In 2015 I traveled to Rishikesh in India to complete my 200 hour yoga teacher training course. Since the trip, I’ve had people asking for my recommendations and about my experience in the beautiful ‘yoga capital of the world’. Just like many travelling for the first time to India, I had many questions, concerns and doubts. So here’s a recount of my experience and recommendations scattered through out.
I have always wanted to visit India. One reason, my father is fourth generation Malaysian/Singaporean with origins from India, so naturally, I grew up with a fusion of Malaysian, Singaporean and Indian food and an interest in a distant heritage. Another reason was yoga. I started practicing Vinyasa and Hatha at the local gym in 2009 and loved it so I continued to practice extensively while living in Canada. When I felt that my practice had plateaued, I decided to take my personal practice a little further by gaining more knowledge (theory and practical). I took a wall rope yoga class at Master’s Yoga Sahan’s studio in Singapore and loved the teaching style, depth of knowledge and how Shree (the instructor) adapted his yogic knowledge to create classes that helped his students with back pain, hip pain, increasing flexibility and even a class for releasing the tension caused from sitting at a desk. I wasn’t drawn to study yoga in Canada or Australia and wanted to go a little closer to the source. After lots of researching yoga schools in India, I settled on Vinyasa Yoga School in Rishikesh. I could tell that VYS understood the Western yoga student and was able to effectively market to them via an awesome website. This was my first ever trip to India, so I wanted to go the ‘safer’ option. I didn’t know much about Rishikesh but by the vast amounts of yoga schools, I felt like it would be a great (and somewhat) safe environment and place to live for a month.
With the intention of this trip being a taster of India to “feel the waters” to see if I would go back, I booked the month training course and tacked it onto the end of my trip to Europe.
After the first week, my biggest regret was booking that flight home. I didn’t want to leave.
Quick summary of my trip
- Arrive in New Delhi
- Travel by taxi to Rishikesh with some fellow yoga students
- One full day to settle in
- Commence 30 day 200 hour yoga teacher training course (Study Monday-Saturday. Sunday’s off with organised activities by the school).
- Two full days until departure back to Australia
My experience in Rishikesh
I really enjoyed my time studying at the Vinyasa Yoga School. I met some incredible humans from all over the world and learnt more about the practice I loved from some pretty incredible teachers. For four weeks, my life was hatha class in the morning, breakfast, yoga philosophy, yoga therapy/ pranayama, yoga anatomy, lunch, break, vinyasa class, meditation, dinner, study. On Sundays the yoga school organised activities like white water rafting, a visit to the Beatles ashram and some sight seeing. But the real highlights were conversations in the streets, talking yoga over chai at one of the amazing vegetarian cafes, stretching by the Ganga, watching the monkeys play in the trees, walking from Luhksman Jula to Ram Jula and trying to remember every colour, stall and sound. I felt safe, happy and content with my decision with Rishikesh.
The only time when I felt unsafe was the drive to and from Rishikesh from Delhi. It seems instead of indicating to change lanes, drivers will beep to overtake. There were times when I closed my eyes and hoped I’d survive. Next time, I’ll fly in to Dehradun and take a cab to Rishikesh. Save the eight hours of intense road travel.
Yes, I got sick. But only for 48 hours.
Throughout the course, students dropped out of classes for a couple of days and then reemerged from their rooms recounting mixed symptoms, I came down with a fever, full body aches and intense nausea. Luckily after 48 hours of being bed ridden, I was able to continue classes as normal. I almost felt better than I had before. The school teachers pre-warned us that some students get sick in the first week as their bodies detox and get used to the change in climate and food.
My biggest regret was not staying longer to experience more of Rishikesh. There are so many schools, teachers, classes and lineages to explore in one area that I would have loved to have tried every possible class. I found myself wanting to also explore meditation, ayurveda, yoga therapy and do a massage course. It’s an awesome hub of information and so many people offering their knowledge.
Studying is also pretty intense. Apart from being physically and mentally draining, studying is pretty intense and I would have loved to stay in Rishikesh longer to allow the new knowledge and practice to sink in.
I recommend to take more classes, meet more people and really consider how you will integrate your new practice into your life at home.