yoga teacher training in india – expectations vs reality

Almost two weeks ago I completed a 200 hour yoga teacher training certification with Nada Yoga School in Rishikesh. Now that I’ve had some time to decompress, here are some thoughts.

Expectations (although, I honestly tried to have as few as possible):
-super healthy vegan diet

-no alcohol, caffeine, or sweets

-several hours of intense physical yoga per day

-a diverse group of people from all over the world

-somewhat “western” accommodations (hot water, wifi, etc.)

-long days, and mental and physical exhaustion

-white rice, heavy soups and cooked dishes (vegetarian, not vegan)

-no caffeine

-no alcohol anywhere in Rishikesh (ok, actually I have heard of one place)

-lots of sweets

-several hours of very technical physical yoga per day (alignment alignment alignment!)

-a diverse group of mostly women from all over the world (but a lot of us from the states and Canada)

-no hot water

-squat toilet

-no wifi in our rooms (just at the school and cafes)

-yoga philosophy classes with an extremely knowledgable, but very eastern-style guru

-meditation classes that are hard to follow sometimes, and minimal instruction around whether or not I’m “doing it right”

-long days, and mental and physical exhaustion

My overall thoughts: 

I did feel myself getting stronger, physically but also mentally. I did poses I’ve never even attempted. I meditated 30 minutes or more every day (from 0 ever before). I learned a lot about the history and philosophy behind a practice that encompasses body mind and soul – a huge shift in understanding about something a month ago I was doing purely for physical exercise.

We did major detoxing. In week 1 when I was one of the first students to successfully do jala neti from mouth to nose I was proud! I couldn’t have predicted that less than 2 weeks later I’d be proud of myself for doing shankprakshalana (going to make everyone google that one…)

Teacher training is intense. From what I’ve heard, that’s universal. Whether you do it in San Francisco or Rishikesh, it’s unlike anything you could have imagined. Bonus points for an AMAZING group of people, many of whom I’ve already traveled with and more still I plan to meet up with further into my trip!




maharishi mahesh yogi’s ashram (aka “the beatles ashram”)

In 1968, John, Paul, Ringo, and Harrison came to Rishikesh to study transcendental meditation under Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. (My philosophy teacher at yoga school was also a student of Maharishi Mahesh!) In the early 2000s the ashram closed. The ashram went into ruin, but over the years has also been a canvas for artists from all over the world visiting this world famous and incredibly inspirational place.

I was uncertain about going, but am so glad I did. It’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve been in Rishikesh so far. It’s about a 20 minute walk Southwest along the Ganges from Ram Jhula. The cost to enter is 600 rupees, which is about $12 US. Not expensive by normal standards, but when you’re India, 600 rupees is a lot! We had heard that it’s easy to sneak in to avoid paying, but since the Indian government took over (within the last year we heard from a local), they have security patrolling some of the old “sneak in” spots. Probably still possible, but we decided to just pay. We were able to negotiate down to 500 rupees per person since we were a group of 6 (“group discount?” is always worth asking).

The ashram is set away from the rest of the hectic city. It’s huge. The first buildings you see are stone huts that look like igloos. We wandered through them. Some had artwork. Standing in the dome at the top, your voice vibrates in a totally surprising way. We met a local who knew all about the ashram and showed us around. There are bigger, multi level buildings as well that we wandered, admiring the eclectic art. There is a warehouse that feels like a place you should watch live music. There are stone meditation caves. We walked to the top of the tallest building to watch the sunset, and it felt like we could see all of Rishikesh.

Amazing views. Amazing art. Amazing vibes. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram is not to be skipped.