Spiritual and Cultural Immersion: Northern India & Nepal

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Sara Syed
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11 reviews
Mar 26 - Apr 8, 2023
Group size: 10 - 25
Spiritual and Cultural Immersion: Northern India & Nepal
India

Sara Syed
  • Email address verified
  • Facebook verified
  • LinkedIn verified
  • Twitter verified
11 reviews

$NaN
Mar 26 - Apr 8, 2023
Group size: 10 - 25

About this trip

Welcome to India & Nepal!  We are overjoyed to share this once-in-a-lifetime experience with you!  We are seasoned travelers, highly trained yoga teachers and lovers of all things Yoga.  This trip is part spiritual-pilgrimage, part yogis-delight, part cultural-immersion, and part heart-opening bliss.  Beware: Traveling to this part of the world is not for the faint-of-heart.  It is for the bold traveler, the adventurous yogi, and the corporate crusader seeking foundational change & exploration in their lives.  


The information below is intended to prepare and guide you through all of the details of traveling to and through India & Nepal.  We’ve been there, we’ve done this!!  We’ve also assembled a team of highly skilled and trained guides, drivers and support staff to make you feel welcome, safe and at ease on our trip to the birthplace of yoga.  There are logistical bits and cultural bits alike below.  Feel free to read all or none of this.  It is a lot of information, but as always, an invitation and never an obligation.  The following is intended to prepare you and as such, is organized by the timeline of events leading up to our trip.  

Please let us know if you have any further questions or need any additional support as you prepare. 


We’re so happy and grateful that you’re taking this journey with us!  


Shannon & Sara 

Travel Dates

You have the option to spend one or two weeks traveling India and Nepal:


2023  Dates and Travel Options

• March 26 – April 1 (One week option)

• April 1  – April 8 (One week option) 

• March 26 – April 8 (Full two-week experience***recommended due to the travel distance***)


Week One - Cultural Immersion

March 26 – April 1

• Delhi, India

• Agra, India

• Jaipur, India 


Week Two - Yogis Delight

April 1  – April 8

• Delhi, India

• Rishikesh, India 

• Kathmandu, Nepal 

Who Can Attend?

Anyone seeking a safe, adventurous and fun immersion into the ancient cultures and spiritual practices found in India and Nepal can attend this trip. This trip is especially beneficial to those that prefer group travel and are interested in spirituality, yoga, wellness and exploring new cultures. 


India and Nepal is the home to some of the most ancient of the civilizations in the world, and therefore lack some of the comforts we have in the western world. We are booking all five-star, Westerner-friendly hotels throughout the trip (meaning they come with accommodations westerners would appreciate including western-style toilets, A/C, electricity, highly-rated reviews, are clean, etc.). However, we are still visiting third-world countries and there will be inevitable discomforts outside of our control. Participants should expect to be challenged at times, even uncomfortable, hot, experiencing bug bites from mosquitos, etc. India has a lot of poverty, noise, and is highly dense in terms of population. India can also be very loud and over-stimulating at times.  


Therefore, participants attending this trip should be:

• Flexibility in mind

• Adaptable

• “Go-with-the-flow"

• Tolerant of noise, pollution and chaos 


Requirements for Travel

Passport and Visa (more information below)

Included

Your investment in this trip INCLUDES:

--Airfare and transportation within India and Nepal  

--Accommodation at 4-5 star hotels with double occupancy, air conditioning & western toilets 

--Most meals (there may be a lunch or dinner here or there that is not a part of our program) 

--Gratuity for our guides and drivers 

--Guided Yoga and meditation throughout our trip (Schedule TBD) 

--Entrance fees to Monuments/sights/attractions 

--Ayurvedic Treatment in Nepal 

NOT Included

DOES NOT INCLUDE:

--Airfare to/from India

--Alcoholic beverages 

--Gratuity for hotel staff, temple offerings, Indian clothing, additional meals, souvenirs and additional tips. 

**if you need a roommate, we will match you with someone. 

Packing List

The items on this list are simply suggestions that we’ve personally found useful in travelling to this part of the world in the past.  You may want to only bring a small day pack for the bus as well. 


Food:

Snacks, energy or protein bars, electrolyte packets 


Clothing:

Pajamas

Any India clothes you might have

Bindis

Safety Pins

Bobby pins

socks for plane

underwear

Bathing suit 

Clothes for practice 

Shoes for hike (you do not need hiking boots) 

Comfortable sandals or flip flops you might not mind losing (and a second pair-just in case) 

***depending on what clothes they may specifically need for temples etc. 

Also see separate section for appropriate clothing to wear in India & Nepal 

**We recommend looking up the projected weather for all locations we’re traveling to prior to packing, so you know what weather/temps to expect and can pack accordingly


Misc:

Daypack/bag for the bus

Flashlight

Journal & Pens

Passport

Plane Tickets

Travel Insurance 

Passport Copies

Phone numbers of everyone & emergency services/consulate 

Glasses, Sun Glasses & case, contacts, etc 

Electric Plug converters & adapters (more info below)

Camera & phone, computer & plugs

External batteries, headphones, etc. 

