FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Finding Om in India

by Kristy Alpert

Jun 1, 2017
June 2017

I WAITED MY ENTIRE LIFE to be where I stood, the Taj Mahal long acting as a sort of mecca in my long list of bucket-list experiences. I expected that moment to hit me with chills, but as I stared up at its grand and imposing façade, the sun-drenched pavement warming the soles of my bare feet, I was met instead with a surprising sense of empathy.

I listened intently as my personal guide from Intrepid Travel’s Urban Adventures explained how the Taj Mahal was built as a mausoleum for Mughal emperor Shah Jahan’s third and favorite wife, with precious and semi-precious jewels adorning its white marble exterior. On the outside the palace appeared strong and full of life, a source of stability and strength in the chaotic world surrounding it, but inside it was all but empty.

Although this wasn’t my first time to India — work brought me to the bustling metropolis of Mumbai and the sunny shores of Goa in previous years — this was my first time visiting the country for my own reasons. I was here to take part in yet another bucket-list experience with a weeklong yoga retreat in the yoga capital of the world at the Rishikul Yogshala ashram in Rishikesh.

A wise yoga instructor once told me you cannot pour from an empty cup, using the analogy that yoga is like putting the mask on yourself before helping others around you on an airplane. “You need to take care of yourself first so you can then pour into other people’s lives,” he said. Those words inspired my journey to India, where I would be nurturing my desires to attend a yoga retreat in Rishikesh and visit the Taj Mahal in one grand trip.

Unlike many of my travels where I arrive with an empty suitcase and a shopping list of souvenirs to collect for my loved ones back home, as I stood there staring at the beautiful but empty building in front of me, I realized I had arrived in India with nothing more than a yoga mat and an empty cup, ready to be filled with experiences and adventures both on the mat and off.

Yoga retreats have increased in frequency and popularity over the past few years, a demand created by the more than 36.7 million American adults who currently practice yoga, up from the 20.4 million practicing in 2012, according to findings from Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance. While many retreats offer unique experiences that range from trendy wine and yoga weekends in Tuscany to off-the-grid silent retreats in Mexico, nothing can compare to the authenticity and legit immersion retreat-goers experience with a yoga experience in India.

Yoga was born in India, dating back nearly 5,000 years according to archaeological findings from the Indus Valley Civilization in the northern parts of the country. The tradition was passed down orally from teacher to student for centuries until Sage Patanjali published his Yoga Sutras nearly 2,000 years ago. Patanjali’s compilation of Indian aphorisms became the philosophical basis for yoga around the world. Today the practice consists of eight limbs that include yama (self-restraint), niyama (self-observances), asana (postures), pranayama (breathing), pratyahara (withdrawal), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation) and samadhi (enlightenment).

All yoga retreats in India focus on these eight limbs, but the best retreat centers in the country offer a full immersion into the lifestyle and culture of yoga, delving into the realm of whole-body wellness through healthy eating, massage and personal coaching. I chose Rishikul Yogshala based on its reputation for seamlessly blending the physical and technical aspects of yoga with the more experiential sides of the practice.

The program is customized for each guest or group and lasts seven days, during which participants enjoy three Ayurvedic meals each day along with daily yoga practices in varying styles. Also included: Ayurvedic classes, private philosophy classes, massages and excursions to nearby areas (the Himalayas, the Ganges River, the Munni Baba Cave and more). The ashram is located within walking distance of the famous ashram where The Beatles wrote more than 30 of their songs while studying with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Rishikesh.

Yoga instructors at Shreya Yoga Retreat

Yoga instructors at Shreya Yoga Retreat © SHREYAS YOGA RETREAT

Although Rishikesh boasts one of the world’s largest clusters of ashrams, the country is rife with ashrams and retreat centers that cater to every specific sort of yogi. For luxury seekers, the Shreyas Yoga Retreat in Bangalore is second-to-none. The elegant sanctuary, set on 25 acres, accepts only 20 students per session to allow for one-on-one attention from the staff of teachers, therapists and gurus. Modern yogis love the fast WiFi, pure detox juices and stunning landscape of Goa’s Purple Valley Ashtanga Retreat, while yoga purists rave about attending a retreat at the world’s first and oldest center of yoga at The Yoga Institute of Mumbai, founded in 1918 by Shri Yogendraji.

