This Little Light of Mine...

A Kundalini Yoga Journey in India & Nepal

with Siri Amrita

October 24 – November 5, 2016

sold outThis trip has reached its capacity! If you are interested in traveling to India in late 2016, please visit the site for our cultural tour at www.RetreaTours.com/India2016

Trip at a Glance

  • October 24 to November 5, 2016
  • Explore Amritsar, Varanasi & Kathmandu
  • Daily practice with Siri Amrita
  • Accompanied by BJ & Lauren from RetreaTours
  • Limited to 12 guests
  • $2995 per person (based on double occupancy)
“This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine!” A Spiritual Journey to Reclaim your Soul of Innocence, your Radiance of Being and your Heart of Joy.
Join us on this 12 day & 12 night journey to experience Kundalini yoga and meditation (as Taught by Yogi Bhajan) in sacred spaces across India and Nepal. We’ll immerse ourselves in Amritsar, the spiritual center of the Sikh religion and home to the Golden Temple. From the banks of the Ganges, we’ll explore the lifeblood of Hinduism in fascinating Varanasi (during Diwali, the Festival of Lights, no less!) Finally, we’ll delve into the compassion of Tibetan Buddhism in sacred Boudhanath, Kathmandu.

How to Register

  • Review this entire webpage for details

  • Complete Registration Questions and Contract

  • Submit deposit by check or credit card (via PayPal)

Countdown to India & Nepal!

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Amritsar

Varanasi

Kathmandu

2016 Kundalini RetreaTour™ Itinerary

golden temple sunset 2Days 1-4: Amritsar

Today begins your 12 day Indian and Nepali adventure! We will meet you in the holy city of Amritsar, India. We can help you arrange your flight into Amritsar from Delhi, Mumbai, Dubai, Doha, London or beyond.

Amritsar is spiritual center of the Sikh religion and home to the holiest Gurdwara . We find the Harimandir Sahib (aka, “The Golden Temple”) to be one of the most spiritually electrifying sites on the planet! Our accommodation is less than a minute’s walk from the Golden Temple. Over the years we’ve developed a close relationship with this hotel, a rare gem so close to the Gurdwara.

We will have plenty of opportunity to perform Seva, or selfless service, within the temple. The temple’s kitchen (or langar) serves free meals to 50,000-100,000 people per day (with construction being done at the moment to increase that number!), and we can participate in the thoughtful preparation of those nourishing meals. One of our evenings we can attend the nightly border closing between India and Pakistan, a 45 minute drive away. This festive event has taken place nightly since 1959 and marks the daily closing of the Wagah border. A lively celebration, it is not unlike a high school pep rally, although with considerably more pomp and circumstance! Lauren is fond of calling it a “Military Dance-off,” although we would be remiss not to mention the singing and chanting, as well. If you weren’t already pumped to be in India, the cheers of “Hindustan!” will get you there quickly!

Our friends at our hotel have designed a neighborhood Heritage Walk specifically for us. We’ll explore the winding alleys around the temple, taking in gorgeous architecture, delicious street food, and witness every day life in the back streets of Amritsar. We can also walk a short distance to visit the somber but important historic site Jallianwala Bagh; the 1919 massacre that occurred here is considered by some historians to be a crucial step towards the end of British rule in India. And of course, we’re in the state of Punjab, the breadbasket of India. We’ve scouted out some of the best vegetarian thalis in all of Amritsar for you to sample. We like to order family-style so you can try a bit of everything (or a LOT of everything!), but you can feel free to head straight to your favorites on the menu.

varanasi ganges young boys jumping into the ganges riverDays 5-8: Varanasi

From Amritsar, we’ll fly (via Delhi) to our next destination, Varanasi. Varanasi, also known as Benares or Kashi, is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Mark Twain once said, “Benares is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together.” We couldn’t say it better ourselves!

Varanasi captures the essence of Mother India as a whole. Although the alleys and neighborhoods are constantly abuzz, we will take refuge at our simple hotel directly on the holy Ganges River, or the Ganga. The Ganga is a goddess in her own right, often depicted upon her crocodile escort. Varanasi is the City of Shiva, one of the most revered and worshipped Hindu gods; the city is awash in beautiful but temporary murals and street art depicting Ganga, Shiva, and other members of the Hindu pantheon. Varanasi is an important Hindu pilgrimage site, with devotees performing rituals along the ghats (stairs) of the sacred Ganges River.

