Going to India to become a yoga teacher? Such a cliché isn´t it? Cliché or not, my three months journey couldn´t have started out better. During my time in the yoga school, I learned a lot about India, about yoga and about myself. And I didn´t just go to any city. I went to Rishikesh – also called the world´s capital of yoga.
Rishikesh is the typical Indian city – with typical I mean what you might expect to see in India if you visit the country the first time and don´t know much about it. Cows are running around, freely roaming the streets. Once I even saw a new born calf in the streets. In no other city in India I´ve seen as many cows as here. As India is very diverse every single city will surprise you with different traditions, customs and colours.
Rishikesh is also a religious city with a lot of Hindu temples – every morning we were woken up by the bells of the temple on the other side of the holy river Ganges. Rishikesh lays on the two sides of this river, with the biggest temple on one side my yoga school was directly facing it on the other side. Every morning and evening we could hear the prayers, the singing and chanting coming from the temples. Sounds that grew more and more familiar each and every day.
The schedule of the training
In the yoga school, we had quite a packed schedule. As we had a lot to learn our day stared out very early.
Every morning we were waking up every morning at 6 am to practise Shatkarma – which are different cleansing techniques of your body. This ranged from cleaning our nose to our digestive track.
Followed by Pranayama, which included a lot of different breathing exercises. It was only through this class that I found out how important breath actually is for you. I also discovered how I was breathing wrongly probably my whole life. We were taught to breathe deeply through our abdomen, not only through our chest – something I used to do before. We learned exercises to heat up our body, to calm ourselves down and much more. And all of that through breathing! I would have never imagined that was possible before.
Afterwards we had our first yoga class – we would have two classes of 90 minutes every day. The first week was the most challenging one. Our teachers were hard on us – they had to be as they had to teach us a lot in a very short amount of time. We were told, for example, that we would be holding the chair pose – where you bend your knees 90 degrees and lift your arms up in the air – for 10 minutes straight. Back then, that seemed impossible. A few weeks after that, we did hold it for 8 minutes indeed. After two classes of yoga every morning and evening my body was quickly hurting all over as I was not used to such an intense training. However, that concerned only the first week. In the second week, I was used to the amount of exercises already.
Next on the schedule was anatomy, where we learned about the different body part and what to keep in mind when we have a client with back pain or other injuries and how to suggest modifications of some exercises.
Philosophy and Ayurveda
Followed by Ayurveda in the first week, which we were all fascinated aboutt. As Ayurveda and yoga both deal with living a good and healthy life, these two spiritual healing paths are good to combine. Ayurveda, however, is a whole topic for itself and we just briefly touched the surface of it – just enough to evoke our curiosity about it.
In Philosophy we were taught about the origins of yoga as well as certain traditions and practises.
Emotional blockage treatment and Meditation
At the end of each day, we also had a session of emotional blockage treatment in the first week. This class should help us to release trapped emotions by massaging certain parts of our body – a very interesting class I will write a whole post about itself.
After the first week, our emotional blockage class was finished, and we moved on to meditation. There we learned a lot of different forms of meditation. From group meditations in a circle to a dancing or walking meditation. These classes certainly helped to centre ourselves more and calm down after a long and exhausting day.
What is yoga all about?
In this teacher training, we learned that yoga is so much more than what is sold to us in the west. It´s an art of living, which is not only composed by exercise but also by awareness and mindfulness and a lot of other practises. Shatkarma and Pranyama are a part of it as well as mediation. I can honestly say that after having gone through a four-week training it only made me realize how little I know about yoga. Of course, I have my self-practise and I do know a lot about the exercise itself. But there´s still a lot to the philosophy. In India, you can study yoga. In fact, all my teachers had a bachelors or master’s degree in yoga – and they said they´re still learning. With yoga, learning never finishes. You can always improve, always go further than you did yesterday. So, in India, I could never be a yoga teacher – at least not for Indians. There´s a lot of teachers who have studied so much more and have more wisdom than I do. Which motivates me to learn more. It was an amazing experience to learn about the whole lifestyle and there´s much more to it.
My yoga group
This training was not only a great experience, because I learned so much more about this beautiful practise, but also because I met some beautiful, amazing people I will have a connection for a lifetime. We were such an amazing bunch of people, everyone different in their own way. As we were together in class from morning to evening, we got to know each other quite quickly. We were going through the same phases, had the same difficulties and struggles which definitely united us. Also our free time we spend together by discovering the city. It was beautiful to see how a bunch of strangers could become like a family to you in the end. We definitely ended up being a little family, also shedding some tears when we were about to leave. You get used to people so quickly that it is hard to let go – even though we all knew we had to from the beginning.
In the last week, when we actually had to teach classes – as this was a yoga teacher training, everyone came up with so many different ideas and every class was different and beautiful. A lot of people guided a meditation, where we had some beautiful experiences as well. There we learned how to teach a class properly, gave each other feedback. It was beautiful to be taught by your former classmates standing now in front of you as a teacher. To see how everyone evolved and grew in those four weeks was amazing.
Participating in this training was one of the best choices I´ve ever made. Not only because I gained a lot more knowledge about my body, strengths, weaknesses and abilities, but also about yoga. And I connected with some amazing people I probably wouldn´t have found anywhere else. If you´re looking for an opportunity to grow and meet likeminded people I would definitely recommend a teacher training – I myself want to try out another one as well!