My Experience With Yoga Teacher Training: Expectation Vs. Reality

On January 9th, 2016, I started my journey into becoming a yogi with the 200-Hour Registered Yoga Teacher training at Vinyasa Yoga School in Rishikesh, India. The course started off with a hawan on the Saturday night (read more about that here) to get us acquainted with our teachers, fellow classmates, and some Indian culture. We received our class schedules and were told we were starting the next day (Sunday, our scheduled day off) because we had only a short time to fit everything into the month.

Our daily schedule was as follows:

5:30-6:00am Tea and fruit time
6:00-8:30am Vinyasa class
45 minute break
9:15-10:15am – Pranayama (breathing techniques)
10:15am-11:30 Breakfast
11:30-12:30pm Yoga Philosophy
15 minute break
12:45pm-1:45pm Physiology and Anatomy
1:45-5:00pm Lunch break
5:00pm-7:00pm Hatha class
30 minute tea break
7:30-8:30pm Meditation
8:30pm Dinner

(Thursday’s we only had Vinyasa and Hatha classes, and Sunday’s we had off completely.)

The next morning when my alarm went off at 5am, I thought someone was playing a cruel joke. As a rule I’m a morning person but getting up at 5am when you are fighting jet lag isn’t my idea of a good time. I dragged myself upstairs to make it on time for tea, made small talk with my classmates, and laid my mat out in the yogashala in preparation for my very first class. I breezed through my first yoga class with ease, marvelling at how flexible and strong I already was.

Just kidding. I thought I was going to die. I was shocked at how weak and out of shape I was. I try to make exercise a priority at home, but during the last month (okay, maybe two months) I had majorly fallen off the bandwagon of running and yoga, all the while fully indulging in the delicious drinks and eats that come along with the holiday season. During the class I was constantly comparing myself to the others, thinking “all these people are so much better than I am, I’m the fattest one here,  I’m so bad at this”, and all the other things our ego puts in our heads to tell us we aren’t good enough. I left the class feeling defeated and negative. Not a great way to start a month long course.


Beatles Ashram grafitti.

But, as things always seem to do, it got better. Once I got used to being exhausted most of the time, and with the support of Jeff, my attitude changed and I started enjoying my time. We both had tried to come to India and into the course with no expectations, which as we all know can be harder then you’d think. The following are the expectations vs. the realities that I encountered during my time at Vinyasa Yoga School.

Expectation: I’m going to be so flexible and skinny when I’m done and I’m going to be able to bend my body into a pretzel and do the splits.

Reality: Hell frickin’ no. I’ve noticed a change in the way I look, but can’t say I’m more flexible. After the first two weeks of the course, I found myself less flexible and poses that I used to be able to do before I came (poses that stretch your hips) were really difficult. Our classes focused more on strength then flexibility, so I did notice my strength improved considerably over the month, and I am able to do some poses that I never could (forearm stand). I wish our course would have focused a little bit more time increasing flexibility, but now I have something to work towards! It will come with practice.


Laxman Jhula street art.

Expectation: I’m going to be so good at teaching after this.

Reality: I feel like I have a lot more self exploration and personal practice and learning to do before I will be ready to teach as a job. That was one of the complaints of the course and a few of us didn’t feel like we had gained enough knowledge of how to actually teach. I can only speak for this course as I don’t know if it is synonymous with teacher training in general, but I know I’ve got some more work to do 😊.

Expectation: Since I’m doing so much yoga and eating vegetarian, I’m going to feel so good all the time and sleep like a baby.

Reality: For the first week I had insomnia. If I was lucky I would get 3 hours of sleep a night, which isn’t near enough for the activities we were doing, and I could only fall asleep during class! That improved and then the second week I got a nasty head cold, and the third week I got the flu. Almost everyone got sick at some point, which is common when you are sharing a small space with so many people. At one point I got a knot in my shoulder blade that was so nasty I couldn’t practice yoga. The course kicks your ass, and during the first couple weeks your body is detoxing and getting used to the four hours of yoga you are putting it through, so getting sick is likely. Homesickness is also inevitable , but luckily Jeff and I had each other and with technology these days keeping in touch with family and friends is easy.

Expectation: I’m going to find my inner peace.