It is said that if you die in Varanasi and have your ashes scattered in the Ganges, the soul will be freed from the cycle of death and rebirth. For this reason, one of the most important and humbling spots in the whole city is the main cremation ghat, Manikarnika. Manikarnika is a fascinating, insightful, and deeply contemplative place for those who wish to visit.

Manikarnika is just one of the many sites we’ll see from our sunrise boat ride. The city of Varanasi is positioned such that the sun rises across the banks of the Ganga, and it is during this magic hour that the soul of the city is revealed. From our private boat (piloted by a long time friend and partner), we can see everything from the sacred rituals of pilgrims to the everyday chores of locals. The waters of the Ganga are used to wash the soul, but also the laundry, the teeth, and the water buffalo! The banks of the Ganges is simply teeming with life.

During the heat of the day, we can keep cool (and fascinated!) with a tour of the tiny, winding alleys of Varanasi. In this maze we’ll discover hidden temples, beautiful architecture, and the color of everyday life.

We’ll also be celebrating Diwali in Varanasi! Diwali is one of the most important holidays in Hinduism. Imagine the 4th of July, Christmas, and Easter all rolled into one! A festival of lights, Diwali signifies the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness.  Endless oil lamps, fireworks, and the light in our hearts will make this a Diwali to remember!

monk lama nepal tour travel indiaDays 9 – 13: Kathmandu, Nepal

We’ll say our farewells to the City of Shiva and head east to the capital city of Nepal. Although its people suffered during the April 2015 earthquake, Kathmandu and her people are beautiful and resilient. BJ and Lauren were in Nepal just before and after the quake and witnessed this elegant strength firsthand.

Kathmandu is a fascinating city, but can feel a bit overwhelming at times. This is why we stay in the peaceful enclave of Boudhanath, one of the most holy pilgrimage sites in all of Tibetan Buddhism. 

Boudha is a very special place and one that is near to our hearts. Pilgrims circle the stupa day and night in a clockwise direction, creating an energy unlike any other. Much like one spins a prayer wheel clockwise, walking clockwise around the site ‘activates’ the compassionate prayer of the stupa itself. Multi-colored prayer flags blowing in the breeze, chants and music floating out of the surrounding monasteries, and the smiles of pilgrims on their kora await you.

Our guesthouse at Boudha is a 90 second walk to the stupa. (Are you sensing a pattern here? We like our hotels at the main event!)  Our accommodation is part of a non-profit that directly helps children and women in the Boudha area; we’ll get a chance to tour the children’s home and women’s workshop that makes this charity so special. We will visit nearby Pashupatinath, the biggest Shiva temple in Nepal & one of the 12 most important Shiva temples in the whole world. This temple is devoted to Pashupati, Shiva’s incarnation known as the “Lord of the Animals.” The graceful deer and mischievous monkeys here drive this point home! Early morning joggers and athletes take advantage of these vast grounds, and you can see Boudhanath stupa from high on the hill.  The temple grounds straddle the Bagmati river, which provides one of the most important sites for Hindu cremation in the Kathmandu Valley.

We can also explore the UNESCO World Heritage site of Bhaktapur. Although some of the precious artifacts and temples here were damaged in the quake, this brick city is still a beautiful scene to behold. The 5-story pagoda Nyatapola, dedicated to Laxmi, stands tall in one of Bhaktapur’s picturesque squares. We will have a Newari-style dinner here this evening with a friend’s family; you haven’t lived until you’ve tried Newari beaten rice and this town famous yogurt!

For those wishing to volunteer during their stay, we can help arrange opportunities. The non-profit that runs our guesthouse, Rokpa, will have opportunities, and the Boudha-based Street Dog Care is an amazing organization that helps local dogs in need. Our tour ends in Kathmandu, but we can help you extend your stay in this part of the world, if you wish. Read on for details!

Extend your stay—let us help!

If you’d like to extend your journey before or after this RetreaTour™, we would be more than happy to help you plan your stay!  We can advise you on hotels, flights, and itineraries, whether you want to arrive in India early or stay in Nepal after the trip (or both!) We offer our RetreaTour™ guests free travel consulting, normally a $200 value. Some ideas:

  • Agra, India (the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Fatehpur Sikri, etc)
  • Pokhara, Nepal (hiking in and around the Annapurna range)
  • Side-trip to beautiful Bhutan: all-inclusive & fully guided! (Tiger’s Nest pictured below)
  • Anywhere else in South or Southeast Asia that your heart desires!
Your Daily Practice

siri amrita rose

No prior experience with Kundalini (or any) Yoga is requisite for being a part of this journey. All you will need is an open heart, an open mind and a love for adventure.

