Rishikul Yogshala 200hr Yoga Teacher Training – Pokhara, Nepal FAQ

Hiya! WTF is this post about? Let me decode that title. Rishikul Yogshala is the school in India where I was formally trained as a yoga teacher. I’m an RYT or registered yoga teacher with a 200-hour certification. Although Rishikul’s founding school is in Rishikesh, India, the birthplace of yoga, Rishikesh holds teacher trainings in many places. I completed my training in Pokhara, Nepal in 2015.
Since that time, I’ve written a post about my experience during the 200hr teacher training. I get dozens of emails each year from prospective students, all over the world, asking all kinds of things. I thought it’d be cool to outline them all here as a guide for future students and a reference for anyone thinking about participating in a yoga teacher training. The following are all questions I’ve received. If there’s something you’d like to know that you don’t see, just ask and I’ll add it to the list.
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  1. What is the typical daily schedule? The classes change a little bit week by week, but for the most part here is an accurate schedule for the 200hr Rishikul yoga teacher training in Pokhara, Nepal.
  2. What should I pack? Here’s a packing list to get you started.
  3. How did you get from Kathmandu to Pokhara? There are three options: plane, bus, or private taxi. I actually wrote a post about my thoughts on each mode of transportation, you can find it here.
  4. How are the rooms? Is it clean? When I participated in the training, we stayed at Hotel Tulsi. Honestly, this hotel was immaculate. I’m a budget traveler and I must admit this is the nicest hotel I’ve stayed in throughout Asia. The gorgeous marble floors, plants in every corner and open air balconies were some of my favorite highlights. Not only the space, but the staff made Hotel Tulsi welcoming and homey, the lush gardens out front didn’t hurt either. Each room had a bed, desk, wardrobe, a few end tables, and a western style toilet and shower. The water was always hot although the internet wasn’t always strong (you’ll be too busy for browsing anyway) and I always felt safe and secure at Tulsi. Tulsi has air conditioning that you can control with a remote and the windows also open, which is nice for hearing late night thunderstorms throughout the rainy season. 
  5. Do you share rooms? You have the option to share a room or pay a little bit more for your own room. My brother-in-law actually encouraged me to get my own room before the training and I’m still thanking him. Yoga teacher training is exhausting both mentally and physically. I loved having a space all my own to decompress in after a long day. That and Nepali food farts…
  6. Did you get any vaccinations? You can always check your governments’ travel website for vaccine recommendations and of course, it depends on what you already have, but no, I did not get any vaccines specific for Nepal.
  7. When is the best weather? Rishkul Yogshala only hosts teacher trainings in Nepal a few months of the year and of course, they’re the best weather months! I went in September and spent all of October in Nepal as well. In September the weather was hot during the day with an afternoon rain shower. Each night there were terrific thunderstorms with the loudest cracks of lightning I’ve ever heard. October dries off dramatically and cools down a little bit and you can see peaks from the Annapurna range pretty much every day.
  8. I saw you wrote there are shops nearby, so I could go and buy extra fruit and nuts and things? Absolutely. Nothing in Pokhara is too far away. You can easily walk the main street where you’ll find small grocers, fruit stands and a bunch of restaurants.
  9. Is the food clean? I read someone wrote reviews for the school that they were sick and had diarrhea. The kitchen, food, and water is clean. That person was probably adjusting to the diet or water in general, but I can say with certainty (I photographed the kitchen) that the facilities are clean and the water is filtered. Rishikul’s staff and those they work with in Nepal do any and everything possible to ensure you are healthy and well taken care of during your training.
  10. What type of yoga is mainly taught? The asana (postures) part of yoga is 1.5-2 hours of Hatha each morning and 1.5-2 hours of Vinyasa each evening.  The asana classes are amazing because each and every move/pose is broken down to ensure that everyone understands how to do it properly. We also practice the names in Sanskrit during the class.  The Hatha portion of the course seemed like more static/foundational poses while the Vinyasa focused on the primary series flow created by Rishikul yoga.  It included all the beginner (and by the end of the month) and intermediate poses you’d do in a vinyasa class.  I loved the repetition in the Vinyasa class as the month went on because it helped me to pick up that teacher lingo/voice in my own head.
  11. What theoretical subjects? Besides the two asana classes a day, we also covered mantras (which surprisingly turned out to be my favorite class-so calming and powerful!), pranayama, yoga nidra, meditation, and yoga philosophy in depth… having a class every day.  We also learned and practiced different shat kriya (cleansing) techniques on our “off” days (you have 2 half days off each week) and some weeks we had classes about yoga anatomy, yoga therapy, and other subjects.
