A 200-hour yoga teacher training at AYM in Rishikesh – An extended review

Some people spend a couple of months searching the internet to find the perfect yoga teacher training. I am not one of those people. Completing a yoga teacher training had been on my bucket-list for a long time but it wasn’t a fully, thought out plan until a friend asked me if I wanted to join her with a group of friends.


Since I was going to be in India anyway it seemed like a great opportunity, especially when my best friend also decided to join the training. Apparently, friends from friends had done the training at AYM a couple of years ago and were pretty happy about it, so we decided to trust the word of mouth and just subscribe to AYM’s 200-hour course for mid September. A very random, but fortunate choice, as it would turn out. This blog is for the people who actually do their research and want to know where they go before they throw their money at someone.
Although… (Scroll down if you are only interested in the review of the training 😉 )


After recovering from a parasite I’d picked up in Delhi, it took me only one week to get really sick again… when I arrived at AYM I had a high fever, I was coughing my lungs out and my whole body was aching. I had already been sick for a full week and hoped it would’ve passed by then, so I could start the training. But it didn’t get better. And after more than a week of trying to follow classes I finally saw a doctor that properly examined me (instead of sending me home with some general antibiotics and paracetamol, not having tested me on anything). He diagnosed me with pneumonia and Dengue fever. I had to take antibiotics intravenously and obviously I had to stop the training. I had some of my worst moments, being sick in a developing country like India. I could write an entire blogpost about my stories from the hospital in Rishikesh, but I’ll keep that for another time.


For now, it is important to know that AYM gave me a second chance to complete the yoga teacher training: offering me to apply for one of the next trainings, for a very highly reduced price. Which also helped me to get a better overview of the course, since I spent almost 2 months at AYM, over two different courses (Sept-Oct and Nov-Dec), with small changes in schedules, teachers and weather!

Opening ceremony


The school and it’s surroundings


AYM is situated in Tapovan, a neighborhood packed with yoga schools, North-East of Central Rishikesh. Its beautiful location at the base of the Himalayas makes it a perfect spot for yoga, meditation and pranayama. The school has a green garden, which makes for a perfect place to chill and get some sun in between classes, although of course this depends on the time of the year you go. When I started the course in September the rainy season was just over, days were hot and nights were fresh and soft. In the period of November-December it was getting pretty cold at night and the one thick blanket they had in the rooms was barely enough.
If you walk down the hill to the center of Tapovan you can find all the things you need:

  • Fruits and veggies
  • ATM (I always went to SBI bank, it has one of the best rates) BE AWARE: Regularly, all ATM’s in Tapovan run out of cash, so make sure to go before you are completely out of money
  • Coffeeshops and restaurants
  • Organic stores (the left store with red letters sells the best and cheapest 90% chocolate I’ve found so far in Asia link naar kaart. )
  • Ayurvedic Doktor (Panchkarma centre Aurora) There is also a doctor on the school though.
  • Souvenirs, gems, stones etc.
    You can find al my favourite places on my map. (link).
    ROOMS
    There are three room-options with different prices (prices are for the entire course):
  • Private room (1500$ for a month)
  • Double room (1350$ for a month)
  • Dorm room (1200$ for a month)

I stayed in a double room. They are simple but have everything you need. A bathroom with a hot shower, a big closet, two separate beds (If you are a couple you can easily join them) and a balcony. I didn’t see the dorms, but I heard they were good. They have 10 beds and 2 bathrooms, which can be a little tough in the mornings I heard, since everyone has to get up at the same time. The private rooms are like the double rooms but the single bed is very big!
You’re supposed to keep your own room clean and buy your own toilet paper. They don’t have a lot of cleaning materials so you have to be a bit inventive sometimes.

FACILITIES


There’s a big kitchen / dining hall where meals are prepared 3 times a day (and tea or coffee in the mornings. Filtered water (hot and cold) is available all day and it’s always possible to make your own tea at the tea station with fresh ginger, lemon and honey.


Most classes will take place in the yoga hall at the first floor. It’s light and spacious but it can be cold in the mornings (in winter time). For summertime many fans and airconditioning are available. On the rooftop floor there is another yoga hall, but we didn’t use that one for any classes. In summertime, some classes take place on the rooftop or in the garden.

