Friday, December 23, 2011

Yandara Yoga Institute ~ Review Part One

I recently had the great pleasure and honour to attend Yandara Yoga in Todos Santos, Baja Mexico for their 16-day training.  Where do I begin to explain how wonderful my experience was?  I suppose I should start … from the start!  We arrived just before dinner, and had a brief orientation before choosing our new homes ~ good-sized tents that were placed mindfully around the property.  They had a firm single bed, a little nightstand, and a small lamp.  It was a lovely little haven to return to each night.  We had a quick dinner, vegetarian and absolutely delicious.  Then it was time for Satsang … All the instructors were there:  Craig, Allison, Sarasvati, Shane Christopher, Kate, Amber and Shawna.  They gave us a brief orientation and all introduced themselves.  Then it was time for kirtan!  We sang mantra and kirtan, and I was fully in my element.  The band Jaya will come nearly every night to lead the group in kirtan ~ this I am so incredibly excited about.


One thing I loved about being at Yandara for those 16 days was the mindful living.  They run on solar power, so every time I turned on that little lamp, I felt a connection to the sun and a deep welling of gratitude.  They have composting toilets, so all paper waste goes into a garbage bin.  I found myself just noticing how much paper we were using.  We all got to choose a karma yoga task ~ Susie and I chose boiling hot water for tea before class.  Karma yoga is meant to be performed by devoting the actions to someone in need, or to the group, or to the Universal Divine.  One performs a job very well when it is done in the name of someone else.  Each movement becomes mindful … meaningful. 


After that first day, everything truly is a blur.  The program is structured very carefully so that students can learn as much as possible, and no moment is wasted.  The first week, for me, was all about personal growth.  Our instructors, Sarasvati, Kate and Shane Christopher got us diving into all things yoga immediately.  I remember how tough Kate’s first asana class was, but how it completely took my headache away, and how much lighter I felt after we were done.  Shane Christopher seemed to have a mission to help us to shed the layers that were no longer serving us with meditation and movement.  And Sarasvati was so fully present with an unconditional loving, embracing and compassionate energy.  She truly is amazing.  The three of them together were a powerhouse of information, with deep personal experience to draw on.  I could feel the wisdom in the room.  I will go more into detail with all of this later, of course!


It definitely took a few days for everyone to get settled into the routine.  The schedule was packed every day:

6:30am – 9:00am Pranayama or Asana & Meditation

Every other day we had Discourse (philosophy) with Shane Christopher – which I loved!

9 – 9:30am Breakfast in Silence

9:30 – 12:30 Asana Breakdown (including Assists)

12:30 – 2:00pm Lunch

2:00- 4:00pm Teaching Practice

4:15 – 6:00pm  Asana Class / Satya Circle  (alternating)

6:00 – 7:30pm Dinner

7:30 – 9:15pm Satsang


I will get more into the details of my experience over the next few weeks ~ I have so much to share about this once in a lifetime opportunity!


Sending you love ~ Nicole


  1. I'm very interested in doing the exact same program, but I'm hesitant about the style of yoga Yandara teaches. I am very much a heated power vinyasa girl, and I'm worried that the school focuses more on meditation than physical workouts...what was your experience?


  2. Hi Sarah! The 16 day program is more intense than the 26 day program, as you can well imagine. Shane Perkins, Kate Moll and Sarasvati Young run the 16 day program and offer dynamic, challenging asana classes. That said, Yandara is very traditional in terms of offering all eight limbs of yoga. There was a lot of meditation, every day in fact, but there was also a good balance of asana, pranayama, satya circles, philosophy discussions, and much much more.

    I personally thoroughly enjoyed the training, but I was already meditating every day and had read the Bhagavad Gita and the Yoga Sutras before I even went there. The spiritual side of yoga doesn't spark in everyone like it has in me, and that being said, if you are looking for just asana, you might be disappointed. There are so many programs out there!

