Trip at a Glance:
- March 16-28, 2015 (12 days & 12 nights)
- Minimum 6 guests, maximum 14 guests
- Guests are met in New Delhi
- We travel to Agra (India), Amritsar (India), Kathmandu (Nepal), and Varanasi (India)
- Daily yoga with Jane Kagan
- Accompanied by BJ & Lauren from Insight Travels
- $2999 (double occupancy rate)
I Want In!
Click through the tabs below for a daily itinerary, price, registration, photo album, FAQ & more.
- About Jane
- About BJ & Lauren
- Daily Itinerary
- Yoga details
- Price & Registration
- Registration Questions
- Photo Album
- Packing List
- About our Accommodations
- Travel Insurance
A qualified yoga teacher and over 20 years involvement in personal improvement & self discovery – Jane creates a special blend of yoga, self inquiry, relaxation and meditation to help you create a rich experience of Your Self.
“As the founder of FLOURISH YOGA & WELLBEING, my passion is helping people create balance and wellbeing in their lives, gain personal acceptance, increase self worth and self esteem. I gather inspiration from all around me. We are all teachers and we all have something to learn. Be kind to yourself, find your true path, stay open and keep life simple. Come and join us and discover for yourself.
“My introduction into the world of Yoga began when I was 18. My mother suggested we attend a ‘Yoga Class’ at the local church hall. Apart the compulsory black leotard – I had no idea what I was going to!
However, I was immediately impacted by the vitality, energy, radiance, agility and joyousness of the teacher – who was 74! I knew in that moment – that we had a choice over how we feel and how we age. Since then Yoga has been a constant in my life and has led to further studies including; nutrition, counseling, massage, personal development and self-mastery”.
This is our intended itinerary, but we always remain open and flexible to the desires and needs of our guests. Plenty of time will be built into your experience to explore on your own, shop, and discover with friends old and new!
March 16th, New Delhi:: Namaskar & Welcome! We will meet you at the airport in New Delhi when your flight arrives (typically at night); we’ll stay near the airport so that you can relax straight away, in anticipation of tomorrow’s journey to the Taj Mahal. Do you remember when you first saw a photograph of the Taj Mahal and pictured yourself there?
March 17th, Agra (daytrip):: We’ll take the fast train (2 hours) to Agra in the morning (and return to Delhi that evening); you’ll enjoy the scenery along the way, as you get a glimpse into India’s verdant countryside. When we arrive in Agra, we’ll head to the breathtaking Taj Mahal. It is said that a thing of beauty is a joy forever; we will tap into the heart energy that inspired the creation of the most awe-inspiring monument to love on planet earth. Experience your own beauty, grace and nobility as we explore the monument within.
March 18th, Amritsar:: Today we fly to the spiritual center of the Sikh religion, Amritsar. We have found the Golden Temple to be one of the most spiritually electrifying places on the planet, and we will have plenty of opportunity to perform Seva, or selfless service, within the temple. Their kitchen (or langar) serves free meals to 50,000-100,000 people per day, and we can participate in the thoughtful preparation of those nourishing meals.
March 19th, Amritsar:: This morning we will continue exploring the Golden Temple, serenaded by the sometimes soothing, sometimes invigorating live kirtan taking place inside the central temple and piped into the surrounding areas.
March 20th, Amritsar:: Being immersed in the kindness of the Sikh religion is always a cherished experienced for our guests. This religion is renowned for its fierce dedication to equality amongst all, with a focus on service to others. If you wish, there are plenty of locals who would love to engage with you and share with you all about the Sikh way of life; however, you can also sit among the cool marble columns and meditate on the reflections in the holy pond. The Golden Temple is a special, special place and everyone seems to find their own favorite way to spend time there. The proximity of our hotel makes it possible for you to visit the temple at all hours, day and night; where will your favorite spot be?
