Yoga Teacher Training Course India: Full Review
Some of you may be aware that I (Peta) did a Yoga Teacher Training Course (YTTC) earlier this year to become a qualified yoga instructor! The course was in India and can only be described as as a life changing time for me. I wanted to share my opinion on the course and hopefully give you all a better of idea of what a YTTC involves.
Link to website: http://www.sarvagunayoga.org/
I did the 200hr yoga teacher training course. This course takes 4 weeks with 6 days a week of training and one day off (Sunday + after 1pm Saturday).
I did the course from January 21st – February 18th 2018. On completion of the course I received certification for 200hr YTTC (yoga teacher training course) registered with Yoga Alliance, which means I am now able to teach yoga anywhere around the world.
Philosophy: this subject covered the basis of Indian yoga history and tradition. It mainly focused on the 8 limbs of yoga and breaking each one down, and on the ultimate goal of yoga – enlightenment. It provided some history on where yoga began in India, how it was taught through the generations and transformed into the Western version of yoga we have all come to love. However, the part I found by far the most interesting, and was really at the core of the philosophy classes, was this idea of overcoming our self-ignorance to reach a point of realisation of what is really important in life. It is an extremely hard concept to try to explain, especially in a short paragraph, but ultimately it focused on how we are all this universal consciousness (united with everything and everyone), the external world is all an illusion and how meditation can help us to realise this and reach Samadhi (enlightenment) where there is only pure bliss. It may sound a bit crazy, but I promise it is so interesting and seriously the concepts we learnt in philosophy is what I want to pursue to gain a better understanding of.
Anatomy: this class covered the basic muscle groups involved in yoga and various stretches. It also covered the main bones, ligaments, tendons etc. As a medical student I found the class quite interesting to apply the muscles and actions in a more functional way than I had previously learnt. But I know a lot of the others who had no previous experience in anatomy, or were from foreign backgrounds. So my recommendation is to have an idea of the main leg, arm and trunk muscles before this class.
Alignment & teaching practice: this class was 2 hours each afternoon. Generally we began by going through common poses and breaking down proper alignment, how to guide students into them and how you would adjust them once they are there. It was broken down into sections eg. ‘forward folds’, ‘seated poses’ etc. Then the second hour, or if we had time we would get into small groups and practice teaching these poses to one another. This was a more direct application of techniques and applies to if you want to go on and teach yoga classes. The adjustments are really great skills to learn and alignment in each of the poses helps your own practice out of sight! It also ensures that even if you just plan on practicing yoga yourself, you are doing it in a safe way.
Teaching practice: this class was after the second asana class of the day was a space for further practice teaching students, clarifying questions, sometimes self study or rotating around to all teach the class. There was often time to have a chat to some of our yoga teachers and ask them questions that may have developed from the classes. It was also a good chance to practice teaching before our first practical exam where we had to guide a short yoga sequence for the whole group.
Certification & Yoga alliance:
This school is accredited with Yoga Alliance, which means once you have attained the certification you are able to legally teach yoga anywhere in the world. This is only applicable if you register after certification with yoga alliance and pay for insurance. But this means that whatever part of the world you are from, you can do this course and take it back to your home or wherever you go. Therefore, there are certain guidelines that the school must abide to in order for you to become qualified, including exams and attendance at the classes (see ‘Exams’ below for more info).
· 6:30- 7:50am: mantra chanting, breathing exercises (pranayama) & guided meditation
· 7:50-8:00am: tea break – ginger, lemon & honey tea (SO GOOD!)
· 8:00-10:00am: yoga class (first 2 weeks hatha, second 2 weeks vinyasa)
· 10:00-11:00am: breakfast (see ‘Food’ for what is served)
· 11:00am-1:00pm: philosophy or anatomy (philosophy first week, anatomy second week, then alternating day by day)
· 1:00-3:00pm: lunch & break (I went to the beach everyday for 1 hour)
· 3:00-5:00pm: teaching practice & alignment
· 5:00-6:00pm: yoga class
· 6:00-7:00pm: teaching practice
· 7:00pm: dinner
· Tuesday & Thursday: 7:30pm – Q and A session
· Location: Agonda Beach, Goa, India
Absolutely stunning location!! I cannot speak highly enough of the beautiful beach and humble vibes that Agonda has. The beach is about 2.5kms long and just back from it is the one main street, where all of the street stalls and vendors are. There are plenty of shops to buy gifts, yummy food and really anything you need (or forget to pack). The school is also just off the main street so walking down to the shops is really close. Agonda is pretty much limited by the beach length, so walking everywhere is by far the best way to go! If you want to visit other beaches a 15-20 minute Tuk Tuk or Taxi ride will get you there.
