Yoga Teacher Trainings in India- Advice from Experience
Over 5,000 years ago, the Rishi’s (ancient seers of India) developed the remarkable practice widely known today as Yoga. This practice developed to create deeper states of awareness connecting body, mind and spirit- the intention was to help one move towards self realization. Through the practice of asana, one is able to move beyond the mind and into the physical body accessing the deeper layers of self that lie in the energetic body. These layers tell a story about the self often unrecognized by the everyday conscious mind.
Fast forward to today and this once sacred practice has been tainted by the mainstream market and marketed as another way to get fit and flexible. It’s depth has been diluted and it’s authenticity has been stripped to fit our modern view of what we believe health to be. Being a yoga teacher has become as popular as the latest trending app.
On the one hand, due to it’s deep roots, asana practice will inevitably help to open up the inner channels regardless of one’s initial awareness to it. The fact that thousands across the globe are now seeking this practice shows that it is inevitably going to have a positive effect. However on the other hand, because the practice has become so diluted, the magnitude of it’s message become short lived.
Many Westerners, get a glimpse of this powerful practice and having heard of India being its place of origin, have come from all over the world to India to learn this ancient wisdom. What they don’t know is that India, too, has become struck with commercialism and even this ancient practice in it’s homeland has been tainted with modern views and hunger of the Western man’s cash flow.
Rishikesh, “The Yoga Capitol of the World.”
Teacher Training’s have popped up all over India, especially in Rishikesh, “the yoga capital of the world.” Walking down the streets you are inundated with information of a teacher training starting every other week. What the Westerner often doesn’t know, is how easy it is to become a “qualified yoga school” and that many of these schools have unfortunately sprung up not necessarily because they believe in the practice and have a deep desire to share this knowledge, but because the amount of money attached to one TTC student is a staggering lump sum for any average Indian family.
In order to become a Yoga Alliance Certified school (which is the industry standard of approval) you must submit some paperwork claiming what your planned curriculum is and then of course, “pay the man.” No such organization comes out to ensure that your word is indeed matching your actions. In my personal experience, this can lead to schools who are unprepared and unorganized; leading TTC’s because the market and demand is high, rather than because they have a passion for the work itself.
Most of the schools here will take ANYBODY as long as they pay the required fee. This means it is the same TTC if you have been practicing for 5 years or have never practiced a day in your life…
Wait, does that mean people who have never done yoga can come to India and after one month of teaching be a “qualified teacher”? You heard it right. Not only is this extremely unsafe for the public seeking proper instruction, it weakens the legitimacy of being a certified yoga teacher.
Does this mean that in the depths of all this change, India doesn’t behold the benevolent practice of yoga close to its heart?
Absolutely not. The wisdom, magic and practice is indeed still here, but chances are it won’t be found on the websites you pull up on Google, nor is it going to be in the modernized Ashrams that have you paying $200 a week just to stay in. No, the real yogi’s are ones you only hear of by word of mouth (I can recommend a few).
The real practice, getting into the deeper layers that is, will not be found in the tourist places. They are found in the places hardly any tourist gets to journey. The places where it wouldn’t be odd if not a word of English is spoken; a place where asana is a mere complement, and not at all the focus. These are the places you will experience less of physical movement and more subtle movement, based on stillness and breath alone.
Am I suggesting that you do not come to this foreign land to learn this beautiful practice? No not at all, in fact I say to come! All yoga set aside, this land can become one of your greatest teachers. It has been said that Mother India can either hold you so tight it becomes hard to go, or she can chew you up and spit to out so that you with never to return— at the end of the day any experience you have is completely dependent on you.
As a practitioner of yoga, Satya- truthfulness is a part of the path. Therefore I seek to share my experiences with you, so that you can be more informed as you begin to embark on your own inward journey and indeed I hope that you do. It will undoubtedly be a journey that will transform you, and teach you to discover the path that will lead you to your highest and best self.
If you are interested in TTC’s in India or learning yoga in this magical land, contact me and I will be happy to make informed recommendations of great teachers and schools.
Photo by: Andi Mcl.