From the must-see places and pilgrimages to top tips on how to stay healthy on the road, heres what you need to know before you plan your trip.
I started practicing yoga in a crowded New York City gym, my mat so close to the students next to mine that I couldnt tell whose sweat droplets were whose. Like many Americans, I was introduced to yoga as a physical activityI considered it a complement to the triathlon training I was doing at the timeand 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 yogas 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 (1500500 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, Id want to make a pilgrimage to yogas birthplace so I could understand more fully the practice Id 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 cant just be about taking. Rather, it should be about studying up on the places youll visit and cultures youll experience, connecting meaningfully with the people you meet when youre there, giving back through seva (selfless service) work, and, most important, staying open to learning. Its my sincere hope that this guide will help you do just that.