March 21st, Amritsar to Varanasi:: We head east today and aim for one of the holiest pilgrimage sites in Hinduism, the city of Varanasi, India. Situated on the banks of the Ganges River, Varanasi is a spiritual hot spot–and you can feel it in the air! While our accommodations in Varanasi are modest, we have the most spectacular views of the river in all of the city, perfect for photography, meditation, or just watching children fly kites. Kite flying looks like a simple task, but just wait until you try it for yourself!
March 22nd, Varanasi:: We will tap into the energy of the Ganges with river-inspired yoga—sometimes along the sandy banks of the river itself. Learn to flow and let go. Experience the integrity of your own sacred journey as you shed karma and cleanse the soul metaphorically. (No need to dip in the actual sacred waters themselves…although you certainly can!) The can’t-miss location of our hotel makes it easy to wander around the ghats without the worry of getting turned around or lost. And wander you will, as every square meter of Varanasi has something interesting and novel to offer!
March 23rd, Varanasi:: We will experience life along the Ganga, taking sunrise boat trips up and down the ghats (the steps leading down to the river). The ghats along the river teem with life in the early morning, from pilgrims performing their ceremonial pujas to residents performing their daily ablutions, washing clothes and brushing teeth. We’ll also experience Ganga Aarti, a ritual performed along the river that uses fire as an offering and as a way to cleanse karma; it’s quite a moving performance. We can watch it from our own boat or from land—or we can do both on 2 different nights, as it takes place just a few hundred meters from our hotel.
March 24th, Varanasi to Kathmandu:: Today we’ll bid farewell to the Ganga and head to the electric colors of Kathmandu, Nepal. We’ll stay very close to the stupa at Boudhanath, one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Tibetan Buddhism. Our guesthouse is a just a few minute walk from the stunning white stupa, draped in vibrant prayer flags that float with the breeze. All day and into the night pilgrims circle the stupa clockwise, activating a powerful prayer of compassion, Om Mani Padme Hum.
March 25th, Kathmandu:: There are many beautiful temples with rich histories in this area that we will visit. Swayambhunath is venerated by both Hindus and Buddhists alike, as Buddha is considered the 9th incarnation of Vishnu. This temple is sometimes called the “Monkey temple,” for reasons you’ll soon see! Another special site is Pashupatinath, a complex of temples dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva in his form as Lord of the Animals. A beautiful spiritual site, it’s also a very popular place for early morning workouts, sports games, and relaxation; visiting just after sunrise provides a nice window into daily Kathmandu life (along with a nice view of the valley, including the Boudhanath stupa!)
March 26th, Kathmandu:: Cultivate self-compassion and open your heart in a destination unparalleled for kindness. We will have the opportunity to visit the Women’s Workshop and the Children’s Home connected with our guesthouse and learn more about a fantastic organization that’s making a true difference in this area. Today we can also visit nearby Patan, one of the 3 ancient royal cities in Kathmandu Valley, featuring some of the finest temples and palaces in all of Nepal. This is also a great place to pick up some fair-trade Nepalese handicrafts and art!
March 27th, Kathmandu:: Today we can relax and truly take in all that Boudhanath has to offer. Have you circled the stupa yet? Alternatively, you can revisit any of your favorite sites, like Pashupati, Swayambhu, or even take a journey to Bhaktapur, a UNESCO World Heritage site that was a former kingdom of Nepal.
March 28th, Kathmandu to home:: Having experienced the beauty of the Taj Mahal, the profound strength of Amritsar, the compassion of Kathmandu, and the devotion of Varanasi, we head back to our respective corners of the world (via Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu) to continue the work that we have begun. More than a vacation or get-away, this empowering experience has honed the tools you already possessed for a satisfying, full life. Where will we meet again?
WHAT IS YOGA?