Reality: India isn’t really a peaceful place. With the pollution, poverty, horns and droves of people it can be difficult to focus on anything but. (India is a lot more than those things though!) We’ve realized that inner peace is exactly that. You do not need to fly halfway across the world to find it.

Expectation: I will learn to meditate properly.

Reality: Aside from the fact that during the first couple weeks every time I’d lie down for meditation or for savasana at the end of class, I would fall into a deep sleep, I’ve learned that meditation takes a lot of work and practice, and it isn’t really something can be taught to you. It isn’t a black and white subject and is your own personal journey.


Expectation:  This experience is going to be challenging and life changing.

Reality: Finally I was right. This experience challenged me in ways I didn’t know were possible. It has helped give me the tools to hopefully become a teacher someday, and has helped put me on the path to healing the issues that we all have but sometimes don’t want to deal with. India as a country ripped my heart wide open and I’m so grateful for Jeff being there to support me through it all, and for the beautiful souls that I’ve met during my time at yoga teacher training in the little yogi town on the banks of the Ganga.

The following are some pictures Jeff snapped during our graduation ceremony.



If you have any questions more specific to Vinyasa Yoga School in Rishikesh, email me!

Britt 😊

Time Well Spent in Rishikesh

We’ve spent almost 5 weeks in Rishikesh, mainly the Laxman Jhula area and were able to do almost everything that peaked our interest. We agree that for someone just visiting town and not enrolled in some type of program, one or two weeks is plenty of time to experience most of what this area has to offer.

Most travelers spend their time here bent in a yoga pose, deep in meditation and/or smoking their way to enlightenment in one of the many cafes overlooking the Ganges. Bungee jumping and water rafting is also possible for the thrill seekers (sounds fun but we passed on it). Treks are supposed to be amazing as well.

A lot of our usual shenanigans we already covered here, Rishikesh: First Impressions.

Here is a few different activities we enjoyed.

Unguided Hike and Waterfall Tour

Word on the street is there are two waterfalls within walking distance of Laxman Jhula. It was my day off yoga and we decided to go find them on our own. Guides are available but really cramp our style. Heading north on the main road leaving Laxman Jhula we noticed we were being followed. Turns out we did find a guide, this mother and pup team joined us for the full trek. Here’s a picture of them napping at the waterfall.DSC01589

About 20 minutes out of town we came across a small temple. This is where we were told to start walking up in the jungle to find the first waterfall. The police were setup at the temple and told us the area was closed and we cannot see the waterfall. Not really understanding why, we walked up the road a bit further. Five minutes later there was a small food stall selling chai. Just behind it was a trail leading into the jungle. We decided to explore and felt confident with mama dog guarding us. Our intuition told us it looped back to the waterfall trail the police told us we couldn’t go on. We were right, after a fairly intense 15 minute uphill hike we came to a big cave and the waterfall, which we had all to ourselves.


There is a bigger waterfall close by which we tried to check out the following Sunday but were never able to find it. Mama joined us on this hike as well, minus the pup this time.



Scooter Cruisin’

There is nothing better then wind in your hair, one hundred and ten cubic centimetres of pure Honda goodness beneath your seat and the arms of your lady wrapped around your waist. We spent the day winding around the back roads with Macklemore’s hit song Downtown on repeat in our heads. 350 rupees ($7 CAD) well spent!


We enjoyed the road on the hillside that runs from Laxman Jhula to Rishikesh on the east side of the Ganga. It was away from the in-town crowds but still poses some safety hazards like road side cliffs, blind corners, animal crossings and potholes. Rishikesh isn’t the safest place to rent a scooter, but luckily they aren’t necessary to get around either. Just a fun way to spend the afternoon.



Ganga Aarti Light Ceremony

Every evening at dusk on the banks of the Ganga at Parmarth Niketan ashram, locals and tourists gather for the daily Ganga Aarti ceremony. Aarti is a devotional ritual that uses fire as an offering to the Goddess Ganga, goddess of the most holy river in India. The ritual takes place facing the river, where lamps are lit and circled around by the pandits (Hindu priests) while songs in praise of Mother Ganga are played. The idea is that the lamps acquire the power of the deity.