We will be visiting three of the most sacred places on the planet during this Soul Journey. Resonating with this, our daily Kundalini Yoga practices will focus on three main areas. The selected kriyas, meditations and pranayamas will support this trinity. 

We begin in Amritsar, home to the Golden Temple, considered to be the third eye of Mother Earth. Here our intention will be to release the past, detoxify our bodies and minds and reclaim the pure innocence of our souls.

Next, we will visit Varanasi, considered to be the “spiritual capital” of India. The bright light of many revered saints and sages have shone here: here the Buddha is believed to have delivered his first sermon; to here Guru Nanak pilgrimaged for Shivratri; Kabir and Ravi Das (two major figures in Bhakti dharma) were born here. Our practice in Varanasi will focus on Light, specifically leading us to reconnect with the Radiance of our own souls. As a blessing of significant proportion, our internal work here will be beautifully supported by the celebration of Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights. We will bless the dark night of our struggles and challenges and emerge renewed, shining bright with the fire of devotion.

We end in Kathmandu, staying in the Tibetan Buddhist center of Boudhanath. Here the focus of our practice will be to re-immerse in the essential joy of simply being. To recall that we are spiritual beings having a human experience. And this human experience, seen in the context of Divine Play or what Hindu philosophy refers to as “Lila,” should be fun!

By the time we depart, having explored and experienced this holy trinity of our Innocence, Radiance and Joy, we will re-possess a deep sense of internal peace and union with the One who is the source of all things seen and unseen.

For all who wish to participate, each day will begin in the Amrit Vela with Sadhana. We will begin at 4am with the recitation of Jap-ji, Guru Nanak’s beautiful, poetic “song of the soul,” followed by kundalini yoga and then the seven meditations which comprise the Aquarian Sadhana as given by Yogi Bhajan. We’ll end around 6-6-30AM, unless we need to modify the length to accommodate special activities such as a planned sunrise boat tour.

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Please be aware that all meals included in our journey together will be vegetarian. The energy usually devoted to digesting dense protein in the form of meat can instead be devoted to your internal process of renewal. We also request that you avoid alcohol and any other stimulants or intoxicants for the days we’ll be together. You may then more easily experience yourself “vibrating” at a higher frequency. The body will lighten and cleanse and you can open a space for an expanded conscious awareness. This will be one of the ways in which you may extract the maximum physical and spiritual benefit from the retreat.

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Kundalini Practice Attire:   Five sets of clothing (more if you wish!), preferably white cotton or other natural fiber. It is also recommended that you cover your head during practice (kufis, bandanas, head wraps, turban). A large part of the essence of these recommendations is about setting the stage for a deeper experience—wearing white expands your energy field; covering the crown of your head allows the energy you raise and work with in your practice to be contained and circulated within your own system for maximal benefit. Please, no stress—this is not dogma, just a few practical guidelines….even if you come to practice dressed Goth, once you are Present, you will receive internal gifts from your efforts. Check out Spiritvoyage.com for Kundalini attire. (Check out anyplace else for Goth attire )

Price (click plus sign to expand)

This 12 day/12 night all-inclusive journey is $2995 per person, double occupancy. If you prefer to have your own room, the single supplement is $375. (Click here to understand why this single supplement is necessary). Please note that we cannot guarantee you a roommate for this trip, and if you room alone, you will be responsible for the single supplement. An $800 deposit holds your space, with $1000 due on June 16, 2016 (120 days before start of trip) and $1195 due on August 25, 2016 (60 days before start of trip).  Single supplement is due along with the last installment. Price Includes:

 

  • All meals, and all the water, tea, and coffee your heart desires
  • All accommodation
  • All local transportation and transportation between Amritsar, Varanasi, and Kathmandu
  • Daily classes with Siri Amrita
  • Site entrance fees

Price does not include:

  • International airfare (although we can and will be more than happy to help you decide on arrangements)
  • Indian or Nepali visa fees
  • Alcohol, specialty beverages, and desserts
  • Yoga mats and accessories are not included in this journey.  Please see the “About your Practice” section of this page for details.
  • Travel insurance (required)
Payments (click plus sign to expand)

Please refer to the Price tab for specific information about price. & what is included on your journey. We accept payments via check (which we prefer!) and credit card (via PayPal). For our international guests, we can accept wires, which we find is the most economical solution for everyone; please contact us for wire details.

