A few folks have asked me to let them know what I find out about long-term yoga training opportunities while here in India. I haven’t done as many yoga intensives as I fantasized I would, but I do think that I have however learned good stuff about what the yoga opportunities are here – by taking retreats, and also taking individual classes, talking to yoga teachers and students, staying at ashrams, and reading things online.
So, I have developed a short list of people I personally would seek out to do teacher trainings/extended retreats with, if I were to come back to India for such a purpose. I wish that I had had a concentrated list of recommendations like this in my hands before I got here.
Although I have not yet personally studied with most of these folks, they are who I would, were I scheduling a yoga-only journey to India, personally plan to give my time and money to (in descending order of desirability):
* Sharat Arora in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, and Arambol, Goa
* Umma, Swiss woman, at Omkarananda Ganga ashram, in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand
* Vishvketu in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand
* Bramacharya Rudra Dev in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand
If you’ve never been to India and want to do an extended intensive training here, please be sure to schedule it as far in advance as possible. Also – India spiritual retreat-land seems to by and large shut down from late April, when it gets hot, until the monsoons end in September – so I recommend scheduling yoga travel between late September and mid April.
Also, if you do come to India and study with Indian-born, Indian-trained, and Indian-living teachers, two differences that I have noticed from much of the teaching in the west: (1) there is more simply announcing the pose and then giving physical adjustments, and fewer instructions like “put more pressure on the inner edge of your foot”, “rotate your left hip up towards the ceiling”, “flower your buttocks”, whatever,
and (2) the physical adjustments are often more forceful than one will find in the west. I asked one assistant teacher at a class I went to regularly to stop touching me, because of the sudden surprise-attack from behind roughness of his adjustments. Also, I saw one American woman leave a class crying as the inexperienced teacher pushed her further and further into a forward bend, after she had said “please stop” and “that’s enough”.
Finally, for what it’s worth, as I wrote in a different post, “I heard something from a friend of mine who has been for years a big name successful world-traveling hatha yoga teacher, and who recently came to Rishakesh (one of India’s two “yoga capitals”, Mysore being the other) for a month of training. He told me that, although he liked and respected many of the teachers whose classes he visited in India, more of the yoga teachers he had encountered in India seemed to be more semi-charlatans just playing on Western traveler’s ignorance of what true yoga teaching should be like. When I asked him if their was a teacher training program he recommended in Rishakesh, and he replied something like, ‘Ehh, for teacher trainings, honestly, stick to the West – we’ve got programs like that set up in a more organized fashion.’ “