Yoga in India and volunteering holiday

“A week in India that combined my skills and my passion: volunteering in community development, which is my job and lifelong commitment, and yoga, which is my love. ”

Highlights

Week of volunteering and yoga in Kerala, India | Daily hatha yoga with local yogi | Satvic or Ayurvedic breakfasts | Beginners to yoga welcome | use of rooftop for personal meditation and yoga | Volunteering in Kerala school | Responsible volunteering guidelines | DBS checks compulsory

Description of Yoga in India and volunteering holiday

This week long holiday in Kerala is for people who want to combine wellness, yoga and philanthropy in one holiday. Taking a fully holistic approach, we believe that by taking part in community yoga classes (not an exclusive yoga retreat!), you will be gaining a true understanding of the philosophy of yoga. And doing so with a local yogi, in the country of its origins. Although this itinerary is only for a week, we do really welcome and encourage longer term teaching placements.

Staying in Fort Kochi, an historic and beautiful part of coastal Cochin city which is very much the cultural hub of Kerala. Kerala being a tropical, calm and peaceful state making this the perfect place to learn and practise yoga.

Your day starts at 7.30am as you join a local community group Hatha yoga session which will two-three hours long. Classes are suitable for all levels of yoga practitioners including complete beginners. A 'satvic or ayurvedic' breakfast at yoga centre is the perfect nutritional start to your day. The rest of the day is spent volunteering on a community programme, assisting teachers who work in local schools, and in particular with children from disadvantaged backgrounds where education is only now becoming accessible to many. The main subject you will be teaching is English, although this can be adapted according to your skills and interests. Some of our volunteers have even added to their teaching support by also giving yoga lessons.

There are also programmes in adult literacy and English, and so this is another option for volunteers. Our bilingual staff offer support you 24/7. As well as the evenings, you will have the weekends free to explore Kerala at your leisure and we can help facilitate this for you. Some of our recommendations include a houseboat trip on Kerala’s famous backwaters, going for an Ayurvedic massage or exploring the hill stations and tea plantations.

Please note that we ensure that our volunteering projects follow all responsible volunteering guidelines strictly. These include:

- Actual teaching volunteering will only be carried out by qualified teachers. Non qualified applicants can only assist local teachers.
- Having emphasis or encouraging long term applicants of 4 weeks minimum
- Making DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service, formerly CRB) checks compulsory
- Minimum of one day training on arrival.
- Having a child protection code that is compulsory to read and sign.

Hello. If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.

01273 823 700

Check dates

2017: 28 Oct, 4 Nov, 11 Nov, 18 Nov, 25 Nov, 2 Dec, 9 Dec, 16 Dec, 23 Dec, 30 Dec
2018: 6 Jan, 13 Jan, 20 Jan
Top tip:
Book early for this one. It is a very popular trip and books up quickly.
Trip type:
Tailor made but working with other volunteers.
Solos:
Solo travellers welcome.
Accomm:
Standard, shared accommodation. Clean and comfortable. Upgrades possible.
Meals:
Breakfast and lunches provided, with local Kerala cuisine.
Included:
Cochin Airport or railway transfers, daily yoga lessons, accommodation, use of rooftop for personal meditation and yoga, breakfast and lunch, walking tour Fort Kochi, project training with local program manager, 24/7 support | transport to volunteering project by auto rickshaw.
About this holiday company:
Ridhi set this organization up in 2014, after a life changing volunteering trip that she made to South Africa herself. After that, she returned from London to her home country of India to set up volunteering projects not just in Kerala, but also in Kolkata in everything from teaching to women’s empowerment, human rights and legal training to medical placements.
Vouchers
Accepted

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Yoga in India and volunteering holiday

Environment

Our volunteer placements in India are designed to immerse you in a different culture, living and working with local people. There’s plenty to gain personally from this. But we make sure that local people benefit too by choosing projects that bring tangible improvements to their lives. Our local partners are leaders in sustainable tourism. All activities and itineraries are designed in collaboration with the villagers themselves, based around the principles of community-based tourism. We are committed to providing local people with a complimentary source of income while still continuing their traditional way of life.

