Tuesday, August 9, 2016

How to Find a Yoga Teacher Training Course in India

Best yoga teacher training course in India

Which yoga teacher training course (TTC) in India do you recommend? Another question that I get often but one that I feel unqualified to answer. There are hundreds of yoga TTCs all around India and I can only talk about the trainings that I've taken.

I don't want to convince anybody to follow the same trainings that I have followed. Even if I think they were great that doesn't mean that you will also like them; it's a very personal thing. But since many of you do want to have my recommendation I will briefly talk about them.

But first I'll share some tips that I hope will help you find and choose the right yoga teacher training course for you. These tips are valid for trainings in India or even around the world.

How to Find a Yoga Teacher Training Course in India

There is no perfect training

I'm sure you already know this but it's good to keep it in mind. There is no such a thing as the best or the perfect yoga TTC, it doesn't exist. There is however an experience that is meant for you, and a yoga TTC can be a life changing experience.

There is an experience that each one of us must live, our own path, we just need to be open to it and accept the gifts that are being offered to us. So, like I always say, listen to your heart. Let it guide you cause it knows for sure where you need to go.

What do you really want

To be able to listen to your heart you can start by figuring out what do you really want. Ask yourself a few simple questions like these and then go in the direction where you feel the most joy:
  • What is your motivation to do a yoga teacher training course?
  • Do you want to become a yoga teacher? Why?
  • Do you want to start teaching right away?
  • Are you looking for a training focused on adjustment of asanas?
  • Are you looking for a training that has a lot of theory?
  • Are you looking for a training that has a guru lineage behind?
  • Are you rather looking for a more spiritual experience?

When I did my first TTC I was not thinking about becoming a yoga teacher. I simply wanted to learn everything that I could learn about yoga. I wanted to go as deep as I could and I wanted to have a real ashram life experience.

This motivation led me to the right places although, like the masters say, "It is not you who have chosen to be here, it is the gurus who have silently guided you to them."

What's your next move?

What are you planning to do after your TTC? If you do want to become a yoga teacher then my recommendation is to start teaching right away and the best way to do this is to volunteer at the ashram or school where you are planning to take your yoga TTC.

Teaching yoga at the same school where you have taken your TTC offers you a comfortable and safe environment where to get started, and many places do offer this possibility to their students. So if this is in your plans then this can be another criteria to find a yoga TTC.

After I completed my trainings at the Sivananda Ashram I decided to stay as a staff for one month. This was the perfect opportunity to face my fears and start teaching yoga. I had the support of the more experienced staff.

Get a recommendation

By far the best way to find a yoga TTC in India is by recommendation, so talk with your yoga teacher or with your yoga buddy that has completed a TTC and ask them about their training. Would they recommend it to you? Why? Would they suggest another training?

If you can't find a recommendation from a teacher or friend then you can look for them online. That's probably why you are reading this blog, but another good place to find yoga TTC recommendations is in BookYogaRetreats.Com (affiliate link).

BookYogaRetreats has more than 100 yoga TTC listings in India, and most of them include customer reviews. Find one that is appealing to you and read the reviews. Make sure the reviews are honest and objective though.

Get familiar with your school

If it's possible for you I would recommend that you get to know the school, ashram or yoga teacher with whom you intent to do your yoga teacher training course. Pay a visit to their school and practice with them for a little while.

I know this might not be convenient for you, but it is the best way to get a good idea if this is the right place and training for you.

Every yoga training that I've taken I did them at ashrams or with a teacher that I had previously visited or practice with, so I was already familiar with their teaching style and with the general atmosphere of the school.

This is just the beginning

Probably most of the yoga teacher training courses that you'll find in India are one month intensive.

Some people complain that one month is not enough to become a yoga teacher, and it certainly isn't, but with a proper training in one month you can learn everything that you can possibly learn to help you get started on your teaching path.

Yoga teacher trainings don't make good teachers. To become a good teacher all you have to do is to teach. A TTC simply gives you the tools to get started. Your education will never end, you will definitely continue refining your skills with time, practice and further education.

This means that eventually, after doing your yoga TTC, you will probably decide to do another TTC in a different school, tradition or style of yoga, or you might like to complement your education with workshops.

Keeping this in mind might make it easy for you to realise that you don't need to find the perfect TTC, and that this is just the beginning of your never ending yoga education. Believe me, once you start your yoga education you'll never want to stop.

Focus on the positive

Whenever you ask for feedback about a school or ashram you will probably also receive negative comments about them. Every organisation, specially when they are big, has a dark side, and if you are looking for the negative you'll certainly find it.

Even gurus get a bad reputation. You can easily find online all sort of negative stories about all the best known Indian yogis. Don't let other people negative talk get in your head and influence your decisions. Listen carefully to what matters to you but then follow your intuition.

There were several things that I didn't like about the Sivananda Yoga TTC, like for instance the price or the big group sizes, but there are many other things that I did like and I choose to focus on those things instead.

Many people have a very negative view about Mother Theresa's work and her true intentions. Regardless of these comments I had a great experience volunteering at her mission in Kolkata. I only experienced and witnessed positive things.

What about my budget?

Yoga teacher training courses can be ridiculously expensive, and considering the cost of living in India we could argue that they are probably overpriced.

My advice is that if you think you've found a good yoga TTC then don't let the price dissuade you from what you know feels right for you. Think in abundance and remember that this is not an expense but an investment that you'll keep with you for the rest of your life.

