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Yoga Teacher Training 200hrs in Bali - My Experience

Updated: Apr 12


Yoga shala at yoga union bali

In 2022, I headed to Bali for 1 month to do my first yoga teacher training course - the YTT 200 hours with Yoga Union in Ubud. Even though it’s almost two years ago now, I’ve wanted to write about and share my experience there for a while. Maybe it’ll be interesting for others, but mostly I want to remember it for myself while I still can. So here is a summary of my yoga teacher training experience, my thoughts and my reasons for going.


Contents


Yoga Teacher Training - Start & Accommodation


I travelled to Bali from Hamburg via Singapore. It was a long and exhausting flight. I stayed two nights in a hotel in Ubud on the Friday & Saturday night, attempting to get used to the time difference before the course started on the Sunday. Bali is +8 hours ahead of Germany.


Sunday came around and I headed to the guest house (Gusti's Garden Guesthouse) in the early afternoon. My room was on the ground floor and I shared with one other girl. The surroundings were idyllic - out of my window you could see rice fields and tropical plants. The beds were really comfortable and fresh, there was air conditioning and the location was perfect - in the same building as the restaurant where all our meals were and about a 10-minute walk to the yoga shala.


twin bedroom at yoga union bali

There was a small swimming pool at the guesthouse, which I think would have been great if the weather had been really hot. Due to my fear of certain wildlife (more on that later), we ended up changing rooms to another guest house a bit further along the path, closer to the shala. I was so lucky to have the loveliest roommate who didn't mind changing rooms either.


Pro tip: Ask to see pictures of your room before you go and go one day early so you can see the place and change rooms if necessary.


gustis garden guesthouse and rice fields
Our room was downstairs behind that middle palm tree on the picture

We were all accommodated in various guesthouses, all within about 10 minutes walk of the yoga shala. Some guest houses seemed more luxurious than others, I think if you book a solo room you may be in one of those.


The path from the accommodation to the yoga shala was so pretty, lined with palm trees and rice fields. There were some cute cafes along the way so you could grab a coffee or a cake if you fancied it. There were also a couple of massage & beauty places that we often went to.


Timetable - YTT 200hrs


Path to the yoga shala in the rice fields
Path to the yoga shala

The timetable was roughly like this (it changed a bit in the final week of exams).


  • 6am - Wakeup, get ready, walk 10 minutes to the shala

  • 7am - Pranayama

  • 8am - Vinyasa yoga

  • 9:30am - Breakfast

  • 11:30 - Alignment (learning yoga poses)

  • 13:00 - Lunch

  • 14:00 - Philosophy or anatomy

  • 16:00 - Yoga variation such as yin yoga, yoga nidra or another yoga class.

  • 19:00 - Dinner

  • Relax/study


In the last week and a half, we had the final exams in the afternoon, so that meant we each took part in another couple of yoga classes those days, each one about half an hour. That got really exhausting but it was also really fun and rewarding to see how much we had all learnt.


In the final week, we also did 108 sun salutations, which I loved! It was hard but because you are repeating the same asanas over and over again, you don’t have to think so hard about new positions and you can focus on harmonising your breath with the movements. So it becomes very meditative and powerful. Especially with some inspiring music and great classmates around you.


If you want to see some great videos of the course (and you speak French), check out my friend’s channel where she describes her experience!


Path through rice fields at sunset

The Teaching

The teaching was amazing and I felt very lucky to have found a yoga school that took the teaching so seriously. Our teachers were clearly so passionate and knowledgeable about their subjects.

yoga lessons at yoga union bali

In the alignment class, we went through each yoga pose, about 2 or 3 each day and learnt exactly how each one should be, how to adjust a person in the pose and what adjustments you could make to reduce or increase intensity. Right from the first lessons, we practised teaching each other 1-on-1 (giving each other cues and adjustments) and this really helped to solidify the poses in our minds.


The philosophy and anatomy classes were also super interesting. Through philosophy classes, I got a different impression of Hinduism and yoga philosophy than what I had previously imagined it to be.


Anatomy was also very interesting, I feel like every person should at least know something of the basics that we learnt during that time. It gives you a new understanding of how your body works and how to look after it.


You can find some of the amazing teachers on Insta here… @the_reading_yogi & @himanshu.yoga

How much experience do you need before the yoga teacher training 200 hours?