All the wonders of modern science will not bring happiness, peace of mind, health or a long life. Although wonders have been achieved in our external environment – our internal environment has been neglected. Thousands of years ago the ancient yogis worked out a system of body and breathing exercises, which results in vitality, rejuvenation and peace of mind. Practiced for more than 5000 years, yoga is one of the oldest forms of healing therapy. Scientists and doctors world wide study and endorse the many healing and calming effects of a regular yoga practice.
If yoga were nothing more than exercise, it would not have survived as long as it has. Yoga is not just a physical exercise system – it is a whole way of life, of living; of looking at our priorities in life, and the things that are important within our lives and within the world. Yoga postures and breathing deal with the physical body, but due to their effect on the brain, they also affect the nervous system and the mind. Yoga is about achieving balance on the physical, mental and spiritual planes and bringing us back into harmony and balance; and through this, paving the way to be content and to spread that contentment throughout our family, to our friends, our colleagues, our environment. Anyone can join in, if you can breathe – you can ‘do yoga’!
IS YOGA A SPIRITUAL PRACTICE?
To help clarify the spiritual aspect… yoga asks us to ‘believe’, to believe in something bigger than ourselves. However it does not say in what or whom. Yoga, at its truest, does not give us the answers, but a way to find our own answers. If you do have a faith – you bring it to your yoga practice and deepen your personal connection with your own faith and beliefs.
The all-inclusive price for this trip is $2999, based on double-occupancy rooms. If you wish to have your own private accommodation, there is an additional $270 single supplement in order to provide you with your own room. If you wish to join in a double-occupancy room but don’t have a roommate, please contact Lauren and we will do our best to match you with a suitable partner who is also looking for a roommate (although there are no guarantees we can find you a roommate!)
INCLUDED IN YOUR YOGA JOURNEY IS THE FOLLOWING: all lodging; all breakfasts, lunches, and dinners; all the water, tea, and coffee your heart desires; all transportation in and between India and Nepal; daily yoga & meditation classes; site entrance fees; all tips and donations. We also provide a dedicated guest phone for international calls home
Guests are responsible for: plane fare to and from India, required travel insurance (we recommend World Nomads), their India visa (will have to send away for it; contact us for details), Nepal visa (available on arrival, $25 USD), any additional beverages (alcohol, specialty beverages), souvenirs, and extra excursions/optional activities.
How do I sign up?
1. Send Lauren an email at [email protected] and tell us that you’re interested! You can also leave a message at 941-363-1065; as we are most likely on Asia time, we will call you back as soon as we possibly can. We’ll also address any questions you may have about the trip. We will send you a contract that you will return with your deposit.
2. Fully reserve your spot by paying the non-refundable deposit of $700 and returning the contract. We love checks (made out to “Insight Travels, LLC” and sent to the address on the contract) and we’re now accepting credit card payments via PayPal (you can find the form below). There is a minimum of 6 guests that must sign up in order for this trip to take place. We will hold your deposit & payments until the minimum number of guests have signed up. If the minimum number of guests have not signed up 3 months prior to the departure date, we’ll give you the option to transfer your reservation to another tour or fully refund your money.
3. Complete the Registration Questions in the next tab on this page.
4. You’re in! Now you need a plane ticket to India; we’ll help you with details about flights to Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi.
You will need to scroll down within this window to complete the questions.
Help us to make this the BEST possible experience for you by telling us more about yourself. Thanks!
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- Will I need a visa? What about a passport?
Yes and yes! Your passport should not expire 6 months before the end of the scheduled trip. That is, if the trip in January 1 – January 15, 2015, your passport should be valid until at least July 15th, 2015.
You will need to apply for your Indian visa before you leave home. After you sign up for the trip, we will send you details about how to do this along with a timeline. Your Nepal visa will be available at the airport for $25 USD; you will also need one passport photo for your visa. You are responsible for your visa costs, although we will help you through the process!
- What vaccines do I need?
We travel in countries where no vaccines are required for entry. However, we encourage guests to work with their own physicians or their local health department’s travel vaccine department about these choices. The CDC’s site (http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/india) is also a good thing to check, but know that they tend toward the overly cautious side.
