Yoga is here to stay: Yoga is no doubt a popular choice of exercise, fitness, health and well-being. A significant number also take up yoga for its original purpose – spirituality. In the previous blogs, I have talked about – Modern Yoga education evolving from an “Awareness phase” to a “Profession phase” in recent years. We now have full-time yoga teacher training in India, Certified Yoga Professionals and Therapist in the place of Guru mandated, Yoga evangelizing volunteers of yesteryear.
The growing popularity, acceptance and a global need for such a holistic health tool have opened up the need for Formal Yoga Education and Yoga Teaching Certification. Addressing both, Indian and International Yoga seekers, this blog will be about Yoga teacher training in India.
Lets first look at Why study Yoga teacher training ? : Yoga is not an independent, insulated practice that can be taken away from its origins and plugged-in to practice in another place / culture. In my personal experience Yoga can only be understood & experienced completely with the support of
- Vedas and Upanishads: these two are not only the birthplace of the “Yoga Thought” but also a nourishing ground for this thought to grow.
- Sankhya: the philosophy that lends many of its fundamental concepts to Yoga, with which Yoga has become a foolproof Practice that has traversed many centuries.
- Ayurveda: supports Yoga with its concepts of health, food, lifestyle and wellbeing, especially in the modern day where Yoga has become more of a Health practice.
- Samskruta & Samskruta based Indian languages: To fully appreciate the meaning and various concepts & practices mentioned in the Yoga scriptures one has to be familiar with Samkruta or at least one classical Indian language. The best English translation just wont help.
- Yoga Tradition and Lineage: immersing in the legacy of long lineages and refined traditions are a must to complete a Yoga education.
It’s in India that you will find all the above 5 components integrated well in a Yoga teacher training course – I’m indeed talking about a Yoga course lead by a competent teacher, designed to meet the modern day needs and preferably accredited by authoritative bodies like AYUSH ministry, Government of India.
Even if you decide to do a long term Yoga study in your own country, I strongly suggest that you visit India for yoga teachers training to study shorter modules under a well respected Yoga Mentor – Finding such a mentor amidst all the phoney teachers and schools is in itself the biggest challenge.
Some of the popular places flocked by yoga seekers are Rishikesh, Mysore, Dharamshala, Munger, Pune, Pondicherry and of course Goa & Kerala ( for the folks looking for Sun, Sand & Yoga). The Himalayan foothills have been “the” place to visit for a serious Yoga seeker from time immemorial. This sacred land still exudes high-quality spiritual energy for an ardent seeker.
During my last visit to Rishikesh in 2018, I couldn’t help but notice this sad state of affairs in what is supposedly the birthplace of Yoga. Yoga in places like Rishikesh, Haridwar and Dharamshala have largely become Yoga TTC factories, run by self-ordained authorities, offering a sub-standard quality of course, doling out certificates at wholesale prices. I still live by the hope to meet a true Yogi in Rishikesh someday.
Mysore is another name that pops up when you talk of Yoga and India. Patronised by the Royalty, Mysore Yoga has grown to reach most regions of the world. This Heritage city is home to a number of Yoga Schools, the most popular being the KPJ’s Astanga Yoga Institute. Many Yoga TTCs are offered throughout the year, most of which simply don’t match up.
Many other places mentioned earlier are either not offering Teacher training Courses or they don’t match up to the professional standards. Any foreigner in India would also encounter other challenges like Language, Travel within India, Traffic, Food, Accommodation, not to forget the Heat & Humidity in most parts of India. Nothing seems to deter Yoga seekers from across the globe visiting India. The number is only growing over the years.
Then, where in India can I learn Yoga?
There’s no straight answer to this question. My suggestion is don’t just waste your time in researching on the internet, comparing prices and features, as we do buy a mobile phone, instead put all your efforts in finding that one person who will go on be your Teacher, Mentor or Guru for life, and go where they are – All the best though, this ain’t easy, our only saving grace is that the teachers are also equally eagerly looking for eligible students. Hope they find us soon.
Conclusion: The one place to learn true Yoga is undoubtedly India and those evolved Yogis willing to teach are few and far between. Well, this is how it has always been, Higher practices of Yoga was never a mass practice, a seeker had to go through a lot of hardship to even convince a teacher to teach. This separates out the real seekers from the ineligible.
Wishing you all the very best in finding your teacher.