Searching for a quality yoga teacher training program at times feels like walking through a minefield. The industry has exploded in the last 10 years and there’s no sign of it slowing down. According to the Yoga Journal Yoga in America Study, there are two people interested in becoming a yoga teacher for every one current teacher.
This rapidly increasing demand for yoga has in many cases contributed to compromised and unscrupulous standards; you can now get a teacher training certificate in India or Thailand for less than $1,000. While it certainly feels like the expansion of yoga on this planet is net-positive, the other side of it is an alarming disconnection from the authentic traditions of ancient yoga.
How can the industry address the increasing demand for yoga, while maintaining the authenticity of the ancient traditions of real, Indian yoga?
This was the question the team at East+West was asking themselves when they opened their doors in 2016. In a yoga world that often ask you to take sides between the Lululemon yoga and ashram-style yoga, East+West in Bali is a refreshing middle ground.
In an industry filled with thousands of options, this school truly stands out. They were recently voted the top overall yoga teacher training program in the world by findyogatrainings.com. According to the team, every one of their trainings has sold out since they opened their doors. Their trainings are an eclectic mix of students from every corner of the world, a celebration of the best of everything this world has to offer.
“We created East+West to be the new world standard of teacher trainings,” said East+West program director Julia Ruff.
About the East + West Yoga Teacher Trainings
The Teachers & Vibe
Each one of the programs offered by East + West is a deeply immersive and transformational experience that includes teachers, quite literally, from East and West. On each of their trainings, they pair at least two classically trained master teacher from India — Like Gurumukh Singh, Deep Kumar, and Surinder Singh, with popular teacher from the west like LA’s own Paul Teodo, or world renowned teacher Mark Whitwell.
“Our teachers from India are not the ones you see plastered on the billboards. They are the ones who resonate deep purity, to the point where they even refuse to market themselves to the outside world,” said East+West director Ayla Hoogervorst.
Many students shy away from India the ashram experience because it can require students to buy into esoteric or religiously-inspired beliefs. This combination of teachers from both worlds allows participants to learn the ancient teachings in an environment that is comfortable and familiar.
“Our teachers all studied in the ancient lineages of India, but our programs are not tied to any one specific spiritual tradition. Deep & Gurumukh teach from Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, and everything in between,” Ayla Said.
The Resort & Food
While transformation is an inside job, the surrounding environment plays a huge supportive role in that process. This is one of the huge risks of doing extended trainings in India, a place that puts little value on basic comforts. To address this, East+West decided to hold their trainings in luxurious resorts like Ananda Cottages, Om Ham Retreat, and Cosmos Oasis.
“We designed our trainings to be completely immersive and all-inclusive, so all students have to do is show up and focus on their practice. They can put aside all their concerns from their outside world for the time they are with us” said Julia.
“Actually, yoga cannot be done if the basics of the body are not taken care of. Students must be comfortable in their surroundings if they want to focus on going inside themselves,” said East+West teacher Deep Kumar.
Often times “authentic” yoga is associated with austerity, but part of what students learn on their trainings is not to deny themselves the pleasures and abundance the world has to offer. The key, they say, is to do it with mindfulness and moderation. Students go through many exercises on the trainings them help them integrate the teachings into their current lives, including their jobs and relationships. Afterall, yoga is just a “practice,” isn’t it?
Food that Nourishes the Spirit
In ancient times, food was one of the first areas the masters would address. Ancient masters were proponents of a diet that would very much align with what modern science is suggesting is the most optimal diet; whole, natural, unprocessed foods with little animal products.
For example, Alchemy Ubud is one of the dozens of amazing plant-based food options within walking distance of the training
“Food has been such an important component of all our team’s personal transformation. We wanted to offer that to students, giving them some of the best healthy food possible and educating them about it while they are with us,” said East+West co-founder Andrew McFarlane, and LA Native who is also the founder of the popular Open Source Organics in Hollywood.
Everyone gathers for three group meals each day to enjoy dishes lovingly crafted from local fruits and vegetables. Balinese meals offer an infusion of life-force, known in Sanskrit of prana, that fuels both the senses and the soul. While refueling the body during the communal meals, there is time to talk philosophy to nourish the mind. The yoga teacher training course curriculum includes exploration of the yogic diet, holistic nutrition, and the yogic lifestyle.
What’s Included: So You Can Budget Like a Boss
The inclusive pricing for the Yoga East + West Teacher Training Modules puts the clarity into budgeting for a teacher training program. This allows you to reduce the stress caused by financial uncertainty while planning ahead for a peak experience.
Trainings typically include
- All accommodations & food
- All training materials and equipment
- All daily classes Monday-Saturday
- Teacher training manuals
- International Yoga Alliance Certification
- Access to all online courses, including a yoga career course with Paul Teodo, and ongoing holistic practices to reduce anxiety and balance hormones.
What’s not included?
You’ll still need to cover your flight to and from Bali and any additional on-island trips you choose to enhance your unique East meets West journey. According to the team, students typically need very little extra money for outside activities.
Modules and Month-Long Programs
The modular format of many of the trainings allow participants to deepen practice and teaching skills with a work-life-vacation balance. They recently launched 100-hour training modules scheduled over 11 days (two weekends) so that participants can savor the immersion while on vacation from a regular job. Some upcoming 100-hour themes include 100-hour Yin and Meditation, Hatha Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, and Holistic Coaching. The 200- and some 300-hour programs are scheduled throughout the year so people can easily find a time on the mat and going beyond the mind in Bali.
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Knowing You’re Ready for Transformation
Many students are unsure whether they are prepared or not for teacher trainings. It’s common to be nervous and uncertain, as it is a big life decision. The best measurement is your own dedication and desire to learn more. Understand that a teacher training experience is a full-time commitment, you’re doing classes for 10 hours a day. If you know inside you are ready for that type of dedication, there’s never a wrong time to do it. And you definitely don’t need to want to be a yoga teacher. East+West said almost half of their students do not intend to be teachers but are doing the training to deepen their own practice.
Here is a schedule of trainings at East + West
Felicia Tomasko has spent more of her life practicing Yoga and Ayurveda than not. She first became introduced to the teachings through the writings of the Transcendentalists, through meditation, and using asana to cross-train for her practice of cross-country running. Between beginning her commitment to Yoga and Ayurveda and today, she earned degrees in environmental biology and anthropology and nursing, and certifications in the practice and teaching of yoga, yoga therapy, and Ayurveda while working in fields including cognitive neuroscience and plant biochemistry. Her commitment to writing is at least as long as her commitment to yoga. Working on everything related to the written word from newspapers to magazines to websites to books, Felicia has been writing and editing professionally since college. In order to feel like a teenager again, Felicia has pulled out her running shoes for regular interval sessions throughout Southern California. Since the very first issue of LA YOGA, Felicia has been part of the team and the growth and development of the Bliss Network.