Is this trip only for advanced yoga practitioners?
No – this trip is for anyone who wants to experience the many dimensions of South India and Auroville, and has an interest in the rich weave that is yoga. Any level of experience with yoga asana and philosophy is fine.
How much yoga asana will we be doing?
We will offer an asana practice on most mornings, plus some longer experiences of embodiment that may use yoga asanas as templates for movement. We will also include meditation and pranayama in our group practices.
How will Embodyoga® be incorporated into the trip?
Most days will include a morning Embodyoga® practice with Patty or Corinne. Beyond that, we will include a few longer explorations of how the fundamental embodiment practices of Embodyoga® can help us to integrate the outer activities and experiences into our bodies. These explorations may include asanas, meditation, pranayama, yoga nidra, embodied anatomical explorations, and journaling.
How much physical activity will the trip involve?
There will be some opportunities that will involve moderate physical activity, like climbing Arunachala Hill, walking the 8 mile pilgrimage route around Arunachala, bicycling around Auroville, swimming in the Bay of Bengal, and yoga asana practices. All of these opportunities are opt-in, meaning that you can choose to participate or not based on your level of fitness and how you’re feeling that day. Verite provides us with bicycles, which is the easiest way to get around locally in Auroville. If you can’t ride a bike, we will arrange local transport for you via taxi for an additional fee of $100. If you have questions/concerns about your specific situation, please contact us.
What’s the weather like?
The part of Tamil Nadu that we’ll be in is at about the same latitude as Costa Rica. During February, the days average in the upper 80s and into the low 90s, and the nights can get down into the lower 60s. Rain is very rare in February. The equatorial sun is quite hot, so the difference between the sun and shade can be significant.
What are the accommodations like?
All nights in Auroville will be spent in Verite, which offers a unique setting for groups that are searching for living, working examples of positive alternatives to the conventional approaches to life on this planet. There are two yoga halls with props, a communal dining hall, a lounge with wifi and facilities to brew coffee, a library, and a fish pedicure pond. The entire campus runs on solar power, so no hair dryers please, and showers do not have hot water, but hot water is available by bucket from a solar hot water dispenser. Laundry service is also provided 3x/week, excluding undergarments, which you will need to wash by hand. The mattresses are on the thin side, so you may want to bring an inflatable pad if this is an issue for you. The accommodations at Arunadri Retreat Center in Tiruvanamalai are new and quite comfortable. There is a rooftop yoga and meditation space overlooking Arunachala Hill, comfortable beds, and hot showers.
What’s the food like?
While in Auroville we stay at Verite, and they offer locally grown organic food. Breakfast includes fresh local fruit (papaya, watermalon, pineapple, and bananas), fresh baked bread, nut butters, and ragi porridge (made from a local millet and sweetened with raisins and jaggery). Lunch and dinner always include fresh salad greens and fresh baked bread, plus a variety of main and side dishes that combine western and local flavors. There are also restaurants in Auroville that serve both western and typical local dishes. While in Tiruvanalamalai we will stay with our friends Saravanan and Jehan at the Arunadri Retreat Center, and the food is also a home-cooked fusion of western and local flavors.
Will there be access to clean water?
While it’s important not to drink tap water, the drinking water in Auroville is better than good. They have invented a process of biodynamization (read more here) that combines four levels of water treatment: extreme purification, dynamisation, information by Light & Sound® as well as saturating water with trace elements. Excellent, reliable filtered water will also be available during the time that we spend in Tiruvanamalai.
What’s the appropriate way to dress in Auroville and South India?
When visiting temples, pants or skirts to the ankle are required. In general, South Indian culture retains traditional values when it comes to dress. I recommend respecting these norms, especially when traveling outside of Auroville:
- For Women: this means covering shoulders through the use of a scarf or shawl (can be obtained in Auroville) or by wearing a top with sleeves, wearing shorts that fall below the knee (except while doing farm work or yoga) and not wearing tight shirts, pants or skirts. Women should also not wear clothes that show cleavage.
- For Men this means wearing shirts at all times (other than during physical labor), and although shorts are fairly accepted for travelers, in India only younger boys tend to wear shorts.
Will we see temples and other ancient sites?
Yes – we will have a guided tour of the largest Siva Temple in India – Anamalai Temple in Tiruvanamalai, plus the 8 lingam temples that line the pilgrimage route around Arunachala Hill. We will also have a guided tour of the local Siva Temple in Irumbai, and we’ll visit the local Kali Temple and the Ganesh Temple in Puducherry. In Mahabalipuram, we’ll visit the many ancient, intricate and massive stone carvings, many of which are over 1500 years old.
What”s the ratio of group time to alone time?
The days will be fairly full, with workshops, tours, and outings scheduled on most days. But many of these activities will include an ‘inner’ component and time to meditate and reflect, and it’s always possible to stay back and rest as needed.
Is airfare included in the cost? Can I arrange my own airfare?
The cost of $3500 for a shared room or $3750 for a single room include round trip airfare from Boston Logan Airport. If you are flying from a different airport, you can either choose to route through Boston, or book your own travel and pay $2500 for a shared room or $2750 for a single. If a group of 4 or more is traveling from the same airport, we can arrange travel at an adjusted rate depending on airfare costs.
What kinds of vaccines do I need?
No vaccines are required for travel to India, but the CDC does recommend ensuring that your routine vaccinations are up to date, as well as additional vaccinations for typhoid and Hepatitis A. Consult your doctor for advice on vaccines and any other preparations for travel in South India. From the Auroville website: Malaria is not endemic in our area. Using medication to prevent malaria occurrence is a personal choice. Using long sleeves and trousers along with (natural) mosquito repellents in the evenings already helps to prevent mosquito bites.
What travel documents will I need for this trip?
You will need a current passport (expiration date must be after 3/1/18) and a Tourist VISA for India. The new office for processing visas is Cox and Kings Global Services. There are two options for the Visa – one is a multiple entry Visa that will be good for 10 years. The other is an e-Visa that is only good for 30 days. I highly recommend the first option, since with the e-Visa you cannot apply until the beginning of February, and there’s not much time to troubleshoot if any complications arise. The 10 year multiple entry Visa will cost $123 plus shipping fees.
If you have any questions that are not covered here, please send us an email.
www.auroville.org – Auroville’s main website – info about background, happenings, community dynamics, FAQs, etc
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GX9iBZGvjlI – short (20 min) video called Auroville – a dream of the divine…good overview
www.sriaurobindoashram.org – All collected works available for download, historical info
www.sriramanamaharshi.org – Ashram main website and info about Ramana Maharishi’s teachings