India is where yoga was invented, or one should say, where it developed. Thousands upon thousands of years ago. Although the official age of yoga is around 5,000 years, sages, sadhus, gurus – whatever you will – were practising the vedic arts long before yoga was being studied as a philosophy and being handed down in written form or through extortionately priced classes. What were the Celts – later, as the British, to be colonisers of India – doing around the same time?! Certainly not transcending their anna maya koshas (physical body) and reaching higher states of consciousness.
Coming to India to get your yoga teacher training certification (or simply to take a week or two off for a yoga retreat) makes sense. You are learning from the source. You will live and breathe yoga here. You will see it in practice in everyday life, from Hindu rituals, the way Indians practise their religion and how these philosophic principles permeate their mind sets, and hence, their actions. You won’t get any of this in a yoga training course in London or New York with the shudder of the underground carrying through the walls and the frenetic energy outside ready to meet and greet you after a deep Savasana.
The economic factor is a huge incentive to come to India. Approx. $1000 will get you all the tuition, accommodation and food (not to mention a family, love and home away from home) in India. The same cost in USA or UK will not even cover the course, let alone your rent, food and day to day dealings.
More important than escaping the sound of traffic, but coming to India will allow you to escape your ingrained habits, mindset, responsibilities, worries and tensions that come with your home territory. It will also give you respite from all the pleasurable distractions that might make motivating yourself to get up at 6 am for asana practice that much harder.
Dedicating four to six weeks to yourself and your yoga practice will let you immerse yourself fully into the course without the added burdens of errands and chores. And believe me, 6 weeks of twice daily asana practice, meditation and confronting your inner self will unearth enough to keep you busy in contemplation.
Studying yoga in India is an excellent excuse to take time off work and explore one of Earth’s most vibrant, happy, colourful and welcoming countries in the world. It is a place of exciting change – in culture, not just GDP. The western influence in its major cities a glorious contrast to rural life outside them. India also has some of the most riotous religious festivals that involve fireworks, blowing up colossal statues and having paint fights.
Being abroad opens you up to new ways of thinking, perceiving and acting: exactly what yoga is trying to do. One of the best places to study yoga in India is Rishikesh where one can easily find a good yoga teacher, an ashram or a yoga school like Rishikesh Yog Peeth which offers 200 hour residential hatha yoga teacher training programs and yoga instructor courses (YTT, YTTC, TTC) registered with Yoga Alliance, yoga courses for beginners and yoga retreats in India.