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Foreign tourists turn yoga gurus in Goa

Canacona/Mandrem: European and Russian travelers on tourists’ visas have taken to yoga in a big way and seem to be minting money in collaboration with the locals, as training classes have mushroomed along the state’s coast from Arambol to Patnem.Instead of local and Indian yoga gurus, a sizeable section of tourists looking for fitness and wellness are being taught the basics by foreigners mixing business with pleasure, albeit illegally to rake in the moolah for themselves Posters advertising classes for different types of yoga practices are seen pasted everywhere – on trees, walls and even on electricity poles in coastal villages speak volumes about the thriving activity.A tourism stakeholder in Palolem speaking about the modus operandi said the local involvement is mostly restricted to renting out their premises, but bigger players who actually offer training normally come from outside.
“These locals renting their places for classes, keep mum while civic bodies and others look the other way,” he pointed out.The yoga gurus arrive during the season, befriend foreigners interested in yoga and join hands to set-up a base. “It’s a give and take. partnership with foreigners that helps in bringing foreign clientele which means more profit,” he said.In Patnem, Agonda and Palolem, the three beach villages with high footfalls of foreign tourists, there are eight to ten operators in each. “The teachers training course of 200/300 hour duration comes with a certificate at the end,” a stakeholder said.On the edge of Patnem beach, a thriving yoga centre caters to foreigners. The operator is a north Indian while majority of its instructors are foreigners on tourist visa, a source said.
A 24-year-old tourist, Dr Petra Simberg, from Finland is in Goa to complete her 200-hour teachers’ training course by a paying a fee of 1,600 pound (Rs 1.30 lakh). Petra said she is in Goa for a holiday as well as learning yoga, while preparing to offer a demonstration in the next day’s class. “I’m liking it here. I picked up this course online as most of the reviews were positive,” said a smiling Petra.After completing the course she will head to Rajasthan.Polish tourist and physio therapist Natasha is in Goa to do the teachers training course. “I’m doing good!,” she says as she walks towards her class on Palolem beach.
In North Goa villages of Arambol, Morjim and Ashvem which has a high concentration of Russian tourists, posters about yoga classes will be found in abundance. A tender coconut seller at Arambol beach complains that his whole place is covered with posters, largely on yoga sessions. “I don’t know who those yoga teachers are?” he said. He said the panchayat should initiate action against those defacing public properties with posters.It’s quite probable that trainers may not be thoroughly qualified, and are fly by night operators. The plans of the Ayush ministry which is already offering certification course, in quality control and standardization in yoga, will take a while to come into effect.Union minister for Ayush Shripad Naik said his ministry will make it mandatory that yoga teachers obtain due certification to qualify to impart training. Rules and regulations are being framed to ensure quality and standardization, he added. [TOI]

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