Learning Yoga through online classes has become the new normal for some people in the western world.
We all know: India is the birthplace of Yoga. While Yoga got known to the western world only 100 years back, Yoga is practiced in India already for the last 5000 years.
The traditional practice of Yoga is so much more than just Asanas and this holistic Yoga is still lived in India.
I write “lived” and not “practised”, because ultimately Yoga is a form of being- not only for the time on your mat but throughout your day and entire life.
And exactly that kind of deep-rooted Yoga in every day and all aspects of life you can still experience in India.
All over India, we have Ashrams- communities where people live their spirituality together. As a visitor, you have the possibility to take part in the Ashram activities and to experience the structured days, which not only include Asana Yoga classes, but also pranayama and meditation, as well as, Jnana, Bhakti and Karma Yoga.
Here are some yoga guides that could help when you plan to travel to India:
Jnana Yoga is the Yoga of knowledge. In the Ashram, you might have time for self-study of Yoga philosophy, lectures on Yoga philosophy or discuss the knowledge of Yoga in a Satsang (get together) with the Guru, the spiritual teacher and leader of the Ashram community.
Bhakti Yoga is the Yoga of devotion through ceremonies and mantra chanting. In many Ashrams there are fire ceremonies in the morning and evening, you will experience mantra chanting as well as Kirtan singing to deeply connect to the cosmic divine inside yourself and in the whole universe.
Karma Yoga is the Yoga of Selfless Action. Brooming the Yoga hall, helping in the kitchen or Ashram Garden, teaching other Ashram members in Yoga, English etc., if you do these activities without any wish for a beneficial outcome for yourself and be able to be completely concentrated during the action, you practise a very advanced Yoga.
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But you can experience Yoga not only in an Indian Ashram but in all aspects of life in India.
In the morning you might hear bells ringing and mantras are spoken, behind the windows of the people’s house, when they do their own ceremony at home- every Indian household has its own temple.
While visiting a park in India in the morning, you will see elderly men standing in a circle practising Laughing Yoga, women doing a very energetic form of Yoga Asanas and old couples sitting on the bench to do their Pranayama Exercises.
On the streets in Indian cities, you will find street vendors selling all types of corns and pulses, which people will buy to feed to the street animals as a type of Karma Yoga service.
In temples you will see believers, making their offerings, chanting mantras or being in deep meditation.
When visiting a doctor in India, it is very likely, that he will not only describe you Ayurveda medicine, but also Pranayama, Asanas and Meditation.
Wherever you are in India you will find images and statues (Murtis) of Hindu Gods and Goddesses, smaller or bigger temples, holy mountains, lakes and rivers.
All over India, any time of the year, you can experience colourful festivals, celebrating the Power of the Hindu Gods and Goddesses.
India is truly a deeply spiritual country and if you want to widen your approach to Yoga and deepen your own practice, you should come and visit India at least once in this life.
Sarah Appelt is a German citizen living in India since 2009. Here she runs her own small travel business Chalo Travels as well has her Yoga Alliance certified Yoga School Yoga Maya India. She is not only running 200 h Yoga Teacher Trainings and Continuous Education Trainings in all kind of (yoga) fields, but also Yoga and Ayurveda Retreats and Yoga Trips all over India, including her popular Yoga Pilgrimage tours, Ayurveda Retreats and Yoga Trekking Tours in the Himalayas.