 

  • Paying by Check: Checks can be made out to Insight Travels, LLC and sent to 8821 NW 14 Street, Pembroke Pines, FL 33024.
  • Paying by Credit Card or PayPal balance: You can pay with credit card or PayPal balance through PayPal through the following links.  Please click the appropriate amount to be taken to PayPal’s homepage to complete your transaction. All PayPal transactions must be in USD.

$800 deposit: www.paypal.me/retreat/800

$1000 (2nd installment): www.paypal.me/retreat/1000

$1195 (3rd installment @ double occupancy rate): www.paypal.me/retreat/1195

$1570 (3rd installment @ single supplement rate):  www.paypal.me/retreat/1570

For those attending the Taj Mahal add-on, we will contact you directly about the price and payment.

Registration Questions & Contract (click plus sign to expand)

Please scroll down within this tan box to reach the end of the questionnaire and contract. At the end of the contract, you will see a “submit” box—please hit that button.  

Your spot is not considered reserved until you have completed these questions and contract on the website.

(Click here to download a PDF of the contract for your own records).

Travel Insurance (click plus sign to expand)

We require that our guests carry travel insurance because it just makes sense.  It’s a relatively small expense but affords huge peace of mind! When choosing a travel insurance policy we require that you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We also recommend you take out trip cancellation insurance, as this may cover cancellation penalties in certain circumstances if you have to cancel your trip unexpectedly due to illness, injury or unforeseen circumstances.

We like World Nomads, but ultimately you have to choose the one that is right for you. If you’re 70 years old or older, you’ll have to use a different company; we like Travel Guard. We’ll be asking for confirmation of your travel insurance before your departure. We love the services of these companies so much that we became affiliates, so we would ask that if you do choose to purchase these policies, you do it through our links.

 

Travel Insurance. Simple & Flexible.

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    About Siri Amrita

    Siri Amrita 1Siri Amrita met Kundalini Yoga As Taught by Yogi Bhajan in 1992, when she was still living in her native Trinidad. Her first teacher was one of Yogi Bhajan’s original students and took her to his feet just six months or so later, at the Summer Solstice in New Mexico in 1993.  She received her name directly from his hands—he worked out her numerology for it on the back of her first letter from him which coincidentally had not yet been mailed to Trinidad. Magically, it was produced by one of his secretaries as she sat before him!

    He told her:  “The greatest thing in life is to teach and to heal people. You have a destiny to live this lifestyle.” She is a passionate student of this yoga and loves it for its basis in experience rather than abstract belief. She has witnessed firsthand its ability to transform and heal on many levels when practiced with devotion and discipline. She views studying, living and sharing Yogi Bhajan’s and yogic teachings, not just as a component of her life, but the very purpose of it.

    Siri Amrita with Yogi BhajanSiri Amrita now lives in Virginia, with her husband of fifteen years, Sat Purkha Singh. She is a Prosthodontist (Advanced Dentist) at her practice “Shenandoah Smiles” in Harrisonburg. She teaches weekly Kundalini Yoga classes at a local studio, as well as multiple KY workshops on a variety of topics. She loves to read and enjoys creative writing in many forms, but especially poetry. (You may visit her page on Facebook, ‘Siri Amrita Kaur,’ to see some of her poetry and other inspirational posts.) She loves to cook (and eat!) healthy, pranic, vegetarian food—healing through diet is one of her avid interests. She loves to travel and has been lucky to have seen many places on this beautiful planet with her mom (who worked for an airline) from her earliest years.

    Siri Amrita was baptized Catholic because of her father. However she was raised in her maternal grandfather’s home. He was Hindu and both a Hare Krishna and Guru Nanak devotee. She was equally comfortable in a church and in a temple, and still is! This, in addition to growing up in Trinidad where there is tremendous religious tolerance, has engendered in Siri Amrita a deep respect and acceptance for all dharmas. All paths can lead to The One: it is all about what is in the heart.  So, although she is not a Sikh, she is indeed a Seeker and it is her blessing in this lifetime to have come to know, love and humbly serve the Guru.