· Patnem: a lot smaller, very cute, more family orientated, all the restaurants are on the beach with tables on the sand, not a lot of shopping, quieter, more relaxed.
· Palolem: larger, a lot more shops, busier, more streets, more nightlife on the beach, restaurants along the beach, more full on but fun!
Goa is pretty accessible from most places. There are actually quite a few direct flights from Europe eg. From London, so if you are from the UK it is an easy trip! From Australia it is a longer journey. I went via Bangkok and stayed the night there and then via Mumbai to fly into Goa, this was pretty easy and helped to break up the trip. However, on the way back I did it in one go, which with layovers took about 14-15 hours, and did include 4 flights. In saying this, I’m sure there are faster ways – they just might cost a bit more!
Once you arrive at Goa International airport a friendly driver will meet you from the yoga school and take you directly to the school (this is included in the cost of the course).
Babu Raj: Babu taught us Hatha for the first 2 weeks of the course. He is highly qualified and honestly one of the most humble and kind-hearted people I have ever met. He has such a gentle manner and quite the sense of humour! He supported everyone throughout the training and really put all his effort into ensuring we all took something away from the classes and developed a better understanding of Hatha yoga. His classes were very traditional Hatha, but included many of the modern poses that are very well known and sun salutations.
Fernando: from Spain, Fernando taught us Anatomy throughout the course and the afternoon vinyasa classes in weeks 3 and 4. He has a unique teaching methodology and very different style of yoga. Honestly this didn’t suit everyone to begin with but after feedback the classes became much more accessible to everyone. His knowledge about muscles and functional movement is phenomenal, as he is a practicing osteopath. He shared so many crucial safety tips that all future yoga teachers really need to be aware of. His yoga classes were focuses very much on specific muscles and how to activate and stretch them. They were challenging, but taught me so much about muscles that can be completely ignored in modern yoga classes, which can lead to a dis-balance and ultimately injury. He also shared so much insight about how to deal with students with injuries that I know will not only help me as a yoga teacher but also as a doctor!
Chris: absolute one of a kind human. Chris took the morning vinyasa classes and teaching practice/alignment weeks 3 and 4. He is such an incredible, down to earth and centred teacher and person. Just the yoga classes provided such a range of skill – we had partner yoga, story telling yoga, themed yoga, martial arts inspired yoga, kriya, astanga, yin and iyenga yoga blends. I can quite honestly say that some of these classes were easily the best yoga classes I have ever been to! Then when it came to teaching us alignment his approach was very open and honest, providing us with useful cues, adjustment techniques and answering all our questions!
Kesheva: the owner, manager, CEO, director of the business and also the one and only philosophy teacher! Kesheva can do it all, quite literally. His devotion to teaching and the students of the course is admirable. He goes out of his way to ensure everyone is more than looked after. His philosophy classes were SO interesting, his use of analogies, jokes and story telling to make the concepts stick and seriously sparked my interest in this area. He is also so highly qualified for this, which can be seen from day one when he is able to so eloquently summarise yogic philosophy concepts that you know he studied for years to just understand himself, and also answers every question we had – no matter how weird or out there! The classes were filled with laughter and so many seriously intriguing content. However, Kesheva’s main priority is the safety and comfort of all the students in the course, and this is really demonstrated when he will go above and beyond for each and every problem anyone might have! You can rest assure if you pick this course you are in great hands.
· First 2 weeks Hatha with Babu Raj
· Second 2 weeks Vinyasa with Chris
· Breakfast: fresh fruit salad (watermelon, banana, papaya, pineapple, apple), natural yogurt, tea, coffee, honey, then varied savoury food each day (porridge, potato/rice cakes, wheat thing, crepes)
· Lunch: white rice + 3 curries/vegetable mixes
· Dinner: biryani + 3 curries/vegetable mixes
· Occasional desserts: ice cream, bliss balls, sweet rice noodles/rice
· All made very traditionally by one devoted chef
· Rotates each week – same things every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday etc over the 4 weeks
· All dietary requirements can also be met! As most food is vegan/gluten free anyway, but just let the kitchen know
There are 3 choices of accommodation to pick from. I went with the most basic cheap option and found it perfectly fine! If you are someone who is a bit of a princess or very fussy about accommodation I would recommend getting one of the more expensive rooms. My room was actually upstairs right next to the yoga shala so in terms of location it was amazing; yoga was literally 2 steps from my door! One bonus of the accommodation with Sarvaguna is that all rooms are private and have their own ensuite, which is often hard to find in other yoga course (that have share rooms). There were a few problems throughout the course with various people’s rooms, such as losing water, some animal friends moving in and loud music from a nearby bar but any complaint was resolved with a room swap.
