Monday, February 22, 2016

My Experience Practicing Iyengar Yoga in Arambol with Alpesh

Alpesh Yoga Arambol

Alpesh is a popular Iyengar Yoga teacher in Arambol, Goa but he also teaches yoga in Upper Bhagsu, Dharamsala. He is becoming increasingly popular over the years. He is a student of Usha Devi, a senior Iyengar Yoga teacher in Rishikesh, and he is very devoted to his guru BKS Iyengar.

From Mysore to Arambol

I left Mysore the second week of January. I took a night bus to Arambol, Goa but the next morning I felt sick on the bus and I still had like four hours to go. I had no choice but to get off the bus by Patnem Beach.

After a few days in beautiful Patnem Beach, I decided to continue my way up north to Arambol where my friend Nina, who I had previously met in Mysore, had a room waiting for me in a nice shared house.

I met there two new fantastic friends. Actually, one of them I had already met before.

When I entered the house I found this guy laying down on the floor in shavasana, the relaxation pose. 

It was Gianni! A nice Italian dude that I had met at the Sivananda Ashram in Madurai just a couple of months before.

I didn't know we had a mutual friend and I didn't expect to meet him again, especially not in that way. That was a really nice surprise.

Anyway, back to my story.

Looking for a yoga teacher in Arambol

As soon as I arrived in Arambol Nina said: "let's go for yoga."

She had been in Arambol for a while so she had heard about a few teachers but she had not yet practiced with any of them. She wanted to try Iyengar Yoga with one of the local teachers.

I had never practiced Iyengar Yoga before and after three months practicing Ashtanga Yoga in Mysore, while injured, this was a very welcome change of scene and practice for me.

The Iyengar Yoga style is known for being a restorative practice.

It focuses on proper alignment of each posture with the support of props, and on the proper activation of all necessary muscles to hold the postures for a long time.

Before deciding where to practice we paid a visit to Alpesh's yoga school and to the Himalayan Iyengar Yoga Centre.

Our first impression with Alpesh was not that positive. He was just sitting on the floor and he seemed not to care much.

On top of that one of Nina's friend had said that although his class was good he didn't like him because he had a bad temper and was not very kind to his students.

My experience practicing Iyengar Yoga in Arambol with Alpesh

Well, somehow we still decided to practice yoga with Alpesh.

He offers a package of six classes for 2,000 rupees but we were not sure if we were going to like the class that much to stay for a whole week.  So we asked him if we could just pay for one class and the next day decide if we wanted to pay for a week.

He immediately agreed with no problem at all.

By the end of the second day, we were both hooked. We were really enjoying his class and we started to like him every day even more.

Every day after class we would talk about how much we were enjoying his class and his very distinctive, "Oooopen the chest."

The days passed quickly. Soon a day became a week, a week became two and all of a sudden we realized we had already been practicing with him for four weeks!

Alpesh's yoga class can be quite challenging. I think on average we would hold difficult poses for more than thirty breaths.

Many times I felt that I couldn't hold the postures any longer, but as soon as he would see you coming out of the pose before his instruction he would say, "What happened? Why are you tired? Stay! Be Strong! Come back!"

Yes, he likes to be tough with his students, especially with the new students.

Sometimes you can notice some students getting affected by his attitude. He likes to demand the best from everyone, and that's because he follows the teachings of his gurus.

A couple of times during his class he told us that his teachers say that the role of the teacher is to break the ego of their students. A very different approach to most yoga classes in the west.

Luckily he was always very kind to me, I guess because of my hamstring injury, so instead, he decided to pick up on Nina, from day one. "Nina! What happen? Why are you tired?" Lol.

I've not practiced yoga with Usha Devi in Rishikesh yet, Alpesh's teacher, but I've heard how seriously tough she can be, and although Alpesh can be a bit tough and demanding I think he is not as tough as Usha, not at all.