    Testimonials for Siri Amrita’s Retreats

    You can feel free to email each of these participants if you have further questions about Siri Amrita’s teaching; simply click on their name and use Siri Amrita as your subject line.

    Siri Amrita Kaur sees God in all. Her classes and retreats fill with people of all ages and physical abilities. She has a gift for making everyone feel that they are right where they belong, doing just what they need to do at that moment. With her unconditional support, I have grown from a heavy-hearted, insecure person to a woman of lightness, inner strength, and confidence, fully inhabiting my body and the Universe.
    ~Joanna Kolodziejski (Puran Bhagti Kaur)

    I came to my first Kundalini yoga class with Siri Amita weakened by the physical and emotional toll of chronic illnesses and deep grief. I had tried other yoga classes and came away feeling discouraged because of my limitations. In this class I immediately felt welcomed and supported not only by the teacher, but by the other students in class.

    With each class, I gained physical, emotional and spiritual strength. I’m more flexible. My balance got better and I stopped having falls. My constant infections resolved and I could eat again. Eventually, I was able to stop one of my potent drugs and significantly reduce the dose of another. Because I had less pain and a much calmer mind, I started sleeping better.  These are just the highlights!
    My many improvements are a true testament to Siri Amrita’s skills as a teacher. She will challenge you, but with encouragement and humor. Her classes are always fun, informative and individualized. Each position, breath or mantra includes an explanation of the physiology behind them. I always come away feeling nurtured, energized and altered in some positive way.
    This experience changed my life. I’m a better, stronger, more spiritual person with the tools to cope with my daily challenges. I can tell you that a retreat with Siri Amrita will not only be fun, but it will be life changing for your mind, body and spirit. It will enhance your life in wonderful ways!
    Marie Rublee

    For some time I had been searching to be connected to something larger than myself and my daily activities. I felt led to discover my spiritual core. I was drawn to Kundalini Yoga and fortunately for me, it was taught by Siri Amrita.  Siri Amrita is a true guide who meets you where you are and leads you to deeper meaning and discovery. Her Kundalini Yoga classes are infused with transcendent lessons, which have led me on a journey to discover my essential purpose here. Every time I take a Kundalini Yoga class from Siri Amrita—even if I begin it tired and stressed after a long day of work and parental complications—I feel something shift.  Through time and through this practice led by her, I feel more certain that I am on the right path.  I am finding my voice and conviction to make a difference.  She has led me to fan the inner light within that lay dormant for so long. There is no better teacher.”

    Kathy Holm (Puran Gian Kaur)

    (For RetreaTours testimonials, please visit this page).

    About RetreaTours

    Not only are you going to be under Siri Amrita’s expert care, but you’ll have two more seasoned travel professionals accompanying you on your trip! BJ & Lauren at Georgetown, Penang mural BJ & Lauren created RetreaTours in 2010 with one goal in mind: to make world travel accessible, authentic, and astounding.  In order to focus fully on this passion, they moved out of the U.S. in January 2013 to reside full-time overseas. Each day is spent exploring new destinations, strengthening local ties & relationships, and creating memorable and transformative retreats and tours (aka, RetreaTours™!)

    BJ & Lauren take great pride in the trips they offer, as they can personally vouch for every hotel, every restaurant, and every activity that you will experience. They craft each element of the trip with intention, and they understand that it is this careful attention to detail that sets them apart.  Fueled by their passion, armed with know-how, and supported by knowledgeable local professionals in all of their destinations, BJ & Lauren set the scene for the vacation of a lifetime.

    They provide not only on-the-ground support and guidance during the trip, but they are available to answer any and all questions before the trip begins.  From giving advice on the best flights and travel insurance to providing a packing list, FAQ, information about local food, and even a tiny “phrasebook,” BJ & Lauren pride themselves on these ‘nuts & bolts’ of personalized service. In addition, as a guest, you receive free travel consulting services (normally a $200 value) should you choose to extend your travels.

    As one of their most ‘frequent fliers’ put it recently, BJ & Lauren make everything easy for you. Once you arrive in your destination city, your trip is all-inclusive—your meals, transportation, lodging, site fees, donations, and tips are all taken care of.  The research has been done, the itinerary carefully laid out, the reservations made, the t’s crossed and the i’s dotted. All you have to do is show up and take in all your destination has to show you! So….let’s get going!

