Yoga in goa

Here is the list of 128 yoga centers, schools, ashrams in goa

Introduction

Intro

Located on India’s western coast on the edge of the Arabian Sea, Goa is India’s smallest state, with an area of just 3,702 sq km. However, it’s Goa’s 101 kilometres of coastline which attracts tourists and beach lovers to its many sandy beaches. Tourism is the primary industry here, which contributes to Goa’s position as India’s richest state, with the highest GDP per capita.

Goa was a former Portuguese colony until 1961 when it was repossessed by India. It’s this mix of east and west which gives the state its unique atmosphere and sets it apart from other parts of India. Traces of the 450 years of Portuguese influence linger in the architecture, cuisine and sizable Christian community.

Goa’s population is 1,457,000 according to the 2011 census, of which 65.7% are Hindus, 26.7% Christian, 6.8% Muslim, and the remaining 0.8% is made up of small minorities of the Sikh, Buddhist, Jain and other communities. Goa has quite a high literacy rate at 87%. Konkani is the state language, with Marathi, Hindi and English also spoken. Very few people still speak Portuguese; these are mostly older people.

Goa is not all about beautiful, sandy beaches and coconut groves. The interior is lush with green paddy fields and dense forests. The mountains of Western Ghats also pass through Goa, rising to over 1000 metres.

Goa became a popular destination for travellers during the 60s, when many settled down and created hippie communities on the beaches. In more recent years it has been developed into a destination of mass tourism, with charter flights arriving directly from Europe. It is also increasingly being promoted as a luxury destination, with many high-end resorts and spas opening across the state.

Many visitors love Goa not only for its natural splendour and scenic beaches but also its laid-back feel. It’s noticeable in the dress code, which is more relaxed than other parts of India, as well as the slow pace of life. Locals are generally warm and friendly, but there is an underlying sense of growing animosity towards a tourism industry which has spun out of control. Problems with drugs, prostitution, mafia, garbage and corruption are some of the burning issues.

Goa’s weather is best between November to March when humidity is low and days are sunny. The peak tourist season lasts from mid-December to the end of January when beaches can get crowded, accommodation more expensive, and more difficult to find. April and May are the hottest months. The monsoon runs from June to September. Many beaches and hotels close at this time due to the cloudy and rainy weather. But the monsoon can be a lovely time to visit and is an especially popular time with Indian tourists who find this season ‘romantic’.

Why to go

Goa is a great place for beach and nature lovers. This is the ideal destination for a rejuvenating retreat where yoga can be combined with a holiday.
There is a plethora of yoga schools and styles to choose from. Many renowned teachers from around the world come here to conduct workshops.
Goa is a good place for first-timers to India. The mix of east and west provides a sense of cultural familiarity while also giving a soft landing to India.

What we love

With its sandy beaches, coconut trees and lush landscape, Goa is a tropical paradise. Some of India’s best beaches are found here.
A mix of east and west, the atmosphere here is quite unique compared to other parts of India. Many visitors love the laid-back and easy going vibe and decide to stay for extended periods.
Goa is one of India’s top tourist destinations so there are a lot of options when it comes to accommodation and food. From beach shacks to Portuguese villas to luxury hotels, there’s something for every budget.

Where to eat in Goa

Goan Cuisine
Goa has a unique cuisine which has been strongly influenced by its Portuguese legacy. Of course fish and seafood dominate the menu but liberal amounts of coconut and coconut oil are used as are spices, chilies and vinegar. The staple dish is rice and fish curry.
Typical Goan fare is not suitable for vegetarian and vegans but there are many good restaurants offering many choices for those who choose not to eat meat and fish.

We are listing some of the most popular restaurants and cafés in Goa below. These are places where yoga students like to share a meal after class or wind down after a busy day. Places can shut down and new ones open up with each season, so it’s best to call ahead or check the website. Please help us keep our listings updated by informing us of any changes or new recommendations. Write to us via our contact page [http://www.yoga.in/contact.html].
Popular places in North Goa
German Bakery is one of the most popular hang-outs in Anjuna, open only during the tourist season.
Market Road, Anjuna.
http://www.german-bakery.in/

Artjuna is a shop with a charming cafe located in the garden of an old Portuguese house.
972 Market Rd, Mazal Waddo, Anjuna, Tel. 0832 227 4794. www.artjuna.com

Lila Café is an outdoor terrace restaurant on the Baga river which is popular for its brunches, homemade bread and jams, and its diverse menu.
Near Baga River, Arpora-Baga, Bardez, Tel. 0832 227 9843. www.lilacafegoa.com

Yoga Magic Eco Retreat has a popular café serving organic food, with an impressive breakfast buffet.
1586/1 Grand Chinvar, Anjuna, Bardez, Tel. 0832 652 3796. www.yogamagic.net

Baba au Rhum is a cosy French café and bakery popular for its croissants, salads and pizza.
453 Cuddos Waddo, Arpora, Bardez, Tel. 98220 78759.