· Dolphin boat trip
· Rock meditation (done once a week – absolutely magical)
· Intro package: contains bag, stainless steel water bottle, pens, 3 books for each subject and a spare notes book.
· Peace of mind: just on my course I heard so many stories of where Kesheva went out of his way for students (beyond his obligation) that you can guarantee if you choose this course you will be looked after before you even start the course. An example of this: paying for accommodation at a nearby resort for one student because she arrived early in the morning and needed somewhere for a few hours before she could check in.
I am not sugar coating any part of this course. One of the things everyone struggled with the most was the physical and mental demand of the course. The days are long, you do many hours of yoga (up to 5 hours per day) and there is minimal time off, which also must be balanced with study for the final exam. For me, my body was physically sore during the Vinyasa weeks, my energy dipped a few of the days in the afternoon, but besides this I really loved every minute! However, there were many that frequently did not attend yoga classes and skipped morning meditation because it was taking its toll. For example, our very last afternoon Vinyasa class had only 9 people remaining by the end of the class… Having said this, I believe it is all based on your attitude, with positivity and enthusiasm there is really nothing you cannot get through.
So I would recommend regular yoga practice prior to the course, meditation practice or at least being able to sit on the ground (with cushions, bolsters etc) for an extended period of time.
The people I met on this course were by far one of the biggest highlights for me. They really made the course special and I know many I will be a life-long friend of. It is so amazing to connect with like-minded individuals from all over the globe, and all with a common love for yoga!
Our class size was 17, not everyone attended every session so it was probably around 15-16 most days. This was a great group size, we all became like a tight knit little family.
I did a lot of comparing different courses, locations, inclusions and prices before choosing this one. For what you get tangibly, the cost of the course is really cheap! But for what you get in self-development, realisation and spiritual growth it is priceless.
The total cost for the 200 hour YTTC was 1600 Euro, which equates to about $2,500 AUD. But honestly, in all the searching I did to find a course there were very few courses at this cost or cheaper and for the quality you get it was worth every cent! There is also an early bird discount if you book early enough.
You also require money for food on weekends (Saturday dinner and all day Sunday). Also extra if you want to buy some things to take home (which you will! Especially many pairs of hippy pants..). I would maybe recommend $100 purely for food and then around $200-300 for gifts etc.
If you have any questions I would highly recommend shooting an email to Kesheva, he is super helpful, will know the answer to any question about the course you might have and very responsive!
Or if you want more feedback/review on a specific part of the course please feel free to get into contact with me, I would be more than happy to share my opinion!
· Easy, do not stress!
· Day one you get given a question bank with suggested answers of which the exam questions are based from.
· Practical exams include teaching some poses and answering questions from the classes in a group at the end of the course.
· Attendance to classes is required to certification!
Other course and locations:
Sarvaguna also offers other course and some yoga retreats. Their other course is a 100-hour meditation teacher-training course, which goes for 2 weeks and ran concurrently to our course. The feedback from the students of this course was also phenomenal; they did a lot more of the philosophy side of things with some yoga and more guided meditations. I think this course would be well suited to people who may want to gain some more spiritually but not do all the hours of yoga and yoga teaching practice.
They also run 300-hour yoga teacher training courses that you can do after the 200 hour to increase your yoga teaching certification.
There are actually 2 locations for the courses run by Sarvaguna, one is Agonda, by the beach where I was from November – March and then the other is in the Dharmasal, in the Himalayas from April – October. Both locations look absolutely magical and I think the decision should be based on what appeals most to you and the dates you are available.
· Zest café is amazing – would recommend the cacao & coconut vegan ice cream, raw cakes, sushi bowl and summer rolls.
· Mandala café is also amazing – the masalas are SO good!
· Try to catch as many sunsets you can, they are seriously some of the best I have ever seen!
I hope this has provided a little over view of the yoga teacher-training course I did in India! If you are interested in the course I did or one of the other course please feel free to send me message! If you are also still unsure, please see the reviews/testimonies of the course on their website – they speak for themselves and was probably the final factor in me choosing this course over other ones.