Yoga India

»Solid teaching and the chance to learn the art of self-practice«

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The young yogi who owns and operates Yoga India is the modern face of an age-old practice. Trained in three of our top Indian centers, he brings a harmonious blend of knowledge to his Hatha and Vinyasa Flow classes. Using the Mysore style of self-led yoga practice, this intimate learning space is one of the best for developing a personal yoga program under the guidance of a highly skilled teacher.

Yoga India is a small shala in Gokulam, Mysore. Accommodating groups of no more than 16, it is headed up by Bharath Shetty, a young man with a mature approach and what we believe to be a great future in yoga teaching. Offering the broad General Hatha style, as well as the fashionable Vinyasa Flow, Shetty brings together the dynamism of Vinyasa with the perfection of Iyengic poses in a well-rounded curriculum.

Bharath Shetty's background is impressive: He graduated from the famous SVYASA yoga university and has studied under the great guru BKS Iyengar as well as in the prestigious Sivananda Ashram in Neyyar Dam. This trinity gives Shetty a knowledge base that is far beyond his tender years and he has a swag of yoga championship wins to his credit. Fortunately, his skills have not lent him an air of self-aggrandizement. Instead, the opposite is true. His modest lack of pretension is one of the most endearing characteristics of the shala, and deeply enhances the course classes, which focus on yoga and not on personality.

All courses are taught in the Mysore style, which can mean a steep learning curve for anyone used to a one-size-fits-all type of yoga class. The Mysore style is essentially self-led practice. A teacher will develop a plan with a student, and give a small amount of initial instruction. The student then practices alone for a few sessions, after which a teacher-led class is held, where a student will be guided into new skills and have their existing skills fine-tuned. While the Mysore style is not for everyone, it can be deeply gratifying for those who want to gain the tools required to advance their own yoga practice alone, as well as focus on each pose and each breath without the distraction of a teacher 'spoon-feeding' them.

The Foundation Course is, as the name suggests, open to beginners as well as more advanced yogis who want to deepen their yoga knowledge. It runs for a minimum of two weeks, although four weeks is the advised length. Lesson plans are tailored to individual students, depending on the desired outcomes and physical capabilities – a great benefit to those who are taking the course as a stepping stone to the Teacher Training Course. The curriculum is fairly light, with a mandatory morning class and an optional afternoon class in further skills.

The Teacher Training Course is arguably the most compelling reason to attend Yoga India. Accredited with the Yoga Alliance, this training program goes beyond the minimum amount of hours required by the international yoga body. Running over 200+ hours (500+ if the optional month is taken up), the Teacher Training Course has a demanding schedule of six days a week, from early in the morning until late in the evening. A strong body and mind are compulsory for acceptance into the course, as is a strong background in yoga. Minimum prerequisite is a year or more of prior experience, or at least an impressive demonstration of skill in the Foundation Course. The expansive curriculum covers anatomy, nutrition, philosophy, chanting, asanas, pranayama and the skill of teaching, which may sound obvious but is sometimes sorely lacking in yoga Teacher Training courses. The practice modules also give the opportunity for students to lead their own classes and have their classmates critique their performance - an invaluable mirror held up to the learner before he or she moves into the wider world of yoga instruction.

Yoga India does not offer food or accommodation. All local knowledge is cheerfully and freely offered however, and Mysore has no shortage of inexpensive places to stay and eat. It is common for pairs or trios of foreign yoga students in India to rent together, often forming friendships that last long after the course is over.

This yoga center is still something of a hidden secret. Combining the intimate appeal of a small shala with the teaching qualifications and skills of a much larger organization, Yoga India is a reliable source of a complete grounding in all the skills necessary to build a healthy yoga-practice-for-one, or a certification of teaching ability that is honestly gained. Get in before word gets out.

About the area: Mysore

Mysore was once the hub of India's economic existence. While that title has been taken over by Bangalore, Mysore is still a relaxed and very pretty place to visit. There is an old-world feel here, a gentility that seems to be a holdover from 19th century India. Considered to be the incense capital of the country, Mysore's open-air markets are a sweet-smelling and completely unique experience. The ten-day Dhussera festival, held in October each year, is a city-wide celebration of a mythical triumph of good over evil. The city comes alive, and the main parade is a great chance to make the acquaintance of some of the city's holy elephants. Apart from monsoon season (June – August) Mysore is climatically pleasant year-round. Although summer temperatures can reach 39 degrees C, the humidity is low enough to make the heat bearable.

Image credit: Coni Hörler Photography

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