Earplugs/Eye pillow for sleeping

Waterproof phone case

Chargers for devices 

Mosquito repellent/repellent wristbands

Water bottle with built-in filter (optional) 

RDIF safe wallet for cards and passports 

Travel-friendly debit/cards with low international fees for ATM cash withdrawals and card purcahses 



Hygiene & Medicine:

Wipes/hand sanitizer 

Deodorant 

Razors

3 Toothbrushes (just in case- you do not want to have to re-use a water contaminated toothbrush) 

Toothpaste

Brush, comb

Barrettes, hair ties,

Shampoo, conditioner, styling product 

Eye drops

Nail file (removed nail clippers-TSA might confiscate) 

Pumice

Tweezers

Make-up

Lip Balm

Toilet tissue or regular tissue (yes, you will want this on you at all times) 

Tampons

Any meds you might need.

Any supplements you might need

Charcoal, Tums or Pepto Bismol, potentially a prescription for CIPRO (just in case) 

Laxative: yes you may need this. 

Advil, Tylenol or aspirin

Mosquito repellent-odorless

Neosporin & Band-aids

Antibiotics– just in case

Sun-block

For the Day Pack:

Snacks

Phone/Camera

Wipes & TP

Hand sanitizer 

Safety Pins

Sun Block

Personal toiletries

Wallet or small purse with money, etc.

Journal & pens 

Downloaded audio books, podcasts, books or other reading material 

**This is not an exhaustive list. You may want all of these items or may travel uber light and want fewer items.  Keep in mind, it is MUCH easier to have these items available then to have to find them in India & Nepal—if they’re even available. 


Jewelry: Bangles, earrings, necklace, purse/bags

Travel Tips

• India has a very HOT climate, please plan accordingly when packing.  It feels nice to wear loose-fitting, breezy clothing rather than skin-tight yoga pants due to the humidity and heat in this area.  Cotton and other breathable materials are recommended.  We also highly recommend dressing modestly (keep knees and shoulders covered) to respect the culture in India and Nepal. You can also purchase inexpensive clothing in India. 


• There are A LOT of bugs and mosquitoes in India. Please plan accordingly with potent bug spray. 


• Back-up your photos/phone/devices to the cloud prior to coming and throughout the trip in the case your phone gets lost/stolen/wet/damaged


• We do not recommend bringing valuables and irreplaceables.  Be mindful in your decision to bring a computer or other expensive devices due to the possibility of your devices being damaged or stolen (not likely that items will be stolen as the trip is very secure, but it can still happen while traveling internationally).

Food, Drink & Dietary Information

Stay Hydrated.  

I always find I get dehydrated when I travel because water isn’t always available.  Make an effort to keep water at all times.  There will be bottled water in the bus and in all the hotels.  DO NOT drink tap water.  DO NOT brush your teeth with water from the sink.  DO NOT open your mouth in the shower. 


Street Food 

Eating food or having coffee on the street is at a risk. Fried foods are generally safe. Please note that coffee at a street stall may be boiled and ‘safe’ if it’s in a disposable paper cup. Enjoy!


Protein 

If you have specific needs for more protein, I suggest you bring protein bars. Almost every hotel will have eggs for breakfast.  And there will be plenty of chicken in the fancier hotels that will be fine, but in India is not the place to sample meat.


Vegan

If you are a vegan, you make an exception for ghee for 2 weeks, as food without ghee is really not possible. They do use veg oil, but add ghee often. Otherwise India is super vegan friendly.


Fruits & Veggies

Please eat only peeled fruit. And you might want to limit your vegetable consumption to cooked.


Lactose

If you are lactose intolerant you can pretty much tell when there is dairy in the dishes so avoiding dairy will be possible. There are no soy lattes, but you can get black coffee & tea.


Caffeine

If you are caffeine adverse, please bring your herbal tea bags. They are rare in India.  Indian Coffee is the morning drink you will find, (Chai is more a north India drink but there will be chai in many hotels but they might have to make it special in the smaller places), The South Indian Coffee is delicious, cardamom, sugar and milk mostly.  To order Chai, call it “Masala Tea” 

Registration

In order to register for this trip, you will need to submit your waiver, non-refundable $1,000 down payment, copy of photo page of your passport, and contract to thestudiocleveland@gmail.com.  


Failing to submit any portion of the registration documents will not register you for this trip.  You are only confirmed when all documents and your down payment are received--and you have received confirmation from us that you’re IN!  


WAIVER AND CONTRACTS ARE TWO SEPARATE DOCUMENTS 

Cancellation Policy

NO REFUNDS WILL BE MADE after 12/31/22. We are planning this trip in good faith that all participants that sign up will attend.  We are liable for non-refundable deposits with our partners and guides and need to extend that liability to our guests.  Again, we HIGHLY recommend travel insurance—especially when travelling to this part of the world. 


