Do I need a visa?
Yes, most passport holders need a visa for India . You can generally get a six month tourist visa which you must organise before travelling. Consult your local Indian embassy. Most embassies have an online application form you can download off the internet.
If you are in the UK : www.hcilondon.net/visa/obtain-visa.html
If you are in the US : http://indiavisa.travisaoutsourcing.com
Will I be able to exchange money?
There are plenty of travel agents and money exchange places on Patnem high street.
Are there ATM machines?
Yes, in nearby Chaudi (5 mins by motorbike or rickshaw) you can find three different ATM machines. They accept most international cards, including Visa, MasterCard, Cirrus, etc. The maximum you can take out per day is 20’000 Indian rupees.
Can I pay in Pounds or Euros?
At Lotus Yoga Retreat we accept Pounds, Euros, Dollars and most foreign currency. But you need rupees for eating out, buses, rickshaws and buying small local items.
What will the weather be like?
The climate in Goa is the opposite of the European/North American winter. From October until May it is warm and dry. The daytime temperatures range from 28 to 32 degrees. At night the thermometer may sink to 20 degrees in December and January - but it will feel colder due to the humidity - so bring a jumper and long trousers for the early morning practice and the nights. Generally you will encounter blue skies every day from November to April.
Is it dangerous to travel to Goa alone as a woman?
Not at all. India is a safe country for Westerners and poses no problem for women travelling on their own. Especially Goa is very used to tourism and one of the only places in India where a woman can get away with wearing a short skirt or shorts, without being stared at.
How do I get to the retreat from the airport?
The retreat is about an hour and a half from Goa Dabolim airport. If you give us your flight details we can arrange a pick-up at the local rate. For other forms of transport see getting here.
What vaccinations do I need?
There are no compulsory vaccinations for India (unless you are arriving from certain African or South American countries with yellow fever) but it is best to consult your doctor about any personal vaccinations you may need for travelling. Goa is not a high-risk malaria area and none of us take malaria tablets as the side-effects are controversial.
Will I get Delhi belly?
Goa is possibly the cleanest state in India and there is a different attitude towards hygiene and food. We make sure the food in our restaurant is washed and prepared to Western standard, using filtered water rather than tap water. Our ice is made from mineral water. The restaurants in and around Patnem are frequented by tourists and thus 'safe'. We can give you recommendations for locally tried and tested places.
What happens if I get really sick?
There is a modern hospital just 10 minutes away by taxi which is of international standard and certainly cleaner than many NHS hospitals found in the UK. In fact an increasing number of people are coming to India to get medical treatment as it is of a high standard but much cheaper than in the West. We would still advise visitors to come with travel or medical insurance.
What languages will I need?
India ’s official language is Hindi but English is used widely and you will be able to travel and communicate perfectly even if your knowledge of English is basic. There are 16 further regionally registered languages in the country. The local language in our area is Concani. Learning a few words is not necessary but it might make you very popular with the locals.
What is the time difference?
GMT + five and a half hours in the winter, GMT + four and a half hours in the summer.
Will my mobile phone work?
Yes, your phone will search for the local network and ride it. You can send text messages and receive and make calls easily. However, if you want to save yourself the shock of a huge phone bill when you get home, it is best to switch off the roaming on your phone. Alternatively you can buy a local SIM card or use the internet shops on Patnem high street to make international calls.
Will there be internet?
Yes, there are various internet shops on Patnem high street and many more in Palolem.
Is there any nightlife?
Patnem is low-key and quiet - the nightlife generally consists of dressing for dinner and being in bed by midnight. For those who want a bit more social life we have the advantage of being a beach down from Palolem. You can either walk along the beaches to get there (about 20-30 mins), take a rickshaw or rent a bike (5-10 mins by road). An outdoor 'silent noise' party takes place every Saturday on Neptune's point between Palolem and Patnem beach. Goa is not as wild as it used to be in terms of outdoor trance parties but every so often there is a surprise get-together, usually on a beach you can only reach by boat.
How will I benefit from yoga?
Yoga is a powerful and integral system developed in India thousands of years ago to improve body and spirit well-being. Yoga is a Sanskrit word and means unity – the unity of body, spirit and soul.
Yoga strengthens and tones your muscles. It improves your flexibility, balance and posture. Yoga also increases blood flow and enhances the activity of the internal organs. It lowers stress and the chemicals in the blood stream related to anxiety. You will feel and look more radiant and vital. These effects are enhanced by a general sense of well being and peace of mind.
I’m a complete beginner at yoga, can I still come?
Of course, you are very welcome. We usually have beginners and advanced classes, so you will find the level of yoga you require. If there is only one course running that week, we will make sure you get the attention and support you need.
How do I know if I’m a beginner?
