If you are looking to combine travel and yoga in India; there is no dearth of places that you can head to. In fact, India is regarded as the Yoga Capital of the world and is among the best places to learn and practice Yoga. Though you may find yoga and wellness centers across the country but Rishikesh in Uttarakhand, Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh and Varkala in Kerala are popular places for Yoga.
In the 21st century, Yoga has attracted travellers from the West, inspiring a large number of people to come and study yoga in India. There are thousands of yoga centers and Yoga teacher training in India, providing everything from in-depth courses to flexible drop-in classes. As the style of yoga and approach to teaching varies at each center, it’s important that you understand what you want to do.
For example Karma yoga, a branch of yoga talks about how deducting the desire for result from the act of karma (to do) can lead to miraculous reformation in the modern society. Krishna beautifully describes karma yoga to Arjuna as mentioned in the great Indian text, Bhagavad Gita “But the man who controls his senses with his mind and, with detachment, begins his karma yoga using the organs of action, is a very worthy man. Perform the action prescribed for you, because it is better to act than to be inactive. Without action, even the maintenance of your body will be impossible. Except for work performed in the spirit of sacrifice, all other holds the world in bondage. Therefore, perform your action in the spirit of sacrifice, free from any form of attachment. By it, please the gods, and let them please you. Pleasing each other thus, may you attain supreme good.”
Here are three popular places where you can combine travel and Yoga in India:
Rishikesh: Located in the foothills of the Garhwal Himalayas, Rishikesh attracts those seeking knowledge, spirituality and peace with its numerous temples, ashrams, and yoga institutes. The nearest airport to Rishikesh is at Jolly Grant, near Dehradun, which is about 35 kilometers away. If you are a budget traveller, take an overnight train from Delhi to Haridwar and then head to Rishikesh by road. Rishikesh is also well connected by road from Delhi and regular buses from ISBT at Kashmiri Gate are available.
Dharamshala: This beautiful hill station in Himachal Pradesh attracts travellers from different parts of the globe. You may find Israilies, Germans and travellers from the US and other parts of Europe setting camp here for months. Dharamakot, a small hamlet in upper Dharamshala is quite popular among budget travellers looking to long stays here. Most of the Yoga and wellness centers are around McLeodganj, which is also known as upper Dharamshala.
The best way to reach McLeodganj is either by train or bus. The nearest railway station is Pathankot or Chakki Bank depending on the stop of the train you are travelling. Buses are available from Pathankot to Dharamshala and McLeodganj. Regular buses are available from Delhi to Dharamshala.
Varkala: Down south, Varkala is a coastal town in the state of Kerala. It is located about 50 km from the state capital Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum). There are numerous Yoga and wellness centers located along the coastline of the Arabian Sea, which makes Varkala an ideal destination for Yoga. You may also find various healing centers offering Ayuvedic treatments or Ayurved Chikitsa as it is called in Hindi. Kovalam, another popular beach close to Trivandrum is also known for its Ayurveda and wellness centers.
Varkala is well connected by air, rail and road transport. The nearest airport to Varkala is Trivandrum, which is about 65 km away.
Yoga has become a part of our existence and many of us see it as a way of life rather than just an hour of practice. Seeping into our day-to-day activities, our behavior and thought process, it is very clear that yoga is not just a physical posture on the mat or merely a secluded 20 minutes meditation; rather it is way to connect with our inner self to purify our body, mind and soul.