Complete Level I Yoga Teacher Training & Certification Program

Courses featuring this program

This is a 5-week knowledge-rich and experience-intensive training program for those who breathe yoga, who live yoga, who are committed to greatly deepen their knowledge and improve their skills, to realize the unity and integrity of yoga practice, and are eager to pass their own experience (received directly from the Himalayan masters at a genuine Himalayan ashram) further in the most professional and competent way.

If you are ready to become a fantastic highly-qualified hooray-for-messiah yoga teacher*, read further.

* — This transformation will not, of course, happen automatically, yet we created a fine environment for the biggest transformation in your life. Read on.


Level I Yoga Teacher Training
Certificate type: 
Certificate of Completion, 240 hours (qualifies for registration with Yoga Alliance International and Yoga Alliances USA under RYT 200 designation)
Acknowledgement of Participation
Yoga Alliance RYT 200
Full program description: 

In this course, you get:

  • a big number of diverse Indian and international teachers sharing expertise and experience with you,
  • massive amount of all-embracing knowledge eventually transformed into personal and professional experience,
  • your own vivid "Indian experience", and
  • zillions of positive emotions!

You don't need this course if:

  • you are able to demonstrate complete, systematized understanding of yogic techniques and concepts,
  • you are perfectly aligned, physically and mentally,
  • you can effectively instruct open classes,
  • you ideally adjust people in asanas,
  • you understand trauma safety,
  • you know your audience,
  • you are able to sequence individual classes and build programs for your audiences,
  • you can create atmosphere for development, growth and self-study in a class in a number of ways,
  • you behave organically in public,
  • you are happy with your achievements in yoga.

The above-mentioned list items are skills we guarantee you will have developed by the time you complete this course.

This program will be immensely useful to those who want to:

  • undergo a complete and comprehensive, deeply practical, structured yoga teacher training course with industry leaders in the place modern yoga supposedly originated from,
  • understand the systematized methodology of yoga mending together bits and pieces of knowledge gained previously into one solid, "OMG-I'm-starting-to-understand-the-real-yoga" system through structured knowledge and lots of experience,
  • improve communication, instructing and adjusting skills in slow-paced teaching practicum stuffed with interactive workshops,
  • learn how to plan yoga classes and how to modify sessions according to the audience and environment,
  • learn about individualized teaching, audience analysis and many other useful aspects of teaching yoga,
  • receive a certificate of international standard confirming your high qualification, register it with Yoga Alliances (International and U.S.), and
  • practice some fine yoga in a fine ashram with fine teachers and a bunch of wonderful people.

This course is suitable for those willing to totally change their understanding of yoga and consolidate their knowledge and skills in the field of yoga and for the experienced practitioners seeking to improve their professional skills and pass a certification for international level qualification.

Learn yoga "from the source"

The curriculum of the course combines the two aspects of teaching yoga — practical and methodological. Practically students learn techniques, practices and methods of yoga "at first hand" or "from the source" — from leading yoga teachers of the Himalaya in a genuine ashram of Kriya Yoga tradition.

In fact, students learn yoga anew from the original source.

Methodologically, the program participants learn the complete methodology of teaching all that they have been taught during practical training.

Knowing the techniques alone is not enough for teaching yoga professionally. Yoga is both art and science. To become an authoritative yoga teacher, you need to understand the intricacies of methodology of teaching all those techniques and practices that we accumulate over the years, learning from our teachers. We will come back to the methodology a little later, now let's talk about the complex techniques and yoga practices which are taught at the Himalayan Yoga Academy.

Master full range of yogic techniques: shatkarma, asana, pranayama, and meditation

As it is known, yoga is an elegant composition of the whole spectrum of techniques — shatkarma, asana, pranayama and meditation. Anyway, any technique and practice of yoga falls into one of these "sub-systems."

In the system, these four areas constitute a unified system of yoga:

  • shatkarma — purifies the body, preparing it for further practice;
  • asana — strengthens the body and makes it flexible, creating a connection between mind and body, preparing the body to the transcendental experience, in which it is only possible to reach a state of "deep yoga";
  • pranayama — being "thread" between the body and the psyche, the mind, transforms the effect of the asana, transferring it to a deeper level of understanding and feeling, leading feelings and perceptions to introspection and concentration; and finally —
  • meditation — consolidating aspect of the entire practice of yoga that (1) un-clutters your mind freeing up the headspace for pure perception and (2) leads — through cognitive concentration and mental dissolution — to a harmonious state of unconditional perception of the external world and one's personality which is the ultimate purpose of yoga practice.

