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Conducting Yoga Classes at Pema Thang Guest House, Dharamshala, India June 24 - July 8, 2018

Conducting Yoga Classes at Pema Thang Guest House, Dharamshala, India

Location: Pema Thang Guest House, McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala (city), Himachal Pradesh (state), India

Moving from Upper Bhagsu to McLeod Ganj
I would have stayed up in Upper Bhagsu if not for Manu's heads-up about a possible yoga teaching opportunity at Pema Thang Guest House in McLeod Ganj. I met with the soft spoken manager, Jigme, and we came to terms about me staying at the hotel and teaching yoga in exchange for web promotion and a split of the proceeds. This is wonderful. Not only do I get a roof over my head but I also get to deepen my practice, meet people who attend my class and also put loose change in my pocket. I also welcomed the change in scenery from the tranquility of Upper Bhagsu to the hustle-and-bustle of McLeod Ganj. I took it as my tapas to walk from Upper Bhagsu all the way down to McLeod Ganj with all my 25-kilo luggage!

Pema Thang Guest House, Dharamshala, IndiaPema Thang Guest House
I was given a spacious ensuite room with a view of the Kangra Valley. There was wifi within the hotel surrounding. Filtered water was provided for at reception. With a water kettle, I could make my hot tea in the morning...something I welcome. The hotel was in the heart of the McLeod Ganj, but in the quiet area, just a short walking distance from the residence of His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama. I was close to the main temple and market. It was a perfect setting. I couldn't be more grateful.

Yoga Shala
The yoga place was more of a multi-purpose hall with lots of chairs to accommodate a small convention. Yoga mats were available but needed to be cleaned. The floor was wooden and windows were ample for cross ventilation and sunshine. There is however, a 91-year old lady living at the lower level so jumping or excessive noise was not allowed (she passed on during my stay there).

Starting from Scratch
Yoga used to be offered at Pema Thang but the former teacher passed-on. It would have been a lot easier if I simply replaced a teacher with a regular following. I had to start from scratch - putting the word out to let people know yoga is offered. Posters for printing were made and I put up a banner on all my websites. Most of my friends who were interested were too far out into Upper Bhagsu. The first day, no one showed up.

My 2nd day class was attended to by an Indian couple in their late 30s who have never done yoga before. They were stiff and a little out of shape. But I was glad to see them try something new while on holidays. It was a good validation to see them back the following day with their teenage daughter with them. I could feel their enthusiasm as they recorded the entire class.

Most of the participants were in-house guests of the hotel except for 2 Italians who saw the poster and dropped-in. They wanted to attend more classes, but expectedly as travelers, they were there only for a few days.

Conducting Yoga Classes at Pema Thang Guest House, Dharamshala, India
the Bandhari family - a family who does yoga together, stays together

Theoreticals and Foundation
As first timers,beginners and even those with experience, I found it more important to get them grounded on the theoreticals first - because studios don't usually touch on them. What is yoga? Why do yoga? What are the benefits? This was followed by basic foundations into the practice - taking the asanas all the way to their safety edge, synchronizing breath with motion, mindfulness in the poses, observing body sensation with a calm and equanimous mind, and putting the intention. I took them to basic asanas while applying all the elements at the same time. In short, I take the trouble to debunk the myth for newbies that yoga is not what they see in Instagram poses.

Ideally, I would like to have a morning class for beginners/first timers and an afternoon class for intermediate/advanced practioners. This should make everybody happy - including me.

yoga at Pema Thang Guest House, McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala, India
with Bob, Yoana and Sandra

On top of all the theoreticals and foundational elements, I had to inspire them to make them want to continue the practice even after leaving Dharamshala and back to their normal lives. At the risk of showing-off, I gave them my age and the unusual things I can do. I demonstrated a 2-knuckle one hand handstand underscoring strength and vitality. I stressed upon them that continued practice of yoga, pranayama and meditation, replaces medication, replaces visits to the doctor and replaces hospital bills. They won't get sick and they won't get old - my body was my own compelling example.

yoga at Pema Thang Guest House, McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala, India
with Abha Singhvi who attended my last class before my departure

Ending Thoughts
I found it odd and interesting for a Filipino like me to go to India and teach yoga to Indian nationals. It felt like teaching an Italian how to cook pasta. But as a yoga teacher at Pema Thang Guest House where guests are mostly Indians, that's how it happened.

I do hope that the yoga classes I conducted served as seed for their continuing practice. Health is wealth. With yoga, sickness is a thing of the past, ageing slows down to an turtle's pace and vitality is restored. As my yogini idol, Andrea Paige says, "the new paradigm is not about being healthy because you are not sick but being healthy because you have vitality and energy back into your life."