Villa Blanche Bistro is one of Goa’s best-loved cafés famous for its all-day breakfast and Sunday brunches.
283 Badem Church Road, Socol Vaddo Bardez, Assagao, Tel. 09822155099. www.villablanche-goa.com

One of India’ best-known French restaurants, La Plage gets consistently rave reviews for its sophisticated cuisine and stylish but laid-back beachside setting.
Ashvem Beach, Tel. 98221 21712.

Reservations are a must at Thalassa, a popular Greek eatery with a stunning cliffside setting overlooking small Vagator Beach.
Small Vagator, Ozran, Tel. 09850 033 537, www.thalassagoa.com

Vegetarians and vegans will love Bean Me Up for their menu of world cuisine dishes and relaxed outdoor setting.
1639/2 Deulvaddo, Anjuna-Vagator, Tel. 0832 2273479, http://beanmeup.in

Popular places in South Goa:

Blue Planet is another popular eatery with vegetarians and vegans serving delicious organic food and fresh juices.
1639/2 Deulvaddo, Anjuna-Vagator, Tel. 832 2273479, www.blueplanet-cafe.com

One of the most popular places to eat in Palolem is Crunch which gets rave reviews for its continental and Indian food and friendly service.
Main Road, Palolem, Tel. 88067 54026.

Home Beachfront serves delicious vegetarian food made with organic ingredients in a cosy beachside coconut grove.
Patnem Beach, Canacona, Tel. 0832 264 3916. www.homeispatnem.com

Excursions from Goa

If you’ve had enough of beaches, interior Goa is a treasure trove for nature lovers. There are many wildlife sanctuaries nestled in the foothills of the Western Ghats mountain chain, one of the world’s ‘hotspots’ of biological diversity. The nearby Elephant Camp and Tibetan Monastery are also popular excursions from Goa. If you’d like to explore a little further afield, here are a few suggestions of excursions which can be easily done from Goa:


Sakrebailu Elephant Camp is an elephant refuge on the river Tunga in neighbouring Karnataka and popular with visitors. The refuge rehabilitates wounded and orphaned elephants before they are released back into the wild.

The Ganden Tibetan Monastery in nearby Mundgod in neighbouring Karnataka state is a settlement of Tibetan refugees. It was built in 1966, following the destruction of the original Ganden Monastery in Lhasa in 1959.
Wildlife sanctuaries

Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the smaller ones and more like a large park, with botanical gardens, a small zoo and a deer safari park.

Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary is Goa’s second largest sanctuary located on the southern border with Karnataka in Anshi National Park. Nature trails take visitors through the dense forests of tall trees.

Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary is a protected area in Mollem National Park, close to the eastern border with Karnataka. The evergreen forests are the home to thousands of species of flora and fauna, including black panthers, leopards, macaques, flying squirrels and spotted deer. A small Shiva temple is also located here, as well as Dudhsagar Falls which are supposed to be one of the highest waterfalls in India.

Getting to and around Goa

Arriving by air
Goa International Airport is located in Dabolim, 30 kilometres away from Panaji, the state capital.
Goa is well connected to the Middle East. There are regular direct international flights to Goa from Kuwait and Dubai with Air India, Sharjah with Air Arabia, and to Doha with Qatar Airways.
During the peak tourist season (generally November to March), many direct charter flights operate to Goa from Europe: Monarch flies from London-Gatwick and Manchester; Novair from Copenhagen, Gothenburg and Stockholm; Thomas Cook from London-Gatwick and Manchester; Transaero from Moscow-Sheremetyevo and Yekaterinburg; Ukraine International Airlines from Kiev; and VIM Airlines from Moscow-Domodedovo.
Internal flights to other major Indian cities are operated by Air India, IndiGo, GoAir, Jet Airways, JetKonnect and SpiceJet.
Pre-paid taxis are available at the airport. Many hotels also offer a pick-up service.

Arriving by train
The major train stations are Tivim in North Goa, Vasco da Gama in Central Goa and Madgaon (Margao) in South Goa.
There are direct train services from Goa to Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad, Mangalore, Kochi, Kolkata, Trivandrum, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad.
There are fast trains like the Rajdhani Express to Delhi and Mumbai and the Shatabdi Express to Mumbai.