We recommend all people traveling in Asia receive a Hepatitis A vaccine, Typhoid vaccine, and make sure their Tetanus vaccines are up to date.
- Should I take malaria medicine?
When people envision traveling in Asia, they almost certainly imagine a landscape think with vengeful mosquitoes; we’ve found that couldn’t be farther from the truth. We actually often comment to each that we can’t believe how few mosquitoes we encounter on our travels!
While you need to discuss this question with your doctor, we feel that the minimal risk of malaria only warrants a bit of “bite-prevention.” Neither of us take any anti-malarial medication; rather we use common sense approaches to prevent being bitten, including long sleeves/pants at dawn/dusk, mosquito repellant, and mosquito nets at night when necessary. There is no vaccine for dengue fever, which is also transmitted via mosquito bite, so taking the above precautions is important all around.
- How will I get by without knowing the local language?
If English is your first language, you are truly in luck. We are constantly amazed by how much Asia speaks English—and relatively well, considering it’s usually they’re 3rd or 4th language!
That said, we always like to provide you with a few words that will go a long way, including the local greetings and words like “Delicious!” and “See you later!” It’s not required, but it always elicits a smile and we think it’s only right to learn at least a few local words. Even saying “Namaskar” can make some locals think that you speak fluent Hindi!
- What about food? I don’t know if I like Indian/Nepali food!
This seems to be a common concern amongst our guests, and certainly within our own families. [Lauren’s mom thinks we don’t eat (HA!) and BJ’s mom thinks we live on nothing but fried tarantulas and intestines, thanks to shows like Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Foods. In all fairness, though…we have eaten tarantulas.
We will always give you the scoop on local foods and delicacies; sometimes the dishes often sound exotic (like Aloo Gobi) but are usually quite accessible (Aloo Gobi = “Potatoes and Cauliflower.”) Even if you don’t want to venture into local fare, almost every single restaurant in India has Western food on the menu, everything from pizza to fries to pasta. One of our favorite restaurants in Kathmandu has amazing & authentic Japanese food! So no worries (and no judgment) if you’re craving comfort food—it’s available!
- I have food allergies/intolerances or I’m a vegetarian/vegan—will I be OK?
One of our Registration Questions you’ll answer when you sign up for a trip asks about any food allergies or intolerance you may have. Our answers depend on the areas you’ll be joining us. Gluten is also avoidable in India and Nepal by choosing rice over chapatis and other local breads. Vegetarians should have no problem anywhere on our travels.
The only thing that might be a bump in the road 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.
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. Let’s talk more about your specific needs—drop us an email and ask!
- Do I have to hang out with the group or can I adventure on my own?
You are more than welcome to participate in all or none of our scheduled group activities. We don’t want you to feel like you are at Travel Boot Camp–this is your vacation after all! That said, we plan our outings carefully in order to make them the most pleasant (best weather, fewest tourists, etc) so some of our activities DO take place around dawn. If that’s not your cup of tea, feel free to snooze away! Just make sure you have the hotel business card to show to taxi drivers (or helpful people on the street) in case you get turned around!
- 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, 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 60 days before your departure. Please click on the “Travel Insurance” tab on this page 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.
- What about money? Can I use credit cards? Will there be ATMs?
Don’t count on using credit cards except for very large purchases (furniture, rugs, etc); most stores will only take local currency.
There will be ATMs at every destination, but some cities have them few and far between. ATM fees can be high (although some banks, like Charles Schwab, refund all foreign ATM fees) so plan to get out a large chunk of money instead of getting a lot of small withdrawals. ATMs are a very convenient way to get local currency, though.
Make sure you alert your bank and credit card companies that you will be traveling abroad so they don’t put a hold on your card when they see it being used overseas!
- Can I smoke? Will other people be smoking?
