I’d like to dispel some of the preconceptions that first time travellers to India, in particular those interested in taking an economically priced yoga course might have.
Whenever travelling I over pack. I’ll list here all my shattered packing concerns, and the way that Mother India casually cast aside my over attention to detail, and indicated with the flash of a bangled arm what I should be paying attention to.
I came for the first time to India on a 21 day, 200 hour yoga teacher training course. My chosen centre was Shrimath Yoga School, near Bangalore in Southern India. Strongly recommend it if you wish to immerse yourself in both the spiritual foundations and movements asanas of yoga.
Here’s my list of tips:
1. Under pack. Your clothes can be dried in the warm breeze within two hours. You’ll shop, and be amazed at the wonderful array, and prices of goods available in nearby towns and cities.
2. Pay attention to the dietary guidelines that your centre follows. At Shrimath we followed lacto vegetarian ayruvedic principles. Some guests hoarded snacks for midnight feasts (you know who you are! ) but these naughty schoolgirls ended up not only stacking the kilos on, but also getting some avoidable sluggish digestive problems. I gladly dived into the menu of Southern Indian bean or lentil dishes – laced with locally sourced vegetables, coconut, tamarind, chili, cumin and cardamon. Some guests found the dishes too firey, Daisy (the cook) was more than happy to provide less spiced vesions.
But the buck stopped there – take the amount of food that you require, don’t waste anything, drink your glass of buttermilk with coriander/ cilantro and ginger (aids digestion and gives added protein) don’t chat in mealtimes, eat with your right hand, sit on the floor and wash your own plate and cup afterwards.
3. If you favour creature comforts over learning yoga in a very grounded, spiritual and humbling way – then stay at home. This is the real deal – softened, like the food, subtly for us indulged westerners. But, nonetheless be prepared to clean your room and common areas, wash your own clothes and bedding in the garden, bathe using a bucket and cup, have no option but to use an Indian style toilet, (hose pipe instead of loo roll) work in the garden and maintain silence mouna for long spells. </
4. Be punctual, cheerful, and courteous to your teachers and fellow students, and always make your work and efforts the very best that you are capable of.
5. Know that you’re expected to help to teach at the local village school once a day (bring school supplies or lesson plan ideas from home). This was such a joyous experience to bond with these sweet and unspoilt children.
6. Learn compassion by looking around in the local village built of mud and plastic, then to be charmed into a better reality when you see the warmth and self respect that these sweet people bestow upon you, and each other. It’s worth noting that there are no beggars in village India.
Shrimath Yoga School supports both the school and the village community; sensing that a life and childhood in this village is preferable to one spent in the hell holes of the inner city.
7. And finally, there really is no toilet paper: