If you’ve ever contemplated doing a yoga teacher training, consider this your call to action. And definitely consider heading to India. Here’s why:
You will learn the true essence of yoga
Yoga in the West is typically watered down, focusing almost exclusively on the physical aspect of yoga. The physical practice, better known as asana, is only one of the eight limbs of yoga and is not yoga in its own right. In training in India, you will be exposed to and expected to practice the other seven limbs. These include: discipline, moral observances, breath control, withdrawal of the senses, concentration, meditation and union of the self and the Divine. Obviously a month is not long enough to become a master on subjects that have been thousands of years in the making, but at the very least, you will leave with an introduction of what they are.
It will cost less than getting certified at home
Yoga Teacher Trainings in the U.S. cost upwards of $3,000. My program in India cost $1,500. In addition to the course, that cost covered my month’s accommodation, three meals a day, and one weekly excursion. Add in $1,000 for a roundtrip flight and it’s still less than getting certified at home.
There won’t be any outside distractions
You’re going to be pretty disconnected from the rest of the world. Unless you have an international data plan (which costs short of a million dollars a month), your cellphone is going to be nothing more than camera to take photos of the cows in the road and a calculator to convert rupees to dollars. And while my school and a few cafes accommodated us Westerners with free wifi, connectivity was usually poor. At the school, I would be lucky to get two minutes of FaceTime in before the wifi would stop working for the day. Refreshing social media and news apps also got pretty frustrating, so it didn’t take long before I would give up and put my phone away. However, I considered the bad wifi to be a blessing. My interest in scrolling through Instagram abated and I didn’t feel so bombarded by the bad news circulating the media. Because of this, I found it easier to concentrate on the course, myself, and the present moment.
You’ll make friends from around the globe
Like every other abroad program I’ve participated in, I thought I was going to be surrounded by Americans. But to my surprise, there were only four of us out of 40 students. There were a few Germans, some Argentinians, a Brazilian from Australia, an Australian from Brazil, one from India and so on. On the first day, we all swapped our reasons for coming to India and I was struck by how similar all of our stories were. Though our cultures, religions and backgrounds differ, we all felt captivated by yoga and pulled to India. I promise you that after making friends with such likeminded and incredible people from all around, the world will seem a lot smaller and infinitely more comfortable.
It will change you from the moment you step off the plane
India is vibrant and full of life. And all of this life is out in the open for you to experience— the good, the bad, and the ugly. This is India:
You walk into a shop and almost immediately fall into a deep conversation with the shopkeeper about the value of honesty. Outside that same shop, you find a beggar with a single arm and no shirt, sitting upright against the wall, clutching his prayer beads and waiting for someone to throw money in his cup. And around the corner, someone is burning a pile of garbage despite the extreme heat. Behind you, a cow stands in the middle of the road, blocking traffic and provoking drivers to slam those damn high pitched horns. But it’s okay because the bells of the ashram ring, signaling a call to prayer.
In my opinion, there is nowhere better to apply your yogic knowledge than a place that stimulates your mind and colors your thoughts. A place that both drains and revives you of your energy. A place that is going to flip your perspective on society, humanity, and life itself.