Tuesday, 6 December 2016

AYM Yoga School, Association For Yoga and Meditation Rishikesh

When I was looking at places to go to do yoga teacher training in Rishikesh I struggled to find many reviews that seemed to have people's complete opinions, every review seemed to be 100% positive which let's face it nothing is completely perfect so here are all my thoughts from the course. No matter what I have written I would defiantly recommend anyone thinking of signing up for this course to do it. I had a great time and met some wonderful people, I did the June-July 2016 200h teacher training course.

me teaching

The school was located at the top of a hill within walking distance to the shops and restaurants, I was really happy with the location and I was relieved not to be down in the town area that is a lot more dirty and noisy. Our class size was nice we had about 18 people. The 200h course is taught in the large yoga room with wooden floors and big windows that is shown on the website. The yoga room has air conditioning and fans, the power goes out quite frequently but the school has a backup generator so it usually does not go out for too long. The 300h course is taught in another room on the roof that is not as nice but from recent FB posts, it looks like they have replaced the carpet with wood floors which would make it way better.

You are served 3 meals a day plus tea the only meal that is not provided is Sunday lunch. The breakfast includes a bowl of fresh fruit each day with either porridge, muesli, smashed rice and occasionally served with yoghurt.  About once a week you will have paratha with pickle and a Lasi for breakfast. For lunch and dinner, you are served a salad of tomatoes and cucumbers etc alongside a dal, curry, rice and roti, with the occasional pasta or pizza dinner. The food is pretty good you will not go hungry there is plenty to eat, the food is a little bland but this is because it is a yoga diet which is not supposed to be spicy or oily, no meat, fish, poultry, or eggs served.
practising some partner yoga in our spare time

Our schedule:
7am - 8am Meditation
8am - tea 
8:30 - 10am Ashtanga 
10am - Breakfast 
10:30 - 11:30am -Mantra/ Teaching methodology 
11:30 - 1pm- Teacher Training (This starts after about 5 or 6 days)
Break/Karma yoga (Karma yoga pretty much means cleaning the yoga room, you do this 1-2 times per week for about 30 minutes)
3-4pm - Anatomy 
4:15-5:15 - Philosophy 
5:30-7pm - Hatha 
7pm - Dinner

Meditation: Vikal Sajwan 
Nice teacher, very smiley. His classes focus on pranayama breathing exercises. We had a guest lecturer come in twice that did a sort of dancing meditation which was a fun change.
Ashtanga: Manisha and Sumit 
Both are wonderful friendly teachers this class is mostly for building up your strength and getting through the ashtanga series, there is not as much focus on explaining the poses, but that is done in Hatha so it's ok. Sumit's yoga is a little more advanced he can do some pretty amazing poses but I am really happy that we had 2 different teachers so we could learn from teachers with two different teaching styles.
Mantra/ Teacher training: Arpit 
He does the mantra and teaching training, he is quite a young teacher he is a lovely guy but sometimes his advice is very basic and he needs to speak up. Truthfully I expected a bit more in this class. The later classes are focused on you and your fellow students teaching each other.
Anatomy: Sumit ie. Dr Stretch 
Interesting lectures, mostly on how different yoga positions affect different muscles, he also shows ways to become more flexible in poses. Sumit goes through the different systems of the body including the muscular and skeletal system. Look forward to the closing chant ;)
Philosophy: Dr Gauran Agrawal 
Great teacher engaging stories very interesting to listen to.
Hatha: Jaya 
An amazing teacher is very good at explaining and demonstrating exactly how to do the poses correctly.

Transfer from Delhi to Rishikesh:
Tips: Take a Xanex or Fly
My flight landed from Hong Kong at about 10pm at night and there were no flights to Dehradun airport until about 7am, so I decided to book a car with the school for Delhi to Rishikesh. I have taken cars all over Asia and I am used to crazy driving but this is not fun at all, the drive takes around 7 hours at night, possibly longer during heavy traffic. Lots of passing, honking, flashing lights and driving head-on into traffic. It's an experience but not sure I would do it again. I would suggest if your flight lands late either getting a hotel or waiting in the area where you collect your luggage until the morning then flying.

(Also I asked the school a few times if it was possible to share a car to Rishikesh but I was informed by the yoga school that there was no one on my flight when in reality there turned out to be another girl on my same flight and another girl who was interested in sharing a car from Delhi. They booked separate cars for us)

On the return journey, I booked a flight from Dehradun it was about a 20-minute taxi drive from the yoga school. The only issue is there is a 15kilo limit on your luggage compared to international flights which is around 20kilo-25kilos and they are pretty spastic that your weight is under that amount. I booked extra luggage online when I booked the flight and I was 2 kilos over the limit. After shuffling around the things in my luggage, I was informed I only needed to pay 100 rupee extra per kilo, which I think may have been cheaper than the rate I got online. Make sure you have a paper copy of your booking with you and if you booked extra luggage allowance make sure it says it on the paper, you need the booking to get through the airport gate.

