Updated: Jul 24, 2018
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So, you’ve decided you are going to drop everything and follow your dream of being a yoga teacher. You’ve invested the time and money for either a one month or a two-month intensive course in a country you may never have been to before. The months of anticipation are now leading up to only a few weeks before you go and no you’re wondering, “what do I need to bring?”
Fear no more as I have got you covered.
Before I left for India, I thought it would be fine, just like packing for an extended holiday. I spent more time online clothes shopping, instead of looking at the bigger picture. I really did not have a clue on what I was supposed to bring. Luckily for me, I spoke to a friend who is a yoga teacher (thank you Silke) and I remember while we were talking, she mentioned something about bringing electrolytes and vitamins and I panicked.
As soon as I realised this, I googled “what to bring to yoga teacher training” and I was confused as there wasn’t a comprehensive enough list. I bought as much as I could and I bought things I actually didn’t need (I’ll mention these so you don’t waste your time and luggage space).
Once I arrived in India, I knew I had made a few mistakes. I had wasted money buying a ton of things that made my suitcase so heavy, I was surprised it literally just hit the 23kg mark. Rishikesh is a part of India that is so westernised, you don’t have to worry about bringing too much. You might think this is crazy and that you should be prepared for every terrible situation, but I promise, terrible situations won’t happen if you follow my magical list.
So, without further ado, here is my list...
I went to Rishikesh for the months of April – June and it was literally the hottest 2 months of my life. I bought 2 bottles of Yaoh - Suncream Factor 30 and only actually needed one (which I am still using and it’s July now). The thing is, you are only outside the yoga school for usually one day a week (Sunday) and so you don’t really need to be slathering on the sunscreen all over your body daily. I just used the sunscreen on my face, feet and arms. The rest of me was in a vest and leggings 6 days a week. Having said this, I am naturally tanned and Olive skinned so if you are on the pastier side you may need more sunscreen than I do.
2. Mosquito repellent
I’ll talk more about my mosquito problems in another post, but I am telling you, BUY MOSQUITO REPELLANT NOW. I found out too little too late that I am actually ALLERGIC to mosquitos, and the spray I purchased before I left actually did nothing to keep me safe from these wicked creatures. Luckily my neighbour in India (thank you Jess) had a fantastic little spray bottle by Lifesystems that helped me survive the bites for the rest of my trip. I would recommend only bringing one small bottle, as there are many pharmacies in Rishikesh where you can buy mosquito repellent for cheap and it actually does the trick. The thing you want is something that contains Deet (also known as N, N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide or diethyltoluamide). Even though this isn’t the healthiest thing to put on your body, from my experience that goes out the window when you are covered in mosquito bites and can’t stop scratching yourself during savasana.
This is the most important thing to bring. You are in a country where as soon as you wake up it is 35 degrees and can get up to 45 degrees on some days, you are also practising Ashtanga (or any other type of yoga) twice a day. You are going to need to bring your own electrolytes. The electrolytes in Rishikesh that are available to buy taste DISGUSTING. You won’t want to drink those electrolytes and then you’ll die of dehydration. Bring your own. I bought this from Bulk Powders and a small 100g packet was enough for about 6 weeks. Luckily, I had a friend (thanks Mike) who had some amazing stuff from the States (can’t remember what it was called) that helped me survive the last few weeks out there. As soon as I woke up I drank a glass of water with the electrolytes and then filled my water bottle with it and sipped throughout the day.
4. Water Bottle
This brings me on to the next item, a Water Bottle. You have to stay hydrated. This is regardless of where you are. And when I say water bottle I don’t mean a plastic one. Get yourself something sturdy that will survive the travel and the month(s). In India, the water is contaminated, however I was lucky enough that the school I stayed in had an excellent water filtration system. So, I had my water bottle and this bottle was so good because it kept my water ice cold. I stupidly followed the trend of copper bottles in India which was ridiculous, because A) Some were not real copper and it was hard to tell the difference, B) These bottles made your water hot. I remember opening the lid of my copper bottle in excitement knowing that I was going to enjoy the cool refreshing water on a 45-degree Sunday, when in fact, I drank the grossest, warmest water ever. All yoga schools in Rishikesh should have a water filter system so don’t buy into the fear mongering that you should be buying bottled water because that could be worse. They could be refilled with contaminated water and resold sooner than you can say the word “diarrhoea”.