It is your responsibility to read and understand our cancellation policies. Exceptions cannot be made for any reason, including weather, injury/illness, world catastrophes, or personal emergencies. No refunds or credits will be given for failure to attend or failure to complete the retreat, or for arriving late or leaving early. If you cannot attend and need to cancel for whatever reason, you may gift your non-refundable deposit and/or additional payments past the refund dates to someone of your choosing

About Sara & Shannon

Sara Syed


Sara Syed is the owner of The Studio Cleveland, a wellness center located in downtown Cleveland, Ohio.  She started practicing yoga at the age of 17 as a way to manage anxiety, depression, eating disorders and drug/alcohol abuse. 


Sara was able to stop abusing drugs/alcohol largely through the healing and self-awareness developed with her meditation and yogic practices.

Sara has studied the world, practicing and learning yoga with some of the most well-known teachers, including Kino Macgregor, a direct student of Pattabhi Jois, Saraswati Jois of KPJAYI, Master Santosh Kumar of Yoga Darshanam in Mysore, India, Goenkaji, a meditation teacher in the direct lineage of Guatama Buddha, and Marianne Wells, a direct student of BKS Iyengar.

Sara began hosting spiritual yoga and meditation retreats and trainings in 2019. As someone with major placements in Gemini and Sagittarius, Sara has a fond love for learning, teaching and travel. She has since started hosting trainings and retreats to combine all of her passions and as a way to help inspire others and share tools for personal development & growth.

Sara is an E-RYT 700 with her Masters of Science in Education (Speciality in Curriculum & Instruction) and also holds her Bachelors in Science in Psychology. 


Read more here: https://www.thestudiocleveland.com/sara-syed.html



Shannon Carlin


Shannon visited ashrams with her parents as a child and then many years later, found herself in a yoga class one day. 
Though unfamiliar with the poses, the breath, and of course-sanskrit, she immediately felt a sense of belonging and of coming home. 
The experience resonated so deeply with her that she knew she had taken her first steps on a life-long path of study, practice and devotion. 

She has completed her 200hr certification with Bernadette Birney, Restorative training with Jillian Pranksy, Prenatal Certification with Sue Elkind and her 500hr advanced training with Tiffany Cruikshank of Yoga Medicine.  She also continues to study yoga philosophy with Dr. Douglas Brooks and is working on her 1,000 hour training with Yoga Medicine. 
Shannon is also a certified lifeguard, PaddleFit and Stand Up Paddle Board Yoga Teacher.  She has also completed Trauma Informed and Yoga Activist training with Off The Mat and Into The World with Sean Corne, Suzanne Sterling and Hala Khoury.  She is a also Lululemon Ambassador. 

Our Previous Trips and Retreats

You can read more about our previous courses, retreats, and about the wellness studio in Cleveland, Ohio here: http://www.thestudiocleveland.com


You can read more about her previous silent mediation retreats, yoga retreats and yoga & Ayurveda retreats here: https://www.thestudiocleveland.com/previous-retreats.html


Read more here: http://www.meditationandyogaschool.com


FAQs about India

1.  Is it safe to drink the water in India?
No! Participants will have to purchase water bottles throughout the trip. Some of the hotels provide clean drinking water. 


2. Are any vaccinations recommended? 

There are no vaccines required. 


3. What is medical care like in India?
Medical care is not something we want to experiment with India. It is less expensive than in America, but the quality and experience will differ greatly. Take preventive cautions while traveling and pack over-the-counter medications such as Tylenol, etc., if needed rather than expecting to find it in India. 


4. Do I need a power adaptor to use Indian  outlets?
Yes. India operates on a 230V supply voltage and 50Hz. Power plugs and sockets In India the power sockets used are of type C, type D, and type M. More details to come after registration and during the packing phase. 


5. Do I need a visa for India?
Yes. More details to come for those that register. 


6. What is the weather like in India?

The weather is HOT and sometimes wet/humid in northern and central India. Plan on having cooler evenings in the higher altitudes of Nepal.

7. Is it okay that I only speak English? 

Yes! We are hiring a native tour guide that can easily translate for us. 

Passport

Please send a copy of the first page (photo page) of your valid passport to thestudiocleveland@gmail.com.  Please make sure that you have AT LEAST 6 MONTHS REMAINING on your passport after our return to the USA.  Without the additional 6 months time on your passport, the Indian Consulate may force you to renew your passport before granting a visa. 

Vaccinations

Although no vaccinations are required to visit India, there are some vaccinations the U.S. CDC asks you to consider: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/india.  


Some vaccinations like Hep A need 2 shots 6 months apart for full immunity. 


Please speak with your doctor about all vaccinations and medications, but be prepared to use good judgment if you encounter being sold multiple vaccinations by companies who are in the business of exploiting travelers’ fears. 

