Travelling to India to take a yoga teacher training is definitely on the bucket list of many yogis out there, and for a good reason! Mother India – the home of yoga, ancient teachings, and such rich culture. Many solo female traveller yoginis wish to travel to India, thirsty for knowledge, but having doubts about their own safety. If you are one of them, read on!
I was in your shoes not so long ago, and now I know what can be a huge help for you to feel, and stay safe in India. After having travelled India with and without a travel partner as well, and also completing my teacher training there, here`s the things that in my experience are worth mentioning.
The things you might think – but aren`t true
1. Don`t believe everything you hear on media
News, TV, radio, social media and papers are not your friend when it comes to objectively have a picture of how it is to travel India. The news are only filled with negative things and that`s your only source to know about the world, you`ll end up never leaving your house. If you hear about any robberies, attacks, etc, just know that there`s 1.5 billion people in India, and these news are about one or two of them. There are bad people everywhere you go in the world, and so are good people. If you live in Europe and hear that there was an attack in the London underground you won`t start advising people to never visit England because it`s an evil place, will you? Or if there`s a shooting in America, similarly you won`t have a red flag to ever go to the whole of America because there was one bad person who made it to the news. The same applies to India. There are bad news for sure. Where on earth isn`t? But I guarantee, that there are “good news” as well, you just don`t know about them.
2. “Every male is a potential rapist”
Let me just stop you right there. To have the attitude of always being in danger will only attract danger. People are people everywhere and common sense is common sense everywhere: if you are dressed in a way that you don`t attract attention, if you aren`t walking alone in abandoned neighbourhoods after dark, if you don`t show off expensive jewellery/gadgets etc, then you most probably aren`t in constant danger.
3. Everyday life in general is dangerous in India
Most teacher trainings in India are held at an ashram, or a resort with all the students and teachers living on the same property. At these intensive trainings you`ll be at class 10-12 hours per day and 5-6 days per week. This means that most of the time you will basically be in a safe haven together with like-minded people and your masters.
Top tips to stay safe
1. Stay on the beaten track to start with
If you are a solo female traveller in India and aren
t planning on joining any groups, I recommend you stay on the beaten track, check [Lonely Planet ](https://www.lonelyplanet.com/india)recommendations, and just stick to routes that others have done before as well. This way youll come across local people who are used to having travellers around, more likely to speak English and definitely very welcoming.
2. Get to know the culture and the people
I recommend you watch documentaries and read about India and its culture before your trip. When you jump into something you don`t know at all, everything can seem like a challenge to understand, and full of surprises. But when you make an effort to get to know the place you`re about the explore, it can already give you a feeling of knowing a bit about the life and culture there, and through that, giving you more understanding of the place. Reading similar traveller`s blogs is also something you can learn from, so get on google and use all the sources you can find there!
3. Cover up
Culturally, having your shoulders, neck, and legs out is not appropriate in India. Always wear loose fitted clothing that are going below your knee and keep your upper body covered as well. If you have lower cut shirts, combine them with a scarf around your neck, shoulders and chest. If you wear leggings, make sure to wear a long shirt over it to cover your hips.
It is also a lovely thing if you buy their traditional clothes and dress like them. Despite other cultures, it is a nice touch in India. Feel free to explore local markets and shops, and enjoy the huge selection of all the beautiful colours and styles!
4. Get used to staring and selfies
It was probably the weirdest thing for me in India – the staring and the selfies. People WILL stare at you. For loooooong periods of time. And it won`t be a nice smiley eye contact. Just a weird stare. The bad news is that it will always be like this. The good news is that if you don`t overreact it every time it happens and you can just accept this as an interesting Indian experience, it can just become a great story to tell and something to smile about :)
Same for selfies. For Indian people it means a lot to have a selfie with white people. As bad as it sounds, it is the truth. They will probably post it all over their social media stating that now they have a white friend. If this is something that makes you feel weird, just say no to their request. They might still try to sneak in a selfie when you`re not looking though. To me, taking a selfie with them doesn`t mean anything, but to them it`s a big deal – so I always say yes. But it is absolutely your call. Probably you`ll feel more comfortable when a group asks you to take a picture with them, rather than one man. Sometimes families will ask you to hold their babies and take a family pic. I find that sweet. You can always make someone`s day with something that doesn`t cost you anything :)
5. Rise with the sun, and get home before dark
Always be home before dark! The sun is up early – and the weather is more bearable in the mornings so it`s worth it to rise with the sun and get your day started early. When you get into the habit of waking up with the sun, it will feel natural to go to rest shortly after it`s getting dark. General rule for solo female traveller – not only in India – to not be on the streets alone after dark.
6. Behaviour 101
There are obvious and a bit less obvious things that are good to avoid in order to blend in and not attract special attention. Here`s my list:
- eye contact and smiling can – unfortunately - mean that you`re coming onto someone, so I`m not saying to always look at the ground and never have a friendly face, but just to keep in mind
- personal space doesn`t really exist in India, you will be squashed onto buses and trains with way too many people (and animals, haha) all the time. This is perfectly normal, no need to panic, just stay chill like it`s the most normal thing in the world.
- If someone`s making you feel very uncomfortable, or touching you, etc, make a scene. Being called out in public is a very shameful thing, so whatever is going on will stop then.
- Don`t flash the cash. Having a lot of money or very expensive things on show will definitely attract a lot of attention. Have just a little cash in your purse and if you have more, hide it in the bottom of your big bag. Or another compartment in your bag. So when you open up your purse to pay somewhere, no one can see how much you really have on you. Same with iWatches, and very obviously expensive stuff. Altogether I don`t advise on bringing them to India at all, but if you do, keep them in your bag.
7. Stay with a group
It`s a great idea to find groups to travel with. It can save money, offer new friendships, more adventure, and of course safety.
8. Have travel insurance
It is a must when you`re travelling anywhere to have travel insurance. There`s so many things that can unexpectedly happen while on the road, so don
t be silly and get a good travel insurance. Me and many traveller friends of mine always used
and only had a good experience with them. Of course theres many insurers out there so feel free to do your research and choose the one that caters to all your needs!
All in all, I`d like to encourage you to have a positive attitude towards your travels in India – it is an exceptionally beautiful part of the world with so much to offer! If you go into your trip with fears and expecting bad things to happen, then guess what – you`ll prove yourself right one way or another. But if you go with expecting to have the time of your life, all the things that will come your way will support this idea. Be prepared, relax, and have an amazing trip!