India

A Brief History Of Yoga

Image Credit:  Hendrik Terbeck


 

Yoga has been around a long time.  Like, a really, really long time.  Try about 5000+ years.  Originating in India, this practice has changed dramatically in the years since its birth.  Rather than go into an explanation of the early stages of yoga and it’s four extensive, broad categories (Vedic Yoga, Preclassical Yoga, Classical Yoga and Postclassical Yoga), I want to get straight to the question.  Can we still find examples of traditional yoga today in Western Society?  What changes have been made to this practice that brought us to where we are now?

OK.  I lied.  In order to truly see the changes yoga has gone through, you need a brief history lesson on the subject:

Vedic Yoga

Sometimes referred to as "Archaic Yoga", this practice was directly connected with the ritual life of the ancient Indians.  Their idea of yoga was to embrace sacrifice as a way to connect the material world with the spiritual world through focusing their minds for extensive periods of time.  This ability to cultivate inner focus is the root of all yoga.  A successful Vedic yogi or yogini was fortunate if they were able to experience a vision in their practice, for which they could now become a “seer”.  This was the ultimate goal of the Vedic practice.

Preclassical Yoga

Moving right along, this period is considered the time when many different schools of yoga began to develop.  The teachings from these schools can be located in two of India’s greatest yogic scripts:  the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.  You might be familiar with the Bahgavad-Gita, which is embedded throughout these works.  Essentially, these schools began developing many different techniques for creating deep meditation in order to lead yogis and yogini’s in going beyond their mind and discovering their true nature.

Classical Yoga

As we begin to move forward, you might recognize some familiar territory you’ve heard about in a modern day yoga class.  This period of yoga refers to the eight-fold yoga teachings by Patanjali in the Yoga-Sutra.  Most yoga students begin identifying with many of these teachings as they dig deeper into their practice.  The teachings of this period are meant to further explore the separation between the physical body and the mental mind.  The goal?  Formless but conscious existence in day to day life.

Postclassical Yoga

This period of yoga evolves with a new focus in mind, the ultimate unity of everything.  In contrast to previous periods of yoga focusing only on the mind and how to separate ones physical self from their mental state, many teachers in the postclassical yoga period began to take a turn and discover the hidden potential of the physical body.  New systems of practice began focusing on prolonging ones life, and rejuvenating the mind through this physical practice.  Born around this time, Hatha-Yoga is an excellent example of a style that is practiced today due to the priority of wanting to energize the body.

Modern Yoga

Yoga has evolved in many different ways.  Although many of it’s roots are still apparent in modern day classes, there has been a significant shift in how yoga is viewed in modern society.  Previously, Yoga referred to realizing the entire mind, body and spirit as one object, with a goal of separation between these aspects.  Yoga was seen ultimately as a spiritual practice; a pathway to discover ones true inner self.  In modern times, this view has shifted to focus on the postures of yoga.  Don’t believe me?  Open up Instagram and search #yoga, and you’ll be flooded with pictures of yogis in graceful, challenging, or inspiring postures.  Of course, this is neither a good or bad change, but one can easily notice the shift Yoga has gone through.  In addition, Yoga is also seen today as a mere means to achieving physical fitness.  Many studios pride themselves on creating an environment to tone, strengthen, and loosen the muscles.  While this is definitely a positive aspect of Yoga, it strays away from Yoga’s original purpose.

Changes?

One obvious, yet overlooked change has been made in the past few decades.  The idea of a “Yoga mat”, a device used to assist in achieving various postures to the highest degree.  This object has been significant in creating today’s “Yoga industry”, which also includes “Yoga” clothing, jewelry, props, accessories, etc.  Since the Yoga mat is a device used primarily to help achieve postures, it has helped modern day yogis and yoginis to stray away from Yoga’s original intent.  Another result of this introduction of a yoga mat is the creation of yoga "on" and "off" the mat.  In the past, there was only Yoga, and with the addition of a mat we are brought another complex world of viewpoints and opinions on what Yoga is truly meant for.

Ultimately, it’s up to you whether or not to buy into the hype that is modern day Yoga.  You can decide for yourself whether to walk into a Yoga class focusing on its mental and spiritual aspect, or solely for it’s physical practice.  Don’t get me wrong, Yoga is an excellent way to ease stress, focus on your inner spirit, alleviate tension in your body, and strengthen your muscles.  But there is so much more to what you might experience in a modern day Vinyasa or Hot Yoga class.  To truly develop an understanding, and to practice Yoga to it’s fullest degree, start looking beyond the physical practice.  You’re mind, body and spirit will thank you in the long run.

