In November 2017 I attended Shiva Yoga Peeth for their 200-hour teacher-training program and would give the experience a 3.5 out of 5, and here’s why.
The rooms are basic but adequate. If you attend in the colder months (Nov – Feb) be aware that as soon as the sun sets it gets quite cool – around 10 degrees. Bring warm clothes and request a room facing the Ganga River since the other rooms do not get any direct sun and are very cold. At least half of the class came down with a cold. The people managing the ashram were super people. The Manager, Rupesh, was particularly helpful.
First rate. Some of the best vegetarian Indian food I’ve had. It was consistently good.
SYP is central which is great for shopping, taking in the local life or grabbing a meal. However, it is extremely noisy. Music blares, horns are continuously being honked, monkeys run on the roof, there is ongoing chanting from the nearby temples and dogs bark throughout the night. If you are a light sleeper and/or trying to find a peaceful retreat, Shiva Yoga Peeth is not for you.
Because of the noise meditation was literally impossible. In an effort to combat the noise they tried playing meditation podcasts with high-powered speakers from an iPhone. Frankly, the result was chaos and not conducive to meditation whatsoever. If meditation is of high importance to you I would look for an alternative to Shiva Yoga Peeth.
SYP provides Ashtanga and Hatha yoga. They both run for :90 minutes. I’ve been spoiled in Toronto (where I live) where I’m an Iyengar student with teachers who are highly qualified so I do have a comparison. I would rank the quality of teaching as below average at Shiva Yoga Peeth. The Hatha teacher was very dry and very “programmed”. He would doggedly follow a curriculum and was not interactive at all. His comments were rare and he was not engaging. He liked to lecture us.
Our Ashtanga teacher was fired near the end of the course. He was better than the Hatha teacher but now he is gone so I have no idea how the new teacher is.
In addition, their cushions are filthy and other props super old. It appears at one time they did teach Iyengar Yoga and then gave up on it and now use valuable wall space to hang a huge poster with a self-promoting picture of their Swami.
Pranayam / Philosophy / Anatomy
I enjoyed the majority of these classes and learned quite a bit. The teacher for these courses was quite good. I found sitting on the floor very challenging.
Our days ran from 6am to 8pm yet we only had 7.5 hours of classes. The days were needlessly long. The schedule is optimal for SYP rather than the student. After the 14-hour day we would have dinner and trying to sleep on a full stomach and getting up at 5:30 was a challenge. The breaks between classes were not long enough to do much.
As they would like to remind us “cameras are everywhere”. They take attendance at classes and have eyes on you in the yoga studios that felt kind of weird. At times you would sit for up to an hour and a half and be told how to be a yogi. Lots of chanting and praying and oms that became a bit excessive in my opinion. I found, as did others, sitting on the hard tile floor became super uncomfortable.
Shiva Yoga Peeth is an excellent marketing machine. They’ve found a formula that generates lots of money. They stage an outing to a beach on the Ganga where the Swami has photos taken with students and selected students are interviewed for their facebook site. In addition, at the end of the course we are all gathered together for more FB photos and video. If anything negative is posted to their FB page they take it down. With only positive reviews being posted I felt it was important to get this more balanced review out.
Overall I thought SYP provided a very mediocre and average experience. The highlight was definitely meeting the other students – some of whom I will stay in touch with forever.