Wifi is available on all floors but isn’t really strong in a lot of places.

THE TRAINING SCHEDULE – What does a day look like?

The most important question: what does a day in the 200-hour course look like? 😉 The schedule roughly looks like this (it wasn’t exactly the same in my 1st and 2nd training but close enough):

  • 06:00 – 07:30 Pranayama & Meditation (the first week will be mainly focused on meditation, the second and third week will be more focused on Pranayama)
  • 07:30 – 08:30 Anatomy
  • 08:30 – 08:45 Tea break (always far too short) (Coffee on Wednesday&Saturday)
  • 08:45 – 10:15 Ashtanga
  • 10:15 – 11:00 Breakfast
  • 11:30 – 13:00 Teaching principles (how to teach and sequence a class) + practice
  • 13:00 – 14:00 Lunch
  • 14:00 – 15:00 Depending on the day: Karma yoga, yoga Nidra, study groups
  • 15:00 – 16:00 Optional Aryuveda class (for an extra cost)
  • 16:00 – 17:00 Yoga philosophy
  • 17:15 – 19:00 Hatha yoga
  • 19:00 – 20:00 Dinner
  • 20:00 – 20:45 Mantra class (3 times a week)

Sundays are off and during the second training we also had Saturday afternoons off (after lunch). I assume they do this during winters when days are shorter and energy levels are lower.

It’s a tough schedule, it takes some time to get used to it and most people crash somewhere between the first and the second week. I certainly had a hard time at the end of my second week. Feeling exhausted. Just force yourself to go to bed straight after dinner a couple of times.

One Sunday morning, a small (free) excursion to a meditation cave is planned by the school. It’s a beautiful spot close to the Ganges, pictures below 😉

Photos made by Joyce Cuunders <3 Find more of her work on
https://www.facebook.com/blog.houdoee/


FOOD – What, when and how do you eat?


One of the things I liked about this training was the food! It’s vegetarian, mostly vegan, aryuvedic-type food served like a buffet: take as much as you like. I heard some stories about teacher trainings that only serve food two times a day and just allow you to get one plate. I think, when you are following such an intense schedule, it’s not the right time to experiment with fasting. I did sometimes skip lunch, because it’s so close to breakfast and I wasn’t hungry. But this is up to you.

The school’s advice is to eat all your meals at school and be really careful when you eat outside. Apparently absence rates on Mondays are high, due to the fact that many people eat out on Sundays. Unfortunately I had to experience this firsthand, getting sick on the Sunday before the final exams.
Breakfast is pretty late so if you can’t fast until 10:15 it’s best to buy some fruit or energy bars to make it through the mornings.
Mostly, the food is Indian, but sometimes the cooks prepare some Western meals like pasta, burgers or pizza.


THE TEACHERS

The most important thing about a training is the teachers. At least for me. And here, AYM does a really great job. All teachers we had were experts in their field, as far as my experience goes. Unfortunately, I heard that our favourite teacher (for philosphy) left AYM for an undetermined period of time. He felt like our master. He’s not sure if he’s coming back.
Our mantra teacher was a musical genius, our hatha teacher a technical master, our anatomy teacher a very knowledgable and holistic Aryuvedic doctor, our philosophy teacher an inspirational wiseman and our Ashtanga teacher pushed us to our physical limits to get stronger and more flexible very rapidly.

Foto’s made by one of my fellow students! You can find more pictures of him at http://www.aljubranm.com


My experience & special thanks


Overall I can honestly say that I loved the 200-hour yoga teacher training at AYM. It’s an outstanding school and the owner makes sure customer satisfaction is high. At the end of the training they distribute an evaluation form and I know that they do something with the comments, since some improvements had been made when I came back for my second course.

On top of all of that, I met the most amazing people during the training. After my first training (which I didn’t finish) I thought I was never going to have as nice a group of people in the next one. But I was wrong. And I want to give special thanks to my AYM family from the training in Sept/Oct to be so, so caring and loving when I was so sick. And for the Nov/Dec training to make my second AYM experience so amazing. I hope to meet you all again somewhere on this beautiful planet <3

Visit https://www.indianyogaassociation.com/ for more info about their teacher trainings.

Scroll down for a bonus video!

PS. If you want to see me teaching a yoga class at AYM… click here to see the video!

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