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Yoga Teacher Training 101

What is Yoga Teacher Training?

Yoga Alliance Standard designations for teachers include:

  • RYT 200 (200 hours of training)
  • RYT 500 (made up of 200 hour and 300 hour program)

During a typical 200 hour yoga teacher training you will have the opportunity to experience the incredible breadth of yoga, and develop your skills to present and instruct inspiring classes. You will be given the information needed to teach group classes, private sessions, and the skills that you need to expand your mind, your own personal practice, and to find opportunities within the business of yoga. [wp_ad_camp_1]

Yogis first complete a 200-hour program, which most yoga studios require as the minimum training for their teachers. Some teachers then choose to continue their studies by undertaking a 300-hour training (taking them to the level of a 500 hour teacher). Teachers can then register as an RYT 500 with Yoga Alliance. Once registered, a RYT 500 is able to provide continuing education classes and workshops to other teachers.

 

More about Yoga Alliance

Teacher-training programs that meet certain standards are registered by the Yoga Alliance, a nationally recognized organization.

Upon completion of a Yoga Alliance registered teacher-training program, teachers are then allowed to use the acronym RYT (Registered Yoga Teacher) after their name.

 

Who is it for?

The YTT programs are designed for the yoga practitioner who is ready to take the next step and dive into the life changing experience of becoming a yoga teacher. For people who are super excited and committed to the idea of taking their love of yoga and embarking on a journey from student to teacher. It is also open to those who may not wish to become a teacher but have a deep interest and love for yoga and the desire to deepen their own personal knowledge and practice.

 

Do I need to have a strong yoga practice already?

No formal experience is required to enroll in the YTT programs. However, it is often recommended that you have had at least one year of regular practice prior to the start of the course to help to get your started on your journey.

Contrary to belief, a flexible body free of injuries is not a requirement for this training! Yoga is a practice of meeting the body where it is, and then working with the body to slowly and respectfully move deeper. The struggles and challenges you will face through the course of your training will only make you a better teacher. If you are waiting for the day when you can finally get your foot behind your head, to become a teacher or commit to take your practice to the next level, you may be denying yourself the opportunity of a lifetime!

Structure of a 200 hour YTT

A 200-hour YTT must incorporate training hours in the following educational categories:

  • Techniques, Training & Practice – 100 hours
  • Teaching Methodology – 25 hours
  • Anatomy & Physiology – 20 hours
  • Yoga Philosophy, Lifestyle & Ethics for Yoga Teachers – 30 hours
  • Practicum – 10 hours

The remaining contact hours (55 hours) and elective hours (15 hours) are to be distributed among the five educational categories above, but the hours may be allocated at the discretion of each Registered Yoga School based on their program’s focus. You will find that each school has a different educational focus, some may include pre-natal, yin yoga, nidra yoga, or yoga for children for example. So it is important to check the details of each program to make sure that it is what you are looking for, or if you want to find a specialty area in which to learn more.

 

Structure of a 300 hour YTT

 A 300-hour advanced training is designed to build upon and deepen the trainee’s understanding of the fundamental concepts of teaching yoga that are generally taught at the 200-hour level. A 300-hour advanced training prepares its trainees to teach principles and techniques of yoga that are more advanced, more detailed, and/or more subtle, and the training enables them to teach with greater skill than could reasonably be expected of a RYT 200.

A 300-hour YTT must incorporate training hours in the same educational categories, but with a slightly different focus on distribution of hours:

  • Techniques, Training & Practice – 50 hours
  • Teaching Methodology – 5 hours
  • Anatomy & Physiology – 15 hours
  • Yoga Philosophy, Lifestyle & Ethics for Yoga Teachers – 30 hours
  • Practicum – 10 hours

The remaining contact hours (190 hours) and elective hours (170 hours) are to be distributed among the five educational categories, as above.

