Q. I am not a great or very flexible yogī. I have some physical issues. Will it be a problem for me?
A. Not at all. 90% of our curriculum is sound-based, and we do practice some basic non-strenuous āsanas to help with increasing resonance in our “instrument,” our body! This course focuses on subtle goals (unity of thought-word-deed, sustainable mental peace, etc.), not physical goals (such as handstand, scorpion pose, etc.) The main physical consideration is the ability to sit comfortably on the floor or a chair for chanting practice and lectures. We may also do some optional hiking or swimming on our off days. On the other hand, those with a strong physical urge to exercise are encouraged to do so during our breaks.
Q. I don’t have a very nice singing voice. Do I need to be able to sing? Or play musical instruments?
Neither singing ability nor musical experience are required in order to attend this training. Emphasis is placed on your direct experience of the power of sound itself, not on musical or singing skill. All students will be invited to participate in the group chanting, and to demonstrate their understanding of the material.
Through the vocal meditation methods we teach, MANY students (both with and without musical & vocal training) have had life-changing breakthroughs with finding their voice, falling in love with their voice, and transforming deep issues surrounding their voice. There’s never any pressure to do so, but the love of chanting does tend to inspire it!
Also note that students taking the course as an immersion only may opt out of leading chanting sessions; students taking the course as a teacher training and preparing for Module 2 may be invited to sing solo or lead group chanting sessions as they feel ready. (Several students who could hardly make a sound on Day 1 of Module 1 ended up in Uttarkashi Module 2 singing with joy in front of others and leading their chant sessions confidently! (pictured at right 😉 )
LINKS OF INTEREST:
- Curriculum Module 1 ~ Immersion in the Heart of Sound
- Curriculum Module 2 ~ Sharing the Heart of Sound with Others
- Extensive Multi-Media Learning Resources available to Trainees
- What our RYTs can teach after graduation
- Community & Ongoing Opportunities with the Heart of Sound
- Reviews from Trainees and Graduates
Q. Would graduates be equipped to teach any type of physical pose-based yoga class, or strictly mantra and sound focused yoga classes?
A. In this 200 hours we focus as much on sound-based yoga as a typical asana-based yoga TT does on asana (80% of our time). Our daily practice includes asana from the perspective of mastering the switch between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, and supporting the body mechanics to live with full spinal awareness and breath. You would be equipped to guide students into the physical component of ideal self-expression (at the subtle and gross levels) as well as resonant vocalization, but not to teach a hatha-vinyasa class sequence that has come to be “standard yoga class” in the West.
Q. If I don’t have time to do the prerequisites, can I still join?
A. Yes. Please do your best to complete them and catch up with the rest of the students during the course. You can do the 40-day meditation after the course finishes in order to become eligible for the certification. Please see more FAQ on the Prerequisite page.
Q. How much of the mantra training includes singing with rhythm and music–versus reciting mantra with sustained tone and drone?
A. It’s about half. In Module 1 we learn the Sanskrit alphabet, and most of that chanting is on one tone. Then we apply that learning to chanting mantras in the Vedic style, which are usually with three pitches and specific rhythms for each syllable. The nāda yoga meditations that we teach in Module 1 also start on a sustained tone, and then we we explore Hindustani ragas up and down the scales. We do kirtan daily (call and response mantra set to music, with live tabla accompaniment), and we join the Ganga arthi which is very musical but also includes some Vedic chanting. So… it’s a good mix!
Q. Do I need to bring a harmonium?
A. You don’t need a harmonium necessarily, but it’s highly recommended that you have musical support for your chanting practice during the training, and in the interim between modules. See the note about instruments (and iPhone app) options here: http://truefreedomcoaching.com/prerequisites/
Q. Is it possible to attend the Module 1 Teacher Training program for one or two days as an observer – with a view to attending a future Teacher Training program?
A. Sorry, but we create a really intimate and safe learning environment for the teacher training and guests/observers create a distinctively different feel. The sound-based practices are so profoundly impactful we want everyone to explore with freedom, depth, and vulnerability. That’s best supported by a committed group of participants. So, it’s all or nothing! You’re welcome to attend an online workshop, meet me during one of my FBLive sessions, schedule a free 15-minute one-on-one, or register for another workshop somewhere around the world. Check schedule here.
