An ashram at the foothill of the Himalayas, home for 5 weeks.
You step off the plane and breathe in that exciting new air of something new, something exciting. Depending on your transit to Rishikesh, if you’re a first comer you’re most likely clinging to your driver after experiencing twelve near death experiences on the drive there. You make it to Rishikesh, the town that is meat, plastic bag and alcohol free. A place where the highest caste migrated too after they were forced from their villages decades ago. A place known as the yoga capitol of the world after the Beatles wrote their Let it Be album there throughout the 60’s.
The Vinyasa Yoga School meet you at Laxman Jula and carry your belongings over the bridge to the ashram. You’re greeted by holy cows and money stealing monkeys at every corner. The studio has your bedroom set up, a private room with a bathroom and a heater as Mother Ganga, the spiritually divine river that runs from the Himalayas throughout the town of Rishikesh brings the cool breeze with her late at nights and early in the mornings.
The course runs from 6.30am to 9.30pm Breakfast, lunch and dinner included in your tuition (get used to curry), obviously vegetarian and offering vegan as well. A two hour Hatha class saluting the sun as it rises over mother Ganga, some breakfast then ready for anatomy and philosophy. After your lunch you have a few hours to finish any homework, wander the streets and local stores, or find the wifi so you can upload the perfect Instagram picture. Other classes you come across are pranayama, physiology, health and safety, yoga therapy, shatkarma (who thought self inflicted vomiting would be a yogic exploration), meditation and chanting plus the added extras. You then go into a Vinyasa theory lesson followed by a Vinyasa asana practice. The day ends with dinner together in the communal food hall with stories and experiences coming from yogis all around the globe.
You have Sundays off and the school include optional activities in your tuition. Visiting temples, ashrams or boating down mother Ganga herself. Alternatively you have the option to catch up on any sleep, find a good spot to facetime your loved ones abroad, or get lost in the towns offerings like Parmath Niketans sunset fire ceremonies.
There is a different nature of the north to the south of India. Many students travel before and after, many wish to experience that magic that India offers in its ginormous landscape, wild jungles, temples in coloured cities and the beaches that you dream about. Rishikesh holds a magical aspect of spirituality and respect, a place where women should cover shoulders and knees, as you can get away with this in more tourist locations like Goa. You can come across wild elephants and tigers only a few kilometres down the road, or run into a levitating yogic master in the hills around you.
Your overall experience comes to an end, and although it feels like not much has changed, you can feel the internal growth you have made from the challenges over the course. The new bond of relationships from one side of the earth to the other, adapting to new culture and cuisines. India takes a hold of your heart in a way that you love to hate, but hate to love. Vinyasa Yoga school is one of the highest recommendations for Vinyasa Teacher trainings in Rishikesh.