Visas

INDIA


Here is the link to the 30 day E-VISA: https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/evisa/tvoa.html

You will need a visa unless you have an Indian passport. 

If you live outside the U.S. please contact the Indian consulate in your country. 

Obtaining a visa at the Indian consulate is no longer possible in the U.S.  


Visa Application Information

You do not want to stand out in anyway when it comes to getting a visa. To them we are foreign tourists so don’t indicate you are going for religious reasons or anything else that might cause red flags. Here is the information about the trip that you will need for the Visa Application:


-Occupation: When listing your occupation, if you are an artist, photographer, in any type of media, film or journalism, put something else as your occupation or they will hold up your application.


-Port of Entry: New Delhi 


-Contact in India:

W.S. Jagannath Babu

No 6/15 Panchayat Colony Street, Muthumizh Nagar, Saligramam, Chennai-600093 Tamil Nadu India Phone: 919444006717


-Hotel: Vivanta New Delhi, Dwarka; Sector 21, Shahabad Mohammadpur, New Delhi, Delhi 110075, India

H357+C6 Delhi, India


-Itinerary for visa purposes: 

1st week: New Delhi, Agra, Jaipur 

 2nd week: New Delhi & Rishikesh



When you get your visa, send a photo to thestudiocleveland@gmail.com


NEPAL 


For US residents, Visa for Nepal is available upon arrival in the country. 

International Flights

Booking your international flight to India is your responsibility. Please plan to arrive in the New Delhi International Airport (DEL).


Please make sure your international flight to New Delhi allows for ample time to arrive at our hotel before we start our tour.  Allow time for baggage collection, customs & immigration as well as travel time to the hotel.  Please consider arriving in New Delhi a day early, especially if you would like additional time to acclimate to the time difference as well as general jet lag--getting settled and grounded in a new location.  Personally, after that flight, we need a full night’s sleep before embarking outside the walls of the hotel. Please take care for yourself and your travel arrangements.  

Arrival in India

When we arrive in India we will go through fill out 2 forms, one for Immigration, one for Customs. Immigration is first. If you are getting an e-visa there is a separate line at customs.  MAKE SURE YOU HAVE YOUR PRINTED RECEIPT for having filed the paperwork for your e-visa online PRIOR TO YOUR TRAVEL – a minimum of 72 hours in advance of your flight.  APPLY IN ADVANCE PLEASE.  Then we retrieve our bags at Baggage Claim and then you will hand over your customs form. 

Baggage

Please arrive no fewer than 3 hrs to the airport for your international flights.  Please also double check both weight and size of your bags against your airline guidelines to avoid extra fees.   (Sometimes significant extra fees) And again, you may want to bring another bag for souveniers or buy one while in india as your second checked bag—if you’re allowed one on your flight. 

Travel Insurance

If there is ample interest in group travel insurance, we may arrange it.  Generally, such group rates are offered at a minimum of 10 people.  We HIGHLY recommend that everyone in attendance on this trip purchase travel insurance/trip cancellation insurance whether individually or with the group so your trip fees can be covered in full or in part in case of cancellation.  You may add insurance when booking your flight or ask your credit card company for more information.  We have used World Nomads and Travel Guard in the past.  More information will be available closer to departure for group travel insurance if we have enough interested parties to warrant it.  

A retreat is an investment in your well-being—but it’s also a financial investment. No one books a retreat with the intention of cancelling, but unexpected life events do occur. Trip insurance should also be purchased to cover medical expenses, should an accident occur while on the retreat. 


Phone Usage Abroad

Make sure you know what your roaming/international plan may look like and additional fees associated with it.  We recommend that you embrace this trip as an opportunity to unplug and immerse yourself in the experience without distraction of the world back home.  However, its understandable that may not be feasible for everyone and checking in is recommended.  There will be intermittent WiFi throughout the trip, but not guaranteed.  Please make sure that your business, friends and family are aware of this before your departure. You may note that you will have “limited access” and that you appreciate their patience in your responding.  If you have questions about your specific plan, please contact your carrier about using your phone in India & Nepal as they each have their own specifications.  You may want to put your phone on “airplane mode” to avoid charges.  We may discuss other options available over WiFi to connect while abroad. 


Some travelers may decide to opt into purchasing an international SIM card while in India. These are fairly inexpensive and provide you with a local Indian phone number. If you are getting an Indian SIM card, do NOT lose your original SIM card. 

Electricity

  India uses 220, so you will need an adapter for anything you want to plug in.  What usually works are converters for Europe. Plugs labeled for Asia, do not work.  Adapters too.  Most devices are equipped for differing voltage levels, but it is recommended that you check your electronics (anything that you have to plug in) before travelling to make sure your device can handle all voltages. (If not, buy a converter.  If you’re not sure-buy a converter! Converters are fairly inexpensive and can be found on Amazon).