He is still very kind and warm and has a very honest concern for his students. He is also humble, authentic and he has a very good sense of humor.

Alpesh teaching Iyengar Yoga in Arambol

Alpesh teaching Iyengar Yoga in Arambol

Alpesh teaching Iyengar Yoga in Arambol

Alpesh teaching Iyengar Yoga in Arambol

Alpesh teaching Iyengar Yoga in Arambol

Teaching yoga at Alpesh's school

Many yoga teachers of different levels of experience come to practice yoga with Alpesh.

He likes to ask them to teach (as volunteers) the beginners yoga class at 10 am, in whatever style they teach.

That's exactly what I did.

It was so nice to have the opportunity to teach a few yoga classes in his yoga school just before leaving Arambol.

Last day at Alpesh Yoga School Arambol

How to get in touch with Alpesh

Although the Iyengar Yoga style is not a style that I would like to practice regularly I still enjoyed a lot practicing yoga with Alpesh.

My regular yoga practice and my teaching style have definitely being influenced, in a positive way, by the many things that I learned in his class.

So if you are interested I would definitely recommend you to practice yoga with Alpesh in Arambol, for at least a week.

Or, if you are planning to go to the north of India then you can practice yoga with Alpesh in Upper Bhagsunag, Dharamsala.

Whenever or wherever you see him, please give him a warm hug on my behalf.

You can get in touch with him via his bookyogaretreats page Alpesh Yoga and Breathing

At the moment Alpesh offers Iyengar Yoga classes three times during the day. From 8:30 till 10:00, a Beginners class from 10:10 till 11:45 and a second advanced class from 18:30 till 20:00.

He also offers a Certified 200 hours Yoga Teachers Training Course, in Goa and in Dharamsala.

Before you travel to Arambol

If you are interested in doing a yoga teacher training in India I'm sure you will enjoy Alpesh's courses, but if you'd like more options you can visit my blog The Best Yoga Teacher Training Courses in India.

It includes yoga TTC that I personally recommend, based on my own experience and also based on friends' recommendations.

But before you pack your bags don't forget to visit my detailed packing list for India.  It includes everything that you might need to travel and to practice yoga in India.

I suggest you also visit My Top 3 Beaches in Goa.  I'm sure you'll find it useful whenever you decide to travel around Goa.

By the way, if you find this story helpful please don't hesitate to share it with your friends.  Thank you!


  1. Hi Marco! Thanks for all of your posts on yoga and ashrams in india they are really helpful! After reading over them, I am now considering completing the teacher training course with Alpesh in July/August in Dharamsala. I am wondering if you have been there around this time? I know it is the monsoon season so it may not be the best time to go. I will also be traveling on my own, do you think it is safe for a girl to travel alone there? Any advice would be great. Otherwise, my other option is to go instead, as the monsoon is meant to be a bit less and I think this area is quite safe. Have you heard of this school before? Thanks again for your blog :-)

    1. Oh so sorry Kristina, looks liked I missed your comment. Well, I haven't been there at that time but I think July/August is probably the best time to go to Dharamsala cause it is not so cold anymore. There are many girls traveling alone, but it is not easy. Travel smart and user your common sense. But the trip from Delhi to Dharamsala is pretty straight forward. Good luck, and if you did the TTC with Alpesh, please let me know how did it go :-)

  2. Hi Marco, thanks so much again for all your helpful posts! Your blog is my go to for all yoga related advice in India. I'm moving up to Dharamshala soon and plan on practicing with Alpesh. You mentioned that you also visited the Himalayan Iyengar Centre? How was that? Do you have a preference between that center and Alpesh's classes? Many thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Celene! Thank you, I'm glad to know that you find my blog so useful. I visited the HIC but I didn't practice there, I can't remember why. So I only practiced with Alpesh, and that was in Arambol, can't tell you much about the other place. How long will you be in Dharamsala? Pls send my greetings to Alpesh whenever you see him ;-)