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Yoga Teacher Training in India - Travel Guide for Students

May 11, 2024

Last updated : May 11, 2024

You've probably heard it from every yoga teacher under the sun: there's no place quite like India to take your practice to the next level. And they're right. In India, yoga isn't just something you do on a mat—it's a way of life. It's the motherland of yoga, where the ancient asanas and philosophies that shape our practices today first took root. But if it's your first time traveling to India for a yoga course, your teachers would have also told you the number rule: come prepared.

If you’re going on a yoga teacher training in India and need a local to show you the way, you're in the right place. This India travel guide is packed with insider tips from local teachers and all the essential guidelines you need for your trip and training. From what to pack to how to handle local customs and India travel visas, this is what you need to know.

Why Complete Your Yoga Teacher Training in India?

Arhanta yoga students bend in Bow Pose on a Yoga Teacher Training in India

There are many reasons why you should choose India for your yoga teacher training course, but perhaps the most obvious is that it’s the birthplace of yoga itself. The practice of yoga has a rich heritage in India that dates back thousands of years, with its origins found in the ancient texts known as the Vedas.

The foundational texts of yoga, including the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, played a significant role in shaping the philosophy and practice of yoga as we know it today. Patanjali's teachings laid out the eight limbs of yoga, providing a comprehensive framework for spiritual growth and self-realization. Over time, various yoga schools emerged in India, weaving the practice into the local culture, religions, and lifestyle.

Apart from yoga’s profound past here, embarking on a yoga teacher training in India gives students the opportunity to study under experienced teachers who have grown up immersed in this rich heritage, sometimes for generations. Yoga schools in India like Arhanta Yoga, for example, follow the traditional ‘Gurukula' system which encourages students to study closely under their teachers, learning how to practice yoga as a way of life, not just a series of postures on a mat.

The ashram experience in India is just as transformative. Immersing yourself in an authentic yogic lifestyle, you’ll eat, sleep, and practice yoga like the founding fathers intended it to. Practicing traditional Hatha Yoga in the peaceful Indian countryside with like-minded students also adds another layer to your learning experience. Many students leave feeling more connected to nature, their practice, and themselves in only a few weeks.

Discover: How to Become a Yoga Instructor

Complete India Travel Guide for Yoga Students [2024]

India Travel Guide for yoga students

Traveling and organizing your journey to India might feel like a big step to take, but with the right information and advice, it can be a life-changing adventure. Developed with local insights and the latest info, this India travel guide shows you the best way to plan your yoga teacher training trip, including visa requirements, local customs, and travel tips for first-time explorers.

Best Time to Travel to India

India's climate varies quite a bit depending on where you go, so it's important to plan your trip according to the weather. Generally, the best time to travel to India for a yoga teacher training course is during the cooler, drier months, which typically fall between October and March. This period offers comfortable temperatures and mostly clear skies, making it ideal for outdoor asana practice and exploring the sights.

If you are looking for a course in the middle of the year, then Europe is a safer bet. While not India, you can still find authentic Indian training programs here. Countries like the Netherlands and Italy boast sunny days and warm temperatures from April all the way through to late August.

India Visa Requirements

Most international travelers need a visa when visiting India. But the good news is the process is relatively quick and easy.

For travelers with passports from the UK, Ireland, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and several other nations, getting an e-Tourist visa via the Indian government's official online portal is a straightforward process. Depending on the duration of your course and travel plans, you can choose from a 30-day, 1 year, and 5-year e-Tourist visa for your trip.

When applying for your visa, remember to select “tourist” for the reason of your visit if you're also exploring India, or “short yoga course” if you’re only visiting the ashram. Avoid "study" as this is for official government institutions like universities. Making this mistake could complicate or delay your application.

To guarantee no hiccups on your journey, we recommend that you apply for your e-Tourist visa at least four days before you plan to arrive. During the application process, travelers will need to provide:

  • Travel plans
  • A recent photograph (following government specifications)
  • Copy of passport page with personal details like name, date of birth, etc.
  • Payment

Once approved, travelers will need to print out the e-Tourist visa and take it with them to India to safely enter the country.

See: India Travel & Visa Registration Tips for Arhanta Yoga Students

Yoga Culture & Etiquette in India

Prayers at Arhanta Yoga Ashram

Eating

When it comes to eating etiquette in India, there are a few cultural norms to keep in mind. First off, Indian people don’t eat with their left hand as it is traditionally considered unclean. So, if you want to blend in with the locals, tuck into your meals with your right hand only. It's also customary to wash your hands before and after a meal.