Spending Money

Bring the cash and credit cards you need. Some of the hotels have safes in the room. Bring around $500. You will be responsible for some meals so allow approximately $10-20 a day for food. This is a high estimate. Expect to spend at least $60 per salwar kameez, $120 per silk sari. You may want to take advantage of some of the great shopping that will be available and there will be many inexpensive trinkets, cotton fabrics, puja items. There will also be chances for larger purchases with credits cards. Bronze murtis, fabrics, decorative objects and 22k gold jewelry.  You will use cash for small purchases, most meals, souvenirs, donations, tips. We may arrange currency exchange in the hotel the morning after we arrive. 

Currency Exchange

Our Guide may arrange for currency exchange at the hotel the first morning in New Delhi, so bring cash. A couple of the hotels can also exchange money, but it will be a higher rate. Working ATMs are rare and in small towns usually broken. Credit cards are accepted for some of the large purchases (saris, murtis, gold, etc.). Exchange as much currency as you think you will need or more. We may exchange it back for you into dollars at the end of the trip.

Modesty & Clothes

Indians idea of modesty is so different than ours and very important to note, especially in the temples and small villages. We do not have any desire to make any more of a spectacle of ourselves than we already are. 


-Cover your hips. Having tops that go down to your knees is what you will see in India in both sexes, less for men, but definitely for women. 


-Cover your shoulders: This means no tank or tube tops for anyone. All kameez’s and blouses should have short sleeves to cover the shoulders. 


-Ladies, cover your legs and ankles. No capris, and if you have a pair of pants with a slit, pin it together and no see-through fabrics.


-Cover your chest. A drooping sari or a salwar without the dupatta (the scarf) or the sari completely double-covering your chest is a big faux pas.  We’ll show you how to tuck and pin things so they don’t droop. 


-We will certainly be in and out of rooms in our petticoats and blouses as we get dressed, but keep this at a minimum and stay covered. To them it is like running in the hall of a hotel in just a bra and panties and very inappropriate. 


-When going to the pool, cover up with more than just a towel.


-Men will be asked to remove their shirts for darshan in some sanctums. And please put your shirts back on when we leave the temple.



Clothing

India is hot so you will want clothes that keep you cool, and are a bit conservative, especially if you want to avoid unnecessary attention and respect cultural norms. As a general rule wear clothes that cover the shoulders and the knees - be comfortable. Women may wear leggings with long tops or shirts. Loose clothing tends to be cooler. Indian clothing is comfortable and practical; but not necessary. While in India, you will see plenty of Western clothes, especially with the younger generation. We advise you to dress a little conservatively.


Our recommendations:

· Loose, comfy, light weight pants or yoga pants, in solid colors or

bright patterns — all work well.

· Cotton tops or t-shirts

· Long cotton dresses

· Cotton scarves

· Cardigan or something to keep you warm during cool morning or

evening in Rishikesh


Men
Men in India generally wear a simple, inexpensive dhoti or veshthi which is basically a white sarong, with a white short sleeve button down shirt and a white scarf or cummerbund. This is traditional dress and not a necessity for our travel.


Women
Indian women usually wear a sari or salwar kameez or churidar. Younger women may wear more western-styles. You may find many online shops or perhaps there is an Indian clothing store in your area to get a better idea.  There will be some time to shop during our trip. Have fun familiarizing yourself with the fabrics, colors and styles. 

Cultural Guidelines

Right Hand Only 

If you hold out your hand to do anything, whether its exchanging money, taking Prasad or feeding yourself, only use your right hand.  Handshakes are not very common but if someone extends their hand, right hand only. Start practicing now. Put your left hand behind your back or on your lap while eating. Traditionally, in India, you wipe with the left.  It is therefore not appropriate to eat or use the left hand for anything else. 


Touching People and Priests

Do not touch the priests. This goes for men and women alike. When giving or receiving anything from priests, please avoid touching them as best you can. They may touch you, but often they will hand women kum-kum and vibhuti to apply to yourself, rather than putting it on you directly. 


PDA  (Public Displays of Affection or Asana) Touching and other displays of affection in public with the opposite sex are inappropriate. Men hold hands with each other as a sign of brotherly affection, and girls with girls, never the opposite sex in public.  Drawing attention to yourself is inappropriate.  Affections are private.  Asana is intended to be practiced in a studio hall or designated area outside.  Please no spontaneous asana or asana photos. 


Prostration 

There will be occasion for prostrating oneself before the fire or a deity. Men, go for the whole full body pranam when appropriate and gently cross your feet while on the ground.  Women should never do a full body prostration, but simply bow your head to floor on your knees, with the feet crossed under you.