There are some supplements you should bring and some you should not bring. My suitcase was basically a few items of clothing and about a year’s worth of supplements. I was literally a walking health supplement store. These are the basic ones you need and make sure you bring enough for 30 days or 60 days depending on how long you are staying.
Make sure you take your multi-vitamins because you will notice the food at the school will get repetitive and you might decide to just live on oats, fruit, rice and cinnamon like I did. Also, do not eat the greens in India because they are most likely washed with contaminated water. Stick to fruits which have a skin, like bananas, melons, mangos and papayas. Even though the food in India is healthy, you are not used to the vitamins and nutrients you get from your regular diet (if you are healthy like me).
Activated Charcoal is a life saver. Diarrhoea? Take activated charcoal. Nausea? Take activated charcoal. Dehydrated? Activated Charcoal. Its just good for everything. You will suffer if you do not bring this.
Most likely you will end up spending a few days on the toilet. To keep your gut healthy, make sure you take one a day.
As you are working out every day, and more than once a day, (108 sun salutations anyone?) you will need to make sure your muscles do not suffer while you are out there. I added two scoops of this into my water bottle to drink during and after class. I was hardly sore out there.
Hyaluronic acid supports joint health, so if you are stiff (which you will be) this will help. Biotin and Zinc will support the health of bones, joints, muscles, hair, skin and nails. These are also beneficial in maintaining joint function and flexibility. Vitamin C will help your body absorb the nutrients.
I highly recommend taking protein with you, because even though you will be eating a ton of lentils, you will sometimes need that extra protein hit. I sprinkled the protein powder in my morning porridge or with some soy milk.
And lastly make sure to bring any other supplements/medications you usually take. But try and get combined supplements, like a multivitamin pack so you’re not buying one box of calcium, one box of iron etc.
6. Plug Adaptors
You'll need plug adaptors because your phone will be your saviour when you can’t stand everyone else around you. And you also need to Instagram story everything so people at home think you’re having a great time (I did have a great time, but that’s for another blog post).
Boys, skip this one, but girls, if you’re lucky enough to get your period (I did not have one while I was out there), bring this with you. Sanitary towels and tampons are terrible as they are not environmentally friendly. Tampons and sanitary towels actually contain a lot of harmful chemicals. Do you really want toxic chemicals hanging around your nether regions? Oh and people in India burn their trash. No one wants to smell burnt and used sanitary towels or tampons. Use a Mooncup. I use this one and it’s the best investment I’ve ever made.
8. Yoga Towel
The yoga mats are not going to be like the mats at your favourite studio in London. The mats in my school were some of the grimiest, dirtiest mats I have ever seen in my life. So, don’t bring your own mat, unless you want other people standing or sitting on them. And do not place your lovely clean mat on top of a grimy one. Bring a towel which you can wash each night. I bought my own mat which was not a good idea, I barely had time to even use it in my tiny room and I didn't like the idea of other people’s sweat landing on my mat. So, I used a grimy one and placed this on top.
Only bring the essentials. You can hand wash or wash them at the school and drying clothes only took like 20 minutes in the heat. Here is what I bought:
4 sports bras
3 pairs of leggings
2 pairs of shorts
6 vest tops
10 pairs of knickers
3 casual tops (for Sunday’s) – you’ll end up buying a lot of clothes out there because they are cheap but try not to. I didn’t realise that those yellow harem pants I loved so much would not be something I would wear in London. My 40 items of clothing in my wardrobe rocketed to 80, and now I have enough tie-dye t-shirts in my wardrobe to clothe the whole of Woodstock.
Bear in mind, in the excessive heat you will be showering up to 4 times a day (especially if you go out for lunch), so make sure you have enough ensure you are handwashing in between classes.
