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For those who would like to deepen their insights into the science of yoga and Ayurveda, as well as pursue teaching certification, this is an ideal opportunity. Imagine delving into an intensive 4-week training at a traditional ashram in Rishikesh, a holy Ganges-side town in the foothills of the Himalayas. Living in the ashram environment is the best way to truly integrate the yogic teachings into your life and to be able to focus exclusively on yoga and practice.
You will be accommodated in the Anand Prakash Ashram. The ashram has two practice halls, the Patanjali Sadhana Hall on the lower level and the Nataraj Yoga Hall on the third floor with beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. The Nataraj Yoga Hall has a wood laminate floor and a vaulted bamboo ceiling creating a clean, authentic, and natural space for yoga practice. Each hall has pillows, bolsters, and yoga mats available.
The ashram, also, has a library and a sitting room for you to enjoy during your stay. There is a budding selection of English, Japanese, and Hindi books on yoga and spiritual fiction which you may borrow from the library to read in the sitting room or in your own room. The library is open for one hour most days after lunch and most evenings after dinner.
The Yoga Alliance has set a widely-accepted international standard for Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) programs which includes a minimum of 180 contact hours across five areas of teaching: techniques, philosophy/lifestyle/ethics, teaching methodology, anatomy, and a teaching practicum. Here is how Akhanda Yoga explores these teaching areas in their YTT programs.
Asana, pranayama and kriya techniques will be taught, practiced and trainees will then practice teaching them to their peers. There will be time to develop one’s own asanas, learn about benefits, checkpoints and contraindications, as well as to teach and assist peers during group teaching sessions. Group teaching means that you will form a circle and each participant demonstrates and teaches one asana while others either perform the technique or assist their peers. (Contact Hours: 100)
A variety of asanas from the following groups of asanas will be covered including gentle beginner and intermediate variations. Trainees will learn how to enter and exit a pose, how to use the breath in the asana, checkpoints for alignment, benefits and contraindications for the asana, and how to assist students in the pose.
Categories of asanas: standing and balancing asanas, forward bends, back bends, side bends, twisting poses, crouching and seated poses, poses on the abdomen, poses on the back, inverted poses and meditation poses. Trainees will also learn how to adapt the techniques for specific ages, levels, some ailments, and in the case of pregnancy. They will learn warm-up techniques and relaxation poses including the importance of deep breathing in relaxation to prevent muscle fatigue and the build-up of lactic acid in the muscles.
Teacher trainees will learn the form, benefits and contraindications of the following pranayama techniques, as well as when to incorporate them into the class and how to introduce pranayama techniques: abdominal breathing, the three-part breath, ujjai pranayama, bhramaree pranayama, anuloma viloma, and kapalabhati pranayama. Trainees will learn how to perform these pranayamas with the bandhas and with relatively short breath retention (Kumbhaka) when appropriate.
In order to perform the retention in the above breathing techniques, it is necessary to teach and learn Mula bandha, Jalandara bandha and Uddiyana bandha, the latter also being instrumental to kriyas such as nauli. The purpose of the bandhas will be discussed in its relation to the uniting of prana and apana to channel them into the shushumna nadi.
Trainees will learn the following kriyas, their benefits, primarily for their own practice, and later how to introduce the kriya to a class: jal neti, jal kapalabhati, agni sara, and tratak.
In the theory section, the goal and paths of yoga will be discussed, thereby leading to the concept and techniques of meditation. Guided meditation will be explored, including creative visualization, meditation using yantra, mantra, ideation, ishta chakra and the withdrawl of the senses from external objects. Students will be guided in choosing a mantra for meditation, as well as an ishta chakra.
The idea of mantra will be explored, as a mystical energy encased in a sound structure in relation to both saguna (nama) mantras and nirguna mantras such as Om. Trainees will learn to chant and present yogic mantras for the beginning and/or ending of yoga classes (such as the Shanti mantra or the Jyothi mantra). Bija mantras for purifying the chakras will also be explored including the timing and procedure for using these mantras in meditation.