Traditional Indian Outfit

If you wish to wear a sari, there are 4 parts:

-Petticoat

-Blouse

-Sari (4-5 yards of fabric) 

-Safety pins (these are necessary to keep the sari up and neat 


If you wish to wear salwar kameez or churidar: There are 3 parts

-The tunic

-The pants -pencil thin for churidars, salwar is huge drawstring “Hammer-pants”

-Scarf 


Hair:

-Flowers

-Bring bobby pins to pin flowers in your hair, typically they cost 12-20 RP 


Foreheads:

-Kum-kum, vibhuti, Bindis

-Kum kum is the red dust/paste for your third eye -given at the temples of the goddess. The red is significant of menstrual blood. 

-Vibhuti is white ash – given at the temples of the gods.  My teacher says that the white means “sex, death & moonlight.” 

-Receive from the priests in your right hand, if they intend you to put it on your own forehead.  Then pour it into your left hand and use your right finger to apply it to your forehead.  Also, offering of Rupees is always from your right hand.  

-Women, vibhuti goes over your kum kum and vibhuti. 


Jewelry:

Wear fake gold jewelry and bangles.  This is part of the outfit.  A gold necklace, earrings and bangles.  Gold is worn above the waist and silver below.  

Tipping

Please tip waiters and cleaning staff chamber maids as you would in the States. Tipping all the bellmen who carry your luggage 20 RP or more per bag extra would be very appreciated. It is also customary at the end of the tour to tip the Guide, the Driver and Drivers Assistant. We will pass an envelope toward the end of the trip. Be as generous as you can afford keeping in mind the services they provided. If they do something for you specifically, tipping is considered good form as it would be for a concierge. It is also customary to give 10 –200 rs to the priest who makes the offering and says the mantras on your behalf. Our guide will let us know how much per priest at the temples.  

Beggars

There are the elderly and the handicap who beg to make a living.  These people are truly in need and so giving to them is a kind gesture you might want to make, but do it discreetly or you might end up with dozens of people following you. Begging is also an organized profession, perpetrated by clans, or ‘mafias’ that literally make a living exploiting their workers to then exploit your sympathies.  They further exploit their own children, knowing tourists have an even harder time resisting when they see children suffering. Not giving to these beggars helps breaks the cycle of exploitation. When you are unsure of the difference, ask one of the guides. 

Haggling

To a certain degree this is still a haggling culture.  But what is behind it is that both the buyer and the seller have power to be respected. 

Emergency Plan

In case of an emergency, please convene in the lobby of the hotel or at the entrance tower of the temple for further information from your guides. Emergency number in India is 108 (like our 911)

Suggested Reading

To inspire you and prepare for our pilgrimage Douglas recommends a few books:
Fuller, C.J, The Camphor Flame 

Basham, A.L., The Wonder that Was India
Zaehner, R.C., Hinduism
Doniger, Wendy, The Hindus 

Younger, David, Home of the Dancing Sivan

Eck, Diane, Darshan

US Embassy Information

U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India
Embassy of the United States of America
Panchsheel Marg, Shantipath, 

Chanakyapuri, New Delhi, Delhi 110021, India
Ph: (91-11) 2419-8000, Fax: (91-11) 2419-8530
E-Mail: agnewdelhi@fas.usda.gov

Ambassador: Kenneth Juster 

Operating Hours: 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m, M-F

Closed hours Emergency only 

Call: (91)-44-28574142/43. 

Your presence in India has been reported to the U.S. State Department as part of the STEP (Smart Traveler Enrolment Program). 


U.S Embassy in Kathmandu, Nepal 

Embassy of the United States of America 

Maharajgunj Rd, Kathmandu 44606, Nepal

Ph: +977 1-4234000, Fax: +977-1-400-7272

(From US: 703-988-3428)

Operating Hours: 8am-8pm

Email: support-nepal@ustraveldocs.com

What’s included

  • Daily yoga classes
    Explore your true nature with daily yoga classes. The classes are specialized to promote your healing and growth.
  • Clearing Ceremony
    Release any pain and baggage you might be carrying with an intentional, cleansing ceremony. We will start the training with this ceremony to be clear on our intentions throughout the training.
  • Daily meditation classes
    Find silence and solitude within. Discover your innate being of peace within. Long days of meditation helps to clear the mind of built-up stress and fatigue. Leave this retreat feeling renewed.
  • Lodging & accommodations
  • Most meals
    Most meals (there may be a lunch or dinner here or there that is not a part of our program)
  • Domestic Transportation
    Airfare and transportation within India and Nepal
  • Unforgettable memories
    This experience is sure to expand and change your life for the better. You will never forget your time spent here in India and Nepal with Sara and Shannon :)
  • Gratuity
    Gratuity for our guides and drivers
  • Entrance Fees
    Entrance fees to Monuments/sights/attractions
  • Ayurvedic Treatment
    Ayurvedic Treatment in Nepal
  • Airfare
  • Travel insurance
    We recommend the purchase of "cancel for any reason" level of insurance to protect your investment
  • Miscellaneous expenses
    Spa services, personal items, laundry, etc are not included
  • Alcoholic Beverages
    Alcoholic beverages
  • Tipping
    Gratuity for hotel staff, temple offerings, Indian clothing, additional meals, souvenirs and additional tips.