Thus, the practical curriculum of this course stands on four pillars: shatkarma, asana, pranayama, and meditation. For each of these areas there will be workshops and practical classes in the volume sufficient to develop foundation for highly effective personal practice.

These skills are essential both for personal yoga practice, and for the effectiveness of teaching yoga in the main areas. Before teaching others, we must first master the teaching, right? Or, in other words, first you gain the necessary practical, technical knowledge, experience and skills, then master the methodology of teaching the accumulated knowledge. We will return to the methodology part a bit later.

Understand philosophical discourse and meditation

Yoga philosophy and meditation practice is "the alpha and omega" — the prelude and the climax — of yoga. Understanding the essence of yoga opens with the understanding of its philosophy. The practice of meditation, in its turn, is culmination of yoga.

Whether all yoga practitioners are able to answer the questions "What is Yoga?", "What is the purpose of yoga?", "What is the meaning of each individual technique of yoga?"? What about you?

Really, can you explain to your uninitiated friends these seemingly simple questions? Can you consistently, without hesitation, in simple language, in five minutes, sort through all possible issues your friends may have about yoga?

We can.

Philosophy can explain what ideas Yoga is based on as a scientific system and the mystical practice, and meditation will provide personal, clear understanding of what philosophy is talking about.

Workshop yoga practices and gain diverse skills

Course subjects

So let's now walk through the program of the course and highlight the subjects. The 240-hour course program includes eight subjects of theoretical and practical nature, namely:

  • Basics of yoga philosophy
  • Applied anatomy and biomechanics in yoga
  • Shatkarma and basics of naturopathy
  • Ayurveda
  • Asana
    • Preparatory warm-up techniques and rehabilitational gymnastical practices
    • Asana structural alignment (workshop format)
    • Asana practice in dynamic (flow) and static styles (studio format)
    • Trauma safety
  • Pranayama
    • Basic pranayama techniques
    • Breath retention practices and entering the transcendental state using pranayama
  • Meditation techniques
    • Yoga nidra
    • Trataka
    • Tantra/Kundalini
    • Zazen
    • Mantra yoga
  • Methodology of teaching yoga
    • Audience analysis
    • Classes planning
    • Sequencing (creating asana sequences for a yoga class)
    • Communication techniques
    • Instructing
    • Adjustments, asana modifications and variations
    • Pedagogy of Teaching Yoga
    • Teacher's behavior in public
    • Ethics in yoga
  • Teaching practicum
    • Communication and instructing
    • Adjustment, asana modifications and variations
    • Sequencing (creating asana sequences for a yoga class)
    • Personal training
    • Presentation of the course work

Himalayan Yoga Academy does not belong to any particular yoga tradition. For us, yoga is a unified, indivisible system of practices, techniques and procedures, formed in a certain way to fit into a unified hierarchy of purposes of the physical, energetic, mental and spiritual nature.

In our program you will be working with teachers who bear the knowledge of the traditions of hatha yoga, nath yoga, kundalini yoga, tantra, yoga, zen yoga, nada yoga, as well as of the modern yoga styles and teachings.

Structure of the course

It should be noted here that we do not divide our classes into theory and practice. Yoga itself is a practice, in the first place, though it becomes much more effective with the study of theory.

You are not only going to have two practical classes in the morning and in the evening, but also all the theoretical knowledge is going to be immediately put into practice. In other words boring lectures on philosophy will be turned into interesting workshops, where you will experience everything you have just learnt. Only by your own experience you can go deep into the mystery of yoga.

And having experienced what the sages of the past were teaching to their disciples you will be able to easily distinguish between the traditional knowledge and its later interpretations.

