“Yoga day is India’s Pride” said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when on December 11, 2014, the UN decided to declare June 21st as the International day of Yoga.
He also said that it was India’s responsibility to ensure that the right spirit of yoga is conveyed to everyone.
Its probably a result of this sensible decision by the UN, and “the right spirit” of the Indian officials, that the Goverment of India, has introduced a “Yoga Visa” for tourists visiting India to learn Yoga.
Following the success of Swami Vivekananda in the late 19th and early 20th century, Yoga became popular in the Western world, as a system of physical, mental, and spiritual practice or discipline, that aims to transform body and mind. Since then, students have flocked to India to learn Yoga, explore their spiritual side and to awaken their kundalini!
Until recently, the wanderlust Yogi, could study yoga from any yoga institution by visiting India on a “Tourist Visa” or a “Student Visa”. However “Toursit visas” normally have a duration of only 6 months (180 days) and “Student Visas” had formalities like going to the Foreigner’s Registration Office (FRO) at the police headqurters and getting other formalities sorted.
Applying for a “Yoga Visa” will require the student to provide a letter from a Yoga Institute recoginsed by the Ministry of Home affairs, Govt. Of India where they will study. It is important to know that in India, the authorities and Yoga schools use the term “Yoga Visa” but this is not a term used by any visa service center or embassy where the visa will be obtained – they only recognize “Student Visa”. The “Student Visa” will last the duration of the Yoga program which can be up to 5 years and can be extended while in India and essentially relieves the students from visits to the FRO.
Travelling to India has always been an exciting adventure. Keen and enthusiastic Yoga students bound for Mysuru, the Yoga Capital of India, have had to bear the brunt of the not so exciting beauraucratic, cumbersome and unclear guidelines for visa applications. With the introduction of the Yoga Visa, India is opening its arms, making a Namaste, and welcoming students of Yoga, by making their entry into India a tad bit easy!
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