    But just for the record, if you ever get a chance to take a class with Shane, Kate or Sarasvati, Do IT Because they are amazing!!

  3. Hey Nicole!

    Thanks so much for posting a review on Yandara! I was immediatly drawn to them and even after researching other places I kept going back to Yandara. I'm looking into doing the 16 day program in October. I didn't find anything on their site for a recommendation of yoga experience prior to joining them, do you have a suggestion? I was also wondering how much money you spent on extra expenses?


  4. Hi Erin,

    I absolutely loved Yandara. Everyone in my group (16-day training) had been attending yoga classes for two years or more. In the 26-day training, however, there were a few beginners. When you sign up for the program, they recommend that you begin a personal daily asana practice of at least 1 hour, concentrating on sun salutations. In my experience, I was very glad that I had established my own practice of not only asana, but pranayama and meditation as well. The more personal experience you bring helps you to absorb and understand that much more of the teachings.

    As for extra expenses, I did not get any massages or reiki treatments or astrology readings. A handful of times there would be things you could purchase during lunch, such as Yandara clothing, jewellery, tiny deities/idols. I ended up buying a few things and spent less than $100.

    I hope I answered your questions!
    Sincerely, Nicole

  5. Thanks Nicole! Yes it was so helpful! I’ve been practicing for about 2 years. I’ve mainly focused on Vinyasa but have some Ashtanga and Hatha experience. When you were doing your at home practice did you stick with the same ‘routine’ that you did daily? As soon as you complete the training are you able to teach as a Yoga Alliance instructor?

    A couple of my friends and family have expressed their concern with the safety aspect of Mexico. On Yandara’s site it states they’ve been there about 10 years with no violence. Do you have any helpful suggestions for putting their minds at ease?

    I’ve taken the time off from work now the tough part is just waiting for October to come around!

    Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions I really appreciate it.


  6. You are very welcome Erin. I would say, for your personal practice, just do what feels good for you. Be in your body and really pay attention to what it is saying. Yes, once you complete the training you go home & apply for Yoga Alliance membership. You pay the $80 and upload a scanned copy of your certificate. Once your name is on the website, you are certified. It doesn't take long at all.

    As for safety, Yandara arranges for shuttles to and from the airport, as well as for the Sunday outings to Todos Santos. One day in Todos Santos, I walked around all by myself for nearly 4 hours. Not once did I feel that I was in danger. Yandara itself is a 20 minute drive from the tiny town of Todos Santos (a baby boomer destination). Yandara is 1 & 1/2 hours from Cabo San Lucas. I always felt safe.


  7. Thanks again. I can't tell you how much I appreciate the help.

    I'm glad you found peace :)


  8. Hi There, daughter and I are contemplating this training. My daughter has not been practicing yoga as much as she would like these past few months and is concerned about her physical strength and stamina. She is about 100 lbs, is flexible but not very strong. Should this be a concern for her?

    1. Hi Mavis. To be honest, the asana practice is quite intense. They recommend in their literature to have a regular personal practice of an hour and a half per day. As it is Vinyasa training, the practices can be vigorous and physically demanding. But if you want to know from the source, I would contact Yandara personally. They are super helpful & in my experience quite prompt at responding to emails. Attending Yandara was one of the best things I've ever done for myself. I wish you the best of luck!

  9. Hi Nicole, I really appreciate your review of this program! I am currently looking in to taking it either in the spring or fall of 2014.
    I have a question about the cost of Materials. It says on the website that Material's (Textbooks) are not included. Do they provide you with a list of these after you register? Approx. how much was the cost of these Materials?

    1. Hi Amie! After I registered, Yandara gave me a list of reading material to complete before I went there. I purchased the books from Amazon, and I'm trying to remember how much it came to ... no more than $100.00. The Yandara textbook was $35.00 I believe.

