Yoga Teacher Training: India versus Bali

Published on May 27, 2020

Do you want to be a yoga teacher? 

Wondering where you should do your yoga teacher training? 

Scratch that: you’ve decided either Bali or India and you need the ultimate pros and cons checklist? 

Well, my yogi friend, you’ve come to the right place!

Begin the battle: Bali versus India.

For fewer students...

It’s not uncommon to join a course that has tens, and sometimes hundreds, of students at a teacher training course in India. For some, this might be exciting as the energy is high and they get to meet many people from around the world. For others, this is very intimidating.

Courses in Bali tend to host fewer students, sometimes limiting courses to 30 people. This allows the teachers to give more personal attention to everyone in the course, and also helps students develop deeper bonds with other students. This is especially important during the first few days, as you get acclimated, it will be difficult to remember who’s who. So, if you’re shy, you may want a smaller course.

Birthplace of yoga?

India and yoga are synonymous. From the day Lord Siva taught yoga to his new bride Parvati through dance, India became the most spiritually connected place to yoga. Rishikesh and Mysore are dream destinations in every yogi’s heart, and many seek to do their training there, so as to be closer to the source.

Yet Bali doesn’t come too far behind. It has long been the adopted hotspot for yoga teachers looking to run their courses so the spirituality is omnipresent. ,Plus,  over 80% of the Balinese practice Hinduism, so you won’t feel like you’re missing out on the ‘spiritual’ aspect.

More serious students...

If you go to India today, you will inevitably meet people that have been traveling the land for months. Getting ‘caught up’ in spiritually is a given, and taking a yoga teacher training course has almost become a right of passage for many travelers.. You may even find people who have never been on a yoga mat on these training courses, just to give themselves ‘something to do’ with their days. This can be a good way to discover yoga, however, it can also mean that the level of experience and enthusiasm ends up being low.

Although Bali is also a popular tourist destination, the teacher training courses tend to be filled with people who specifically traveled there to do the training. This allows for a more cohesive group atmosphere to be formed, with similar student intentions and expectations, even if there are beginners.

More to explore...

If you want to travel before or after your course, India can offer you everything from the snowy Himalayas to the tropical beaches of Goa. With 28 states, 8 union territories, Sri Lanka and Nepal just a stone's throw away, there’s a lot to do in the region.

Being an island, Bali offers less landmass for the intrepid traveler to cover. It can, however, be the doorway to Asia and Australia, which travelers can explore to their heart’s content. 

Entry visas...

Most passport holders are not required to obtain an Indonesian visa prior to their travel. Conversely, most people are required to get some form of visa before being permitted to enter India. While the Indian visa process is mostly electronic, it can only be applied for 30 days prior to travel, and acceptance is not guaranteed. 

** Please remember that it is always your responsibility to find the correct and relevant visa information for your case. You can speak to your travel agent or the embassy of your chosen country for further information regarding visas.

Better facilities...

It’s hard to find a blogger who did their yoga teacher training in India and doesn't remark on their accommodation. Hard mattresses (if any), lack of air conditioners, and bare minimum facilities tend to top their list of complaints. Most will openly say that if you’re looking for luxury then book your ticket to Bali, because in India you will be living the life of a monk.

On the other hand, Bali is used to catering to Western tourists with high expectations. A popular destination for Australians and honeymooners, Bali is well prepared for the Western taste, at a fraction of the price that most would normally pay back home.

What’s cheaper?

It will come as no surprise that yoga teacher training courses in India are usually cheaper than they are in Bali. Depending on where you look, the price difference can be anywhere between $1,000 - $2,000. This will also apply to other costs like food, shopping, supplies, and transportation.

This isn’t to say that doing the course in Bali will break the bank either. It’s on par with most other teacher trainings around the world, and you’ll probably get fancier facilities for the same price, compared to many other course locations.

Peace of mind...

Quiet, tranquil, and relaxing are just some of the words that come to mind, when thinking of Bali. These adjectives are not usually paired with India. 

With a billion people commuting, doing trade, and generally trying to live their lives, as well as a couple more million traveling for business and tourism; India is definitely crowded. Perhaps you enjoy the hustle and bustle, and the thrill of sitting atop an overflowing bus is at the top of your bucket list. But, if it’s not, then you may want to reconsider doing an intense course like the yoga teacher training in India. 

Most importantly, food!

Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga, tells us that simple food is best. In India, this translates to rice, lentils, chapati, and a few veggies. Many will thrive on this diet as they give their digestive system a well-deserved break and explore simple vegetarian meal options. Others will find this boring and suffer.

Courses that take place in Bali tend to be a bit more creative with their meals. For better or worse, the meals are made to impress and not just to satisfy a growling stomach. 

The teachers...

The most important part of your yoga teacher training will be the competence of your teacher. Having said that, it is also important to have a good connection with them and trust in their experience. This is where you’re going to have to do a bit of homework yourself.

In general, here are a few pros and cons we often hear in regards to teachers:

  • Western teachers have a Western mindset, making it easier for you to connect with them and for them to understand your needs
  • Indian teachers may have a more established lineage connecting them to ancient teachers
  • Western teachers may overfocus on the physical aspect of yoga, and not give enough attention to yoga philosophy 
  • Indian teachers may be difficult to understand

You decide

Whether you choose to do your yoga teacher training course in Bali or in India, it is sure to be a life changing experience. 

Is Bali the clear winner for you? We’d love to have you join our next course, or have a look at some of the other unique trainings being held in Bali this year.