Available Packages

Full Two Week Immersion - India & Nepal
Available until March 5, 202325 left
$3,950
Deposit: $1,000
One Week - Delhi, Agra, Jaipur
Available until March 5, 202320 left

Delhi, Agra, Jaipur India 

$3,250
Deposit: $1,000
One Week - Rishikesh and Nepal
Available until March 5, 202320 left

Delhi & Rishikesh India

Kathmandu, Nepal 

$3,250
Deposit: $1,000
Other
Available until December 31, 202210 left

Chose this option if you have already made payment elsewhere such as check, Venmo, etc. Chose this option if you paid for this trip before covid also. 

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Itinerary

Itinerary
India & Nepal

Week One: Delhi, Agra, Jaipur


March 26 - Arrival

-Meeting & assistance upon your arrival in Delhi with our local, English-speaking tour guide

-Assistance with check-in at your five-star hotel: Vivanta by Taj Dewaraka

-Welcome Dinner


March 27 – Full day in Delhi 

-Explore Delhi—one of the oldest existing cities in the world!

-Humayuns Toomb

-Drive around city 

-Visit Bangla sahib gurudwara

-Gurudwara

-Rashtrapati Bhavan 

-Lakshminarayan Temple

-Back to hotel and dinner at Dwaraka Taj

-Spend the night at the same hotel (Vivanta)


March 28 - Red Fort & Agra 

-Travel from Delhi to Agra (4 hrs by bus with en-route comfort stops)

-Travel by A/C bus

-Check-in at Hotel Agra

-Visit Agra Fort and back to hotel

-Dinner at Hotel Taj Agra 


March 29 - Taj Mahal & Jaipur 

-Sunrise visit to the Taj Mahal!

-Return to the hotel for breakfast

-Travel to Jaipur – “Pink City” (4-5 hrs by bus with en-route comfort stops)

-Enroute visit Fatepur Sikri Fort and Palace 

-Five-star hotel in Jaipur

-Dinner at hotel

-Evening free for exploration or rest


March 30 - Jaipur 

-Amer Fort & Elephant Rides 

-City Palace

-Museums, art exhibitions 

-Peacock Gate

-Free evening for shopping and exploring


March 31  - Jaipur to Delhi 

-Transportation via A/C bus to Delhi hotel (5 hrs by bus with en-route comfort stops)

-Free evening to shop, explore city, rest


April 1  - Delhi 

-End of week 1

-Transfer to airport 

_______________


Week Two: Rishikesh, India and Kathmandu, Nepal


March 31 - Arrival in Delhi

-Meeting & assistance upon your arrival in Delhi with our local, English-speaking tour guide

-Transportation from airport to hotel 

-Assistance with check-in at your five-star hotel: Vivanta


April 1 – Delhi, Dehradun, Rishikesh 

-Morning yoga practice

-Breakfast

-Airport transfer from hotel for flight to Dehradun (included)

-Bus transport to Rishikesh

-Arrive at Divine Resort in Rishikesh


April 1 - 4 - Rishikesh  

-3 night stay in Rishikesh 

-All meals included

-Daily yoga, meditation, kriya practices 

-Daily excursions

-Personal time for exploration, shopping 

-Located right on the Ganges River


April 4 - Rishikesh to Kathmandu

-Transport from ashram to airport

-Flight from Dehradun airport to Kathmandu

-Airport transfer to ashram in Kathmandu, Nepal: Himalayan Yoga Academy, located in the Nagarjun Jungle in Kathmandu, Nepal


April 4 - 8 - Kathmandu 

- 4 Days / 3 Nights Hiking Yoga Retreat 

- Included at the Himalayan Yoga Academy Retreat Center:

-Accommodation; Attached Bathroom with hot & cold shower

-Sauna & Steam;

-Swimming Pool

-3 vegetarian or Vegan meals daily

-Daily herbal tea

-2 Yoga sessions per day including yoga mat 

-Drinking water

-1 oil massage

-Library of yoga literature

-An experienced English-speaking hiking guide for national park


April 8 - Delhi

-Final yoga practices

-Transport to Delhi airport

Your Organizer


SS
Sara Syed
11 reviews
Sara is the owner of The Studio Cleveland, a holistic wellness center. She is an experienced Vipassana meditator with 5 years of intensive meditation practice. She has attended 10-day silent meditation retreats almost every year since 2017 to deepen her own, personal meditation practice. She is an experienced and registered yoga instructor (700-ERYT) and hosts her own Yoga and Meditation Teacher Trainings. Sara started practicing yoga in 2007 at the age or 17 and has learned from teachers such as Kino Macgregor and Saraswathi Jois.

