How to book a yoga course in India
You might be one of the people thinking: “It would be so cool to go and study Yoga in the place where it actually came from - India”. There are many reasons why this idea is cool and exciting. India with its culture and people is a fascinating place to visit. It has many things to offer from the perspective of a curious explorer and an aspiring yoga practitioner as well. The wealth of yoga teachings, styles and approaches are equaled only by the wealth of colors, fragrances and sights you are going to encounter the moment you set your foot on Indian soil. So many things to see! So many things to experience and learn!
So, the decision has been made - you are going to India! Now, where do you start? The answer seems quite obvious, after all, we live in an amazing technological era of instant access to information! Let’s see what the internet has to say about our idea! This is when it gets interesting.
Did you know that yoga is a multi-billion dollars industry, growing and expanding its range every year!? The number of yoga practitioners in the United States alone is projected to reach 55 million by 2020 with anticipated profits of around 11$ billion! It is huge!
As a result, you will find an incredibly overwhelming array of yoga courses, schools, and teachers offering their best of everything to the prospective students. How do you navigate in this labyrinth of choices? Carefully.
Every website representing a school or a course will be presenting what they offer in the best light possible. Of course! Wouldn’t you? Unfortunately, the advertised promises do not always match the reality of your experience. Just like in every other enterprise, some schools and teachers have more experience, better infrastructure, higher level of skill and frankly speaking, more integrity and motivation than others. The difficulty is: we arrange for our course way in advance and from far, far away. Then, we travel thousands of miles to arrive at a very unfamiliar place hoping it will deliver what it had said it would. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t.
What we can and should do before committing to one place or another is to pay attention to a few key details in your research done back home. We have created these recommendations based on our own experience in booking yoga courses, studying in yoga courses, organizing yoga courses in India, and working "behind the scenes" in yoga courses organized by Indian teachers.
Size of the group
Make sure you know at least approximately how many people will participate in a given course or retreat. Generally, a group bigger than 30-40 people makes it quite difficult for the teacher to pay attention to the needs of an individual student. Of course, there are ways around it, like having teacher’s assistants etc. However, you just don’t want to be surprised by a practice hall filled with one hundred practitioners when you expected twenty.
When you start investigating and comparing different schools and courses, you will soon realize that many have very similar, sometimes identical curriculums. It can, although doesn’t have to be a warning sign. There is a strong tendency in India to imitate your competitors offer, regardless whether you can deliver it or not and the prevailing logic is: we offer the same or even more. We are not joking. We have personally heard a director of one yoga school telling his webmaster: "Just go to that website and copy their curriculum". Look for well thought-through programs that seem more unique and authentic than others.
Daily schedule and the length of the course
Some schools in an effort to impress and attract potential students cram ridiculous amounts of activities in a given space of time. It suggests the lack of understanding of how important the recovery period is to a successful development both on a physical and mental plane. Also, the overloaded daily schedule does not allow the time to compare with other schools and other students’ experiences. It ensures you will not know what can be severely lacking or inadequate in your own school. More does not necessarily mean better!
Promises of teaching 5-10 different yoga styles
It is quite common that the material written on the sites advertising the courses is not written by the teacher but by the programmer working for the teacher or school. Make sure you clarify what exactly is going to be taught during your particular course of interest.
Becoming a teacher in one month
Look for courses that give you tools to become a yoga teacher in the future, not the ones that claim to make you one on the spot. All the respected and experienced instructors realize that becoming a teacher is a long and gradual process. Certainly longer than four weeks!
Main teachers info
Search the web for as much information as possible about the main course teachers. How long have they been teaching for? Other people’s experiences? What are their credentials? Is there any information available at all? Five to ten new schools appear in Rishikesh every year, and even more new teachers. If you cannot find any information about the main teacher, chances are that he is a newbie in yoga teaching. Most people view their teacher training in Rishikesh as a trip of their lifetime, and they want to spend this time with some experienced teachers. By the way, on TopYogis, you can check not only the profile of the school organizing the course, but the profile of each individual teacher as well.
Avoid schools offering yoga teacher trainings and retreats at the same time
It usually shows the lack of focus on the teacher’s side. It is very hard to provide a good quality educational value and proper attention to other guests at the same time.
Look for reviews, other people’s experiences, independent sites like TopYogis.com
where you can gather valuable information from sources unrelated to the course organizers. Don’t hesitate to try to contact former participants, different schools and teachers in the process of gathering useful details.
Pay attention to the above suggestions and it will be much more likely a very positive, enriching and perhaps life-changing experience. Have a wonderful time in India!
Booking Yoga courses and retreats on TopYogis
You can book a yoga course on TopYogis. Just pick the one to your liking from the dozens of courses posted by various Indian schools, browse the reviews and info, and book your seat! With TopYogis, you get the best price, no booking fees, help in communicating with an organizer, secure payments, and we will make sure that you get what you signed up for!
Planning to go to Rishikesh?
Yoga Guide to Rishikesh
How do you prepare for your trip to India? Do you need vaccinations? What should you eat and drink there? What clothing should you take? How can you get to Rishikesh on your own? How to orient yourself around the town and how to find good yoga schools and teachers? All this info and MORE you can find in our Yoga Guide to Rishikesh written by people who have been visiting this holy place since 2009. Even if you're not planning to go to Rishikesh, some advice on culture, food, monkeys, vaccines, and medications will be helpful for any part of India.
Need packing advice?
Read Tom's article on packing to India the minimalist way.