During the transformational experiences evening program, students will delve into the practice of both nama and abstract kiirtan, as well as Vedic mantras such as: the Gayatri mantra, the Mahamrityunjaya (healing) mantra, the Shanti mantra, the Loving-kindness mantra, and the Akhanda mantra. Transformational experiences will also include some rituals, sharing, healing circles and creative movement.
Yogic and Ayurvedic concepts of nutrition will be presented and compared, as well as the concepts of daily cleansing rituals, self massage, and other practices.
The program attributes quite a bit of emphasis to this section, as at Akhanda Yoga it is believed that Western students of yoga tend to focus more thoroughly on the physical aspects of yoga: alignment, health benefits etc. than on the philosophical base and framework of yoga, including the practice of yoga off the mat. This section will introduce yoga psychology and philosophy through discussions on Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, Chapters One and Two. Trainers will present sutras, and also use pairwork and group work discussions to give trainees the opportunity to explore how these sutras relate to their practice, and how they live their lives.
Patanjali’s eight-fold path is the climax of chapter two, and the trainers will offer concrete examples of how to implement Yamas and Niyamas in our daily lives. Trainees will have the opportunity to discuss their understanding and experience of these yogic guidelines. They will also be guided to see the interrelationship of all of the ten principles, as well as the interrelationship of the different paths of yoga. The paths (Bhakti, Karma, Raja and Jnana) will also be introduced in both a philosophical and practical light.
Students will be required to give a 15-minute talk on one of the Sutras or on a comparison between Yoga and another esoteric system. (Contact Hours: 30)
As a natural extension to the ten principles (Yamas and Niyamas), as well as the discussions on Teaching Methodology, you will be drawn into a discussion of professionalism and ethics in the teaching profession in general and the yoga profession in particular. Akhanda Yoga will present its Statement of Professional Standards, and discuss as a group the importance of having and maintaining codes of professional standards.
In the 20 hours of anatomy and physiology class, students will be learning both about the physical system and the subtle body.
Practical teaching methodology includes how to demonstrate, observe, cue and assist students. This will be integrated with the Techniques class. The importance of language used to describe entry will also be modeled, along with maintaining and exiting poses. For example, in the forward bend, the image of “surrendering the body to the force of gravity” is a useful, and gentle image, as is “inhale release slightly, exhale and sink into the pose – feel the pulse of the pose”, as opposed to “pull” or “push”-style language.
Theoretical discussions of methodology (pedagogy) aim to explore how to become a transformational facilitator, or teacher rather than just an instructor. This includes such topics as: the art of sequencing, creating a safe space, establishing a student-centered class, managing group dynamics, language and cuing, the ethics of assisting, and creating a yogic environment for learning, (including the dress of the teacher, yogic colours, the direction of the class etc). Trainees will also discuss qualities that will be instrumental to them as teachers. (Contact Hours: 25)
This class aims to teach trainees about anatomy and how it relates to yoga. Teachers and students will be guided by resources such as Anatomy and Asana, and The Anatomy of Movement. Subjects will include the study of the skeleton, muscles and joints, the cardio-vascular system, the respiratory system and the endocrine system and how they are benefited by yoga.
Subtle anatomy is the yogic teaching regarding the three bodies, the physical body, the astral body and the causal body, as well as the five corresponding sheaths, and the yogic techniques that purify each sheath. Further, the concept of nadis, and chakras will be explored. The shape, location, associated glands, and characteristics of each chakra will be explored. This subject will be complemented by the practical meditation sessions and chanting sessions which will explore meditating and chanting to purify the chakras. It will also complement the discussion of the ida, pingala and shushumna nadis that is intrinsic to any discussion of pranayama and the bandhas.
