In this series of posts, YJ contributors share their experiences of yoga in its birthplace. If you’ve considered traveling to India to practice, to find your teacher, or to find yourself, learn more here weekly about what you can—and can’t—expect.
India itself is a teacher, and a big part of the learning along the yoga journey here comes from surrendering to the new cultural experience. There is so much I love about India, small moments of indescribable joy that tell the story of a home away from home.
I’ve been traveling to India to study yoga for almost 15 years now, and there are things about this amazing country that I miss every time I leave. Chai from small street stalls, fresh coconuts on every corner, spicy breakfast pancakes (dosas), banana lassis, animals on the streets at all time (cows, dogs, cats, birds, goats, ox), speaking “Indian” English (all things doing, madam, going possible, sir) and surrendering to an experience that is bigger and crazier than you can control.
See also Finding a Yoga Teacher in India
For the average American, it can at first be frustrating to get used to power outages, unreliable internet, or a lack of running water. Fortunately, India is way easier now than it used to be. When I first started traveling there, even the best hotels in Mysore could not maintain continuous power or fast internet. Every first-time yoga student in Mysore has a moment when they “lose” it. It might be when the rickshaw driver says he knows your intended destination only to drop you off halfway across town. It might be when you order a lime soda and it comes filled with white sugar you didn’t ask for. It might be when someone tells you that you look “fat,” which is meant as a compliment but sounds like an insult. Or it might happen while waiting in line for train tickets surrounded from all sides by a mass of people who don’t form any kind of a line. It might be when you spend the night in the bathroom after trusting a salad in the best restaurant in town. You don’t know when, but one thing is certain, almost every Westerner who visits India has a meltdown. I’ve had many. Each episode makes you more patient and appreciative of all the creature comforts available at home.
India is all about patience and surrender, appreciating the small moments of happiness in the present. And for many people India is a place where you are free to discover yourself on your own terms. Go to India and lose all the accoutrements of the Western world to see what’s underneath and just be yourself, whether that’s vulnerable, strong, happy, sad, anxious, or peaceful.
See also A Yogi’s Travel Guide to India
ABOUT KINO MACGREGOR
Kino MacGregor is a self-professed Handstand lover (just check out her Instagrams). She’s also a Pattabhi Jois-certified Ashtanga Yoga teacher who travels worldwide, author of three books, featured in six Ashtanga Yoga DVDs, and YogaVibes, and co-founder of Miami Life Center, where she and her husband Tim Feldmann are based. Learn more on http://www.kinoyoga.com/