Arriving by bus
Kadamba Bus Terminus in Panaji is Goa’s main bus station. This is where most interstate buses arrive and depart from. From here local buses connect most cities in Goa.
There are a variety of bus services available: from overnight sleeper buses to ‘deluxe’ and ‘luxury’ air-conditioned buses to major cities like Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore and Mangalore.
Tickets can be booked with local travel agents, at Kadamba bus station or on-line.
For more information and to book tickets, visit the Kadamba Travel Corporation website: http://www.goakadamba.com

Getting around Goa

Travelling by bus
There are buses connecting all cities and most towns all over Goa. Tickets are cheap and can be bought on the bus from the conductor. This may not be the fastest and most comfortable way to travel but it’s definitely the cheapest!

Travelling by taxi
Local taxis are usually Maruti vans or black and yellow cabs, which are easily found at stations and major centres. They are supposed to run by the meter but very rarely do – be sure to negotiate a fare before setting off. Try to avoid the taxis marked ‘tourist cab’ as these tend to be a lot more expensive.
There are many private local taxi companies which offer set rates per hour and distance travelled. Ask your hotel or guesthouse to recommend a taxi company or inquire at travel agencies.

Travelling by auto-rickshaw
The black and yellow auto-rickshaws are available all over Goa and a cheap way to travel short distances. Once again, meters are rarely used and fares must be negotiated in advance. Fares are higher at night.

Travelling by motorcycle taxi
Goa has a unique system of transportation called ‘pilots’: these are motorcycles which take passengers. They are easily recognisable by their yellow mudguards and yellow and black number plates. This is a cheaper and faster way to travel than by auto-rickshaw. Once again, set the fare before ‘taking off’ with a ‘pilot’.

Travelling by scooter / motorcycle
This is a very popular way to travel around Goa. Motorcycles and scooters can be rented for a modest daily fee and a security deposit. It’s a good idea to have a valid international drivers licence. Make sure you check the bike is in good condition before renting it. Unfortunately motorcycle accidents are very common in Goa and it can take some time to get used to local driving habits. Petrol is very often sold at roadside shops in plastic bottles as well as at petrol stations.

More about Goa

Located on India’s western coast on the edge of the Arabian Sea, Goa is India’s smallest state, with an area of just 3,702 sq km. However, it’s Goa’s 101 kilometres of coastline which attracts tourists and beach lovers to its many sandy beaches. Tourism is the primary industry here, which contributes to Goa’s position as India’s richest state, with the highest GDP per capita.

Goa was a former Portuguese colony until 1961 when it was repossessed by India. It’s this mix of east and west which gives the state its unique atmosphere and sets it apart from other parts of India. Traces of the 450 years of Portuguese influence linger in the architecture, cuisine and sizable Christian community.

Goa’s population is 1,457,000 according to the 2011 census, of which 65.7% are Hindus, 26.7% Christian, 6.8% Muslim, and the remaining 0.8% is made up of small minorities of the Sikh, Buddhist, Jain and other communities. Goa has quite a high literacy rate at 87%. Konkani is the state language, with Marathi, Hindi and English also spoken. Very few people still speak Portuguese; these are mostly older people.

Goa is not all about beautiful, sandy beaches and coconut groves. The interior is lush with green paddy fields and dense forests. The mountains of Western Ghats also pass through Goa, rising to over 1000 metres.

Goa became a popular destination for travellers during the 60s, when many settled down and created hippie communities on the beaches. In more recent years it has been developed into a destination of mass tourism, with charter flights arriving directly from Europe. It is also increasingly being promoted as a luxury destination, with many high-end resorts and spas opening across the state.

Many visitors love Goa not only for its natural splendour and scenic beaches but also its laid-back feel. It’s noticeable in the dress code, which is more relaxed than other parts of India, as well as the slow pace of life. Locals are generally warm and friendly, but there is an underlying sense of growing animosity towards a tourism industry which has spun out of control. Problems with drugs, prostitution, mafia, garbage and corruption are some of the burning issues.

Places to see in Goa

When you’re not on the mat, it’s worth taking the time to explore what Goa has to offer. Many yoga students come to Goa not only to improve their sirsasana, but also to spend some time on the beach. Goa’s many vibrant markets are also very popular with travellers and the perfect place to pick up some funky new clothes, a souvenir for your mom, or a new yoga mat. There are also some historical sights in Goa which shouldn’t be missed. Here’s our list of ‘must-do’s:
Beaches
Each beach in Goa has its own vibe and ‘scene’.

Baga, Calangute and Candolim are probably the most commercial beach strips and the centre of the ‘package tourist’ scene. There are also many restaurants and bars to choose from.

Anjuna in North Goa was the centre of the rave scene in the 90s where crazy parties were held on full-moon days, but due to restrictions on noise, things have significantly quieted down.

South Goa used to be the place to go for quiet, almost empty beaches but places like Palolem have developed at an alarming pace. Many of the luxury hotel resorts are found in Varca, Cavelossim and Mobor.

