Published On: Fri, Mar 9th, 2018

Studying Yoga in India

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Many yoga students and travellers come to India wanting to learn yoga in the birthplace of the tradition. But India is filled with yoga teachers, and India’s famous yoga centres such as Rishikesh and Mysore attract thousands of students every year. Studying yoga in India can be a very different experience from taking a yoga class in an average Western yoga studio or at the local gym. When deciding where to go and who to study with, here are some questions to ask.

Studying Yoga in India

Is It Possible to Learn Yoga in Two Weeks?

Many of the more reputable yoga schools in India require a minimum time commitment, often at least a month. Some will only accept students who have years of previous experience in their style of yoga, and expect potential students to make a serious commitment by spending time (and money) with the teacher. If one cannot commit to more than a couple of weeks with a teacher, one should consider how much yoga it is really possible to learn in that time.

Who Taught the Yoga Teacher?

What is the lineage? Meaning, who was the teacher’s teacher? Did s/he commit years of his/her life to studying with a particular teacher, did s/he learn from several teachers, or did s/he just come up with this style of yoga last year while trying to figure out a way to make money from gullible tourists?

The traditional way to learn yoga in India is the Guru Parampara, the passing on of teachings from a teacher to a student. In the guru tradition students spend a large part of their lives with one guru who passes on his/her knowledge to the student over a period of several years. For example, TKV Desikachar learned yoga from his father, the famous T. Krishnamacharya, who also taught BKS Iyengar, the founder of the Iyengar system, and Sri K Pattabhi Jois, the guru of Ashtanga yoga and the founder of the Sri K Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute in Mysore.

How to Find a Genuine Yoga Master in India?

The word “master” does not guarantee quality. Many of the greatest yoga teachers do not call themselves masters. There are also many teachers who insist on being called yoga gurus and master whether they deserve the title or not. Just because someone was born in India doesn’t mean that s/he automatically becomes a master in yoga.

Other students’ experiences are helpful, but one person’s perfect teacher may not be the right teacher for everyone. Sometimes it is best to trust one’s own instincts.

What About Yoga Teacher Training in India?

Many yoga enthusiasts travel to India in the hope of becoming a yoga teacher. Before embarking on a yoga teacher training course, it is important to find out how long the teacher has been teaching yoga, and maybe even more importantly, how long the teacher has been practicing yoga.

It is not difficult to find a yoga teacher training program in India. But before signing up for a training course that turns anyone who walks in into a certified yoga teacher within two weeks, regardless of any previous yoga experience, the question to ask is: would you want to learn yoga from someone who has only practiced it for a couple of weeks?

About the Author

- Paul Linus is an eminent online journalist who has been writing news, features and editorials on different websites from across the world for about a decade. He can be contacted at

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