Soul Journal

Why Travel to India?

Oct 08, 2019

#india  #travel  #yoga 

 “Travel is more than just a seeing of sites. It’s a change that happens, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard

 I first began travelling to India in 2004. I originally wanted to trek through Nepal, but the Maoists were uprising and it was dangerous. So I decided to see the Himalayas from the India side. I had been practicing yoga semi-regularly, although not really seriously, for 12 years. Heck, I’d read Autobiography of a Yogi. Why not?

 A 3-month journey has since turned into a skill and a yearly pilgrimage. After leading two groups of teenagers in 2007-08, I began bringing adults – hundreds of them! This year marked my 10th trip and I’ve officially spent over a year of my life in India.

 Every time I travel to India the question arises – why? In all honesty, India is a complete mess. There is garbage everywhere, the air quality is horrendous. With over a billion people (although how do they get a population count when only 40 percent of Indians are actually registered in the system?!), India never set up basic infrastructure – plumbing, waste management, water filtration systems. The country is an open toilet and cows/pigs are the garbagemen. Anything not eaten by animals or picked out by the garbage pickers, is burned.

 On the flip side, each person consumes far less than we do in the West. Indians take bucket showers. They use small ceramic or glassware for chai. Banana leaves for plates. Eat with their hands and don’t really use napkins. It’s amazing how much single use plastic we use in the West – we just hide it a lot better.

India is a country run by God. Clearly this is true because it’s basically lawless and yet, it all flows in perfect harmony at the same time? Cars, trucks, bikes, rickshaws (autos), camels, elephants, cows, pedestrians, motorbikes all share the roads. No rules. A family of 5 on a motorbike with no helmet. Spitting, farting, burping. Pee where you want. 50 people packed into a small bus. Wicked overloaded trucks. Barefoot construction workers using rickety bamboo scaffolding. Men sleeping anywhere and everywhere. While America claims to be “the land of the Free” – there isn’t much freedom with all the laws imposed on us. Permits, complaining neighbors, road rage. Police officers give tickets when our dogs aren’t on a lease, when we drive to fast. You can’t do this, can’t do that. While yes, we have the right to vote, but how is this free again?

The patience, calmness, and innocence of Indians is astounding. The worst traffic jams in the world and nobody ruffles a feather. Make a wrong turn? No problem. Indians are genuinely so curious, totally harmless, and overly helpful. Whenever I find myself lost, someone literally appears out of the ethers to get an auto rickshaw, help with direction, even walk me to my destination. Spirituality oozes from their pores from centuries upon centuries of a connection to the Divine so there’s almost never ill intention. From the lowest person to the most educated – there is a reverence for God and all its aspects that keep the country aligned and in the flow. The beauty of India is the flow. It’s no surprise that Yoga was born in India. It truly is the best place to practice the full spectrum of yoga off the mat. And the reason to keep going back year after year.