First of all: there are so many yoga schools in India - each with mixed reviews - so it’s important to read between the lines and evaluate class size, your food, accommodation and curriculum. I chose to go to Devvrat Yoga Sanga in Varkala, Kerala instead of Rishikesh (the yoga capital of the world) to be close to a beautiful beach - and honestly, I liked the look of their website.
Everyone was super nervous about being the worst in the class on the first day of school, and shy to express their wish to actually teach, verus doing the course for personal development. But the range of abilities and ages in the group was inspiring, and yoga teaches you to leave your ego at the door. My school teaches Ashtanga (a strict and challenging sequence that is always the same) and Hatha (slower, holding asanas for longer). Most of us had never done Ashtanga before.
The timetable is pretty punishing: 7am to 6pm everyday, with study and life admin happening in the breaks. But we still snuck in a cheeky beach swim at lunch.
You have the opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and try new things - like teaching the class opening and savasana, demonstrating perfect asana alignment, beach yoga and meditation.
The food and accomodation is basic (no air-con) but everything you need. The food is simple but delicious vegetarian Sattvic (Ayurvedic, light and clean), delivered three times a day by guys on the back of a motorbike, Having meal preparation and the decision about what to eat taken away, allows you to fully concentrate on your studies.
The anatomy and philosophy classes are just as challenging as the Ashtanga. At times I thought my brain was going to explode with all of the new information, but it’s amazing that after a month I had learnt:
The basics of a new language - Sanskrit - for all the yoga poses
To not be competitive when in class, and focus of achieving the best pose for my anatomy
How to sequence a class
Which muscles are being activated in an asana
But most importantly I found my inner Santosha through learning how to be still and be content with what I have in my life.