We are going to work on the following practical techniques:

  • Shatkarma techniques, cleansing your mind and body and preparing them to proper asana practice (neti, bhasti, kapalabhati, nauli, dhauti, trataka).
  • Asanas as the most powerful technique of training your body and mind, as a fundamental practice for personal discipline and preparation for pranayama. The program covers 42 compulsory asanas for beginner's, intermediate and advanced levels.
  • Pranayama techniques, which is the next step after asana practice and the ultimate level of hatha yoga.
  • Meditation of all the stages of raja yoga, leading to the ultimate liberation from the bonds of controversial human nature, by harmonization of psychosomatic processes (pratyahar, dharan, dhyan)

At everyday workshops we are going to take a close look on all the groups of asanas, and will practice alignment and asana correction at teaching classes.
We did our best to represent everyday asana practice in a complex and integral way, essential for a future teacher. Every day you are going to have a static training where you will explore in details all the aspects of asana alignment and geometric construction of asanas. It will not only deepen your understanding and ability to control your body, but also will give you an opportunity to teach yoga professionally and safely to various groups of students.

In fact, a static approach, based on a deep understanding of body structure, will help a better control over tiny muscles, will contribute to sharpening your concentration which will lead you to the state of pratyahara, dharana, and in case of pauseless concentration, even to dhyana.

Furthermore, we are going to "balance" the static practice with the dynamic practice of classic hatha-yoga and eclectic yoga style, which contains elements of hatha-yoga, kundalini-yoga, Himalayan yoga, japa-yoga and various classic and original pranayamas.

In addition, not to be too serious, we included in the program some Kundalini Yoga and acrobatic yoga-asana classes aka Acro Yoga, which help a better harmonization of the energy and give you the feeling of joy, ease and togetherness.

By the practice of shatkarmas, we are going to cleanse our bodies from accumulated toxins. It will definitely increase the effect of practice within the first week. Further, having experienced this effect, we will learn those techniques in details, to be able to teach them to students. Shatkarma should be mastered under the guidance of the specialist to avoid problems and even injures from improper practice ( "tough" practices ex.dhauti, bhasti, neti ). And of course the guidance is also important even for more "fine" techniques such as kapalabhati and trataka.

Having cleansed your body and having prepared it to comfortable and enjoyable practice of asanas, you will move further and learn 8 classic pranayama techniques of hatha yoga and other techniques, which combine methods of hatha and kundalini yoga.

Also we are going to have a regular meditation class, where you will master meditation techniques of various traditions — hatha yoga, raja-yoga, kundalini, buddhism and tantra — in the flow these meditations evolved throughout millenia. We are proud to have the most extensive, wide-ranging meditation practice program in whole Rishikesh which is essential for the complex understanding of the science of yoga.

At classes on Anatomy and Biomechanics we will have a close look at how the human body, the vehicle for the mind, works. Yoga considers the mind and the body as a union, and higher states of mind are thought to be reached through body practices. Thus, it is critically important for a yogi to understand how the body itself and all its systems work together.

The division of the body into systems is pretty much conventional. Studying respiratory system, for example, we will cross-reference other systems, like nervous and musculoskeletal systems, etc.

At Anatomy classes you will learn not only traditional approach to musculoskeletal system but also some modern theories of Anatomy and Biomechanics: miofacial meridians, Tensegrity (by Buckminster Fuller, not Castaneda), structural integration. These theories unlike traditional ones, covered in school books on Anatomy regard human body as a unified system.

Human body is an utterly complex structure, where everything is interrelated. Contemporary yoga which, in its basis, is a physical practice, leading to mental practice, is developed in progressive modern theories of Biomechanics. These theories will be explicitly reviewed in the Anatomy part of our teacher training program.

Also the program features the following topics:

  • Study and analysis of the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali as the most essential text on yoga, in particular its first part, talking about yogic techniques of mind concentration and body mechanics;
  • Exploring the concepts of hatha yoga and tantra set out in the classic texts of Gheranda Samhita, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Shiva Samhita (prana, nadi, chakra, mudra, bandha, Kosha, kundalini);
  • Applying abstract philosophy and ethics of selected Upanishads, Bhagavat Gita and Hatha Yoga Pradipika to real life situations;
  • Understanding Samkhya and Vedanta as the basis of yoga philosophy;
  • Analysis of human anatomy and physiology and application of acquired knowledge in teaching yoga;
  • Ayurvedic concepts;
  • A full-fledged theory of teaching yoga.

Do not let yourself be scared by the words "philosophy", "veda", "prana" etc.

The purpose of the course is to give future teachers a holistic view on the science of yoga, to develop a deep understanding of never aging knowledge about the human body, mind, health, happiness, harmony, about the world around and inside us. Yoga is deeply scientific and at the same time deeply spiritual.

