Many yoga students and instructors in western countries (such as Australia and the United States) are enticed by the idea of travelling to India, where the practice was born over 5000 years ago. This is an ancient land with a vast and rich cultural heritage. If you are interested in taking a yoga trip to India, we wanted to share with you five important pieces of information that you should know before packing your bags and jumping on a plane.
• India is Very Chaotic
It is important to remember that India is the second most populated country in the world, so it can be overwhelming for those who are not prepared for the sheer amount of people. Female tourists should not that most foreigners will appear exotic to the locals, so there is a good chance that you will be stared at or that someone may brush past you. This might make you feel uncomfortable to begin with, but you will get used to it.
• India is an Ancient Land
When you consider that yoga is over 5000 years old and that India was around well before this, it becomes quite clear that it is an ancient country. For many tourists, it’s like taking a step back in time – you will see temples and monuments that are thousands of years old standing alongside shiny skyscrapers. Your experience will also differ depending on what part of the country you decide to visit.
• Not All Indians do Yoga
Just because someone is born there does not mean that yoga is something they practice daily. Western countries, in fact, have a much larger number of students and instructors. It is also much less physical and more of a spiritual practice. So, don’t be surprised if you cannot find a yoga studio during your wanderings (they are often set apart from the cities) or you cannot find many locals to share your journey with.
• Respect Social Etiquette
A big part of yoga trips to India is experiencing the culture, but you cannot learn everything from your guidebook. Some cultural basics to be aware of include: respecting your elders, respecting your teachers, being kind, dressing appropriately, behaving modestly, working hard, being satisfied with what you have and thanking God for your wellbeing. There are also some silent rules you should attempt to learn.
• The Quality of Schools Varies
Whilst India has some of the world’s best traditional yoga schools, it also has some bad ones. So, you should look carefully for a reputable school or teacher. We have actually found that speaking to tourists who have previously studied is actually a great resource. Remember that many parts of the country are still not overly technological savvy, so their websites may not be that great.
At the end of the day, we are sure that your yoga trip in India will be enriching and rewarding. Amongst all of the crowds and chaos, the country truly is beautiful – the people are warm and hospitable, whilst the wisdom and knowledge that you will gain is unparalleled. We hope that you find the above list of things you should know beneficial during your travels and that they allow you to open your mind to all that is on offer.