Why Yoga Teacher Training?
In 2015 I was working freelance at a local gym teaching fitness classes and part time at a local hotel. It was the winter period between seasons and I was waiting for my next summer to start (working in Greece on seasons) and had also applied for university to start in autumn that year.
Part of my job as a fitness instructor and personal trainer in Greece required me to teach morning yoga 6 days a week and afternoon stretch and relax (including meditation) to guests. The summer of 2014 was my first season and there were a few classes that I had never taught before (yoga being one of them) but most I was experienced with and felt very confident with. When discussing with the fitness coordinator regarding my development for the following season she suggested doing the teacher training in India. I had never really considered becoming a yoga teacher. But I needed more training than the short course I had done in the U.K and the training with Neilson to really feel confident.
I spent weeks researching yoga schools and trying to decide between a 200 hour (TTC-200) and 500hour (TTC-500) teacher training programme. The course had to be recognised by Yoga Alliance to be recognised, and normally UK based fitness qualifications would need to fall under the register of exercise professionals but I was planning to teach in Greece so a more internationally recognised qualification would definitely suit me better.
The TTC-200 is the initial teacher training that can take about 4 weeks when done on a full time residential trip.
The TTC-500 is a more advanced course which would take about 8+ weeks and be even more intense.
There is also an option of a TTC-300 but this is the option that you would take to top up an existing TTC-200 to the 500 mark.
Once you have completed your TTC-200 or above you can register as a yoga teacher and log your teaching hours and additional training (like this).
Choosing the Location
My contract started again in late March and I had this call a week after arriving back home in early November. India is the birthplace of yoga and I needed to get the money to pay for the course so would have to book this after the new year. I had a choice between two key areas that kept popping up on searches or chat forums as recommend. One was Goa and the other was Dharamshala in the Himalayas. There were a few places like Rishikesh, Kerala or Mysore too. Rishikesh looked like it would have fantastic teaching programmes but it also looked like a place that I wouldn’t feel to comfortable being in on my days off or travelling round (I like quiet and calm places). Kerala looked amazing and similar to Goa in its appeal but the flights there were more pricey. Mysore is an area that is synonymous with strict Ashtanga practice. I removed this option due to not being very experienced in Ashtanga and also not being the most flexible person naturally, I just didn’t feel at that time I could get what I needed from it.
Then I needed to decide between Goa and Dharamshala. The flights and transfers were similar prices and both had lots of appeal to me. However coming from the north west of England where it is a permanent grey, damp and most of the year and having spent just short of 8 months working and living on Greek beaches, I craved the sun. So I leaned towards Goa and then narrowed down my search based on reviews and chose a multi-style course in the jungle near Agonda beach buried in the jungle.
I should point out that there are a number of Yoga Teacher Training options in Indonesia, Thailand and around the world.
Trimurti Yoga School
Enrolling on the course required me to apply like I would another course and explain my experience and reason for wanting to do the course. After some emailing with the owner, they were happy for me to come on the course. There were a number of courses which were willing to take my money with no prior discussion or request about experience. I liked the fact that this school required me to explain why I wanted to do this and what I had done before.
We were sent a reading list of a few key books (including: the anatomy of yoga; the tree of yoga, light on pranayama and the light on yoga). Some were suggested, those mentioned before were advised as being really useful for us (after speaking to many others that did their teacher training this same selection was part of the manditory reading). You were given the option of bring your own mat or using there's. Most used the schools mats. The TTC-200 took place over 4 weeks and I had managed to persuade two other fitness instructors from Neilson to join the same course out in Goa. We were fully immersed in yoga for 12 hours a day, 6 days a week during the course. Here is a break down of a typical day.
07:00 Morning Practice
09:30 Yoga Philosophy
12:30 Anatomy and Physiology
15:00 Alignments and Adjustments
17:00 Evening Practice
The course was a multi-style TTC, rather than on one style of yoga. This suited me best as I wanted to be able to offer more options to suit guests and clients needs. Each week was focused on one or two styles in the practices and alignments. We covered Hatha (and Sivinanda), Yin, Vinyasa and Ashtanga (the primary series).
The accommodation and food was included in the price of the teacher training (Although there are options of a reduced price to stay elsewhere if you prefer). The food was mostly vegan, with some vegetarian options in there too. The accommodation was simple but clean and there were options of shared or single (with a supplement). You could have either fan or air conditioned(AC) rooms to regulate the temperature. Me and one of the other instructors went for a shared room with a fan), our other friend went for a private room with AC. If you don’t deal well with the heat or humidity you may want to go for the A.C.
We were encouraged to live by the 8 limbs of yoga including a focus on the yamas and niyamas.
