Dreaming of yoga in India? Go with your eyes open

Thursday 30 November, 2006

sunsetMost "serious" yoga students in the West have dreamt of spending time in India practising. Taking refuge in the sanctuary of an ashram to live and breathe yoga can be an enticing - if a little scary - idea. A feature in this week's Yoga Journal newsletter also warns that this kind of trip comes with its own caveats.

The author, Rachel Brahinksy, has spent a month travelling across Northern India, taking yoga classes. Such is the size of the sub-Continent, and the diversity of teaching, that simply setting out to study yoga in India is "a lot like trying to find a baseball coach in the US", she says.

Incredibly, BKS Iyengar's legendary Institute in Pune is frequently booked up three years in advance, and ashrams in general fill up remarkably quickly.

There are cultural differences to look out for too - many of the yoga teachers the author worked with in India had a far "looser" sense of precision than she encountered in the US, and a different understanding of what's safe.

India's reputation as a spiritual haven can also fail to live up to expectations; look out for large classes led by teachers with dubious qualifications and experience.

You can read Brahinksy's full article at http://www.yogajournal.com/travel/1646_1.cfm It's a sobering, no doubt realistic, antidote, to any romantic notions of taking off to the land where it all began.

And for more of the same, Lucy Edge's Yoga School Dropout is an absolute must-read.

Have you had your own experience of learning yoga in India? I'd love to know how you found it - please leave a comment.

Lucia Cockcroft, editor


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