I think how much experience you have is not as important as how determined you are. But it does of course help to already have practised yoga and know that you really like it before making the investment. I had no experience teaching yoga before.


For me, the YTT 200hrs was really challenging. I came to the course straight from working full-time and had expected it would be a mostly relaxing time. In reality, it was several hours of physical activity each day, combined with lack of sleep and jet lag... So I do remember feeling extremely exhausted and often not in best form. 


Before the yoga course, I had been practising yoga about 2-3 times per week and going to the gym about once a week - I would say I had a low-medium level of fitness. Compared to the other students, I felt a bit behind. It seemed like the majority of people were already quite athletic, many worked as professional dancers, and/or were really keen to become yoga teachers so they seemed already pretty advanced. The morning yoga vinyasa classes were like a tough workout for me.


I also felt a lot of pressure preparing for the final exam - I’m usually a quiet person and not likely to volunteer to talk in front of the group. So the idea of teaching a 30 minute class was pretty terrifying.

I ended up working really hard to create my yoga lesson and remember it all for the final exam.


A yoga class underway at yoga union bali
Me teaching my yoga class!

But I did it! I created my 30 minute flow and taught it to the class. I think for my first class, it went relatively well. The feedback I got was to walk around a bit more and perhaps not do each pose so that I can explain it without my voice being strained.


Because it was a real challenge, receiving the certificate at the end was all the more rewarding. By the end, I also felt much stronger and more peaceful, possibly because of so many hours of meditation and pranayama! Needless to say, I was ready for a long sleep and some quiet time.


The Food in Bali

Green papaya, fried vegetables, lentil soup & rice
Green papaya, fried vegetables, lentil soup & rice
Caramelised tempeh, rice, green beans with coconut and a cup of tea!
Caramelised tempeh, rice, green beans with coconut and a cup of tea!

I really enjoyed the food the yoga school offered. It was all vegetarian and mostly vegan. I loved trying the Balinese style dishes and new ingredients, like sweet coconut pancakes, green papaya or caramelised tempeh. Fruits like dragon fruit and papaya were so much more juicy and flavoursome here and it was a real delight to have these every morning. Every morning before pranayama, they also gave us ginger or turmeric tea, which was really a lifesaver in those extremely tired moments.


My roommate showed me another tasty fruit called salak or snake fruit, which was like a combination of pineapple with apple. And her family cooked some food for us one day: caramelised tempeh, green beans with coconut and rice. Delicious! On a couple of nights we went to other restaurants. Such as The Traveler, where they had vegan ice cream sandwiched in cookies and donuts with hot chocolate sauce… also delicious.

Vegan icecream cookie
Vegan icecream cookie

The Wildlife

Aside from a couple of really cute fluffy dogs, getting used to the wildlife was a big adjustment for me after so many years of city life.


In our first room, there were some cockroaches in the ensuite - they were coming out of the ventilation window by the bath during the night. One night, I somehow woke up at the exact time to see a cockroach trotting into the room and so I gathered my courage and chased it out with a light and a book, while being as silent as possible so as not to wake up my roommate. I think cockroaches are a common problem if you’re on the ground floor. It seems pretty much unavoidable in Bali, it's just part of being in nature.


Twin bedroom at yoga teacher training in Bali

In our second room, we did see a cockroach, but it seemed to be scared of noise so I always stamped really loud when I went in the bathroom and that kept it at bay. We also left the light on all night in there so that it wouldn’t come out, and that seemed to do the trick!


One other hack I found was spraying a protective line of bug spray across the front door. We always wrapped food up really tightly to avoid insects being attracted to it. The window was the traditional Balinese style with holes so I put paper over that to stop the mosquitos flying in.


The guesthouse staff were really helpful in putting some sprays there and cleaning the rooms every day. I started the trip getting really freaked out by all the bugs, but by the end you get used to it… and they almost never got into my bed thankfully, so I could sleep peacefully.


Ubud


Girl walking through rice fields in Ubud

Our yoga world was all centred along one path through the rice fields, from the restaurant to the shala and the guesthouses. Aside from a few motorbikes in the rush hours, it was mostly very peaceful and idyllic.


But if you go down the path into the town, it’s like a different world. Ubud centre is so busy and noisy along the main roads. We just went there a couple of times to go to the shops or cafes.