    (Pictured above: BJ & Lauren play on an interactive street mural in Georgetown, Malaysia.)

    Contact BJ & Lauren (click plus sign to expand)

    FAQ (click plus sign to expand)

    PASSPORT/VISA

    • What do I need to know about the visa?    

    First and foremost, your passport MUST be valid at least 6 months beyond the end date of the trip, and you’ll need two empty pages in the Visas section of your passport.  You will need to arrange an Indian visa before you arrive.   Please read this section carefully! On this itinerary, you will only be entering India once, making you eligible for a Visa on Arrival. (Please click here to make sure your country is eligible for a Visa on Arrival).  You can apply for a Visa on Arrival 4 to 30 days in advance of your arrival on this website. If you plan on returning to India after we end the tour in Nepal, or you would like to receive a more long-term visa to India, you can apply through Cox & Kings Global Services, but you must allow more time for this process (start at least 3 to 4 months before the start of the trip). For some guidance about this process, please see this blog post about the application. Your Nepali visa is available on arrival at the Kathmandu airport for $25 USD (for 15 days).

    FOOD

    • I have special dietary needs—can I be accommodated?
      • Siri Amrita suggests that to extract the maximum physical and spiritual benefit from the journey, one should avoid meat, alcohol and any other intoxicants entirely. Vegetarians will have no problem anywhere on our travels; the only thing that might prove difficult is veganism in India. Although meat is entirely avoidable, India is the world’s largest consumer of butter, and it is almost unavoidable in most of their curries, stews, and even breads. Many vegans that I have known to travel through India adopt what is locally referred to as a “pure veg” diet: no meat, no eggs, but it allows for dairy consumption.  (It is worth nothing that some of the reasons for avoiding dairy consumption in the west is slightly mitigated here, as there is less factory farming and antibiotic use in livestock.) Milk can be avoided by not consuming creamy dishes or milk tea.
      • Gluten is also avoidable in India and Nepal by choosing rice over chapatis and other local breads. Celiactravel.com has GREAT printable cards in local language to present to restaurants and hotels about your intolerance of gluten. Click here for the Hindi version.  If you have multiple dietary needs, it may be worth your while to check out these specialty cards, available in 60 different languages.
      • When you register for a trip, you will answer a set of questions, including a question about food allergies. We’ll take a look at your answers and let you know if we have any suggestions or concerns!
    • Can I drink the water?    In a word, No. Although many cities around the world are getting more advanced public water systems, we don’t recommend it.  Not only from a pathogen standpoint, but it’s a different set of bacteria than your body is used to. Why risk an upset stomach if you don’t have to? We recommend drinking only bottled water, and you will want to rinse your toothbrush off in bottled water.

    HEALTH

    • What vaccines do I need?   None are required to enter India, but we suggest you work with your physician or your area’s travel health expert to decide what options are best for you.  You can read the CDC’s recommendations here (India) and here (Nepal), and the Scottish NHS recommendations here (India) and here (Nepal).
    • Do I need travel insurance?  We require that our guests carry travel insurance because it just makes sense.  It’s a relatively small expense but affords huge peace of mind!  When choosing a travel insurance policy we require that you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We also recommend you take out trip cancellation insurance, as this may cover cancellation penalties in certain circumstances if you have to cancel your trip unexpectedly due to illness, injury or unforeseen circumstances.
      • We like World Nomads‘ Explorer Plans, but ultimately you have to choose the company and policy that is right for you. If you’re 70 years old or older, you’ll have to use a different company; we like Travel Guard. We’ll be asking for confirmation of your travel insurance 60 days before your departure. Please click here to get a quote. We love the services of these companies so much that we became affiliates, so we would ask that if you do choose to purchase these policies, you do it through our links.

    MONEY

    • How much money should I bring?  That is entirely up to you and how much shopping you want to do, as well as your love for extras like massages, alcoholic beverages, etc.  All of your meals and transportation is covered, so you just have to gauge how much you want to spend on extras!
    • How do I get the local currency?  You can either exchange cash in India or Nepal (although not at the airport, the rate is terrible!) or use a local ATM (which we prefer). Better yet, a combination of both!  Just make sure you call your bank and credit card company to let them know you’ll be traveling in India and Nepal, so they don’t put a hold on your card when they see it being used halfway across the world!
    • Can I use a credit card?  For large purchases (rugs, etc) many shops will take credit card (although they might charge a percentage on top of your credit card company’s international fee). For smaller items, count on using cash only.