If Mulabanda sounds Martian to you and you practice less than once a month then it might be best to join a beginner’s class. Within one week your practice should benefit enormously. If you are recovering from an injury it may also be advisable to join the beginner’s class. The teacher can advise you personally about which class to join when you get here.
My practice is rusty; will I be overwhelmed if I do a retreat?
Generally not but this depends on the teacher so it is best to get in contact with him or her about this.
I’ve been practicing for years, will I get bored?
You will always learn something, especially if you have been self practicing. Our teachers are of very high standard and will give you the personal attention you need. We recommend going on one of the retreats. Contact us about the teachers best suited to your level of yoga.
Can I stay at Yoga Lotus Retreat even if I don’t practice yoga?
Our resort is mainly for guests on retreats or yoga holidays but if we are not fully booked you are welcome to stay. Also if your partner/wife/daughter/mother/son is doing yoga you can stay without joining in the classes (although you might just get the bug!)
I am travelling alone do I have to find a person to share with?
No, we can match you with someone of the same sex who is also travelling alone. Yoga retreats attract friendly people so we have never had any bad experiences with this. Also the communal atmosphere and the warm weather means you will be spending most of your time outdoors in the chill-out areas or on the beach. If we cannot find someone to share your hut with, you will receive it for the sharing price even though you are alone.
Are there other sports I can do while in Goa ?
Yes, running, jogging and walking along the endless beaches. We are right next to Rajbag beach which is very empty and Patnem beach is also ideal for long walks and runs. Sailing courses, ocean kayaking and kite-surfing are offered at the other of the beach. And you can indulge in daily swimming, of course. The sea is very clean; no jellyfish or other nasty surprises.
What do I bring?
Yoga mat: We do provide mats but if you like to use your own please bring this along. You can also buy one at Lotus Yoga Retreat. It is better having your own mat because it’s more hygienic and you can use it for self-practice.
Electrical adaptor plug: The voltage in India is 230 – 240 V. European two prong plugs work fine but you will need a conversion plug if coming from the UK or US. Don’t get alarmed if the lights suddenly go out. Power cuts are very typical in India . However they don’t usually last a long time.
Torch: See above. Also for long midnight walks along the beach, some people prefer to take a torch - more so that they can see the little crabs darting across the wet sand, than anything else. You can also buy torches locally or from beach vendors.
Driving licence: You have to show proof of this if you want to rent a scooter, motorbike or car.
Sunscreen: Although can buy sunscreen here, if you have a particular brand you like bring it along. Remember the sun in India is quite strong, especially if you’re coming from the winter. We have plenty of shade at Lotus Yoga Retreat and the yoga decks are all covered. It’s best to avoid the midday sun if possible or cover up with long sleeves. After a few days your skin should be accustomed to the sun and you can move around more freely.
Sunglasses: The sun is bright so don’t forget them shades.
Mosquito repellent or citronella: There are generally not that many mosquitoes on the beach but if you are particularly sensitive to bites bring along repellent and light, long sleeved clothes for the evening. You can also buy local repellent which seems to work. Remember we do have mosquito nets for your bed.
Flip flops or sandals: The sand can get quite hot around midday so unless you’ve got elephant skin you might want to save going barefoot for sunset. Also for going to the local market and excursions you might find it most comfortable in open shoes. Most people here live in flip flops so you will probably only need your trainers/winter shoes for the flight. The trekkers amongst you, might want to bring walking shoes if you’re planning trips to the forest. You can buy sandals, flip flops and crocs (cheap copies) here for very little money.
What kind of clothes do I pack?
You will be living on the beach so you’ll be surprised how little you actually need. Bring a beach towel or sarong, bikinis or swimming trunks, vest tops, t-shirts, a jumper for the evening, loose fitting yoga pants, shorts etc. For shoes, see above. In Dec and Jan, the nights and early mornings can be cool so bring a jumper or something warm for the early practice. Goa is a liberal state and the locals are used to western tourists so clothes like shorts, vest tops and short skirts are completely acceptable. However due to the heat and strong sun you may feel more comfortable in long sleeved shirts and long, cotton pants. Leave some space in your bag for anything you might buy here. India has a wide array of cheap clothes, scarves, jewellery and blankets. There are plenty of local laundry services, including the one we have at Lotus Yoga Retreat.
What can I buy in Goa ?
You can get most of what you might need on Patnem high street or in the nearby village of Chaudi . Things like toiletries, postcards, books and snacks can all be found in Patnem. The pharmacies in Chaudi and Palolem are well stocked and you can also find things like contact lens solution and tampons. Chaudi market is very colourful and great for fruit, vegetables, fish and trinkets. There are also many clothes and souvenir shops in Patnem and neighbouring Palolem. The markets in Anjuna and Arpora ( North Goa ) are very popular and we can organise market trips if you like. We also have a boutique on site stocking yoga clothes and special items by local designers.