Q. Is this the type of Western, “California-style” kirtan where people might be smoking marijuana or doing intoxicants and chanting?
A. Absolutely not. Many young foreigners take yoga teacher trainings in Rishikesh, and pot smoking is common – perhaps at other trainings, or at night after classes are done. The trainees attracted to the Heart of Sound are typically mature souls with a high degree of self-responsibility, earnestness for learning, and preference for a sāttvic lifestyle. (In Rishikesh, if anyone is found to be using intoxicants they would be asked to leave the ashram.)
Q. “I prefer americanized sanscrit with western melodies as most kirtan performers do. I have studied sanscrit and getting right pronunciation and beats per vowel is going too far.”
A. Indeed, if you’re interested in mostly enjoying Western-style kīrtan and the typical habits of unrefined pronunciation, this training is probably not for you. We go deep into the non-dual tantric philosophy of the Sanskrit alphabet and enjoy precise refinement of our sound production of each and every letter. We’re devoted to the details! Since Sanskrit means “to put together subtle form,” and affects our experience, energy system, nervous system, and more, we think it’s important to specific about what we’re calling forth.
Also, our approach to kīrtan is primarily Indian rāga-based, which allows trainees to learn build the energy in a different way than with Westernized melodies and chord-based songs. Our trainees learn to lead rāga-based kīrtan in various levels of both call and response and improvised, freely devotional singing.
Q. I want to bring my (husband, family, friend) with me to India but I will be the only one attending the course. Can we share a room?
A. It’s possible, but the success of your participation in the course would depend a lot on the type of relationship you have with your companions. In short: If they’re supportive, yes. If they’re dependent, no. Please assess whether they understand and respect your need for mental rest, quiet time, and study as a priority. You won’t have much time for them, so ideally they’d be independent both emotionally and activity-wise. Most days, you’ll be busy from 6AM to 6 (and sometimes 8PM with optional chanting sessions). Some days you’ll have 30-45 minutes of homework or music/chanting practice in order to maximize your investment in the course. During the lunch breaks, sometimes you could see and eat with your non-class companions, but sometimes you will also be needing rest/downtime during lunch. We would not recommend planning outings during the lunch break.
As for room-sharing arrangements, a variety of room sizes, including large family rooms, are available.
Q. Do I have time to keep my part-time remote job during the training?
A. Our retreat intensive schedule is pretty full. Most trainees have enough time to do all of the evening reading and enrichment activities assignments, with time to spare for dinner and improptu dance parties with their fellow trainees, but having the focus to maintain other responsibilities could be tough.
Q. Can’t the training be done more quickly? I only have 4 weeks.
A. Sorry, it’s not possible to do it any faster than scheduled with the two modules having only one week between. You can find other 200-hour RYT yogāsana trainings in Rishikesh and other areas that pack it in 23-28 days, but our trainees need time to practice, do homework assignments, and get valuable rest between modules! Many people underestimate the deep personal transformation that the course brings. 7-8 days is the absolute minimum period between modules. Many students take 3-18 months to integrate the teachings and practices. Since the course is highly specialized and tends to attract a cohort of mature individuals making a significant investment of time and practice into learning how to teach the yoga of sound, we prioritize depth and quality over speed.
Q. My English isn’t perfect. Will I be able to understand the training?
A. We have students from all over the world and English is often not their first language. We try to speak in straightforward English so that everyone can understand. Also, every class is recorded so students can review the material after the course. If you start reading Anandra’s free e-book and the prerequisite homework books and find that the English is too difficult for you to understand, you may wish to bring a translator or friend who can help you fill in the gaps.
Q. I’ve seen some other Yoga Teacher Trainings offered in Rishikesh for as little as $750 USD. Why is yours so much more expensive?