The closest you can get to unspoilt beaches today are the beaches in the extreme North, in Mandrem and further to Arambol, which is also a popular ‘hippy’ hang-out. Accommodation is more basic here. How long the idyll will last is anyone’s guess.
Markets
The Anjuna Flea Market, just off Anjuna beach, is held every Wednesday during the peak season. This market is almost historic, dating back to the 60s when hippies used to sell and trade their belongings here. Today sellers come from all over India to peddle their wares: handicrafts, ethnic clothes, musical instruments, silver jewellery, bags, paper lanterns... This is also a great place to people watch!

The Saturday Night Market is the event of the week and is not only a shopping destination but also a social happening. Over 500 stalls sell a variety of hippie merchandise: mostly fashion, but also jewellery, accessories, art objects and handicrafts from all over India. There are also bars and food stalls and live bands.

For more traditional fruit and vegetable markets, head to the Panjim Municipal Market or the Mapusa Market where you can also find handicrafts and pottery.


The churches of Old Goa

Old Goa, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a collection of old churches dating back to the time of Portuguese Goa. Of the over sixty churches which stood here, seven survive today. The Bom Jesus Basilica holds the remains of St. Francis Xavier, the patron saint of Goa.

Panaji

The state capital of Goa is a charming, sleepy town with many examples of Portuguese architecture, especially in the neighbourhood of Fontainhas.

Braganza House

This 400-year-old colonial style house in Chandor is a fine example of a 17th century mansion built in Portuguese style and decorated with period furniture.

Finding accommodation in Goa

Since most yoga schools are only open during the high season from November to March and this is also the peak time for yoga retreats and yoga teacher training courses, it can be difficult to secure accommodation during this time if not booked in advance. Rates are also generally higher during this time, especially during the tourist rush two weeks before and after Christmas.

Many yoga schools and all high-end yoga retreats usually offer accommodation as part of a package. Those schools which do not offer accommodation can often offer details of hotels and guesthouses located close by. Other yoga students are an excellent resource and can offer valuable advice on finding suitable accommodation.

For yoga students who would like to stay in Goa longer than just a few weeks, there are different types of accommodation available which cater to all budgets. There are simple beach shacks perched just steps away from the sea, old Portuguese villas hidden in coconut groves, family-run guesthouses, as well as larger hotels and luxury resorts at the higher end. Those who choose to stay for several weeks or months at a stretch rent private villas on a weekly or monthly basis. Again, the best way to find out about long-term rentals is through word of mouth, but this type of accommodation can also be found on websites like Sulekha, http://www.sulekha.com/ or Quikr, http://www.quikr.com/ Airbnb, www.airbnb.com/ or Click.in http://www.click.in

Many yoga students arriving in Goa for the first time prefer to stay in a hotel or guesthouse for a few days while they look for long-term accommodation. Websites like Trip Advisor www.TripAdvisor.com or Airbnb www.airbnb.com offer a comprehensive list of hotels and guesthouses with reviews and the possibility to book on-line.

Books, websites and other resources on Goa

Books
Love Goa
This unique guidebook reveals all of Goa’s must-do’s as well as its best-kept secrets. Made of beautiful handmade paper, this book is a work of art in itself and a pleasure to hold in your hands.
http://www.lovetravelguides.com/index.php/books/

Publications
The Herald
Goa’s largest English-language daily.
www.heraldgoa.in
Planet Goa
This monthly magazine lists events, things to do, and places to see.
www.planet-goa.com

Websites
Goa Tourism Office
General tourist information about Goa.
www.goa-tourism.com
Target Goa
News website on Goa and on-line directory of museums, restaurants, hospitals…
www.targetgoa.com
What’s up Goa
An on-line guide to restaurants and events in Goa.
www.whatsupgoa.com
The Goan
Informative news website
www.thegoan.net

The best time to go to Goa for yoga

Most yoga enthusiasts go to Goa between November and March when the weather is at its most pleasant: humidity is low and days are sunny. Most yoga schools in Goa are open only during this period but a few stay open all year round. Some of the more popular schools can get very busy during the high season.

The peak tourist season in Goa runs from mid-December to the end of January. During this time accommodation can be more expensive and difficult to find. If you plan to join a yoga retreat or yoga teaching training course during this period, it’s best to book far in advance.

Most people avoid visiting Goa between April and September. During this time many yoga schools close and businesses catering to tourists shut down. April and May are the hottest months – this is when yoga fans head for the cooler climes of Rishikesh [link] or Dharamsala [link]. The very wet monsoon runs from June to September and most yogis would not dream of being in Goa during this period though some swear that this is the best time to be in Goa – tourists go home, landscapes turn a brilliant green, and prices drop significantly. If you’re not afraid of getting wet and want to avoid the tourist scene, this may be for you, otherwise stay away!

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