 

 Topics Typically Covered Through Study

  • Asana - physical practice of yoga
  • Pranayama (yogic breathing) – its application to postures and meditation
  • Meditation - developing skills as a meditation teacher is an important part of filling your classes with meaningful content
  • Yoga Philosophy and History - an exploration of the many traditions and their philosophies.
  • The 8 Limbs of Yoga
  • The Chakras – developing an understanding of the energetic body
  • Pantanjali’s Yoga Sutras – learning about the lineage and history of yoga
  • Yoga Anatomy and Physiology - in-depth study of postures, alignment, energetic and health benefits, adjustments, and modifications. Along with an anatomical dissection of poses
  • Sequencing - learning how to use the tools of asana, pranayama and meditation to create your own meaningful sequences
  • Assisting and Adjusting – learning how to help your students to receive the most that they can from each posture
  • The Art of Teaching Yoga – mastering the tools that allow you to take your students on a journey of self-discovery, through both the physical body or inner exploration
  • Practice Teaching – opportunity to teach and refine your ability to deliver a meaningful class, while learning more about your responsibilities in the classroom,
  • The Business of Yoga - creating exciting and meaningful workshops/ private sessions
  • Develop a Yogic Lifestyle - understanding how to incorporate the tools and philosophies of yoga to map out a life of purpose and fulfillment

 Cost

 In the western world you can expect to pay anything upwards of $2,000 with an average price being $2,500 for a 200 hour YTT program and $3,000 for a 300 hour YTT program.

This will, of course, change according to how well known the teacher is. Teachers with both a strong reputation and following within the yoga community, will charge a higher price for their teacher training programs given their experience and brand.

The prices are significantly lower if you choose to study in India. For example a typical teacher training in Rishikesh, in the North of India, will cost you approximately $1350 for a 200 hour teacher training and $1800 for a 300 hour training program. Both prices normally include both food and accommodation (normally a private room with attached bathroom).

It is important to remember to check whether the price you are quoted includes training materials, manuals, exams and training. Another consideration is whether accommodation and meals are included.

 

Intensity

There are so many ways in which to study for the YTT programs.

Below is a sprinkling of the ways:

  • Part time modules over 6 months (weekends and/or evenings);
  • One month full time;
  • 6 weeks full time;

My personal favorite is the complete immersion approach! There really is no better way than to go deeper, faster into the vast sea of yogic tradition, especially in terms of fast tracking your personal practice and progress. Being separated from normal everyday concerns and responsibilities allows you the freedom and space for a rewarding inward journey.

Join us in Mexico

 Yoga Alliance accredited

Check that the school you want to study at is a member of the Yoga Alliance, so that your certificate will be recognized over the world.

 

Other Things to Consider

  • Personality – Make sure you like and respect the head teachers; you will be spending a lot of time with them.
  • Check what style of yoga is taught - vinyasa, iyengar, ashtanga, hatha.
  • Is there a specialty on the course - Yin yoga, pregnant yogis etc., child yoga, acro yoga, and aryeveda.
  •  Check how many students are accepted - No more than 16 is ideal.
  • Most schools allow you to attend classes for free - To help you deepen your practice Yoga Tree offers unlimited free yoga classes in select classes during your 200 Hour Yoga Tree Teacher Training. This provides a great way to deepen your own practice while at the same time refining the skills you are learning in your training.

 

You will never regret signing up for your yoga teacher training program, and Yoga Travel Tree offers a 200 hour Teacher Training in Mexico that will rock your yoga socks right off! Remember that fabulous quote from the Bhagavad Gita - "Yoga is the journey of the self, through yourself, to yourself".

 

Image via : @ponchocottier

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5 Famous Yoga Destinations in India

For many years now, yogi tourists have been searching for spiritual renewal and serenity. Most have made their way to India, in order to study the ancient practices like yoga, Ayurveda healing and meditation. Whether you are looking for daily meditation routine at a spiritual center or a visit for stress reduction, escaping from the busy urban life and self-discovery, the following yoga destinations in India are sure to knock your socks off. [wp_ad_camp_1]

1. Ramamani Iyengar memorial Yoga institute

Yoga is one way of freeing the body, mind and spirit. This particular institute attracts serious visitors who would like to be students of yoga from all over the world. They conduct their regular classes for all levels. They usually perform a form of hatha that mostly focuses on posture popularly known as Iyengar Yoga. This institute emphasizes on in-depth study of yoga and there are various categories for ladies, women, children and those with medical problems.