      Good luck! Nicole

  10. Hi Nicole,
    Thank you for your helpful feedback about Yandara.
    I saw that you are a mother of two.
    I am currently researching 16 hour training options. My children are still young, and I am contemplating how realistic the thought of my Husband and two children joining me, and holidaying whilst I am learning, and meeting up of an evening or during meal times would be.
    We are based in Japan, so the Bali or Hawaii locations would actually be the closest to us.
    I wonder if you would have any advice or imput about whether this idea is far fetched or indeed possible?
    Thank you

    1. Hello Anonymous!
      Honestly, earning your yoga teacher certification is more than just a physical process, or an accreditation. It is an intensely personal journey that required me to have the space to get through my obstacles, emotional and otherwise. There is also the beautiful gift of bonding with your fellow yogis that I feel would not have been as rewarding with my family around. The days are packed and by the end of them, I was completely spent of energy. There were times where I woke up at 4am and walked out to the beach in the dark to listen to the ocean. The 16 days I spent in Mexico are a time that I frequently look back to, and feel amazing gratitude for the gift of time that I gave myself. And my kids & husband were just fine without me. What made it possible for me to leave for the 2 1/2 weeks was my husband's incredible support of my journey. Him giving me that gift was something that changed our relationship forever in the most amazing way.
      Also, there were times where meals were done in silence. I don't know how different the setup is in Hawaii & Bali - I would contact the staff at Yandara to ask for their opinion about your thoughts.

      Good luck & please come back to this blog & tell me about your journey!
      PS: My children were also quite young when I took my training.

  11. Hi Nicole
    Wow thank you so much for your quick reply!!
    I was also thinking that it might be a very different experience having my family in tow, and as a personal journey....
    My main concern is that my youngest child is only 18 months. It feels like it might be too much to ask my husband to take off time, and look after them, and them not realise where I am or what I am doing? I also don't have any extended family here, so its all on him!!
    I contacted the Yandara institute. They promptly relied and said that there is a policy of no children at the Bali retreat, but they are allowed in Hawaii.
    I guess its going to take some deep thought! If you have anymore advice about your experiences, all gratefully received! I will let you know what I decide!!
    Thanks again for your reply. My name is Bryony.

  12. Hi Nicole,

    Great read. I am considering the Yandara 16 day course in Baja coming up, due to time commitments etc. However, I have been told that doing a 16 day course may inhibit my ability to get a job following completion of the program as it is difficult to fit a 200 RYT into just 16 days and this may work against me. Please can you tell me about your experiences following completion of the 16 day program? Has anyone questioned you because you did just 16 days training and not a month?

    Thanks, K :)

    1. Hi K!

      My personal experience was starting up my own classes right away, simply renting a belly dance studio space by the hour. Most studios, if they have empty time slots, are more than willing to rent to a yoga teacher.

      Most people don't even ask if I am an RYT 200 or 500. Honestly, word of mouth is what will advertise your yoga classes, not where you took the course. I had one lady question me doing the training in 16 days, but she had trained for 3 months in a very traditional form of yoga.

      When you have your own personal yoga practice you Walk the Walk, and teach from the heart. That is what people truly notice.

      You can always upgrade your training at a later date!

      Hope that helps ... Let me know if you'd like to chat about it more ;o)

      Sincerely, Nicole

  13. Hi there - Thanks for sharing your experience. I am signed up for a Yandara course this winter in Mexico! Do you have any tips on things to bring? Also I was considering upgrading to a cabin/casita - did anyone do this while you were there? It is my yearly vacation so I was considering splurging but I am not sure if it is worth it. I don't want to be far away from everyone else.

    1. I am there for the 26 day course in Feb 2016. When will you be there???

  14. Hi MsCorbett! Im also thinking about signing up for the program in Mexico! :-) Do you know the dates when you are thinking about going? Also, what is your level of yoga? I would classify myself as a very ambitious beginner so right now Im tryint to find out if that would be OK or should I build up more my current practice. Looking forward to hearing back from you! :)

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