    ACTIVITIES

    • Can I opt out of activities?  Absolutely! Nothing on these trips in mandatory. In fact, we build in a bit of downtime most days for self-exploration or rest, depending on how you’re feeling that day. We can help you build in extra activities, too, if that is your style.
    • How fit must I be for this trip?  We recommend contacting Siri Amrita for specific questions about the fitness level required for the classes. For the rest of the trip, we recommend you be comfortable walking & standing for 30-45 minute stretches.

    HOTELS

    • What kind of hotels will we be staying at?   We take great pride in our hotel choices; it might be cliche, but we value location, location, location above all else!  In all 3 cities, we will be a 5 second to a 90 second walk from the main attraction. This often means little to no traffic, and that you can return to the sites on your own at any time.  All of our hotels will be very simple but clean, and all have hot water and wifi.
    • Will I be able to charge my electronics (phone, iPad, etc)?   Yes, just be sure to bring along a 2-pin European style converter. Better yet, grab a Universal Travel Adaptor that can go with you anywhere in the world!

    COMMUNICATION

    • Should I bring my mobile phone?   We don’t recommend bringing your phone and using it with an international plan, as that can get expensive fast. If you do bring your phone, put it in airplane mode and use it for wifi at our hotels and restaurants.
    • How can my family get ahold of me in an emergency?   Before the trip we will give you a list of our hotels and their phone numbers; in addition, we will give you our Indian phone numbers ahead of time, as well as an American number good for text messages and voicemails.

    MORE TO COME!

    Suggested Packing List (click plus sign to expand)

    Average Temperature Range in our Destinations It’s important to understand the weather to really pack wisely! Here are the average (Fahrenheit) lows and highs for our destinations on this trip. Keep in mind these are the averages—we won’t know until the trip gets very close if there are any funky weather patterns going on that would cause fluctuations in temperature. To see record lows & highs for the times we’ll be there, you can visit each city’s Wikipedia page, linked below.

    Amritsar, India:  55° to 85° F (but can feel warmer in the sun!)

    Varanasi, India:   60° to 90°

    Kathmandu, Nepal: 45° to 80°(it WILL be chilly at night!) As you see, it has the potential to run the gamut from 45° to 90°—layers are going to be your best friend on this trip!

     

    Here is a suggested packing list, clothing first and accessories second.

      PACKING LIST Note: the weight limit on our flights overseas will be 44 lbs (20 kg), not the 50 lbs that you may be used to domestically and internationally.  You can certainly bring a full-sized suitcase, but we can’t guarantee porters everywhere we go, so make sure you can handle your own suitcase.  If you prefer to only bring a carry-on, you’re welcome to do that, as well. Other note: BJ and Lauren live out of their suitcases year round and they swear by packing cubes!  Rolling your clothes (instead of folding) and using packing cubes make packing a dream!

    Clothing: Although more and more Indians are adopting Western wear, traditional clothing is very prevalent and modesty is the name of the game. In that spirit, please do not wear clothes that are tight, transparent or show too much skin, such tank tops or halter tops. We also discourage wearing form-fitting “skinny” jeans and shorts/skirts above the knee. Instead, we recommend wear loose fitting clothing such as long skirts, pants, capri-length pants, and blouses or Indian kurtas.

    •  5+ pairs undergarments; you can always have them washed or wash them in your bathroom
    • 3-5 pair light cotton pants or long skirts.  You may want to bring leggings (2 or 3 pair) to wear under your long kurtas, tunics, skirts or pants on chilly mornings or evenings (again—it’s all about the layers!) BJ is a fan of nylon pants, as they are lightweight and easy to clean.  Fleece pants might be nice, and good to sleep in (remember, the nights are going to be in the mid-40’s in Kathmandu!)
    • 4-5 cotton t-shirts, blouses, or long sleeve shirts.  You can always have laundry done at the hotels, but bring as many as will make you feel comfortable.
    • A light sweater/cardigan for chilly morning or evenings, and a heavier sweater or medium-weight jacket for Kathmandu mornings. A light-windbreaker might prove useful for early morning boat rides on the Ganges if your sweater/jacket doesn’t protect you from the wind.
    • Bring a few pairs of socks. Light wool (like SmartWool) or tech socks work very well, but whatever socks you have will be just fine.
    • Sleeping attire: our rooms will not have heat in them at night (although they will have plenty of blankets), so please make sure you bring sleeping attire to keep you warm!
    • Comfortable walking shoes. Boots aren’t at all necessary and can be cumbersome when going in & out of monasteries and temples. Sneakers or comfortable slip-ons will suffice.
    • A pair of sandals or flip-flops, if you wish.  They’ll be convenient for around the hotels, local excursions, and the Golden Temple (when you have to check your footwear at the door). Walking sandals (such as Teva’s or Chaco’s) would also work.
    • Sarongs are super handy for so many reasons (men and women). Makes for a good cover-up, eyeshade, pillow, scarf, napkin, tissue, etc. These will be readily available early in our travels.
    • A hat with a brim is a great idea for our daytime adventures.
    • Please see ‘About Your Practice’ for tips on what to wear/bring for yoga