As for diet, India offers a diverse culinary landscape, with each region boasting its own unique flavors and dishes. Many Indian people follow the principles of Ayurveda, which takes a holistic approach to nutrition and emphasizes balance. In Ayurveda, meals are specific to your dosha make-up and often include a variety of flavors, textures, and spices to promote overall well-being.

Also Read: Tridosha Quiz: Understand the Three Doshas

If you're staying at an ashram, expect simple, vegetarian meals that are both nutritious and balanced. Meals are often eaten in silence or with minimal conversation, allowing for a mindful and meditative eating experience.

Temples & Religious Sites

In India and other Asian countries, understanding temple etiquette is key to respecting local customs and traditions. In most places, it's important to dress modestly, covering shoulders and knees, especially at a temple.

While many religious sites in India have become tourist attractions, they are still active places of worship where locals come to pray daily. If you plan to visit one of these places after your yoga training in India, remember to be respectful. When entering a temple, remove your shoes and speak softly. Many temples also prohibit photography inside sacred areas, so be mindful of signage and local customs.

Ashram Life

At a traditional yoga school in India, life follows the rhythm of nature. Each day starts early, greeting the dawn with a series of Sun Salutations and practices aimed at nurturing body, mind, and spirit. From meditation and pranayama to simple yet nourishing meals, every activity serves a purpose.

This traditional ashram experience is also designed to help yoga students journey deep within, questioning habits and uncovering hidden truths about themselves. Through this immersive experience, practitioners learn to appreciate the simple things in life and gain valuable insights into their own existence.

Get a free copy of our Amazon bestselling book directly into your inbox!

Learn how to practice, modify and sequence 250+ yoga postures according to ancient Hatha Yoga principles.

Getting to India

Travelling to Arhanta Yoga Ashrams in India

From the US

Yoga is incredibly popular in the US, with roughly 33.64 million Americans regularly rolling out their mats. As a major entry point to India, many travelers from the US and Europe fly directly to New Delhi, the vibrant capital city.

Flying is the most common and quickest way to reach India from the USA, covering a distance of about 7,375 miles in just over 17 hours. Flight prices can fluctuate throughout the year, but typically range from $430 - $1400 (€400 - €1300), according to Rome2Rio. It's wise to book in advance and compare fares on various booking platforms to find the best deal.

From the UK

Similarly, we host many UK students who make the trek to India to become qualified yoga teachers every year. While ashrams in Europe are closer for students travelling from the UK, those who want to study yoga in India must take to the skies for the fastest route. Flights to India from England usually last around 9 hours and can cost anywhere from £210 - £650 (€250 - €750).

Public Transport

Public transport is a lifeline for both locals and tourists in India. Buses are the most common mode of transport for covering long distances, offering an affordable yet sometimes crowded option. Trains, on the other hand, form the backbone of India's transport network, connecting cities and towns across the country. With various classes available, from basic seating to luxurious sleeper cars, trains cater to a wide range of budgets and needs. However, it's essential to book train tickets well in advance, especially for popular routes.

For shorter distances or navigating within cities, auto-rickshaws and taxis are the best options, although be prepared to negotiate fares. Ride-sharing apps like Uber have also gained popularity in the bigger cities, so it might be worth looking into for a more comfortable and reliable journey.

Tourist Safety

Many students ask me if it is safe to travel in India, and the answer is yes. But like any foreign country, a little caution goes a long way. When traveling in India, stick to well-lit and populated areas, especially at night, and keep an eye on your belongings in crowded places. It's also a good idea to keep your valuables tucked away and to use reputable transportation options to get around.

If you're exploring solo, keep your yoga school in the loop about your plans and consider joining group tours for your first time. A general rule of thumb when traveling abroad is to always trust your instincts—if something feels off, remove yourself from the situation.

Local Currency

When you're traveling in India, it's essential to get a grip on the local currency, the Indian Rupee (INR). You'll find notes in easy denominations (5, 10, 20, 50...) and coins in values of 1, 2, 5, and 10. Cash is king in many places in India, especially in rural areas and smaller shops, so it's always handy to have some rupees on hand.

But if you prefer to travel cashless, major cities and tourist spots often accept card payments, and ATMs are relatively easy to come by. Just be cautious about where you exchange your money; stick to reputable banks or currency exchange offices to avoid any dodgy deals.