2. The yoga institute

The yoga institute was established in 1918.The institute, offers various categories from regular classes, weekend classes, children’s regular classes, and couples regular classes and home tuition. For all the visitors, there are various health camps ranging from cooperate workshop, vacation camps for children, specific health campus and 7 day health camp. There is the samattvan program that is recommended for all individuals willing to learn yoga for relief from health ailments for a stress free life and general life fitness. Yoga Adventure Retreat 2015

3. Purple Valley yoga

The purple valley is an institute that specializes in Ashtanga yoga courses in Goa. The yoga class usually goes for two weeks and provides 6 morning classes and 4 afternoon classes every week. The content of the yoga classes vary according to the session and the teacher. It is quite beneficial if students take a full course of 2 weeks. Ashtanga is an ancient method of moving meditation. A system linked by breath and flowing postures. Ashtanga literally means 8 limbs. By maintaining regularity, devotion, calmness and heightened sense of awareness you will be able to learn each series of postures perfectly.

4. Himalaya yoga valley center

Himalaya yoga valley center is India’s international yoga education that delivers quality yoga training with the best workshops and classes for beginners and seasoned practitioners. It is dedicated to share traditional Ashtanga and hatha yoga practices that are passed by great masters to the highest professional standards of training delivery. Himalaya yoga valley center offers yoga retreats from October at Goa which are an excellent opportunity to immerse in the traditional practices. It focuses on improving the well being, happiness and health yoga.

5. Parmarth Niketan, Rishikesh

This is a magnificent mountain setting in the town of Rishikesh that is a wonderful place to study yoga. It is equipped with 1,000 rooms which lie on eight acre campus. It has an extensive program of Vedic heritage, beginner yoga, teacher training courses and spiritually. Parmarth Niketan is one true spiritual haven which lies on the holy banks of mother Ganga.   - Yoga is one of the best ways of relaxing your mind away from the city and meditates without distractions. For a perfect trip, make sure to take your India visa, and get going to these amazing yoga destinations! Check out Yoga Travel Tree's Yogi's Guide to India for even more travel information!

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Top 4 Reasons to do a Yoga Teacher Training in India

[wp_ad_camp_1]Countries the world over have sought to emulate and grow the culture of yoga from India's mother-soil. It is a tradition of wisdom, health and sustainability of life. When you take away the Western trends of yoga, when your practice is stripped down of the expensive mats, clothes and malas to its basic principles, you are at the core of its teachings. You are closer to the source in India because that is where the principles were born, and the culture of an entire country has been built around them.

Fortunately, the cost of traveling to India, including the price of airfare is in line with what you would pay to stay home for your yoga teacher training. That means the choice to travel and learn at the source is a realistic dream for any yogis seeking to complete a teacher certification!  Here are a few perks of doing your training in India:

 

1. Ayurveda 

Ayurveda is more than just the diet regime we are familiar with in the West. Indian lifestyles revolve around, not only the traditional five-taste meals, but a system of healing meant to balance the physical, energetic and spiritual bodies naturally. These principles are inherent in a yogic lifestyle and in India, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about, experience and explore a wider range of these ancient practices.

 

2. An International Education

If you plan to teach internationally, it will benefit you to learn next to students from all over the world. Your peers will be bringing to India traditions and teachings from their own countries. This conglomeration of knowledge will allow you to leave your training with more than just one idea of what yoga is. In India, you will learn a practice that is the foundation for teachings all over the world.

Top 4 Reasons to do a Yoga Teacher Training in India - YogaTravelTree

 

3. Real World Application

On your days off, you’ll be out on the city streets of India, chasing trains and dodging traffic, armed with your arsenal of yogic teachings; and you’ll have the opportunity to apply all of your learning. Urban India is the perfect testing ground for the yogi with its vibrant, exotic and chaotic noise. Men will stare, hawkers will leave you no peace and forget about personal space. You’ll need to focus on your destination and tune in to your body and breath to stay balanced, focused and centered. Not to mention, Indian teachers are not known for their coddling classes. They will give you the lesson, expect you to do the work and then want to see you apply your knowledge. You’ll be forced to leave behind distractions and use and focus on your yoga.

Yoga Adventure Retreat 2015

4. Immersion in Yogic Culture

From the vegetarian friendly cuisine to the damp, tropical weather and Hindu deities and rituals, you’ll be inundated in the culture of your yoga predecessors. You’ll be closely connected to something that began thousands of years ago on the same ground where you stand, where you perform asana.  You’ll return home with a strong foundation for your own wisdom, wisdom you will impart to your students who will feel Mother India in your teachings and spirit.

Top 4 Reasons to do a Yoga Teacher Training in India - YogaTravelTree

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Kristin Daemon is a yoga teacher, freelance writer and owner of Seaside Yoga, a new studio in the small town of Seaside, Oregon on the rugged Pacific Northwest coast.  You can find and friend her on Facebook or check out and follow her blog, kristindaemon.com.

