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Second Sense - Beyond Vision Loss

Travel to India? Why Not?

July 20, 2021 | 2 Comments

by Aly Slaughter

“Is there anything in your life that your vision prevents you from doing?”

This was the question I was asked by the resident ophthalmologist in November 2017. I was at the University of Iowa where I go every 2 years for a full day of tests and eye exams. This was a question I had been asked many times throughout my life. This time, however, my immediate answer was “I’m afraid to go to India by myself.”

The resident laughed and said, “Well, if it makes you feel any better, I’d never travel to India by myself either!”  I thought to myself, why not? Why are people so scared to go to India alone?


A Goal and a Dream

For some reason, it was always something I wanted to do. I had met many women who had traveled solo to India. They always described it as being chaotic, a sensory overload and definitely NOT a place they would want to go alone if they had a visual impairment. They also said it is a place of beauty, magic and awe. That was it for me — the drive I needed. Saying it out loud made me decide, right then and there, this was something I WAS going to do.

Around the same time, I had been looking into yoga teacher training programs. Most of the ones in the United States were either very time consuming or very expensive. I started looking more seriously into an immersive program, one I could complete in one set chunk of time and also one I could afford. I soon came across Rishikul Yogshala, located in Rishikesh, India. Not only did the program offer a 4-week program to complete the initial 200 hours required to become a registered yoga teacher, it ALSO offered scholarships.


Making It Happen

I applied right away. Then I started diving into the reviews. By the time I received my scholarship offer around the end of December, I was ready. I began making plans to travel to India at the end of April 2018. Alone.

Sure, I reached out to others through social media. I even ended up finding another perspective student from Minnesota who was going at the same time. We ended up meeting each other in Delhi, flew to Rishikesh together and became roommates for the next 4 weeks.


The Trip

I had flown to other countries solo before. But this was different. This time, I didn’t have a friend waiting for me on the other end. This time, I landed in Delhi without knowing a soul.  Anxiety over traveling to India as a legally blind woman be damned. I was going to make it happen. And I DID make it happen.

I got off the plane, went through customs and picked up my luggage. I thought to myself, “I did it. I’m in freaking India by myself. Now, let’s do this!”

Of course, I couldn’t be in India and NOT see the Taj Mahal. I arranged to join a week-long tour group as soon as I arrived. The tour not only took me around Delhi, to Agra to see the Taj Mahal and to Jaipur, but also gave me some immediate friends in my fellow travelers and group leader. Although I had traveled there solo, I was never really alone. I was, however, still forced to be more independent than if I had been traveling with close friends or family. And it was liberating, exhilarating and pure joy.

And so my journey to become a yoga teacher began. Don’t ever let your blindness or visual impairment keep you from going after what you want. Always remember that when there is a will, there is always a way.

Legally blind her entire life, Aly believes in breaking down the barriers imposed by society, and that taking control of one’s health and happiness is a way of doing so.  In addition to her training in yoga, Aly holds a B.A. in Mass Communications and Sociology from Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, IN; a J.D. with a certificate in Health Law from St. Louis University’s School of Law; and a degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from St. Louis University and is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.

2 comments on “Travel to India? Why Not?”

  1. Erica says:

    This is so cool. I’m so inspired by your attitude and can-do spirit!

  2. Aly Slaughter says:

    Thank you so much, Erica!

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