What to Pack for a Yoga Teacher Training in India

As you gear up for the transformative journey ahead, you might be wondering what to pack? You’ll find all the basics from your local corner shop here, but there are a few items you’ll need to bring along with you for a comfortable journey. Below is a handy packing checklist for your yoga teacher training course in India.

  • Comfortable yoga clothes: Think breathable fabrics that allow for easy movement during your practice sessions.
  • Lightweight layers: India's weather can change quickly, so pack light layers that you can easily add or remove depending on the temperature.
  • Warm clothes: India can get very cold in the beginning of the year, so don’t forget to pack warm clothing for the cooler mornings and evenings.
  • Sun protection: Remember sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat to shield yourself from the sun during outdoor activities.
  • Mosquito repellent: Especially if you're heading to more tropical areas, mosquito repellent is a must.
  • Water bottle: Staying hydrated is key, so bring along a reusable water bottle to keep you fueled throughout the day.
  • Yoga mat: While many places provide mats, having your own ensures you're comfortable during practice.
  • Journal and pen: A journal can be a great way to reflect on your experiences and jot down any insights or learnings along the way.
  • Travel adapter: India uses different plug sockets (3 pin round plug - Type D), so make sure you have an India travel adapter to keep your devices charged.
  • Personal toiletries: While some accommodations provide basic toiletries, it's always handy to have your own shampoo, conditioner, and other essentials.
  • Indoor slippers and socks: Bring clean and comfy footwear you can easily slip on and off when indoors.
  • Comfortable walking shoes: Comfortable shoes for your morning strolls or walks.
  • Working wristwatch: Make sure you have a working wristwatch with a second hand for timing classes in your yoga teacher training course.
  • Alarm clock: Ensure you wake up on time for your morning activities.
  • Torch/flashlight: Helpful for navigating dimly lit areas during your early morning outings.
  • Meditation shawl: Keep yourself warm and focused during outdoor morning meditation sessions.

India Travel Tips for Yoga Students

Female yoga students after the yoga class

Choose the Right Course

With countless yoga teacher training programs available in India, how do you choose the right one? It's important to do your research on the various courses available, choosing a style and level that aligns with your goals, interests, and experience.

Also See: What’s the Difference Between a 200-, 300- & 500-Hour Yoga Teacher Training Course?

Embrace the Culture

India is a land rich in traditions and spirituality. Take the time to immerse yourself in the local culture, whether it's attending a traditional ceremony or sampling authentic cuisine.

Respect Local Customs

Be mindful of cultural norms and traditions, such as dressing modestly when visiting temples or removing your shoes before entering someone's home.

Practice Patience

India operates on its own unique sense of time, so be prepared for things to move at a slower pace than you may be used to. Don’t see this as a bad thing though. Away from the stress and constant demands of your daily life, you can embrace the opportunity to slow down and enjoy the journey.

Pack Light

India's streets can be bustling and crowded, so pack light and only bring the essentials (see our checklist of what to pack for a yoga teacher training in India above). Remember to also bring along a small backpack or daypack for carrying your belongings while exploring.

Be Open-minded

India is a diverse and eclectic country, full of contrasts and contradictions. Keep an open mind and be willing to embrace new experiences and perspectives.

Final Thought

Going on a yoga teacher training in India is no small step—it's both physically and emotionally challenging. Our survival guide for students offers crucial training and travel tips, but if there's one takeaway from our India travel guide today, it's this: immerse yourself fully in this experience. Don't hold back. Embrace every lesson, greet mistakes with a smile, reconnect with the natural world, and listen closely to your body's cues. This journey has the power to transform your life and countless others—are you ready for it?

Learn more about Arhanta’s upcoming 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training in India and how you can join, or reach out to our experienced local team with your questions.

Get a free copy of our Amazon bestselling book directly into your inbox!

Learn how to practice, modify and sequence 250+ yoga postures according to ancient Hatha Yoga principles.

About the author

Omkar Jain

Omkar Jain is a lead teacher trainer with teaching experience of over 5,000 hours. He has been teaching at Arhanta Yoga since 2011 and has become an essential member of the teacher training team.

Omkar was born and raised in India, and grew up with traditional values. He has studied with various reputed teachers like Saraswathi Rangaswamy (daughter of Sri. Pattabhi Jois). His classes are fun and challenging for students of all levels. He teaches with focus, discipline and humor at the same time. His ability to comprehensively transmit knowledge helps students to mature into confident teachers.

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