By Natalie Noll
Natalie from Germany was looking for a yoga teacher training course in India and some time away to reflect and heal. Initially she was thinking of heading to the beaches of Goa but after asking the yoga.in team for advice, she decided to join Bharath Shetty’s teacher training course at IndeaYoga, Mysore. She shares what she experienced and gained from the 250-hour course.
Here I am, Mother India! People say you either love India or hate it. I love it.
When I decided to do this trip, everyone was worried. “Do you really want to travel to India, alone? It’s too dangerous for a woman! Have you heard the latest news?” Yes I did, and I was worried too. But as soon as I made the decision to take a break from everything, I knew I was on the right path, and it HAD to be India, the motherland of yoga.
Yoga had been a part of my life for many years. It strengthened and grounded me, and every time my life got a little crazy, yoga took me right back to the mat – and my inner self, and I could smile again.
But this time, I was at a point where my life was upside down, physically and mentally. I felt tired; exhausted from too much work and was still recovering from an unhealthy, painful relationship. So I knew I needed to go somewhere far away from home where I could find myself again, see other things, cultures, and try to close the circle of (love) pain and let go… a little bit like ‘Eat, Pray, Love’.
Initially my idea was to spend a few weeks in Goa hanging out on the beach. I would find a nice yoga school, get a TTC (teacher training course) certificate, meet a lot of fancy yogis and enjoy life. I’m glad that yoga.in’s founder, Otto Stricker, advised me to focus more on ‘profound knowledge and spirituality’ than on ‘fun and sun with yoga’.
Mysore is a beautiful city, about 140 km away from Bangalore and easy to reach by train, bus or – if you want to make the trip more comfortable – by taxi. There is a flight connection between Bangalore and Mysore too.
I liked Gokulam right away, with all its lovely cafés and restaurants, offering fantastic breakfasts and nice meals, and the street food I had with my classmates after our evening classes. You meet so many yogis from all over the world, and also get to know a little about people and daily life in India.
As IndeaYoga does not provide any accommodation or meals, you need to take care of this yourself. Renting an apartment is not a big deal in Mysore, but prices have increased in the past few years because of the growing yoga community, and you can get a crappy deal for a lot of money, so beware.
I was lucky to find a cute flat at a reasonable price just 5 minutes walk away from the shala (school). This put me in a conciliatory mood when thinking of getting up at 4:30 AM every morning…
So let’s talk about the teacher training. I remembered entering the shala the first time – and it hit me! I saw this big OM sign on the wall: its colours were ‘jumping’ at me and when I sat down on my mat I felt a strong energy on the floor. I looked around and saw the curious, excited but also shy faces of my classmates and I knew we were all in the same boat. It was the right place at the right time, time to change.
And there he was, Bharath Shetty, a warm-hearted and experienced but strict teacher, with a great sense of humour and a deep knowledge about yoga, having graduated from three top yoga centres in India.
Bharath offers a fantastic mix of classical yoga put into the context of our modern lives. He teaches hatha/vinyasa flow in a Mysore-style (self-lead practice) with a big focus on how to get into the asanas (yoga postures) in such a proper and precise way that you can really tell he studied under BKS Iyengar.
The teacher training course itself is so well structured that by the end of it, you have, along with many other aspects, a thorough knowledge of philosophy, asana, physiology, meditation and pranayama (breath control) – and most of all: the confidence to teach!
He and his team are so passionate about sending well-trained teachers out into the world because they believe in high standards – and this is what you get. By starting to teach small groups of 4-5 people from Day 2, you have no other choice but to ‘jump off the deep end’ – what better way to learn?
The 250-hour teacher training course is 6 days a week of hard work, from 5:30am to 8:00pm. We practiced yoga twice a day, learned more than 70 asanas, including their techniques and benefits, chanting, meditating, preparing the group class for the next day… We climbed into bed after the evening mantras and mediation, tired but happy that not an hour was wasted.
Physically, it was the most challenging thing I have ever done. During the first week, I had pain everywhere! But as Bharath said at the beginning of our course, suddenly you start to feel ‘these beautiful changes’ – and sure enough, we felt them!
He encouraged us to listen to our body, accept our physical limits and to “listen to our heartbeats”. I loved it when he said that in savasana… what a powerful phrase! It reminded me that when we feel lost, all we need to do is be still, draw the attention inside of us, and within this stillness listen to our inner voice and learn to trust ourselves because our heart very often knows the answers.
The most valuable lesson I learned from Bharath was that becoming a yoga teacher means becoming a yogi first! It’s not only about showing asanas to other people, having a perfectly trained body, and doing this happy OM-thing together.
It starts with your own daily practice, implementing meditation and yoga philosophy into your daily life, and bringing body, mind and breath together. This trinity is called ananda (bliss). You meet life with less fear and worries, and with more presence, grounding, humbleness, kindness and love… and for this you get the right tools from Bharath and his team.
Overall, I had a fantastic time at IndeaYoga. I met wonderful people, especially my lovely classmates. For a good reason, yoga means union, and this is what we had, 18 different nations united.
Moreover, I experienced a challenging, high-level teacher training which I can highly recommend, and I feel blessed to have met Bharath and his beautiful family, Neda, Rahsmi and Krishnan, who made this time so special to me.
I started to love myself again, closed the circle and let go for the better….
For more information about teacher training programmes with Bharath Shetty, visit the IndeaYoga website.
Photos courtesy of the author.