Friday, January 15, 2016

Yoga Teacher Training In Rishikesh, India.

Many of you have been asking about my experience doing a 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training Course in Rishikesh, India.


It's been three months since I've left Rishikesh, yet not a day goes by that I don't miss that beautiful city. *sigh*

The holy city of Rishikesh is located about five & a half hours north of New Delhi. Upon arrival at the Indira Gandhi Airport, a chartered van arranged by the yoga school was already waiting to transport us to Rishikesh. The hustle & bustle of New Delhi was unnerving in the beginning! People just stop, go, turn, even park wherever the hell they want to; even in the middle of the road, with horns blaring behind them! I would say, especially with horns blaring behind them, because again, people just honk their horns whenever they feel like it - over-taking, not over-taking, stopping, turning; there was even once when we had finally escaped city traffic, & there were no cars around us, our driver honked for no apparent reason! Hahahahah! The vehicles seemed to run on the power of noise rather than petrol!

We arrived at Rishikesh in the early morning. The quiet of the natural surroundings was a welcome change from the noise of the city. The weather was much cooler & the air cleaner too, so we could wind down our windows to enjoy the breeze. The location of our Yoga Teacher Training was the Mokhsa Hotel. I was excited & anxious to see where I would be spending the next month of my life!

The Mokhsa is a quaint little property with a cosy little dining area. It seemed like a good place to have a yoga course, as it is about a fifteen minute walk from the centre of Rishikesh; so there is complete peace & quiet throughout the day.

However, there was some construction going on at the hotel at that time, so after spending two nights there, we shifted house to Raj Palace, which is closer to the city centre. I assumed our luggage would be lugged into another van or something but no! There were two old men who were hired to pull/push our luggage to the new hotel! These men looked like they were pushing fifty or sixty, yet they each had the strength of a bull! I myself could not resist a little drama...

That face you make when the teacher says 'Use your Moola Bandha'.

The real 'bell boy' is the one holding a backpack in the background! Imagine, about a hundred kilo's worth of luggage on one 'trolley', & it isn't exactly flat terrain all the way! Phwoar!

Raj Palace was a good place to stay too. I personally took this change as a blessing in disguise, because it meant that we were living closer to the Ganga River. I woke up early every morning to go sit by the river before coming back for asana practice! In my 31 years of living, I'd never been a morning person up to then, except when my job demanded it of me!

Having dreamt of going to India since I was a little girl, the thought of living so close to the Ganga River excited me even more, so I would be up at sometimes even 5.30am to go to the river! During that time of the year, the sun would already be out, so it was not all that dangerous for a girl to walk unaccompanied. Besides, the walk to the river only took about 3 minutes, & most of the time I would cut through an ashram which is guarded at the both entrances.

I loved those moments spent by the river. Even that early in the morning, there would already be people leaving the place, having completed their morning worship & rituals. Just sitting by the river, I could feel her energy. & I understood why she is called Mother Ganga.

This was taken towards the end of September, when the mornings started getting colder. 

My favourite times of the day were going to the river by myself early in the mornings, & after the end of evening lessons, quickly going to the river again but this time with my fellow coursemates. By the second week of the course, we had a little ritual of our own going on - towards the end of the evening lessons, the most restless of us (usually yours truly here, hahahahah!) would start asking the others, 'Want to go river ah?' (Manglish for 'Do you want to go to the river?); & like school children on their last day at school, once class is dismissed we quickly keep our stuff in our respective rooms & march ourselves downstairs to meet in the hotel lobby.



Our days at Yoga Teacher Training start at 7am & consist of two hours of asana practice in the morning, followed by breakfast, then about two hours of philosophy & anatomy classes. Lunch break is from 12.30pm to 3pm, followed by Teaching Methadology, afternoon asana practice, Pranayama (breathing techniques) & meditation.

We learned the correct use of props to guide each other into the poses.


Sometimes we have morning practice by the river too! On this particular day, our doggy friend joined us too, she mostly does Savasana in the sun. :P

Evening hatha yoga practice with Gurumukh.
(Photo courtesy of Siddhi Yoga Teacher Training)

I was also lucky because many of my coursemates were well-versed in either musical instruments or dance (I am quite convinced by now that all Indian babies are born shimmying to Bollywood music & with drum in hand, heheh!), and towards the middle of our course, our lead trainer's Baul friends traveled all the way from Calcutta to grace us with their presence; so most nights were spent in the yoga hall enjoying music & dance! Baul music has totally been added to the list of music genres I listen to!

The Bauls with our course instructors, Deep & Gurumukh.



Some nights, we would even have 'movie night'!


During the weekends, we still have classes on Saturday mornings (Boo!), but after that it's freedom!

Usually we go explore the city on Saturday - Rishikesh is quite a hippy-fied place too so there are is an abundance of such clothings (I myself finally succumbed to the strange allure of Ali Baba pants!), religious statues & memorabilia, book shops (Mmm-hmmm!), music stores, & not to mention trinket shops! Hippy shopping heaven! Just be careful though because the clothes tend to bleed the first few washes!

Sundays are reserved for trips out of the city. Me being a not-so-good traveler, the winding roads that hugged the mountains proved challenging, but I am glad that I pulled through, because it was so worth it!

(Photo courtesy of Siddhi Yoga Teacher Training)








The last weekend of our stay was especially memorable for me because the following Monday was my 30th birthday! Yep, yours truly here has hit the big 3-0! Phwoar! :P :P :P


On our last Sunday, we went white-water rafting in the morning! It was amazeballs! At some points, we even got to jump off the raft & drift along the river! It was an exhilarating experience! The water was chilly, so even though the sun was out (our journey started late morning well into midday), my teeth were chattering, hahahahah! I even got slight sunburn on my face, & that's never happened to me before! To view a mash-up of our rafting experience, click here.

On monday morning, we had asana practice by the river! Sunburnt but super happy & grateful for my time in Rishikesh!

On our graduation night, we had a variety show. We all had some performance or another planned & basically just enjoyed each other's company.

(Photo courtesy of Siddhi Yoga Teacher Training)


(Photo courtesy of Siddhi Yoga Teacher Training)


(Photo courtesy of Siddhi Yoga Teacher Training)


Rishikesh being the capital of yoga, is a fully vegetarian city. No meat is allowed, with the exception of eggs in one or two restaurants. I had always wanted to become a fully-fledged vegetarian, yet never found the willpower to do so. But living on a plant-based diet for a month totally convinced me that my body is capable of living without meat. In fact, it thrived on a plant-based diet. Now, this was probably the combined effect of all that walking, asana, relaxation, etc; but I strongly believe that the food that I ate played a big part in clearing up my skin.

I have been struggling with acne for the past few years now. & my therapist specifically advised me to keep my hands & face clean when I was in India. Ironically, my skin became the best it ever was in the past almost five years. My acne cleared up, my skin tone was much better (although I was browner, there was a glow to my skin), & I did not require any of those bloody expensive facial products! Simply amazing!!! I even washed my face with the soap provided by the hotel - no dryness or anything! - my skin was just really balanced, all the time! (The proof is in the pudding - about exactly a month after returning to KL, my acne flared up again. Hmphk!)

All in all, completing a yoga course in Rishikesh has definitely taken my understanding & experience of yoga to a different level. My time in Rishikesh gave me a glimpse of the practical application of yoga outside of asana practice. Before this, I had previously done a teacher training course with Deep in Malaysia, but the whole experience was much deeper & richer in Rishikesh. Well, why wouldn't it be? After all, Rishikesh is the yoga capital of the world!

5 comments:

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  2. Yoga teachers training in Rishikesh
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