None of our hotels allow smoking in the room and we don’t allow it during group dinners or other group activities. Yes, that means no smoking during yoga class, even 😉 That said, smoking is not uncommon (typically by other foreigners) and should you need to, you’ll be able to find a spot outside to do the deed.
- How many people are going?
A minimum of 7 guests is required to make this trip happen, and we’re only taking up to 12 guests total. We will hold your deposit & payments until the minimum number of guests have signed up. If the minimum number of guests have not signed up 3 months prior to the departure date, we’ll give you the option to transfer your reservation to another tour or fully refund your money.
About Your Yoga Equipment This is not a traditional yoga retreat where you’ll be stuck in the same yoga studio all day for 12 days. We will be practicing our asanas in unique, beautiful, and inspiring locations, from the banks of the Ganges to picturesque Kathmandu rooftops. For this reason, we do require that you bring your own mat and any accessories you may need (such as a strap).
Delhi: 24 to 25 Agra: 24 to 35 Amritsar: 12 to 33
Varanasi: 18 to 35 Kathmandu: 8 to 27 (it WILL be chilly at night)
Note: There is a luggage weight limit of 20 kg within and between India and Nepal.
CLOTHING: Roll your clothes instead of folding; you’ll pack more in. Consider packing cubes, as well.
Bring appropriate, modest attire – not only to show respect for the culture, but to prevent drawing unwanted
attention to yourself. Shopping is a dream – you can purchase beautiful and inexpensive clothing for travel and
yoga once you arrive.
WOMEN: Refrain from wearing tight or transparent clothes, don’t show too much skin. No thin strap tank
tops or halter-tops. Best not to wear form-fitting ‘skinny’ jeans and shorts, or skirts above the knee.
Choose loose fitting pants, long skirts, calf-length pants and blouses or Indian kurtas.
MEN: We suggest calf-length pants and shirts and no sleeveless t-shirts.
Here’s a GUIDE of what to pack. Layers are going to be your best friend!
UNDIES – 5 or more – you can wash them in your bathroom or use the hotel laundry service
SOCKS – few pairs
LIGHT COTTON PANTS or LONG SKIRTS – 3-5 should be enough.
LEGGINGS – 2 or 3 pairs, handy under skirts or pants on chilly mornings or evenings
COTTON T-SHIRTS, BLOUSES, OR LONG SLEEVE SHIRTS – 4-5. You can use the hotel laundry service
LIGHT SWEATER/CARDIGAN for chilly morning or evenings
HEAVIER SWEATER or MEDIUM-WEIGHT JACKET for Kathmandu mornings.
LIGHT-WINDBREAKER – may be useful for early morning boat rides on the Ganges. Will also be handy over
your yoga gear for rooftop yoga in Kathmandu, overlooking the stupa at Boudha.
SHOES – trainers or comfortable walking shoes. Hiking boots are not necessary. Sandals and/or flip-flops
for around the hotels and local excursions.
SARONGS – super handy for so many reasons (men and women). They make a great shawl, sheet,
eyeshade, pillow, scarf, napkin, tissue etc. Readily available on our travels.
BANDANA – at least one – handy for wiping hands, faces, covering heads, etc. The Golden Temple will loan
you one – but it’s nice to wear your own head covering
YOGA CLOTHES – stretchy and loose – for warm and cool conditions
HAT with a brim
Your own yoga mat (Lauren likes this foldable mat from YoFoMat; use the code “Matt” at checkout for 5% off)
Eye pillow (available from Jane for $20)
Block – can be purchased/loaned from Jane
Strap – can be purchased/loaned from Jane
YOUR FAVOURITE POEM
TRAVEL POUCH/PURSE, we love the Pacsafe Pouchsafe 125, 150 or 200 at pacsafe.com, to carry passport,
money, etc. Only if you’re in the market for something new.