Pre-departure preparation
All of our participants receive pre-departure guides. This covers topics on how to be culturally sensitive, how to best look after the environment when in the country and how to stay safe as well as up to date information on the political situation. They are also briefed on how to dispose of waste properly and where possible, to avoid using plastic water bottles as these are not easy to dispose of environmentally.

Meaningful Volunteering:
Our Volunteer programs are lasting and meaningful and have a long term impact on the communities we work with. These children have little access to quality education.This is where the volunteers come in. In order to attend formal school in India students must be at a certain academic level and you will be helping the children we work with to reach this standard. For the children, a good understanding of English opens up many more opportunities in the future particularly in Tourism.

Child Protection:
We have a strong child protection policy and require police checks and DBS from all our participants. Staff who take photos are required to ensure they are up to a standard approved by our local partners or schools. We have strict expectations of volunteers as far as how they interact with the children. We also give no information to the volunteers about the children’s backgrounds.

Environment:
We send out comprehensive pre-departure briefing, which includes a section on protecting the local environment. In particular we advise participants to take care with water, which is an issue in many of our destinations. We recommend they avoid unnecessary washing, using hand wash gel where they can. We also instruct them on how to dispose of waste properly, not to litter and, where possible, to avoid using plastic water bottles which are not easy to dispose of environmentally.

Community

All our programs are designed in collaboration with the community and based around the principles of community-based tourism. We are committed to providing local people with a support while still continuing their traditional way of life.

Volunteer and Service Placements:
Volunteer time, effort, and attention are of great value to our local partners such as NGOs, schools, and children’s homes that we serve. We make sure that whoever we are tied up with are operating with our values in mind and are for the improvement of life on ground. Yoga classes with a local local teacher generates revenue for the teachers also.


Cultural sensitivity:
We emphasise the importance of showing respect for local people and their customs in our briefing material. Participants will work alongside permanent staff, forming close bonds and getting an insight into real life in India Our policy is to send people to the developing world in small groups or individually. This minimises the environmental and social impact that the participants have on the destination and helps them to integrate into the local community.

2 Reviews of Yoga in India and volunteering holiday

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Reviewed on 20 Feb 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


So many aspects of the trip were memorable, even life changing -- it is hard to choose just one. The members of the Volunteering Journeys team in Fort Kochi are so warm and welcoming, and work so hard to ensure that all the volunteers have a special time there that they really made the experience come to life. Working closely with the women and children in the projects was an incredible opportunity to connect with and learn about realities outside our own world. We also had some very special opportunities to explore the local area using local transport and our own initiative that brought us a much richer experience of the culture and living in the community.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Leave your expectations behind, along with any clothing made of synthetic fabrics (it is HOT in Kerala). Bring loose fitting shoes, as your feet will swell, and spend some time before you arrive thinking of how you would approach teaching English to the people on the projects. There are lesson materials available, but you hit the ground running and the first couple of days can be a bit of a struggle.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


I hope so. I think particularly the children benefit from the attention and exposure they get to confident and supportive people from other countries and cultures, and the women gain their own confidence in their English and their awareness of the world. I have to say, though, that for everything we gave them I feel sure we took away far more in terms of understanding, self-
confidence and the warmth of their affection.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Truly life-changing. It is very much the kind of experience where you get back in proportion to what you put in, but the wonderful staff at VJ magnified the returns on everything.

Reviewed on 02 Oct 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


This was a volunteering holiday so that whole premise was fantastic. I'd never done that before and it felt fabulous to be really doing something even though on holidays.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


I think that everything on this holiday was very well organised but I think that you need to stay in contact with the people on the ground as much as possible so having a local sim is really handy. Oh, and find out if it's school holiday time when you go as that does make a difference to the volunteering program. I would have liked to know what happens when school term time is on.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


I would hope so. I hope it wasn't just a flash in the pan for them. I hope it was
real.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Fabulous.

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