An example of this happened after the first couple of days we were also encouraged to do silent mornings. The reasoning for this was to consider our inherent need to talk to fill the quietness. Another rationale was to really consider what we say. Does it add value to a conversation, does it need to be said. Another refreshing aspect of the training and teaching was to remove your ego. This was the exact opposite of what I expected. We also took it in turns to sweep or do simple chores around the Shala (main room we did our practice).
I found these aspects of yoga training quite fascinating and a welcome change from the yoga we commonly see on social media and on films in western countries.
If you do travel to India you should be aware that there are lots of options for vegetarian and vegan cuisine as most Indians do not eat meat, or when they do it’s a very rare luxury. Cows are sacred in Indian culture, so don’t be shocked to see traffic held up by them or a cow just chilling on the beach.
More Thoughts On The Course
I was thoroughly impressed with the standard of this course. Course materials were well thought out and I still find myself referring back to the book that was handed out. We were given guidance beforehand for recommended reading.
The teachers that lead our course all complemented each other in their experience and styles. We had an anatomy and physiology teacher from New York, an ashtanga teacher from Italy who had trained in Mysore, a vinyasa teacher from Kazakhstan who had trained and taught all over, the philosophy teacher was a lovely Brahmachārī who was able to provide a deeper insight into the Vedic history and transferring yoga into your lifestyle (not just physical practice). The owners who bother had a wealth of experience and knowledge behind them. Each of them differentiated for each student on the course and was able to support our development. They were also a collection of the kindest and most genuine teachers I have met. Each of them truly wanted their students to be the best they could be with no ego.
I think when booking any group experiences, we underestimate the impact of others in the group. The group on this course all had so much to contribute and share, which furthered the experience. Some evenings we opted to spend with the group just watching films in the communal eating area, some we just wanted to sleep. But we even found on our days off we opted to do Acro-yoga, lead by one of students who was an advanced teacher and aerialist. On two other days we did pre and post natal workshops to give us at least the foundations (although assured we should not lead specific sessions on this as we need additional qualifications). We also got to experience lots of different styles of guided meditation including one day where we tried a traditional Osho Meditation.
Following the course I still felt impostor syndrome and very nervous teaching, although I’ve recognised I am like this with everything I teach. However the feedback I received following the course was all really positive. Guests from Neilson would mention it each week in their feedback as being a highlight and the area’s I felt less confident on over the course were the areas I made a point of teaching first to put a certain level of pressure on me to have to practice and prepare.
One of the aspects I probably didn’t get or embrace (this is just my personal opinion) was some of the students kept making the statement they were there to find themselves or felt lost before etc. This seemed to be quite common when even talking to yogi’s on other courses on our days off. For this I worry many will be very disappointed. Travelling can certainly change you and you can find your confidence, your voice or passion by taking on an experience like this. However, after years of travelling and working with people who have suffered trauma, deprivation and mental ill health; pinning hope on a singular experience to turn everything around may not be healthy.
Impression of India and Culture
India was a very pleasant surprise. On our days off we explored the local beaches and relaxed, we soon found the area of Agonda, Patnem and Palolem to be really friendly. The beaches put many of those I have seen in Europe and Thailand to shame. We soon become friend with a few locals who also showed us some lesser known places to the tourists in the area.
I was also really fortunate to be able to travel round Goa and to Kerala for two weeks before the course and for a few extra days afterwards. I never believed I would get the chance to head back to India again and wanted to make the most of it.
Even if you go to Goa just for a trip and not Yoga training, you can drop in to classes at plenty of places. We did this the week before our course started to start our days. I definitely recommend this. Shopping is very cheap, we bought clothes from local shops and markets that were £1-£2.00, hand made jewellery and you can even have suits tailored. Food and accommodation is also really cheap in the area too.
I feel like the choice to go to Goa and fully immerse myself in the course was really beneficial for me. I tend to have a lot of projects and work on the go all the time so being able to focus on one areas in depth was definitely the best option for me.
Keep an eye out for separate posts on Goa, Fort Cochi and the Backwaters
Would I do it again?
Yes absolutely, I am currently planning to do a 300hour course and hoping I can logistically head back over to India.
Did I feel safe?
I feel weird having to write this part in but withing an hour of posting this to my social media, this was a question I was asked twice. Given some events in history associated with yoga guru's (whatever they mean by guru) I can understand the need to ask. But yes I felt totally safe at the yoga school and when travelling around. Following the course I still had a few days after the others had flown home and I spent those relaxing, and with some locals I met. Obviously there is a risk anywhere you go, but I think it's really important in any place to respect their culture and also have your whits about you. I'm originally from an area that is regarded as rough and has a high level of crime, so I tend to be on the side of caution regardless. I would say if you feel vulnerable or worried about this matter, it may be worth teaming up with a friend to go here or just reaching out to others on the course beforehand (and ask the yoga school to set up a social media wattsapp or facebook group).