VISAS FOR INDIA AND HOW DO I OBTAIN ONE? All US citizens need a Visa for entry into India. You will apply for a tourist Visa. You fill out a form online and get your actual visa in Delhi airport upon arrival. Your passport must be valid for 6 months after our return date. If your passport expires within 6 months after we return to the US, you will need to renew your passport. You will need the contact information of the Jiva Institute to complete your application.https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country/india.html
CAN I FLY SEPARATELY FROM THE REST OF THE GROUP? IF SO, HOW DO I GET TO THE RETREAT FROM THE AIRPORT? You’re welcome to arrange your own flight. We encourage you to take the same flight as our group, but understand this isn't always possible. If you can meet us in Delhi when our group flight arrives, you may travel with us to the Jiva Institute.
HOW DO I GET TO VRINDAVAN? If you're taking our group flight, transport will be provided from Delhi to Vrindavan. If you're arriving in Delhi at a different time than our group, before arriving at the New Delhi airport, you will want to set up a pick up with Jaya - the Director at the Jiva Institute. She is head of matters such as these. The drive to the ashram will take between 3 and 4 hours depending on the time of day and the traffic. It is best to have a driver set up in advance, the cost will hover around 65-80 US$.
DO I NEED VACCINATIONS TO TRAVEL TO INDIA? While no specific immunizations are required for entrance into India, we recommend you follow the advice of medical professionals. We highly encourage you to make an appointment with your physician or a travel doctor to make sure your immunizations are current. The US State Department issues the following statement to travelers of India, "Some vaccines such as Typhoid, Influenza, and Hepatitis A are recommended for all travelers and other vaccines such as Hepatitis B, Japanese Encephalitis, and Rabies are recommended for high-risk travelers." Feel free to contact the International Society of Travel Medicine, World Health Organization, or State Department for additional information. Seeing a doctor before the trip is very important for your health and safety.
For additional information, please read the following links from US State Department and World Health Organization.https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country/india.html
WHAT KIND OF CLOTHES DO I NEED? You can think of a distinction between what you wear within the Jiva Institute and what you wear in public. This is especially important for females. While at the institute, it is fine to wear yoga pants or tops. However, in public, it is highly recommended that you do not wear tight or revealing clothing. This includes sleeveless tops and tank dresses. It is best to cover your shoulders - with a light long sleeve top or a shawl/scarf.
Light pants and long skirts are highly recommended. It’s best to cover one’s legs when going in public, especially for females. T shirts or short sleeves are fine, but sleeveless shirts are not appropriate in public. Light long sleeved shirts are useful for early mornings, evenings, and optionally for women in public. Scarves can be useful to cover your face or head when traveling, especially if you are sensitive to dust. Slip on sandals are the best shoe in Vrindavan as nearly all places require you to take off your shoes before entering. (Of course the temples, but also many shops require shoe removal before entering). The dirt, dust and potential mud may soil your shoes, so please leave your fancy shoes at home. Cheap sandals are easily available for purchase in Vrindavan. We also recommend you bring an old pair of sneakers for longer walks. As we will often be required to remove our shoes, socks get very dirty. You are welcome to go barefoot, but bringing extra socks is a good idea otherwise.
Be aware that while on retreat, the way you carry yourself is a reflection of you - no matter what new place or country you are visiting - dressing respectfully goes a long way in this sacred town.
WHAT WILL THE WEATHER BE LIKE? February and March is filled with spring sun. The weather is in the 80s during the mornings and evenings, 70s during the night and 90s at midday. There is little to no humidity during this time of year so the weather is comfortable despite high temperatures.
WHAT DO I BRING WITH ME? DO NOT bring anything valuable or precious which would cause you heartache if it were soiled. Do not bring jewelry or valuables.
Hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes are useful
If you wear glasses but use contacts, bring them (the monkeys in Vrindavan are notorious for stealing glasses, so when in public, it is best to wear contacts if possible)
Empty water bottle
Mosquito repellent spray and neem tablets
Towel & washcloth
Travel laundry detergent
WILL I HAVE FREE TIME? YES!! This is the luxury of retreat. There are ‘planned’ activities for morning, afternoon, and most nights. There is also ‘free time’ planned in the afternoons on most days. This is time to read, nap, get a massage, take walks, catch up on email if you HAVE to, get to know new friends, hang in the garden / on the roof. That said, all activities are OPTIONAL - if you want to sleep in and skip yoga in the am, that's fine. If you are feeling like you’d rather stay around the ashram instead of tour for the day, that's fine. This is your retreat.
WHAT IS INCLUDED IN THE FEE? ARE ALL MEALS INCLUDED? The fee includes ALL meals - at the ashram, and picnic / to go food when appropriate (day time excursions). The meals at the ashram are healthy and filling and fully vegetarian. We are happy to accommodate other dietary restrictions as well (ie. gluten allergy). All tickets, modes of transportation, entertainment fees - etc are also included. The only time you may use your own money is if you are purchasing things in the market, outside food, small gifts etc. You could easily get by on $150 for the entire stay - if you are looking to buy textiles, harmoniums, books etc - more money will be necessary. ATMs are there for your use - it is recommended to alert your bank that you will be traveling if this pertains to you.
DO I NEED TO BRING A YOGA MAT? Yes. A travel size mat is not recommended - we practice on concrete.
CAN I DO JUST PART OF THE RETREAT? Strongly recommend you join the group as early on as possible - if traveling separately - and stay for the duration of the retreat. You will get the most out of your time and experience this way. However, if you have specific circumstances that you want to discuss, we are always open and flexible.
HOW DO I EXCHANGE MONEY? The currency used is the India rupee. The easiest way to access rupees is through ATM machines which are a 3 minute walk from Jiva Institute ($200 limit per transaction) or through converting US cash at the many available shops. This trip is all-inclusive so you don’t need any money. However, if you want to eat out, purchase gifts, travel in the town via rickshaw (local bicycle powered cab), some spending money is required. How much money is entirely based on your expected purchases. $200 US should provide plenty of funds unless you plan to purchase expensive/numerous gifts.
I WOULD LIKE TO ATTEND THE RETREAT BUT DON'T PRACTICE YOGA. CAN I COME ANYWAY? Yes. The teachers on staff will be able to accommodate a beginner, or you have the option of passing on the asana classes / workshops.