What to bring:
Towel & Bath matt
Sheets (For single bed), Blanket (the ones they supplied are gross)
Combination locker style lock for door
Flip flops
Headlight/flashlight- Frequent power outages
Bug spray
Sewing kit - The clothing you buy in the markets is not very good and needs to be repaired frequently
Hairdryer - I did the summer course so it was not an issue, but in the winter I think you may want one.
I brought a mosquito net but there was nowhere to hang it, and all windows had screens on them anyways.
Medicine - Antibiotics, pain killers, Imodium, first aid kit. Something for muscle soreness.
Extra things people brought that were useful 
Room spray to get rid of bugs  (There were a few bugs around but not that many but the spray defiantly helped)
Cleaning spray/cleaning cloth (You need to clean your own room)
Fly swatter - hmm this may be overkill but the flys drove me a little mad, I know your not suppose to kill things but they made me crazy

ATM/EPS Machines 
Max withdraw 10,000 rupees, some of the machines didn't work. My ATM card has the union pay symbol and would not work in any of the machines. I had to set up my credit card as an ATM card with my bank and wait until my pin was sent to my apartment in Hong Kong before I could withdraw money.  I would suggest bringing the cash you need with you if possible the only downside is making sure to keep it safe.

What to wear: 
School: Around the yoga school any yoga clothing is fine, some people wore sports bras and short shorts to practice yoga and this was not an issue. I generally wore some thin yoga pants and an exercise top.

Around town: When you go out I suggest to cover your shoulders and wear long pants. Stay away from tight revealing clothing. You can buy scarves and pants very cheaply in Rishikesh about 250 rupees for pants and 100-250 for scarves, but make sure you wash these items separately, the colours run in the wash. They also are not the best quality, the sewing kit came in useful.

The room:
The room was clean, tiled floors, bathroom with shower with hot and cold water. The bathroom is a little scungy around the edges but generally pretty good. The room doors are locked with a large padlock, I would suggest you bring your own locker combination style lock if you want to make sure no one else has the key. Some of the rooms that were not locked during the course had money stolen out of them always make sure that your balcony window and door are locked when you are out of the room..this is India. Some of the doors to the balcony do not lock properly, the people at the course were pretty good at getting things fixed quickly, so just go down to the front desk and ask them to fix it. Some of the rooms have lockers in them and they were getting lockers made for the rooms that didn't have them when we were there.

Room with air-conditioning Extra 100 USD for 1 month
Bed size: single
my room

Paying for course:
The course says that they accept credit card this is not completely accurate they do accept credit card payments but only by cash advance which can cost you around 6-10% extra from your credit card. I don't know why they just don't take proper credit card payments.
Paypal-If you decide to use Paypal the school say that you need to add 8% on top for Paypal fees, this is incorrect, calculate them here so you are not overcharged http://thefeecalculator.com/

Organic Shop - Everyone calls it this, I am not sure what the actual name is, there are 2 shops beside each other that are great, one has all products on the ground floor and the store has 2 floors with most products up a small set of stairs in the back of the shop.
They carry necessities, everything you need for general day to day - Snacks, toilet paper, feminine products, towels, drinks, locks, toiletries.
Bookstores - There are 2 bookstores great selection of books at good prices. The one beside the bridge and has a bakery with excellent pastries. The one that is on the road has air conditioning and also these cool organic yoga mats.
Rainbow Handloom - Beautiful hand-woven silk carpets - a little bit of a splurge
Scorpion Handicraft - Sarongs, bedcovers, cashmere blankets tons of stuff.
Other Shops: There are tons of other stops with cool things, have a look around!

Bartering: At most shops, you can negotiate on the price a few seem to have fixed prices. Say a much lower price, like a quarter of the price ie: 25 if they say 100 and see if they will go lower, don't take their first offer. You can also walk away while bartering they will usually shout out a lower price to you if they don't you always go back.

Yoga retreats at AYM hmm what do I say, I didn't do this obviously but you are popped into the 200h teacher training course so it is not a program that is set up specifically for you, saying that the people that joined our class as a retreat seemed happy. It was a little disruptive having people join during the training but not a big issue. During the entire course, we had one girl join for about a week another guy for 3 days and a couple for the last week.

Eating Out
Beetles Cafe 
Great view of the Ganges, they serve fresh fruit juices, pasta etc. It's a great place to go if you want a break from curries.
Tasty Indian Restaurant (Not real name)
They have delicious curry, I had the paneer butter masala and one of the large paratha style breads that the guy is making. I have put a dot on the map where the restaurant is located.
Pumpernickel Cafe 
On the other side of the Lakshman Julha (Bridge). Very tasty baked goods especially their ginger cake with cream cheese icing and the almond triangles are great snacks to bring back to school. We order some of their other food one day but the took so long to bring it we ended up leaving...

Generally, I felt pretty safe I did the journey by myself both ways to and from Rishikesh. When we were out in Rishikesh one person offered us some sort of breath-freshening tablet which seemed pretty dodgy, so be careful of people offering you free stuff don't take it. Also, there was a massage place down from the Yoga school on the same road called Shiva something, he was very inappropriate to some of the female students. Don't go there!


  1. Hi Rebecca Hope you are doing good. Thanks for sharing your wonderful experience with us.. we are delighted to connect with you and hope you will keep continuing your yogic journey.. Lots of Love & Peace.

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