    Yoga Accessories:

    • Yoga Mat.  Because of the unique nature of this RetreaTour™ and the traveling we’ll be doing on airplanes, you will need to bring and carry your own mat. There are plenty of travel mats available on the market if you don’t want to bring a full-size mat (which you are more than welcome to!)  Lauren likes these Khataland mats because of their unique folding pattern (that way, the dirty bottom of your mat never has to touch the clean top of your mat); if you use this link or the promo code “matt” at checkout, you’ll get 5% off.
    • Any other yoga accessory you think you may need, such as a sheepskin/felt/blanket for mat cushioning, meditation cushion, shawl (for morning meditations) or eye pillow. Blankets are really versatile and can be used to prop up the hips during long meditations, although they can be bulky.

    Other Accessories:

    • Ear plugs and eye shades to help you sleep better and recover from jet lag more quickly. BJ swears by this! Click here for more of our tips on preventing and dealing with jet lag. 
    • Good sunscreen.  Lauren prefers mineral-based ones like Devita: good for you, good for the environment. How do you know if it’s mineral based? If the active ingredient is either titanium dioxide or zinc oxide—that’s it. They might be a little pricier initially, but a little goes a long way.
    • Daypack or camera bag. (If you need a recommendation on a camera, BJ would be happy to help, just email him. We can discuss what type of photography you like, how much you want to spend, and how much you want to lug around.)
    • If you do bring your camera, don’t forget extra batteries and/or your charging cord! You may want to think about an extra memory card, too.
    • At least one bandana, as they’ll come in handy for wiping hands, faces, covering heads, etc. Though they’ll loan us a bandana at the Golden Temple, you can wear your own head covering—a nice idea.
    • Toiletries. Not all of our hotels are guaranteed to have shampoo and none will have conditioner, so be sure to bring some of your own if you need it.
    • People tend to think they need to bring toilet paper to India—not true!  However, bringing a few packs of travel tissues isn’t a bad idea, to keep on you for public restrooms.
    • Wet wipes and/or hand sanitizer. Nothing replaces good ol’ hand-washing, but this will work in a pinch.
    • Ladies will want to bring any necessary feminine hygiene products with them, as they can be scarce in India.
    • Plug adaptor for electronics: you’ll need a 2 pin adaptor common across Europe. Here’s a nice example of a great universal adapter and here’s one with USB ports, as well.
    • VERY IMPORTANT!  A print out of your RETURN airline ticket itinerary; you’ll need this to enter the airport to get home. You can also have it readily accessibly on your phone (you may want to save it as a photo).
    • Photocopy of your passport and your visa, just in case you need them.
    • A small travel umbrella, if you wish; can work for rain (which we’re not expecting) OR as a parasol
    • Small notebook and pen for journaling purposes, if you desire!
    • Mosquito repellent.  While we are visiting these areas in dry season and malaria is not endemic to any of these cities, it’s still better to be safe than sorry.  Consider repellants based in natural essential oils, such as citronella.  Click here to read a blog post by BJ about malaria (and dengue).
    • Enough of any prescription drugs you need, as well as over-the-counter needs.  We recommend Imodium (anti-diarrheal), a probiotic (Lauren is a BIG fan of Jarrodophilus EPS), as well as melatonin and Benadryl for jet lag purposes.
    • We will have wifi at all of our hotels, if you want to stay in touch via your smart phone or tablet. Don’t forget your chargers! We recommend setting up Skype, FaceTime, or another wifi-based calling service before leaving home, and familiarizing your loved ones with it before you leave.

     

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