10. Hair removal Items
So guys, if you shave make sure you bring a safety razor. Girls, I know this is gross, but I did shave my legs maybe twice when I first arrived in India, but after that I just let them grow (I wore leggings and harem pants all the time so there was no point). I went for a lovely sugar wax the day before I left so I didn’t look like a dirty hippy when I arrived home. I bought a tweezer for my eyebrows, but hardly used it as I got my eyebrows threaded the day before I left. With underarms, I used an epilator, which prevented any stubble, which you would get with shaving. You are living in vest tops and sports bras the whole time, the last thing you want is a 5 o’clock shadow on your pits. The epilator is really good as it’s a product that will stand the test of time and can remove hair from everywhere, including your bikini line.
11. Bathroom essentials
My hair is naturally curly, so I hardly straightened my hair out there. I used a shampoo bar and used coconut oil (I bought this in Rishikesh) to tame my curls.
First of all, do not bring those wasteful cotton pads. I bought a more environmentally friendly face pad. Every day I used an oil cleanser which I made myself from Jojoba Oil, Coconut oil and Tea Tree Oil. I also poured rosewater into a spray bottle for when I needed a fresh up.
Rishikesh was beautiful but there was a lot of trash, everywhere. So not to add to the mess, I bought 2 bamboo toothbrushes for each month.
I made my own! (using coconut oil, baking soda and peppermint essential oil) If you do not want to make your own, I suggest using Georganics.
I made my own which was more than enough. The recipe is the same as Trash is for Tossers version (Check out her YouTube) although I used patchouli and lemongrass as an essential oil.
12. Ear Plugs
I am so happy I bought these with me and you will be happy I told you to. If you have a roommate (I didn’t want one, I had a private room), you will need ear plugs. Your roommate may snore or go past your bed to go to the toilet in the middle of the night. It can make your relationship with your roommate difficult. We had dogs barking outside the school every night and there was a wedding which lasted a week next to our school so thankfully these did the trick.
13. Eye pillows
For the same reason as above, your roommate might be watching Netflix or checking Instagram at 3 am and the screen will light up the room. Or you just want to fall asleep fast – these will help. I literally would pop this on and in minutes I would pass out. The lavender smell was lovely and helped me relax into a deep slumber.
14. Massage balls
Bring these instead of foam rollers because foam rollers will take up so much space in your luggage. You will need these when you are feeling muscular aches and pains. Luckily, I didn’t need to use them as much as I thought, thanks to the BCCAs.
It might rain. And when it rains, it pours. Bring one. I didn’t, but a friend gave me hers and it was a lifesaver. Not even because of the rain, but because I needed the shade from the umbrella on those sweaty Sundays. Word of warning, try not to hit a local by accident with your umbrella, they will get really angry at you and possibly chase you down the street.
Other bits I may not have mentioned, which are optional:
This is totally up to you, if you are blogging etc, it could be handy. Make sure you have Netflix and set up a VPN for those football matches you are going to miss.
If you are into vlogging, I bought one thinking I would vlog and I just did not have the time. So only bring if you’re a committed vlogger.
Contact lenses and Glasses
If you are a four-eyed yogi like me, don't forget these or else you’ll be blind.
Try and read something a bit fun, because yoga books will get boring.
Either buy these in India or bring these. You must make sure you have at least 3 pairs. Because one will break and the other pair will get lost (true story).
I haven’t mentioned things like snacks, because Rishikesh is full of organic shops everywhere. If you aren’t in Rishikesh, then you may want to bring things like chia seeds, cacao powder, protein bars, spirulina and all those other lovely bits and pieces. However, for me the organic store had everything I needed, and the school did offer breakfast, lunch and dinner as part of the program. Also, there are fruit stands EVERYWHERE, you will not go hungry.
So there you have it, a full list of what you should pack for Yoga Teacher Training in India. Below is a link to my FREE downloadable checklist for you to print and use for when you book your amazing trip abroad for Yoga Teacher Training!
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