  12. Does it have a spiritual approach? I found the whole course to be very spiritual.. sometimes it was hard for me to get into the yoga philosophy class because one needs to delve into yogic science which is obviously a lot different than hard science. I called that class yoga church and was resistant to it at first (because I’m agnostic), but by the end of it, I really liked learning about something completely new to me. I gathered a lot of useful information and motivational lessons from yoga philosophy that I carry with me on a daily basis even two years later.
  13. Do you feel like you are ready to teach? I think the 200hr YTT is really to prepare you on a yoga path and meant more for developing a home practice and yoga routine in your daily life while the 300hr focuses more on preparing you to become a teacher – that being said, I do think the 200hr prepared me for teaching. You get into the routine of how classes are run, the mood, the flow, all of that and if you do stick with it when you’re done with the course I think you can flow right into teaching. — I guess the only thing I’m not 100% confident with is the anatomy. Because this is an authentic eastern yoga course, the anatomy classes were so-so. Half of the time they were great (with power points and informational models and graphics), but half of the time I felt like I wasn’t learning enough science-based technical information that I could easily regurgitate to future students, so I really think this depends on where you are teaching.  Teaching here in the U.S., some students are all about the exercise aspects of yoga rather than the spiritual and mental benefits so they want to know what poses are doing what for each body part, however in India, I think students are less likely to question their teachers and therefore the anatomy isn’t heavily taught/answered in class. — Near the end of the course, we had a few classes about preparing lesson plans, which was really helpful.  We also had to teach a class to our peers, which was extremely helpful.  It was awesome to give and gain feedback about the classes and everyone taught SO differently so it was inspiring to know we’re all coming from the same school, but gaining different things/putting our own spin on everything.
  14. How much should I practice before attending the YTT?  I thought that I would be practicing a bunch before I went, but I ended up being super busy that summer. I think I only practiced maybe two times a week the month leading up to it. The first week of training kind of eases you in in a way, but really I heard from a bunch of the participants that they were lazy, busy, etc before the training and didn’t really prepare for it. No preparation necessary! By the end of the month there’s a lot less chit chat and demo-ing during the asana portions of the course, but by that time you’ll be ready to do nearly four hours of asana a day. You’ll feel so strong and limber! My down dogs and forward folds felt HARD at the beginning of the month and my the end I was like rubber. I’ve never felt stronger than I did after my month long teacher training.
  15. What’s the deal with yoga alliance?  Registering with the Yoga alliance was really easy – they basically just take your money and check with your school that you actually attended and graduated. Rishikul answered the yoga alliance almost immediately and that was that I was registered! I’m not sure if I even needed to register with them as a bunch of studios don’t ask for that certificate, they care more about experience, but I think it adds to your credentials.
  16. Did you stay in Nepal after your training, or come immediately home? I stayed of course! You better too. You spent money on the plane ticket, stay as long as possible. I hiked the Annapurna Circuit and spend a bit chilling out in Pokhara and Kathmandu. I love Nepal and could easily spend a year there.
  17. Did you need any additional monies (besides personal spending of course) for the program? Nope! I recommend taking cash money to pay for the course upon arrival. It’s the easiest method and you won’t be charged a service fee, I think USD is easiest unless they finally started accepting PayPal. I spent $50 a week while in the program, but you could easily spend nothing at all. On my off days, I went to the Temple Tree pool which cost $5  and I went to coffee shops and OR2K (great restaurant) any chance I had.
  18. Did you find you needed any warm jackets? The site mentions some hikes, so I’m wondering how cold it gets. I always travel with a Smartwool shirt and a jacket similar to this one, but that being said, there are dozens of outdoors shops in Pokhara and Kathmandu where you can purchase small down jackets and any other piece of gear you might need to keep you warm.  They will say North Face and Patagonia and obviously, they’re fakes, but they work and they’ll be super cheap. I don’t think I wore my jacket once during the training – I think I only used it afterward while hiking the Annapurna Circuit Trek.
  19. Were there yoga mats available to purchase? Were they decent prices? Bring your own mat. Some people did find yoga mats in Pokhara, but I remember it being challenging and they were pretty crappy. I bought a $20 one in the states at Marshall’s and then I left it at the yoga school as a little donation.
  20. Do you need water tablets or is the water safe? You don’t need water tablets as bottles of water and fill up stations are everywhere.. any cafe, restaurant, or hang out spot will have a filtered water station – if you don’t see it, just ask them to fill your bottle up for you. The yoga school will have water available in the yoga hall and at meal times as well.  If you’re trekking after the training, you can find purification tablets at dozens of places across Pokhara.
  21. Is there anything you wish you had known prior to coming? I think I knew this, but it’s really hard and exhausting, but it’s also really amazing. Also, I work from home (as a professional photographer) so I did take some editing work with me and I tried to blog… do not fool yourself. You will not have time for anything besides this training and that’s the way it should be. Focus completely on the lessons each day and immerse yourself in the training instead of trying to contact family and friends or blog or whatever the hell I was trying to do 😉
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