 

Images via: @yogapopau

Ayurvedic Massage in India: The Blissful and Awkward Truth

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India is a Leading Destination for Ayurvedic Treatments and Massage

There is no question of the benefits of an Ayurvedic regime. In fact, we could all benefit by incorporating some of these practices into our daily lives.

But though the idea and practice of Ayurvedic massage is decadent, rarely have I had a massage outside of the United States that went anything like I expected. My Ayurvedic massage in India was no different and I’d like to take this opportunity to tell you what you’ll be getting into so you can lay back, relax and fully enjoy your experience.

 

Four Hands and a Language Barrier

As you enter the small, elaborately decorated and fragrant room, there will be two Indian women ready to disrobe you and begin their work. They do not speak your language and you, most likely, do not speak theirs. If you have any special areas of discomfort you’d like them to avoid, discuss it with the Ayurvedic doctor prior to your massage and make sure your concerns are communicated to the masseuse.

 

Have No Shame

The two women will motion for you to disrobe. They’re not going to leave and they won’t understand (or have much patience for) your protests if you have any. Just trust that they have seen it all before. As you stand there to undress, they will stand there too. We Americans like to leave on an item or two (a masseuse in New Zealand told me this is a practice unique to Americans). Don’t be modest. Take it all off or it will actually be more awkward for all of you. Once you've disrobed, they (might) wrap a paper loin cloth around your, ehem... parts and you will sit on a stool. They will ask you to take your hair down and begin massaging sesame oil onto your scalp. Once you get used to the idea of having warm oil saturating every inch of your face and hair, it is actually very enjoyable and relaxing. Close your eyes and succumb to the process.

 

Full Frontal

After the scalp massage, you’ll lay on a long wooden table that has channels along the edges for oil and water to drain off. The four hands will begin massaging at your toes and move all the way up to your head. Then you’ll flip over and they’ll do the other side. There is no sheet, there is no towel over your rump, just you, your flimsy loin cloth and the four hands. Let go and let it feel good.

Yoga Adventure Retreat 2015

The Scrub-down

After the oil massage and what feels like four hours, they will rinse you off. You’ll think you’re done, but then your super soft, oily skin will be invigorated by a new sensation. The four hands will begin to scrub. You won’t know it’s coming, so you’ll try to lift your head and open one eye. What you’ll see is your body covered in brown sludge. Again, I am writing this article as a service, to tell you what to expect so you can enjoy your experience; so you’ll know what’s coming, appreciate the process and feel good. The four hands will not apply your mud-scrub gently unless you make a big reaction and scrunch your face in pain. Feel free to do just that, from experience, it works…kind of.

 

The Awkward Part

After what must be the fifth hour (in reality only 90 minutes), they’ll start to pour warm water over the mud to rinse it away. It will feel amazing. It will also feel like you need about 15 more buckets. But you’ll be tapped on the forehead, open your eyes and be motioned to get up from the table. The four hands will usher you into the wet room where they will begin to douse and rub your naked body with buckets of warm water. Most likely, this will be the closest thing you've had to a hot shower in weeks and, as weird as it is, you will enjoy it immensely, even if it is administered by four hands that aren't yours. The four hands still won’t be able to get all the scrub off though, so they’ll let you take over and you’ll dump a bucket over your head and rinse and rinse and rinse until the water turns light brown and your hair maybe doesn't smell like peanut butter anymore. Then you’ll grab the tiny towel, pat dry and put on your clothes while the four hands stand by, demurely waiting to usher you out.

 

Don't Miss Out

There are so many benefits of Ayurvedic massage for the mind, body and spirit. This technique is well known for revitalizing the body, balancing the doshas, eliminating toxins, boosting the immune system, relaxing tension and tight muscles, lowering blood pressure, cleansing the lymphatic system and easing stress. The list goes on and on.

Make sure you choose a reputable place and, if possible, get a recommendation from word of mouth. But make sure you get your Ayurvedic massage…in fact, don’t miss it. And know what you’re getting into so you can enjoy everything about the experience and relax into bliss!

 

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Kristin Daemon is a yoga teacher, freelance writer and owner of Seaside Yoga, a new studio in the small town of Seaside, Oregon on the rugged Pacific Northwest coast.  You can find and friend her on Facebook or check out and follow her blog, kristindaemon.com.

 

Images via: @Ayurvedia