--- TheLoneRider
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ps - If you want me to participate and write about your yoga studio or your yoga practice, email me. For my complete yoga profile, you can visit this page: YOGA by Gigit

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Next stop: In Search of a Tibetan Yantra Yoga Teacher

Dharamshala Map
Google Map

Dharamshala (city), India

hotels in Dharamshala hotel

Travel Tips
  1. the Dalai Lama's scheduled public teachings in Dharamshala are as follows: September 4-7, 2018 | October 3 - 6, 2018 | February 19, 2019. To register, visit this page:
  2. in June, the average temperature high is 31° and average low is 21°. It rains usually in the afternoon/evening beginning mid-June
  3. July and August see the most rainfall, up to 22 inches
  4. Dharamshala International Film Festival (DIFF) happens 30 October to 2 November in McLeod Ganj
  5. at the Tibetan Museum in McLeod Ganj, there is a daily 11am and 3pm movie screening of Tibet-related issues at INR 10
  6. trekking is one of the highlights in Dharamshala - to Dharamkot, Bhagsu, cutting through Dhauladhar to the upper Ravi Valley and Chamba district, or the 8km trek to Triund
  7. Wednesday is vegetarian day - other days, meat dishes are served by cafes and restaurants
  8. Bhagsu and Dharamkot are a quiet alternative to McLeod Ganj. They are also cheaper in accommodation when the Dalai Lama is in town and McLeod Ganj hostels are fully booked (with inflated prices)
  9. If you wish to stay in McLeod Ganj but want quiet, stay along Jogiwara Road where balconies will offer scenic views
  10. short power outages frequently happen during the day
  11. for quiet stays and scenic views, stay in Upper Dharamkot or Upper Bhagsu. The "upper" you go, the cheaper the accommodation prices go.
  12. in Upper Dharamkot is a cluster of cafes and lodging (Salvation Cafe area)where the community is chill

How to get to Dharamshala from Rishikesh by bus

  1. bus terminal Bus - Rishikesh to Dharamshala is 449 kms. The usual route is to go to Haridwar and take the State transport buses to Lower Dharamshala, but it's less hassle to get a bus from Rishikesh that go all the way up to McLeod Ganj - a little more money (INR 1150) but worth it specially if you a carry bulky pack. You will leave Rishikesh 4pm and arrive in Dharamshala the following day (you save one night lodging) at 7am.

How to get to New Delhi Airport from McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala by bus

  1. bus terminal Bus From McLeod Ganj bus station, take a semi-sleeper a/c overnight bus, INR 1000, 11.5 hours (7pm to 6:30am) straight to Kashmiri Gate Train Station in New Delhi.
  2. walk to Kashmiri Gate (no need to ride a tuktuk)
  3. take the Yellow Line towards Huda City but get off at New Delhi Station (INR 16)
  4. From New Delhi Station, take the Airport Metro Train (INR 60) and get off at the airport

Travel Tips for India
  • e-VISA - visa on arrival is no longer done. Tourists should apply online for an e-VISA. Tourist e-VISA for 60 days = US$51.25 (including surcharges, non-refundable). NOTE: e-VISA is only honored in 25 designated airports and 5 designated seaports (Cochin, Goa, Mangalore,Mumbai,Chennai). You CANNOT do a land crossing using an e-VISA.
  • US$1 = Indian Rupee (INR) 67.18
  • nearly every food served is spicy...there is no escaping it
  • other travel destinations in India
  • always good to have an Indian SIM. It's handy to get wifi in some cafes

General Travel Tips
  1. arrive early - in case there is a snag (visa snag, documentation snag, transport ticket snag, etc.), you will have ample time to troubleshoot the problem if you arrive early (to the airport, to the bus terminal, etc.)
  2. put detailed itinerary on the Calendar apps of your smart-phone according to timelines - this is where you do all your thinking and planning. Once written down, you don't have to think anymore while you are on the just follow the steps. This frees your mind for something else that might happen while you are already en route
  3. avoiding scams - as a general rule, I ignore the touts or anyone I don't know who call out to me. The calling comes in many forms - "Hi! Where are you from?", "Excuse me! Excuse me!", "Where are you going?". I don't look them in the eye and I remain non-verbal with them. If you reply to them, you just gave them an 'in' to hound you. In order not to look rude, I smile and wave the 'not interested' hand to them, without looking at them.
  4. power bank - hand-carry your power bank. Do not check it in. You can be called in when you are already inside the plane to go all the way to the loading dock so you can personally remove the power bank...and chances are, you'll have to surrender it to them. And you might delay the plane departure!
India Blogs


  1. 16 Days in McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala: Goodbye India June 23-July 8, 2018
  2. Peoplescape of Dharamshala, India June 14 - July 8, 2018
  3. Visiting the Tibet Museum June 27, 2018
  4. In Search of a Tibetan Yantra Yoga Teacher June 25, 2018
  5. Conducting Yoga Classes at Pema Thang Guest House, Dharamshala, India June 24 - July 8, 2018
  6. Life in Upper Bhagsu, Dharamshala June 16-23, 2018
  7. Trekking to Naddi from Upper Bhagsu, Dharamshala June 19, 2018
  8. Matters of the Heart Jun 17, 2018
  9. A First Timer in Dharamshala Jun 14, 2018

  11. 29 Hours in New Delhi Airport July 9-10, 2018
  12. Meditation with Shirly Pnina at Lodi Garden, New Delhi May 15, 2018
  13. A First-Timer in New Delhi, India May 12-17, 2018

  15. A 26-Day Mini-Life in Rishikesh May 18 - June 13, 2018
  16. Peoplescape of Rishikesh May 18 - June 13, 2018
  17. Rafting the Ganga River with Greg Goldstein June 1, 2018
  18. White Water Rafting on Ganga River, Rishikesh May 25, 2018
  19. Satsang (spiritual discourse) by Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati May 21, 2018
  20. Ganga Aarti (devotional fire ritual) at Parmarth Niketan Ashram May 21, 2018
  21. Bouncing Back into Yoga in Rishikesh May 21, 2018
  22. Exploring Rishikesh, India May 18, 2018

  24. India e-VISA snag May 9, 2018

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