The ceremony commences with a Hawan, a fire ceremony in which we burn our ego to reveal purity, allowing us to learn without doubt. During the ceremony, the Hindi word “swaha” is chanted to the fire by all in attendance, which translates in English as “take it” (asking the fire to take our ego). During our time in India, we were able to attend three of these ceremonies, as they seem to take place quite often.


The ceremony is completely free and everyone is welcome. It is a great way to spend the evening and immerse yourself in the culture.

Hair Cut and a Shave

Maybe not the most thrilling experience but getting a haircut and shave is worthy of mention. There are plenty of salons to choose from. We managed to find this highly recommended, yet extremely small shop located underneath a set of stairs in the Tapavon area. This guy is a true master of his trade. Armed with scissors and a straight razor, he does great work and includes a head massage. Cost is “as you wish”, 100-200 rupees is customary ($2-4 CAD).


Final Thoughts

We really enjoyed our time in Laxman Jhula and the surrounding area, but as we said, 1-2 weeks would be enough time if you weren’t enrolled in a course. The town has an almost magical vibe about it, but there is as much darkness as there is magic. The more well-known it gets, the easier it will be for people to exploit the spirituality and the faster that magic will disappear. Until then, it will remain the little yogi town on the banks of the Ganga.

We will leave you with some pictures we snapped from around Laxman Jhula.

Britt and Jeff 🙂




Rishikesh: First Impressions

Its January 15th and we have been in Rishikesh one week. Rishikesh is a meat-free and alcohol-free city located in northern India, nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas along the Ganges River. The river is considered holy (known by the locals as The Ganga), and the city is known as “the birth place of yoga”, and is filled with places to study and practice yoga. There are many temples and ashrams (centres for spiritual studies), and the city attracts hippies, backpackers and people seeking personal and spiritual growth from all over the world.

Britt is 6 days into her month long Yoga Teacher Training Course at Vinyasa Yoga School (she will post an update on that soon). Our time has been spent exploring most of the area around Laxman Juhla, a large suspension bridge crossing the Ganges. We have yet to venture downstream to the further reaches of town.

During the day, the streets are filled with scooters, cows, and folks eating, shopping, taking classes, and taking in the sights. Here are some pictures of our favourite things to do here.

Cafe Hopping/Eating


One of our fav spots Little Buddha


Some live music inside Royal Cafe


Chai Tea time inside Little Buddha


The evening view from Krishna Cafe


Israeli breakfast at Pyramid Cafe ($2.50 CAD)


Dinner time! Veggie Masala at Little Buddha


Pizza at Little Buddha (we told you it was our fav) ($3.50 CAD)


Nutella and Banana Crepes at Devraj Cafe, a popular spot! The coffee was very strong but we hadn’t drank one for a while so it still hit the spot.


Protein Packed vegan pancakes and green tea at Delmar Cafe aka 60’s Cafe, a tribute joint to the Beatles.


Indian Breakfast at Cafe De Goa, great view of the bridge. The Indian style pickles that come with this dish are so strong but delicious.


Walking the Streets


A look down the street, close to Hotel Qube where we are staying.


One of many vendors selling colourful bags and fabrics.


Fruit stand and a cow peeking down from above. You can buy whole fruits or have them pressed into juice right before your eyes.


We’ve been leery of the Lime Soda Stand, as refreshing as they look we don’t know if they use safe water. The Butter Cookies we have tried, and they are awesome!


Shiva is the most popular Momo spot in our area.


Fried Momo’s from Shiva. (50 IRN – 80 cents CAD)


Tons of options for street food here. Everyone seems to be eating it but we heard it can make you sick…the odd meal out is totally worth the risk! So far so good.


Cuddling cows!


Monkeys are all over Rishikesh, especially around the bridge. They are cute but they will steal your food and are known to get aggressive, don’t make eye contact!



These larger black faced ones seem to be the most aggressive. We were sitting in a cafe when one jumped in the window and stole food right off someones plate!


Yoga and Meditation


Classes and retreats literally everywhere.


Britt studying for her course


Britt after her welcome ceremony at Vinyasa Yoga School.


Taking in the View






Dip in the Ganga


Some locals and tourists going for a dip in the holy waters.


Jeff getting his feet wet in the Ganga with a young lad who is hustling flowers for Buddha.


Hanging with the Locals





This is a list of our favourite things to do, thus far. We have only been here a week, and we still have about four weeks to go, there is much more to do here.