The Trainings That I Recommend

Sivananda Teacher Training Course

I did the Sivananda Teacher Training Course in 2010 at the ashram in Neyyar Dam, Kerala.

To me the most important thing about this training was the connection with the guru lineage. Yoga asanas you can learn anywhere but having a spiritual connection with a tradition, with the gurus, which will stay with you during your path it's invaluable. You need to be open to it though.

In my opinion this training was very complete. We practiced a lot of yoga postures, pranayama; we studied philosophy and we were living in an ashram experiencing the ashram life and following the strict daily routine. It was not just a teacher training but a mental and spiritual training.

Many other yoga teacher training courses in India and around the world are influenced by this training. After following this yoga TTC I also took the Sivananda Advance Teacher Training Course and the Sadhana Intensive.

The Himalayan Yoga Tradition TTP

I took the Himalayan Yoga Tradition Teacher Training Program (HYT TTP) at the Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama in Rishikesh in March 2012. Similar to the Sivananda TTC what I appreciate the most about this training is the connection with the lineage, and it was the perfect complement to the Yoga TTC at the Sivananda Ashram.

Meditation was a bit weak at the Sivananda ashram but it is the main teaching at the Himalayan Yoga Tradition. On the other side the hatha yoga at the HYT TTP is way too gentle but I didn't mind cause I had already a good practice from the Sivananda TTC.

The teachings at the HYT TTP are of top quality. Every teacher is a dedicated meditation practitioner, disciples of Swami Rama and Swami Veda Bharati.

The HYT TTP is a long term training. There are three levels and it takes one year to complete each level. Unfortunately I realised later that this doesn't work for me. I would have preferred a one month intense training instead of a long term program. I still haven't completed my TTP Level 1!

What is Your Advice?

I hope you'll find this information useful to find and choose a yoga teacher training course in India or around the world. If you have any other suggestions to find a yoga TTC in India please feel free to share them in the comments section below.

If you've already have a TTC it would be great if you could share your experience. Tell us how was your training, what were the pros and cons and why would you recommend it to others.

For your information, to provide a great experience to my readers I moderate the comments on this blog. I reserve the right to reject any self promoting or spammy comments.


  1. The Sivananda Course run by Swami Govindananda is also very good. They are in Varkala and in the Himalayas. Its the exact same as we did in Neyyar dam but on a much smaller scale and more personalised. http://www.sivanandapeetham.org

    1. Oh yes, I've heard many good things about him but I've never managed to meet him. He also does his TTC in Amboli, north of Goa. Thanks for sharing my dear Lakshyaji :-)

  2. Yes I think price too high for a non-profit organization especially. Is good path on your own tho

  3. I loved the teacher training with Vinay Kumar in the south of India, Mysore. His personal approach to each and one of his students opened my heart to my students as well. I will always be grateful for his unbending attitute and attention to the details and the willingness to crack us open to receive the real teaching of yoga. Check his website out for more info

    1. Thank you Yogassia for sharing. I haven't done the TTC with Vinay but I practiced pranayama with him for a month. He is amazing. Here is the interview that I did to him a while ago: A meeting with a master yoga teacher - Interview with Vinay Kumar

  4. Thanks Marco for the article. I agree that when the offer is big, it is often difficult to select the most appropriate training. Your article can help people to decide by themselves. I also made my first teacher training at Sivananda (in Tyrol, Austria) and just like you I did not do it to become a yoga teacher and I liked the rigid daily schedule and structure they impose to their students. It is all about training the mind. I remember that one student left the training at the end of the first day because she could not accept the fact that smoke, drink alcohol and eat meat/fish/eggs during the TTP was not allowed. I guess this is not an isolated case. Yoga is above all a life philosophy and to select well his/her training the student would benefit from reading Yamas & Nyamas of Patanjali, the mission and ethical principles of the organization.

    I found the TTP at HYT a great opportunity to learn about myself. Very grateful to have joined this training program. It is more that a hatha yoga teacher's training program. It teaches how to and the importance of being a life time student of yoga. It gives us the tools to start and develop a worth-to-live life. The in-campus training is intensive and the homework plan is even more. It reminds us to be patient and persistent... the goal is not to become a yoga teacher, but to become a sadhaka.

    1. Thank you Maria for sharing your experience and your insights, much appreciated.

  5. Hari Om, intresting approach! i like that you appreciated the yogic traditional path. I belong to Saraswati order, i have Guru, i am yoga teacher and after 25years, as i see all these 200hrs teachers, i feel a bit sad, because it's not that they are focusing only in Hatha yoga, but they are approchining it very superficaly!
    The questions that you pose, are very helpful for a new yoga aspirant, because is essential the MOTIVES! and every one who want to follow the yogic path, is good to know that is a self-evoloutionary path, and as you "grow" you influence your students more energetically rather physically. Om&Prem Io-Yogananda

  6. I just completed a 200h Hatha yoga TTC with Surinder Singh in Rishikesh it was very good !!! There is not so much emphasis on the building of sequences but rather on bringing the students inward during asana practice, the clarity in instructions, the confidence, the adaptation of the asana according to the level of the students : The tools necessary to start in the teaching path. He also attach a great importance in the spiritual aspect of the practice which I particularly enjoyed.

    1. Thanks for your comment Christelle :-) Surinder is such a wonderful teacher, I met him back in 2011 and I hope some day in the near future I'll have the opportunity to do a TTC with him. I wrote about him before in A good yoga teacher in Rishikesh? Try Surinder Singh's class