Practicing a month of yoga in India was something I wanted to do for SO long. My husband was thoroughly unimpressed with my suggestion of us doing it together so I thought I'd have to wait years to do on my own.
Thankfully, after saying I could go along he decided to join. Not very nice of me, sure, but I knew he'd get something out of it.
I didn't want to go to a relaxing retreat, I wanted to do intense yoga and learn to do everything correctly. And when you do it this way it's not as calm and stressless as you imagine. There's lots of sweat, muscles aching, legs shaking, like a solid workout at the gym. But that's exactly what I wanted.
In the end, it was one of the most intense, exhausting, intersting and exciting experiences. There were lots of pros, some cons, but overall an awesome experience. Since you're reading this I imagine it's something you've considered doing yourself so I'll break it down for you as best as I can.
Staying hydrated with fresh coconuts. Every.Single.Day.
Where did you go?
We spent the whole month in Mysore, a city in South India. There is a region called Gokulam which attracts yogis from around the world. There are many different schools and teachers in the area, however, two people had recommended a specific school to me so we just booked it without doing any other research. I've been to a pretty bad "yoga retreat" in Bali so recommendations are strong for me.
The school is called Yoga
What type of yoga did you do?
We completed 4 weeks of Hatha Yoga Mysore Style. This style of yoga is unique to the area and it means that it's self-paced. Each student follows the sequence and goes at their own rhythm rather than following a teacher through each step. The teacher is always there to assist and help each student wherever they're at.
How many classes were there?
We did two classes per day, five days per week; one and a half hours in the morning and an hour in the afternoon. There is also the option of doing only one class per day if you don't want to exert yourself. In saying that, there's not a whole lot to do in Mysore so I'd suggest filling the day with the two classes!
The main attraction is Mysore Palace. And it did not disappoint!
How much did it cost?
For the two daily
The option of one class per day is a bit cheaper at 6000 INR for four weeks, or there are a few other options which are much more expensive, like the teacher training courses.
The website is quite confusing in this sense so if you're interested it would be best to just email them. I sent through an enquiry explaining what we were after and someone got back to me very quickly with a recommendation for what would suit us best based on our practice level.
Was accommodation included?
No. This is a yoga school which you go to for classes only, not an all-inclusive yoga retreat.
Where did you stay?
On their website, Yoga
It was a great option. Air-con, private room and bathroom, very clean, lovely staff, a shared kitchen, a washing machine available for use, wifi and a TV (though not many English channels). And it was only a
Eating local, fresh fruit from the rooftop at Good Touch Serviced Apartments.
Did you like the school and the style yoga being taught?
Both the school and the teachers were just awesome. There's a very high standard of yoga being taught and the teachers are so thorough and patient. This style of yoga is slow, it's intense and it's a far bigger workout than you think you're going to get. More like body weight resistance training if you ask me!
Are you now all bendy flexy and can fold up into a parcel?
Well not quite. Although I must admit that I thought I'd be far bendier than I am. A month sounds like a long time but we did as much strengthening as stretching (maybe even more) so it wasn't all about folding yourself up.
What was the overall experience?
Incredible! I'm really glad that we committed to the full month because when you don't have the accountability it's really easy to just skip a few classes here and there. The month taught us patience and persistence and that alone got us doing some sweet-ass moves. I know that "that's not what yoga is about", but it's really cool being able to see your body progress and do things you couldn't dream of doing at the beginning.
Any bad bits?
Well, the pain. It eased off in the last two weeks but pain definitely hits when you start exercising more than you usually do and use muscles intensively that you haven't used in years.
And I guess the location wasn't amazing. Gokulam was a calmer haven compared to Mysore city and had it's own unique charm, but there wasn't really much to do there as a tourist after you've checked off the main sites. We hired a scooter for a couple of weeks which allowed us to go on day trips to temples which were further out and that was definitely worth it! The scooter was only 80 rupees per day (less than $2) but you can also catch public transport almost anywhere.
Would you recommend it?
Yes, yes, yes!!! I absolutely would!! As intense as it was it was totally worth it. It was fun and we met some cool people, but more than anything it's given us the knowledge to be able to do yoga ourselves wherever we are. I've been doing yoga on and off for over 10 years and have never been able to memorise a sequence to do it without watching a video or attending a class.
Everything we learned, we learned to do properly. There was no music in the background, no lights dimmed, no ventilation, pretty much nothing like a standard yoga class in Australia. Just us, our workbooks and our teacher's voice correcting us. It's the core essence of yoga, back to the foundation and basics, and luckily that's the way we'll remember it!