Pictures and fellow travelers’ adventure stories have the power to guide us to our next destination.
Some places simply emit a magical appeal—we just know that some day we have to go there and experience them for ourselves! Nepal was that country for me. Growing up hiking in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, the only mountain range I considered more majestic than “my” Rockies was the Himalayas! Any novice mountaineer can recount at least one famous expedition on Everest or Annapurna—the first and tenth highest mountains in the world, respectively.
When I found myself in the midst of a major life transition and decided that I wanted to invest in myself and my future through a yoga teacher training course (TTC), I thought, why not consider Nepal? I mean, that is the region of the world from which yoga originates! Friends in the US encouraged me by sharing that every yoga teacher they knew was trained in the US—everyone in their circles would love to have a yoga teacher trained in Nepal.
Of course, I had to weigh the financial aspects as well. An intensive 200-hour course in the US (with accommodation) generally runs $3,000–$4,000, whereas the average intensive abroad is between $2,000–$3,000. If you’re interested in finding a TTC, you can find some even cheaper than that, especially in India. I suggest researching reviews to ensure the quality of the teachers and the program before you register.
Still concerned about the price? Try looking for all-inclusive courses, meaning that your program fee, manual, accommodation, and meals are all rolled into one price. Many educational courses are more expensive than they originally seem because they charge separate program and room/board rates. Many yoga studios have affiliate programs and offer discounts to their regular students. Some also offer scholarships.
My experience turned out to be so much better than I could’ve imagined! Waking up every morning to the sounds of Buddhist monks between the ages of five and 25 chanting and blowing their conch shells never grew old. The Himalayan peaks in the distance bestowed upon us the energy and wisdom of so many who had walked the same path over the last two thousand years. The Tantric paintings of the temple below our shala (practice space) doubled as our classroom during yoga philosophy lessons. Nepalis eagerly shared their knowledge with us on excursions to the Guru Rinpoche (believed to have brought Buddhism to Tibet) cave of enlightenment and as we walked the kora, or pilgrimage of the holiest Tibetan Buddhist site in Nepal, Boudhinath. To my knowledge Mahalaya Nepal is the only company in the world to offer a TTC in an active monastery. My course was led by Doron Hanoch.
Simply by choosing to study in another country, I learned all the thematic lessons I would’ve in a comparable US-based TTC and so much more: local traditions, customs, beliefs, and ways of life. I also fostered lifelong friendships with fellow yoginis from around the world—Nepal, New Zealand, Germany, Czech Republic, Israel, the United Kingdom, and Nigeria! The TTC opened a whole new door of opportunity as well, allowing me to help build, manage, and teach at the Doron Yoga & Zen Center at beautiful Lake Atitlan in Guatemala.
Why should you nama-go-go to another country when yoga may not be your cup of herbal tea? Pour the coffee instead! What are you most passionate about? I bet you hardly even have to reflect much. Whatever your interest may be, there are amazing programs and self-built opportunities in so many different corners of the world: art courses in Italy, wine tastings and vineyard tours in South Africa, Thai massage and reflexology in Thailand, and permaculture and medicinal herbs in Guatemala, to name a few. Let your passion guide you and never look back!
A version of this article originally appeared on travelswithchristie.com.