In the first half of the program, trainees will be gradually introduced to teaching by teaching a peer one pose in the Techniques class. This will progress towards teaching one pose to the whole group ‘Group Teaching’. In second half of the course, the trainees will each teach three classes with a peer. Each will teach 40 minutes for a whole 1 hour and 20 minute class. They will then get 20 minutes of feedback from their peers and from the trainer. The first round will be a beginner’s class; the second round will be an intermediate class; and for the third round, teams can choose to teach either a gentle, prenatal, dynamic, beginner, all levels or intermediate class. (Contact Hours: 22, including 5 hours of teaching a partner, small group and classes)
At least one year of regular weekly yoga study with one or two yoga teachers. At Akhanda Yoga, they believe that committing to a yoga teacher for a period of time really helps to develop the teaching-learning relationship, and is much different from dropping in once or twice with a teacher and then continuing on in the same way with other teachers. They ask that you list the yoga classes you have attended and with which teachers on the application form. Exceptions may be made for students in very small towns without access to weekly yoga classes, but who travel regularly to larger centers for workshops and classes.
Enjoy cultural excursions on the first two weekends of the course:
The ashram, Anand Prakash, is located in the dynamic international village of spiritual seekers in an area of Rishikesh called Tapovan, about 250 kilometers north of Delhi. The Ganges river valley here is surrounded by mountains on three sides and it is considered the gateway to the Himalayas. Tapovan is an ideal location for yoga sadhana; it is named for its heritage as a site for spiritual disciplines. Tap, represents tapas, the practice of spiritual disciplines. Van means forest. So, Tapovan is the forest of the yogis.
Anand Prakash is on a headland above the banks of the Ganges, one of the first open spaces down river from the source of the Ganges. The wind and all the prana carried from the Himalayas whistle down the river valley and blow out over this headland invigorating the ashram area.
Three meals a day are provided in the dining hall overlooking the mountains to the north of the ashram. The ashram gets about 75% of its food (depending on the season) directly from the organic farm next door to the Helping Hands for India school project, including wheat, rice, carrots, turnip, etc. Food is fresh cooked Sattvic vegetarian including a varied day to day menu.
Akhanda Yoga strives to provide you with nourishing, clean, and tasty yogic food and to offer options such as sugar-free and milk-free porridge and tea. They offer both rice and chapatti at lunch and dinner. Often, people choose one or the other at a meal for easier digestion. These are the main grains available locally.
Please note that you will study and practice 5.5 days a week. On weekends, you will have time to explore the local cultural and spiritual sites. Your tuition fee covers guided experiences including an orientation tour of North Rishikesh, hike to nearby waterfall, tour through artisan markets and musical sunset ceremony, Aarti, on the banks of the Ganges River, and more.
Please book your flight to arrive at Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL). From there, you can take either a train, bus, or hire a car.
There are buses from many locations in India to Rishikesh bus terminal.
Once you are in Rishikesh: Take a taxi or auto-rickshaw (also called 3-wheeler or tuktuk) to Laxman Jhoola stop on Badrinath Road (the high road). Tuktuks can be hired to take you alone for 75 rupees, or will stop to pick up others like a mini-bus and each passenger pays 10 rupees. From the tuktuk stop, continue walking along Badrinath Road about 1 kilometer. You will see Kaintura Plaza on the right hand side followed shortly afterwards by a small lane going downhill. Turn down here and the first left you will see Ayurpak Restaurant and next door, Anand Prakash Yoga Ashram. The ashram building is yellow with red trim. There are many ashram signs with directions.
There is a train from New Delhi called the Shatabdhi Express that leaves at 6:55 a.m. daily and takes 4.5 hours to Haridwar. From Haridwar, you can take a bus to Rishikesh and a 3-wheeler to the ashram, or a taxi directly to the ashram. The taxi can be arranged for you by the ashram. Please write to the ashram to arrange a taxi from most locations to avoid paying highly inflated prices from less honest strangers. Three days advance notice or more is helpful to ensure a car is available.
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