Yoga Journal

A YOGA GUIDE TO INDIA

I started practicing yoga in a crowded New York City gym, my mat so close to the student’s next to mine that I couldn’t tell whose sweat droplets were whose. Like many Americans, I was introduced to yoga as a physical activity—I considered it a complement to the triathlon training I was doing at the time—and thought of it as only that for the first five or so years I practiced.

Then, I started practicing with a yoga teacher who dropped lessons about yoga’s lineage into her classes. That led me to another instructor, who taught me even more about this ancient practice, the origins of which date to pre-Vedic times (1500–500 BCE) and are widely believed to have morphed into the Hatha Yoga that spread during British colonial rule of India and that Westerners practice today. The more I learned, the more I realized that eventually, I’d want to make a pilgrimage to yoga’s birthplace so I could understand more fully the practice I’d come to love.

I had that chance three years ago. What I learned is that, similar to my journey on my yoga mat, a meaningful trip to India can’t just be about taking. Rather, it should be about studying up on the places you’ll visit and cultures you’ll experience, connecting meaningfully with the people you meet when you’re there, giving back through seva (selfless service) work, and, most important, staying open to learning. It’s my sincere hope that this guide will help you do just that.

13 IMPORTANT PLACES TO VISIT

Trying to come up with the perfect itinerary to fit your time frame—and not sure where to start, given India’s vastness?, and a seventh-generation spiritual teacher in New York and Los Angeles who leads multiple retreats in his homeland of India each year, shares his top picks for the holy cities, historical sites, and spiritual pilgrimages every student of yoga should consider.

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

Related Interests

More from Yoga Journal

Yoga Journal7 min read
Embracing Yoga
After hearing about yoga for years and witnessing the changes it made in David Life, owner of Life Café in New York City, where I waitressed, and Sharon Gannon, the head waitress, I’d decided to see for myself what the hoopla was about. I’d come to I
Yoga Journal1 min read
Teacher Fave’s/Yoga by Numbers
The five-time NBA All-Star and mental health advocate can’t live without these yoga and fitness tools. Kevin Love started his eponymous Kevin Love Fund to find purpose beyond basketball. After struggling with anxiety and depression, he developed a tr
Yoga Journal3 min read
Transforming Classrooms
In 2012, Nicole Cardoza was volunteering at P.S. 140 on the Lower East Side of Manhattan through a community initiative. When school staff learned that she practiced yoga, they approached her about sharing the practice with students. “They were looki