"Know yourself and you will know the entire world", as yogic science teaches, and it goes even further by telling us how exactly we can know ourselves and the world around. The ancient writings of the great yogis literally provide walkthroughs to the methodology of yoga.

Become a professional yoga teacher by mastering Methodology of Yoga

Very well, we finally got to the methodology of yoga!


Can you right now answer the questions about your choice of teaching methods, compositional congruity of techniques used in a class, specific objectives of particular classes and factors affecting (or even limiting) your yoga session?

Can you give a detailed description of your audience for a group you currently teach? Have you got a plan for your group for the next month, next three or even six months? Do you build up a sequence for a class taking into account selected practices, external and internal factors, the purpose of the class, and other components of a harmonious, efficient yoga class?

All of this and much more you can learn in our complete Level I 240-hour yoga teacher training course. You will no longer have any difficulty in planning and conducting classes for different audiences. You will not only learn quite a few techniques and practices of yoga "at first hand" but also become an expert in the methodology of teaching yoga. This "boost" of your qualification as a teacher, or simply as an enthusiastic yoga practitioner, by all means will move you to the forefront of your yoga community!

Even if you are an adherent of the "intuitive" approach to teaching and personal yoga practice, 5 weeks of training at the leading yoga training school and learning yoga methodology will surely enhance your intuitive understanding of yoga.

And yet, what is "methodology of yoga"? Probably you've noticed that despite the huge amount of information about different practices of yoga and related systems, the understanding of yoga as a holistic system is hardly there. It would seem that the more information is available, the clearer the whole system of practices should be. Nah!

Other way round, a situation with yoga can be described by a statement "So near and yet so far".

Teaching yoga becomes very clear, when broken down to simple questions:

  1. Why?
  2. What?
  3. How?
  4. Under what circumstances?

Answering these super-simple questions substantially we realize the beauty and the magic of yoga as a unified and indivisible system of practices, techniques, procedures, granted to us by the sages, mystics, scientists, magicians, physiologists, shamans, philosophers, hermits and scholars of all time.

Same questions underlie the methodology of yoga as a personal practice and teaching. Answering the question "Why?" we identify the objectives of the practice. The objectives can be general (physical work-out, energy balance, mental tranquility or spiritual experience) and specific (development of flexibility of the shoulder girdle or general muscle-tendon strengthening of the body within the physical workout; relief from emotional distress or increasing concentration in terms of mental balancing; improving self-esteem or increasing resistance to external stimuluses by mental and energy practices).

Anyway, identification of the objectives of yoga practice, both in general and in particular, provides an understanding of what is necessary to achieve certain goals. Thus, answering the question "What?", we determine the range and the sort of the yoga techniques to be used. If we are talking about strengthening the back muscles, we focus on gymnastic poses, asanas, developing the back muscles. If we need to balance the emotional state through increased concentration and distraction from the external senses, we will use concentration techniques "pratyahar" in accordance with clearly defined instructions, step by step reaching a state of deep concentration to dis-identify with mental and emotional disturbances.

Here comes the question "How?". It is a matter of a particular technique performing method. Some techniques are for muscle strengthening, the others are for mental concentration. Speaking about teaching yoga, a proper yoga class includes a good tune-in, appropriate sequence of asanas, efficient instructing for the proper alignment, adjustments and, as an option, the use of available props. Planning and conducting classes, taking into account all these aspects — this is your method. All the same applies to personal practice, for which you will need to have an understanding of all the intricacies of yoga method.

Thus, the method of yoga involves:

  • Audience analysis
  • Personal contact
  • Communication and observation
  • Free pose observation
  • Identification and analysis of structural imbalances
  • Making a plan for individual and group work
  • Planning a class
  • Correct choice of objectives
  • Choice of duration and time of the class
  • Composing a sequence of exercises and asanas for a class
  • Choice of the class structure (single peak, multi-peak or multi-peak with a super peak)
  • Tune-in, warm-up and completive techniques
  • Choice of peak asanas
  • Preparation for the peak
  • Integration of peak techniques
  • Compensating after the peak
  • Warm-up and rehabilitation techniques
  • Instructing
  • Tune-in techniques
  • Proper use of voice — volume, tone, timber
  • Language (notional clarity, literacy)
  • Complete and appropriate instructions
  • Personal instructions
  • Interaction
  • Informational content
  • Correct demonstration
  • Asana modifications and variations
  • Templates, formulas and scenarios for instructing
  • Adjustments
  • Adjustment advisability
  • Priority of adjustments
  • Manual adjustment adequacy
  • Using asana modifications and variations in adjustment
  • Structural alignment
  • Props using techniques
  • Psychological methods of interaction with the audience

And for certain, our teaching and personal yoga practice can't be successful without understanding of all the factors and limitations that affect the practice of yoga. They can be external — environment conditions (weather, season of the year, time of the day), yoga hall conditions (temperature mode, shape and size of the room, ventilation, yoga props and other equipment), and, of course, your status as a teacher or practitioner. They can also be internal (or individual): injuries, diseases, other limiting conditions. People with heart problems, people with various injuries, menstruating women, mommies with little kids and so on — may attend your class. All the up listed conditions put together will be the answer for the next question — "Under what circumstances?".

Moreover, we will analyze how objectives, factors, techniques and methods interact with one another. For example, how to plan a morning class aimed at the hip joints workout and held in a school auditorium. Or, more specifically, what kind of warm-up techniques can be used in the morning or in the evening; what kind of class can be suitable for office workers after a hard day's work — static single-peak class with a focus on gymnastics and breathing techniques or dynamic multi-peak class with an emphasis on mental relaxation at the end, or none of the two, but something else?

Also you will learn about important verbal cues for instructing, correct adjustment actions, what tone of the voice is best for verbal instructing, or how to help your students in their psychological "disclosure' and their positive transformations — physical, mental, mystical and spiritual.

Perfect up yoga teaching skills in elaborate Teaching Practicum

Teaching practicum is a program developed to train your teaching skills according to our meticulous yoga teaching methodology.

During the teaching practicum program you will go through several stages — from basic (yet very important) skills to more and more complex know-how. At each stage, skills acquired in previous stages will also be developed along with the new ones. For example instructing skills are very important for teaching. They include verbal cues, adjustment, informational content, interaction and so on…

In other words, you'll gain solid practical skills required for broad-ranging, all-embracing teaching of yoga.

In the beginning of teaching practicum we will learn to communicate with the audience and give necessary verbal cues. That's it. This stage does not require any sequencing, adjusting, modifying asanas according to presented individuals or giving any kinds of asana variations. Communication and verbal cueing only at this stage.

In the next stage we will practice adjustments, asana modifications and variations and along with that we'll keep working on your verbal cues. Next step will be sequencing and detailed planning of the whole class, and again we will cue, adjust and apply all the required skills in the classes with our fellow students. The fourth step is demonstration of all acquired skills. Throughout all stages of the practicum you are supported, guided and supervised by our teachers and every performance is followed by an objective group discussion.

In the end of the course there is a course work presentation which consists of the following parts:

  • Free pose observation (work in pairs)
  • Asana structural analysis (work in pairs)
  • Recommendations for structural imbalances correction (public presentation)
  • As you progress through the training, you will need to get four credits. They are as follows:
  • Instructions and communication
  • Adjustment, modifications and variations
  • Trauma safety
  • Sequencing

In order to receive a yoga teacher's certificate of international standard one needs to get all credits listed above and successfully defend the course work.

Get globally certified and registered with regional and international Yoga Alliances

Himalayan Yoga Academy is a recognized certifying establishment. Qualifying certification by Himalayan Yoga Academy is a guarantee of a certificate holder's professionalism and allows the certificate holder to teach yoga professionally anywhere in the world. Himalayan Yoga Academy's standard is used as an example to follow by many serious yoga schools and yoga studios.

This certification program provides confirmation of entry-level yoga teacher qualification. In other words, an HYA graduate who had successfully passed the teaching practicum and certification process, is guaranteed to be completely capable of teaching super-effective open yoga classes to a general audience — methodologically correct, taking into account all the external factors and limitation of the audience, using methodology based sequences (in a variety of situations, both indoor and outdoor), equipped with all the variety of techniques and practices that a certified graduate has acquired studying with the leading teachers of the Himalayas.

Academy graduates can register their Certificate of Qualification with Yoga Alliance USA and Yoga Alliance International under the 200-hours standard. The 240-hours certification standard of the Academy completely meets and exceeds the registration requirements of these registries. Himalayan Yoga Academy is a licensed member of the above-mentioned registries.