From our path, it was easy to walk to the popular Campuhan ridge walk. That’s also very pretty as you can see across the jungle. There were various restaurants and hotels along the route where you could stop for a refreshing coconut. But I think our path was still much prettier, and the further you walk along the path the more you are surrounded by rice fields. You can spot a few small waterfalls along the way too!


Is it worth doing a yoga teacher training course if I don’t want to become a teacher?


I think as long as you are prepared to go through the pressure of the exams and teach a class, it’s really worth doing a yoga teacher training course, even if you don’t want to become a teacher. I don’t know any other course that you can learn about yoga in such an in-depth way.


woman sitting cross legged under a big leaf in the yoga shala

I didn’t have any active intentions to become a yoga teacher myself but I really wanted to get this level of knowledge for myself. Now I see how much value it has brought to me. I can do yoga on my own and intuitively decide which asana to do next. Whatever aches or pains I have, I can target that and make my own tailored yoga sequence. After the gym, I know which yoga poses to do to stretch properly.


For me, it’s a gateway into understanding the body more. Of course, there is so much more to learn, but I’m so grateful to already have this foundation. Being able to help yourself is invaluable, especially in this time of not easily being able to get doctors appointments. 


Learning how to teach something is also a good way to learn for yourself and it helps to improve general skills like speaking in front of a large group.


The majority of the people there had the intention of becoming yoga teachers and seemed to be very athletic or have backgrounds as dancers or sports trainers. I felt like the least sporty person there but I did survive and managed to do almost all classes. I just skipped some of the most advanced poses or did modifications, and I don’t think I was the only one doing that. By the end, I also felt much stronger.


Is it worth going all the way to Bali for a yoga teacher training course?

In hindsight, I think it’s really not worth going all the way to Bali for a YTT course alone (if you are based in the UK, for example). Bali is a beautiful place but there are also so many beautiful places in Europe too. Even India is closer for us if you’re coming from Europe. By not travelling so far, you could save time, money (usually), Co2 and help yourself by avoiding jet lag (and adjustment to unfamiliar bugs in my case). So if I were to do another yoga course, I wouldn’t go so far as that and I would try one of the many other good options closer to home.


ancient balinese carvings

However, Bali does have that spiritual-magical atmosphere because of its culture, nature and local beliefs. That is something really special and I think is what drew me there. Even though mass tourism has eaten away at that, it’s still there if you pay attention to the history and culture of the place, and especially if you are lucky enough to get to know some locals.


tirta empul spring

My lovely roommate had family there. She welcomed me to meet her family on days off and I think that made the experience really special for me as I saw some places off the beaten track and met her lovely family. They invited us for lunch at their home, showed us around their village and rice fields as well as an ancient temple, and took us to the Tirta Empul water temple. I will never forget their kindness and how welcoming they were!


tirta empul water purification ceremony
Here I am starting the water purification ceremony! You have to dip your head under each spout while saying a prayer.

Why did I want to do a yoga teacher training?

I had been gradually practicing more and more yoga since attending my first class sometime in 2016. There was no other sport that resonated with me so much.


I had some back issues and when you add to this working hunched over a laptop most days, yoga was what I needed to stretch out. I wanted to learn all about the different yoga poses so I could pick out the right ones for myself.


I also love the peaceful side of yoga… the breathing exercises and meditations brought me a lot of calm. I was really curious to learn more about this philosophy and I wanted to expand this feeling of peace in my life. In my busy working life, there was never much time to “listen to my inner guidance” and I was feeling confused about so many decisions regarding my career and where to live, so I wanted to have some time to just think about things too.


Reasons for going on a yoga teacher training course:

  • Learn in-depth about the yoga poses, so I could help my back

  • Learn more about the yogic philosophy

  • Spend time meditating and clearing the mind

  • Challenge myself to become stronger and learn something new


Mountain view at sunset from the restaurant at Gusti's
Mountain view at sunset from the restaurant at Gusti's

For more pics, check out my instagram https://www.instagram.com/kate_ellen_b/ ✨ If you have any questions or thoughts, let me know in the comments!

(Disclaimer: this blog is in no way sponsored by any of the places mentioned here, it is just my personal opinion and experience!)

Thanks for reading 💖

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