The beauty of an Indian yoga retreat is that regardless of which one or which style you choose to attend, each offers the ultimate experience in wellness travel, combining healthy eating and physical wellness with the allure of visiting some of the world’s most remarkable landmarks and heritage sites. As I left the Rishikul Yogshala ashram, I looked back over my pictures from my visit to the Taj Mahal, this time with a sense of gratitude. My cup was now full, and I was eager to return home and begin pouring out some of what I had gained from my experience in India.

India Info to Go

Six main gateways service international flights into India, including Bengaluru (BLR), Chennai (MAA), Delhi (DEL), Hyderabad (HYD), Kolkata (COU), Mumbai (BOM) and Kerala (COK). The county’s national carrier, Air India, makes it easy to hop around domestically to locations like Goa, Kochi, Lucknow, Trivandrum, Kunnar and more. Many yoga retreats like Rishikul Yogshala offer a transportation option from the nearest major airport to the ashram for a small fee, but India’s train system, Indian Railways, offers another great option for navigating through the country.


FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Apr 6, 2020

TSA Collects Almost $1 Million in Change Annually

Loose change falling from passengers’ wallets or pockets during the security screening process is so common, the Transportation Security Administration said it collects almost $1 million in change each year — and they keep it.

Goway Offers Travelers Journey of a Lifetime

Since 1970, Goway Travel has been committed to providing customized travel experiences for world travelers. Few things are better evidence of this commitment than being awarded the 2019 Trazees award for Favorite Tour Operator. Goway Travel heartily thanks the readers of Trazee Travel for this honor and for their confidence in Goway’s work in creating travel memories that’ll last a lifetime.

Apr 3, 2020

Vail Resorts Provides Food, Monetary Assistance to Employees and Mountain Communities

Vail Resorts opted to close all 37 resorts early in response to the current COVID-19 pandemic, but the mountain resort operator also wanted to give back to the community in the face of this adversity. The excess perishable food from the various properties was donated to 30 local food banks, schools and community organizations in the communities where Vail Resorts employees live, work and play. Fruit, vegetables, cheese, juice, granola bars and more went to mountain communities from Colorado and Vermont to British Columbia.

Apr 3, 2020

Airlines Updates on Cancelations and Rebookings Due to COVID-19

The airline industry responds to the COVID-19 pandemic with updates on cancellations, route capacity reductions and rebooking policies. Here’s an update.

Adventure of a Lifetime with Volvo

Looking for a truly unique travel experience and considering a new vehicle? The Volvo Overseas Delivery Program is the perfect solution to create your own adventure of a lifetime. Volvo allows you to custom order your new automobile tailored to fit your needs and desires. They will fly you to Sweden to pick up your Volvo so you can drive and explore Scandinavia and Europe on your terms for up to two weeks.

April 2020
Apr 3, 2020

Singapore Airlines and AeroFarms Launch Farm-to-Plane Initiative

IN A FIRST-OF-ITS-KIND PARTNERSHIP, Singapore Airlines and AeroFarms, the leader in indoor vertical farming, launched a Farm-to-Plane initiative to bring the world’s freshest inflight produce to Singapore flights from Newark International Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Apr 1, 2020

J.D. Power Study: Travelers Satisfied with Travel Industry Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

Data analytics and consumer intelligence company J.D. Power conducted a survey on the response of the travel industry to the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey of 1,633 business and leisure travelers in the past year was conducted March 12–13. In general, those surveyed have faith in the travel industry and are satisfied with the industry’s response to the pandemic thus far.

A Lighter Footprint

United Airlines’ environmentally friendly efforts lessen the impact on local U.S. communities.

Apr 1, 2020

Munich Airport Secures Future Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

As a result of travel restrictions and drastic reductions in flights worldwide, Munich Airport is suffering from decreases in nearly every area of its operations. Take-offs and landings reached a low last week, with traffic plummeting to less than 10 percent of the number year over year. Passenger traffic is at 5 percent of last year’s level.