the course, including me. Apparently this is common as our minds begin to process blockages. Crying at some point during the course is also common. I cried in the final week when I couldn’t get my right shoulder to move into the correct position for a twisted pose. My teacher said that physical blocks are linked to mental blocks because our bodies and minds are one. I know I made incredible progress in one month and I hope to continue learning and growing in my yoga practice. I do not believe I am ready yet to be a teacher myself but perhaps with further practice I will get there!

Moksha Hotel and surrounds

I was very impressed by the accommodation, food and service provided by the Moksha Hotel. This Hotel is pre-selected by the Siddhi Yoga and I was pleasantly surprised. The food was amazing! We had several choices of Indian dishes per meal and all was very flavoursome vegetarian food. The aircon worked very well in the rooms, as did the hot water system. We all had TV in our rooms but there were only a couple of English speaking channels. The only complaint I would have would be the cleaning consistency and standard of the rooms. I often had to ask to get my room cleaned and then would find the floor had not been swept or the bin not emptied. But for this part of the world, it was really quite good. 

Rishikesh and the surrounds:

I fell in love with this little part of the world. Walking out of my accommodation towards the Ganges River I was a constantly reminded of the vast contrasts of this place. Rubbish is in piles swept to the sides of the road for burning or for the malnourished cows, dogs or monkeys to eat. The sound of a car or bike horn is so consistent that the sound of silence becomes foreign and strange. The people stare at the white, blonde girl in her yoga gear and children run up to practice their English or beg for the chocolate brownie she just bought from her favourite German Bakery. Their are book shops that are a yogi’s library, clothing stores selling ridiculously cheap hand made items, jewellery and gem stores, fruit and vegetable carts, massage centres offering traditional Arvyedic treatments, palm readers, Vedic Astrologers, crystal healers.

Day trips around Rishikesh:

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Ashram, or better known as ‘The Beatles Ashram’ was my favourite spot in Rishikesh. This rundown, graffiti covered, overgrown Ashram is Part of Rajaji National Park and Tiger Reserve. The Ashram became very popular after a visit by The Beatles in 1968 but was shut down in 1997 after it became abandoned. In 2003 the Department of Forestry took over the land and while the Ashram remains uninhabited in 2015 it opened to tourists for an entry fee of Rs 600. I was lucky to have a local yogi show me around the mystical Ashram and even chant to me inside one of the chanting chambers! He did not ask me for money but I gave him some in gratitude for spending the afternoon explaining all the artwork and what the old buildings were used for. I couldn’t help but get chills as we explored the grounds. There is something electric in the air, you feel the presence of many before you, it is tranquil and beautiful and I could have easily spent an entire day just taking it all in.

Vashishta Gufa is a meditation cave located approximately 25km upstream from Rishikesh. This is an extemeley spiritual site where the great Sage Vashishta lived and meditated. Monks still come to the caves to meditate and as a visitor you must practice silence and respect while entering the cave. Inside the cave it is cool and damp and their is a peaceful presence. If you are lucky, you may hear chanting while you sit in mediation inside the cave. A short walk away, across purple stained rocks, you can take a dip (fully clothed) in the Ganges River, but be careful, the current is strong and can pull you downstream if you are not careful!

The confluence (collision of two rivers) of Alaknanda River and Bhagirathi River at the town of Devprayag, approximately 2 hours North of Rishikesh I was fascinated by the clear separation of the blue water of one river and the brown water of another and how eventually the two combine to become the brown Ganges River. Walking through the town and across the footbridge and then further down hill you come to a platform where you are able to step into the holy water.

Neer Garh waterfall is about 5km from Luxman Jhula, the last 1.5km of which begins the uphill climb. This is certainly walkable but not in the 40+ degree heat when I was there! For Rs 600 return, I split a taxi with 3 friends, which was probably too much to pay but the taxi did wait 2hrs for us at the waterfalls. The hike up to the top of the waterfall from where the taxi drops you will take about half an hour and is quite the uphill climb. There are 2 smaller swimming spots on the way up but the best place to stop and swim is at the top. You should note that these swimming spots are mostly occupied by men. Women must be covered to enter the water and by ‘covered’ I mean, shoulders and knees should not be seen…I wore shorts at my own risk of being stared at, but I didn’t have any problems. Eat before you go as there is minimal options for food there, and get there EARLY as this is a popular swimming spot with locals.

I will never forget my experiences in Rishikesh, India with Siddhi Yoga. I hope one day I can return to this part of the world to learn more about the religion and culture. I hope this was insightful to anyone curious about doing their Yoga teacher training or travelling to this part of India. Any questions or comments, please leave below :)

Until Next Time