For obtaining the qualification certificate of international standard student must pass the teaching practicum and receive all the credits required.

Students who have not passed the certification and teaching practicum, as well as those who refused to undergo a certification program by signing up only for the tutorial will receive an Acknowledgement of Participation of international standard for undergoing the full training course, confirming participation in the tutorial, but not in certification. This is especially useful for those who want to take this course to merely deepen their personal practice and are not going to teach professionally in the foreseeable future.

For those students who have passed only a tutorial, but not the certification, it will be enough to pass the final part of the course, — certification — to get their Certificate of Qualification later.

Experience the fun part of yoga

Regardless the famous quote by Swami Rama "Practice, practice, practice!" we are going to have quite a few extracurricular activities including:

  • 16-kilometer white water rafting on the Ganges rapids
  • Hikes around Rishikesh to holy, spectacular and powerful places (including Neelkanth Temple, where, as the legend says, Shiva drank poison for the sins of the human kind; the cave of the sage Vasishth, the guru of kriya yoga, the father of Yoga Vasistha; Ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the guru of transcendental meditation (also known as the Beatles Ashram), and if we are lucky we can even meet Beatles Baba there)
  • Fire ceremonies on the banks of the Ganges
  • Indian classical music concerts
  • Big screen movie nights
  • Meetings, conversations, satsangs, workshops with outstanding featured teachers
  • …and much more! Let yourself be surprised!

Feel good

This educational course will be full of positive emotions. In the last day you'll be crying like a baby asking us to adopt you so that we would never ever have to part. You will spend these five blissful weeks and some weeks after in total euphoria because:

  • you achieved high results in your studies,
  • you gained vast experiences in different fields of transcendental sciences,
  • you spent a tremendous load of time in the cradle of yoga, in the land of absolute wisdom,
  • you had zillions of heart-warming, fun, fear-defeating, soul-uniting moments with a few dozens of like-minded beautiful souls from all over the world.

You won't regret it.

Program duration: 
5 weeks

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Reviews by graduates

As part of my long way home from Korea to Wisconsin, I decided I’d like to make a stop in India. I wasn’t sure for what exactly—maybe stay at an ashram where I could find a guru and learn about the meaning of life or learn how to meditate for hours on end and eventually get in touch with my own inner guru. I began looking up possible ashrams when an exciting though occurred to me—why not take a yoga instructor course? It had been something I’d thought about for years, but it was always financially out of reach. Not so in India… since I planned to be there anyway, the airfare was already covered. Furthermore, the cost of a 4 or 5-week yoga teacher program is a fraction of the price compared to what I'd find in the U.S. What's more, unlike the programs in the U.S., yoga teacher training programs in India include room and board! Ultimately, taking a yoga teacher training course seemed like the best option to not only fill my time in India, but also delve deeper into my spiritual side and deepen my yoga practice. Alas, my online search for an ashram shifted to a search for the perfect yoga school.

Immediately I knew the location of this yoga academy had to be Rishikesh. This city was thought to be the birthplace of yoga and currently considered the yoga capital of the world. Rishikesh is situated along the sacred Ganga River and at the foothills of the Himalayan mountains. It is a place brimming with forehead-painted swamis dressed in orange and a myriad of ashrams for yoga and meditation.

The next criteria on my list were A) a small class size and B) a school that offered only a few classes per year. I hoped to get to know all the individuals in my program. For this reason, I sought a class size of 25 people or less. Also, I didn’t want a yoga teacher training (YTT) program that spewed out yoga teachers like some kind of factory production. There are plenty of these types in Rishikesh—they offer a new YTT course beginning every month. I felt that the drawback of this model is twofold: (1) teachers become tired and lose steam from the repetition (trust me, as a teacher myself, I know this to be all too true) and (2) the factory model is great for making money, but when that’s your goal, how much are you willing to invest in your students?

Since I knew what I was looking for, my search was easily narrowed down to one YTT in particular: Himalayan Yoga Academy (HYA). This program is 5 weeks, unlike the more common 4-week model (in my opinion, 4 weeks seemed like a very crammed schedule). Additionally, at the time, the YTT program was offered only 1-2 times per year. The course had breadth which appealed to me—an introductory, broad scope would allow me to delve deeper into anything of particular interest following the course. Lastly, unlike other YTTs with a “guru system” where one guru, or teacher, teaches all classes in the program, HYA used the academy model—like an academy, the school provides a teacher who specializes in what he or she is teaching for each class. Basically, I was sold.

