Yoga Teacher Training in Rishikesh (The Yoga Capital of the world)
I fell in love with the practice of Yoga from the very first time I stepped on the mat.
Okay that’s a lie – it wasn’t a love at first sight experience the way I struggled to reach my toes. Seeing older people get into poses with 10% the effort I had to put in was honestly quite embarrassing back then.
But somehow, there was something addicting about the practice. And after 5 years on, I finally decided to take up a Teacher Training Course (TTC) in Rishikesh, India.
(Read also: Ultimate guide to Yoga in Rishikesh)
Honestly as a profession, I wasn’t particularly excited about standing in front of a class to do the actual teaching. What I really wanted out of the course was to be self sufficient in my own practice towards progression; being able to adjust myself, learn more about the rich philosophies and getting to understand Yoga aside from just being a workout.
That was exactly what I got. But so much more.
Here’s 5 reasons why this decision proved better than expected:
(1) Costs substantially less than it would back home
From the start, I knew taking a 3-month program would be anything but cheap. But it sure anchored in my decision when I found out it costs more than S$4000 on average for a 200Hr Yoga teacher training in Singapore! That was almost the equivalent I paid for the 500hr training in Rishikesh (which I heard was on the high end for India).
Since food and accommodation were covered over the span of those 10weeks, my expenses were possibly even lower than what I would have spent in Singapore for 3 months. There were a couple of activities I splurged on before the training started, a few cafes I pampered myself with on off days and even then, the cost of everything was incredibly lower than back home.
Avocado, Mango, Banana, Promegranate Smoothie from our favourite juice stall by the river
In terms of course value, I spoke to many course mates who had taken other teacher training courses previously and expressed that this was one of the better if not, the best training they’ve ever taken. It was my first and boy, did it exceed my expectations. Being in an area where other schools were nearby, I also got to speak with students from other schools and they all looked pretty satisfied with what they were getting.
In case you’re wondering, I took the course from Tattvaa Yogashala after a recommendation from a friend.
(2) It felt safer than some parts of Southeast Asia I’ve travelled to
Safety was a huge concern for everyone when they heard I’d be spending 3 months on my own. They would always have horror stories of rape, robbery and any other scenes you can imagine from an action movie.
Upon settling in, I felt the thing that threatened me most were the animals.
Just another day in Rishikesh – 🐒🐒 Animal watching is actually one of my favorite things to do here.. Except when you catch them in your room leaving it looking like a crime scene. I haven’t had anything stolen from me here other than 2 bananas and a SEALED packed of cashews 😤 #rishikesh #india #monkeysofrishikesh
Just watch out for your food and get used to being a head turner for the cows. Be warned, their horns can feel quite fatal when you’re walking too close. But on good days, they’re quite friendly and amusing to watch too.
Rishikesh is a really small city. There’s 2 main bridges across the Ganga river, Ram Jhula and Luxman Jhula where most of the shops, yoga schools and cafés are situated around.
After a week of walking around, you sort of get to know everyone. The guy from the German Bakery, the juice stall, the barber, the daily needs store owner, the bookshop dude.. no one wears uniforms so you’ll sometimes wonder where you met them on the streets. Everyone smiles (and not in a creepy way).
It’s also known as one of the holiest places in India where Indian tourist visit on a Pilgrimage so meat and alcohol can’t be found on the streets.
Our favourite German Bakery
Pro-tip: There are many ways to travel to Rishikesh. The safest would be to take a 45minute flight from Delhi – Dehradun airport and arrange a driver from the school to pick you up and drive 20-30minutes to the school.
(3) An Immersive Multinational Experience
Some people learn better over longer periods spread out with time in between to reflect and review on their own. (e.g. weekend courses over 3-6 months for 200hrs). But that just isn’t my preferred learning style.
I loved the whole immersive experience out in India, being out of my base country where I had no other commitments other than this. We had a fixed schedule everyday, didn’t have to worry about meals, had friends all living in the same building, and got 1 day off every week (thanks to the full moon) to recover, explore the little town and get ready for another week of non stop learning. I loved it.
I also really loved how my class of 30 were from 22 different countries which made it a really interesting mix of class chemistry. It’s amazing how close we all got as a class at the end of 4 weeks resulting in quite a bit of waterworks when it was time bid our good-byes.
200hr Ashtanga Teacher Training Graduation Day
(4) Right by the Ganga River
The Ganga river has huge spiritual significance to the Hindus. Every year, thousands of families travel as high up the river (the top being Gangotri) during their pilgrimage to take a holy bath. Dipping in the Ganga is known to wash away all sins.
Taking our first dip in the Ganga river in Haridwar
Being situated at the foothill of the Himalayas, the Ganga river flows right through the city. And to our surprise, the river water at Rishikesh was pretty clean.
Getting recharged in the Ganga river in Rishikesh
My school was situated about a 10minute walk down to a small beach where the river is. I’d often walk down and sit next to the river whenever I felt overwhelmed, unwell or just needed inspiration.
Towards the end of the year (November), the mornings can get pretty cold (6-15degree celcius). On one of the off days, we decided to take the morning together to do 108 Sun salutations right by the Ganga. It was pretty much more mind work than anything else.
108 Sun Salutations by the Ganga river
When we finished we decided to take an exhilarating ice cold dip in the river to celebrate. YIKES, it really was freezing but so refreshing and healing; like giving those sore muscles a nice ice bath treatment.
Dipping in the freezing Ganga river
(5) Off-day Adventures
Yoga schools typically give 1 day off every 6 days – especially so for Ashtanga because Ashtangis don’t practice during New Moon days. So if you’re taking a 200hour course over 4 weeks, that’s 4 full days to explore the city!
Don’t be fooled by the title of being the holiest city in India, this place sure knows what an adventure is. Bungee jumping, white water rafting, cliff jumping, waterfall trekking, there was always something exciting to do on my days off.
Not to mention a long row of quaint cafes near Luxman Jhula with gorgeous views of the Ganga river.
Neer Garh Waterfall, Rishikesh
If exploring ruins is your thing, it might be worth checking out the Maharashi Yogi Ashram, also known as the Beatles’ Ashram where they stayed for a couple of months before releasing some of their most famous songs. It wasn’t as expensive when we first got in during Nov2015 but it officially costs 600 Rupees for foreigners now.
Egg shaped meditation houses at the Beatles Ashram Meditation Hall with lots of murals from fans.
At the end of the day, what really made the whole 3 months worth it was the confidence I got from really learning about myself in these 10 weeks. Remember what I said at the start of this post about how teaching wasn’t on my agenda?
Scrap that. I never knew how much joy and fulfilment I’d feel from teaching and although there’s definitely lots more to learn, I’m pretty excited to share what I’ve learnt back home and at the same time have the tools to traverse out of my comfort zone. Exciting times ahead for sure!
(If you’re planning to head to Rishikesh, check out our Ultimate guide to Yoga in Rishikesh too)
ENFP, fuelled by yoga, the outdoors, adrenaline and anything that spells adventure. In 2015, she quit her job to complete a 500hr Ashtanga Yoga Teacher training in India for 3months. Follow her adventures on Instagram @cheriesyw.