DAYPACK or CAMERA BAG. (If you need help purchasing a camera – email BJ he’s very knowledgeable and
happy to help)
CAMERA CHARGER, extra batteries and an extra memory card
SOCKET ADAPTOR for your electrical appliances (2 pin European type)
TOILETRIES – not always provided in our hotels – be sure to bring your own shampoo and conditioner
TRAVEL TISSUES – good idea to keep on you for public restrooms
WET WIPES and/or HAND SANITIZER
FEMININE HYGIENE PRODUCTS – can be scarce in India, so ladies bring with you
SMALL TRAVEL UMBRELLA
VERY IMPORTANT – print out your RETURN airline ticket itinerary; you’ll need this to enter the airport to
2 COLOUR COPIES of YOUR PASSPORT & VISA – leave one set with someone at home, take the other with
you and pack it separately from your original documents
Supply of your prescription medication (if necessary), as well as your over-the-counter needs.
Immodium – to treat and control diarrhea, including traveler’s diarrhea
Melatonin and Benadryl for jet lag purposes – read BJ’s info on jet lag here.
• WIFI – all of our hotels have WIFI
• PHONE – we have a phone with an Indian SIM card for quick calls home
• WATER – drink only purified/bottled water
• BRUSH YOUR TEETH with purified/bottled water and shower with your mouth closed
• DON’T TOUCH ANYONE’S HEAD – the head is considered sacred, includes babies and children
• FEET are considered unclean. Pointing footwear/feet at people or gesturing with your feet is considered
insulting. Feet are sacred for holy men and women.
• POINTING – use your whole hand to point – it’s considered rude to point with your fingers
- A few cultural do’s and don’ts: http://goindia.about.com/od/indiancultureetiquette/qt/india-donts.htm
- Useful Hindi phrases: http://www.omniglot.com/language/phrases/hindi.php (We’ll provide you with our preferred vocab list, as the date gets closer, if you are interested!)
- For those of you who don’t eat Indian food often, here’s a little primer I made for you.
- We do not advocate giving money, sweets or gifts to begging children, and here is why (it’s a tough read, but
- Here’s a live stream of the kirtan music being played inside the Golden Temple in Amritsar (keep in mind the
time difference!): http://streema.com/radios/Live_Kirtan_Sri_Harmandir_Sahib_Radio
Your Visa application will require your contact information in India. Please use this information (this is our
local travel agent in Delhi).
Name: Noor M Gagroo
Address: N-29, Middle Circle, Connought Place, New Delhi – 110001
We travel in countries where no vaccines are required for entry. However, we encourage you to check with
your own GP or local health department’s travel vaccine department about these choices. This site is also a
good resource: (http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/india)
Please understand that we cannot give you medical advice. However, we always receive a Hepatitis A vaccine,
Typhoid vaccine and we make sure our Tetanus vaccines are up to date when we travel to Asia.
You are required to take out travel insurance for this trip. If you have an annual plan or have travel insurance
through another source – please let us know what policies you have.
We recommend World Nomads. Their prices are very reasonable; their coverage is great, and the customer
service has proven to be fantastic. We have a relationship with them, so if you do buy World Nomads, we’d
appreciate it if you’d buy it through our affiliate link (it does not affect your price or policy at all). We’ll need
your policy number when you get a plan (wherever you choose to get it).
Also TID – https://www.travelinsurancedirect.com.au
We’re big proponents of Travel Insurance. We believe it instills a sense of security and assurance that sets a positive tone for the entire trip, and this is part of the reason that we require it for all Insight Travels & RetreaTours™ trips. We’ve done much research and found that we prefer World Nomads for our guests age 69 and younger (click here to learn more about World Nomads). For our guests 70 and older, we prefer Travel Guard (click here to learn more about Travel Guard). We believe in each of these companies so strongly that we’ve aligned ourselves with them as affiliates. If you choose to purchase policies through these companies, we ask that you please use these links so that we may continue to grow our relationship with them.
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