Upon my arrival, I was amazed to find the website may have in fact undersold the YTT program! I was in awe of my surroundings—the turquoise Ganga, the soft, fine, white, sparkling sand of the beach in front of my home, the pure, fresh air from the mountains, the footpath along the river connecting me to a nearby area filled with vegetarian restaurants, shopping, and live music. I was taken aback by the incredible individuals from all over the world in the yoga program, by the teachers who were so genuine, kind, and open, and by the staff—cooking for us, preparing our halls, putting on concerts of traditional Indian instruments and kirtan (devotional chanting)… it all seemed too good to be true. I had been traveling for 3 months prior to settling into Rishikesh, so it was wonderful to finally have a place to call home, roommates to befriend, and 3 wholesome meals to eat each day.

We quickly fell into the HYA routine—waking up before the sun to rinse our nostrils and sinuses with the neti pot, learning the breathing practices of pranayama, purifying our body through shatkarma techniques, and hitting the mat for an asana class—all before our first chapatti of the day! Following breakfast, the rest of the day was filled with any combination of yoga philosophy, methodology of teaching yoga, teaching yoga practice, anatomy, meditation, ayuerveda, zen classes, and more asana classes—occasionally mixing it up with kundalini, acro, and yin yoga. On Sundays we had the day off--either a day of rest or a day of adventure with HYA (white water rafting on the Ganga, hiking a waterfall, exploring spiritual caves, teambuilding activities at Mystic Beach, etc.) There were other highlights during the 5 weeks—like the neem-green mud bath, prakshalana cleanse (look it up, haha), watching the sunrise over Rishikesh, and movie nights.

Over the five weeks, my classmates and I formed astoundingly strong bonds and we began to feel like a large, multicultural family. Because the course was demanding physically, mentally, and even emotionally, it was crucial to have the support from classmates. That familial atmosphere kept everyone afloat through the end of the course—you could count on others to offer you help or encouragement when in need. It was an incredible feeling to be a part of this family and to all learn so much during such a brief timespan.

As an individual who practiced westernized yoga for many years, I was amazed to realize how very little I knew about yoga! The seven limbs aside, asana (what westerners think of as yoga) was reintroduced to us in a way we all learned a great deal. Thanks to our structural yoga instructor, Ashish, my classmates and I were tested daily on our preconceived notions of poses and postures, which were fortunately replaced by proper technique. Ashish’s class had me wondering what I’d been doing all these previous years in yoga classes... clearly not proper asana!

On the teaching side of things, HYA offered us a methodology of teaching class and also teaching yoga practice. In the methodology of teaching class, we learned about elements to be aware of when sequencing a class and which factors to consider when creating an asana class. The class had beneficial aspects to it, though much of the time it was difficult to follow or too much information given too fast to process. Our instructor was certainly knowledgeable but sometimes the information wasn’t conveyed in the clearest fashion. Fortunately, we were able to hone our individual teaching methods over a series of practice classes where we taught asana classes to our fellow classmates. These practices were always followed up by feedback from our instructors and classmates. This practice was incredibly useful and helped prepare us for our final exam where we taught our classmates a 10-minute segment of an individually-made, full class plan.

Although five weeks of structural alignment, other asana classes, and teaching practice were certainly beneficial to me, they in no way situated me to be an amazing yoga instructor. Yes, I passed the exam and now hold a 200-hour Yoga Alliance certificate (woohoo!), but to be the best teacher I can be, I realize I must further my self-practice. I view HYA as the gateway to a long yoga journey. I've only just passed through the threshold and taken my first glimpse at the true essence of yoga. Now I will take it upon myself to continue my practice and strive to be the best yoga practitioner and teacher I can possibly be.

Our last few days at HYA consisted of passing our final exams, breathing a collective sigh of relief, and celebrating with our yoga family. Saying “until next time”—never goodbye—some of us parted ways after the five weeks and a few of us traveled together to see the Taj Mahal, visit Varanasi, and chill beachside in Goa. It was an incredible adventure—one I’m so glad I embarked on. We’re already planning our return to India for the 300-hour course so we can become Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) 500 Yoga Alliance certified! :)

So, until next time,


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