Reviews

NF
It's been about 3 months since I attended this retreat. This review is quite late as I wanted to observe any additional changes that this experience has made in my life thus far, prior to making an honest review. Like many of my friends who wrote a review, I can also confirm that this truly was a life altering experience, most of which was phenomenal, and I am continuing to reap the benefits today! I still consider myself a novice when it comes to the realm of yoga, but having been a COMPLETE beginner prior to attending, I feel I now have a strong foundation and fundamental knowledge to practice on my own and with others in my community without shame, doubt, or fear. Not only did it benefit my practice of yoga and its ethics, it also improved my Reiki practice! This is much thanks to Sara, Shannon, and all the yogis and yoginis who I met during this retreat and who have taught me so much! I was initially drawn to learning more about the spiritual aspects that yoga is deeply rooted in and was hoping to obtain some clarity and/or guidance about my life. I left with so much more. Rather than going on a tangent about the philosophy, various styles and practices of yoga that you will learn through this program, I want to share how beneficial the silent meditation day was. This is a key aspect in this program that I haven't seen many other 200 hr yoga teacher trainings incorporate. It is a day where you will likely have personal, vulnerable, and emotional experiences resurfacing that will also provide opportunities for growth in many dimensions of your wellness. On top of the intense experience you receive in 2+ weeks in a beautiful country with amazing wildlife, you get time to enjoy and experience a different culture and lifestyle! We had so much fun on our days off and I can look back and say how thankful I am that I decided to go forward with this retreat. If you are looking to explore the paths yoga has to offer in your life, I highly recommend this retreat! In my opinion, I do not believe by simply attending you will find what you are looking for or what you are wanting to get out of this training. I wholeheartedly believe that as long as you put in an honest effort and are open to experiencing a different way of being, it will be worth your time and you won't regret that you did it! If I could offer any additional advice prior to attending this retreat, I would say please leave your ego at home - it will not serve you in the slightest. Lastly, I would like to say that many of us are not the same as we were years, months, and even days ago. It is how we choose to approach life every single day that makes a difference. Why not give this a chance and see how far you will go?
By Nadelynn F for 200hr Yoga and Meditation Teacher Training April 23-May 7, 2022 on 04 Aug, 2022
KK
1000% worth every penny and every second. I HIGHLY recommend this retreat. Sara and Shannon are incredible teachers with some much knowledge to share. They made the program fun and relevant. The location was perfect. Enough privacy for us to focus on our training and enough freedom to explore the beautiful country. The accommodations were nice and clean, and to say the food was delicious is an understatement. Great job at picking a perfect location Sara. I learned a lot both about yoga and about myself. The group experience really brought out what we needed to learn. I feel so fortunate to have been a part of that wonderful group of humans. I am so very proud of myself for taking the leap and trusting the universe to bring this course to me at the absolute best time for the absolute best time!
By Kristy K for 200hr Yoga and Meditation Teacher Training April 23-May 7, 2022 on 08 Jul, 2022
Life Changing experience
By Conor A for 200hr Yoga and Meditation Teacher Training April 23-May 7, 2022 on 26 Jun, 2022
BD
I recommend this YTT. 10/10. This training offers a full immersion in the jungle. It’s the ideal place for studying yoga philosophy and disconnecting from the daily stressors, which might inhibit one from furthering their yoga practice. The instructors are genuine kind spirited people. I’m thankful to have studied under Sara and Shannon. From Kids Yoga to Trauma Informed teaching, I learned so much! During this training I learned more about myself, the yoga philosophy, and community. I also gained confidence, mental strength, and clarity improved from daily meditations. ImpeI have a solid practice and I can knowledge teach others. This immersion will have you surrounded by sounds of the rainforest, eating healthy vegetarian meals. Wonderful views of the Caribe and opportunities for excursions. Costa Rica is a great country to release and be present. Satya Meditation and Yoga school offers the alignment that you need. Pura Vida!!
By Buni D for 200hr Yoga and Meditation Teacher Training April 23-May 7, 2022 on 25 May, 2022
* * * * * Cradled in the vibrant, alive (sometimes loud) rainforest was a constant-peacefully strong- reminder of our connection & responsibility to the earth and all living beings. The schedule was challenging but flexible when necessary. Sara (and Shannon) shares her knowledge and experience in a simple, down-to-earth manner. Her presence is inspiring. She provides a welcoming, nonjudgemental, supportive space rich for self exploration and growth. You walk away pleasantly noticing areas of darkness- now illuminated. Sara and Shannon are powerful leaders !! Marcel, Jackie and all of the staff of The Goddess Garden are top notch. Knowledgeable of surrounding area, accommodating, generous, absolutely delicious vegetarian/vegan/ GF meals !! Such a peaceful, safe, clean environment. If you are interested in self development and enjoy yoga and/or meditation (atleast a little bit) this course is for you! The experience is an opportunity to gain a fountain of knowledge, love and inspiration to use throughout your life journey.
By Suzanne I for 200hr Yoga and Meditation Teacher Training April 23-May 7, 2022 on 18 May, 2022
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