A. This is a great question we love to answer! We offer an international quality program, with a team of international teachers and experts in a highly specialized field. In India, many other programs are heavily subsidized by donations (from the ashrams that host them, or from parents/family assets of the local Indian teachers that allow them to have virtually no overhead). The Heart of Sound, in order to stay non-dogmatic and non-affiliated, is not subsidized.
When we factor in all of the costs, fees, taxes, and year-round admin, you may be surprised to know that it often ends up that there’s no profit and sometimes no or very minimal salary for the primary teachers. We do make a significant contribution each year to the charitable projects of Parmarth Niketan ashram, however, and that’s factored into the training cost.
When it comes to teacher training, we frankly don’t recommend bargain shopping. You really do get what you pay for. In Rishikesh these days you can definitely find a budget certification from a local “Himalayan Yogi” whose students mostly comprise young people on holiday who are going veg and off alcohol and cigarettes for the first time, and who smoke pot and hook up in the evenings. (We often overhear them in restaurants talking about their experiences in teacher trainings.) There’s quite a lot of “yoga tourism” in India and Rishikesh is a hotspot for it, along with Goa in the South.
In contrast, the student cohort for the Heart of Sound tends to be highly mature, experienced, professional, visionary, and engaged in inspiring service to their communities. Learn a bit about our trainees here. Also, Get a sense of what people are able to do after our trainings here.
It’s also important to note that the educational expectations of a Western-oriented student are often completely different from an Indian-oriented student. The system in India is a guru-disciple transmission, which typically means that nothing is explained in detail that would satisfy a “nerdy” mind, and the student is expected to attempt to copy as closely as he/she is able to. It’s a wonderful approach, no doubt, but it takes decades (or lifetimes) to achieve perfect reflection of the guru. In order to effectively and consistently deliver a huge amount of content in a relatively short period of time, we use a more Western model of curriculum planning and development, learning goals and objectives, multi-media support material and activities, and tiered skill demonstration and review. We find that the international students of the Heart of Sound demand a high level of comprehension of the philosophical aspects of the yoga of sound, as well as deep integration into the specific techniques of the practices. We’re happy to meet and generally exceed their high expectations. Watch some reviews here.
It’s also worth noting that if you signed up for a bargain TT course you might end up wanting to take it again from someone else. We’ve had several students attend the Heart of Sound after graduating from the Nada Yoga School 200-hr RYT offered down the road. They’ve offered to share their specific experiences and insights comparing the two schools by request; please contact us to be connected.
Q. Do you recommend any other teacher trainings or yogāsana courses in Rishikesh?
(See above as well.) There very well may be good yogāsana courses on offer, but the only one we’ve consistently heard good reviews for is Vishvaketu’s Akhanda Yoga course. It’s highly recommended by a variety of mature, international people. (It’s also offered at a similar price point as the Heart of Sound). You’d have to ask someone else more in the field of yogāsana for their recommendations and experiences.
Q. Do you offer payment plans?
A. Yes we do. Please contact us to work out something that’ll work for you.
Q. How much does it cost for the Heart of South training in Germany vs India.
A. You can count on the tuition part of the course being roughly the same, but the daily room and food costs in Germany being about 5-10 times what they would be in Rishikesh.
A. You would most definitely be able to apply what you learn, on many, many levels!
Yes, the Gurmukhī language is quite beautiful… I’ve had many students, some of whom are prominent teachers and musicians in the Kuṇḍalinī Yoga communities, in the course. The Sanskrit pronunciation will give you a background in the mouth positions from which to make the Gurmukhī sounds as well as Hindī, Bengali, and other Indian languages. I am not sure about properly transliterated resources for Gurmukhī mantras, but I have some friends you could ask after you take the course and understand the IAST transliteration system. (As far as I know, most of what is shared in the Kuṇḍalinī Yoga communities around the world has neither the 5 mouth position reference nor the proper transliteration that would allow one to pronounce the mantras to resonate their full metaphysical potential.)
Q. Please could you help me choose a 108-bead mala?
A. I don’t have a particular seller I recommend online. I get mine custom made in Rishikesh and gift them to teacher training students, but I don’t sell those elsewhere.