While India is a dream destination for many yogis, with its many ashrams and courses, how can you choose wisely? We select 10 of the simplest places to practice yoga, from hardcore to boutique.
Despite the fact that this list includes a number of the simplest ashrams, retreats and shalas that India has to offer, there are three notable omissions: Spa & Wellness Tour India with Namaskar India Tour. There is the BKS Iyengar school in Pune, the Pattabhi Jois school in Mysore, and thus the pan-Indian Sivananda centre, excluded because of their existing popularity and fame. Nevertheless, they are highly recommended. A number of other places have been vetoed due to various scandals and disputes, and that I have also excluded luxurious and obscenely priced retreats.
There are many things in India today that are not necessarily cheap, but all of them are very good value for money given the level of teaching offered. Remember that customer service in India is not always the easiest, and some of the more traditional places can be difficult to contact. However, if you twiddle your thumbs, persevere, move on to “Indian time” and, if you want, see it through the initiative of letting go of your ego.
One more thing: while yoga in the West focuses almost exclusively on physical positions and sequences (asanas), in India, especially in traditional ashrams, the asana is only one aspect of a larger whole. You can expect a greater emphasis on meditation, breathing and purification techniques, in addition to devotional practices such as mantra chanting, learning philosophy and karma yoga (social work).
Bihar School of Yoga, Munger, Bihar
Within the extensive school of Bihar, yoga can be a lifestyle rather than a practice, and karma yoga takes precedence over asanas. Therefore, in addition to your classes, expect hours of Seva (service) – including gardening, kitchen work and toilet cleaning – complimented by cold showers and an easy diet.
Although this may seem daunting, the loss of comfort is the gain in authenticity, and the elders testify to the life-changing qualities of a visit to this ashram. A day begins at 4 am and ends with Satsang (speeches) or kirtans (mantra chanting) at dusk, before the lights go out at 8 pm. There are many types of yoga taught, including Hatha, raja (mental discipline), kriya (breathing, chanting and ritual gestures) and yoga therapy, also known as Yoga Nidra, a deep meditation technique that cradles the mind in a state of neither wakefulness nor sleep. Ayurveda Tour Packages in India & Spa Packages with Namaskar India Tour. A deep meditation technique that cradles the mind in a state of neither wakefulness nor sleep, Yoga Nidra is a deep meditation technique that rocks the mind in a state of neither wakefulness nor sleep.
Purple Valley, Assagao, Goa
Whether you are a contemporary yogi with a thirst for India, detox juice and fast WiFi, and have access to the best Ashtanga teachers in the world (John Scott, Petri Raisanen, Alexander Medin), Goa’s Purple Valley is your home. Although it has a reputation, beginners are not only welcome but encouraged. Therefore it is the ideal place to start your Ashtanga training with Mysore-style self-exercise in the morning and special classes in the afternoon, including philosophy, yogic life, kirtans and pranayama.
During the retreat, there are two Portuguese-style houses and landscaped gardens with a touch of the rainforest. There are two international chefs and an Ayurvedic chef who prepare buffet-style meals, including millet masala pancakes and soy hamburgers. In addition, consultations with Ayurvedic doctors and massage therapists are offered. Whereas the Purple Valley was once reserved for international students, it now has a growing number of Indian students.
Kaivalyadhama Ashram, Lonavala, Maharashtra
Nestled in a 180-hectare park in Lonavala, a mountain resort between Mumbai and Pune, this ashram, conceived as a yoga research centre when it opened in 1924, is a peaceful place where you can spend days, months, even years immersed in its myriad programmes. Staying in the green and old-fashioned campus, the health centre or in the rooms of most of the rooms, some of which are air-conditioned. A fully vegetarian, Indian and organic diet is provided.
As a quiet teacher in his Mysore shala for 38 years, BKS Iyengar was one of the first students of the “super-guru” Krishnamacharya, the teacher of the famous BKS Iyengar and Pattabhi Jois, these two faces being respectively the founders of Iyengar and Ashtanga Yoga.
As part of his classes, he teaches Ashtanga Yoga asanas (the sequence differs from that of most Ashtanga Institutes, with a primary series of 55 minutes), pranayama (breathing), kriya (breathing, chanting, gesture), neti and dhauti (purification techniques), meditation and philosophy, all of which are taught as part of an educator’s training. It is characterised by a loyal audience despite or perhaps because of its “brutal” style.
You should think of him as an old kung-fu master with a quick temperament whose hard love hides a deep desire to see his students flourish. Ayurveda Tour Packages in India & Spa Packages with Namaskar India Tour. It is mandatory for students to enrol for a minimum of one month. A supplement is charged for accommodation nearby, otherwise, there are many rooms to rent in this yoga-friendly city.
Iyengar Yoga in The Himalayan Center, Dharamkot, Himachal Pradesh and Arambol, Goa
An ex-student of BKS Iyengar, Sharat Arora is known in yoga circles for his serious and dedicated approach to tradition. Its school, the Himalayan Iyengar Yoga Centre (HIYC), spends the summer in Dharamkot, a picturesque Himalayan village above the Tibetan refugee settlement of Mcleodganj, and the winter in Arambol, the ancient hippie seaside town in the far north of Goa.
In addition, all students, regardless of ability, must first complete the compulsory five-day course before moving on to teacher training and specialised courses such as Yoga Therapy, Yoga for Vipassana and Yoga with Ayurveda. Alongside the respected teaching, the centre’s summer location, a mountain in the shadow of glaciers, surrounded by oak, rhododendron and pine forests – not to mention the nearby residence of the Dalai Lama – can be a real attraction.
Phool Chatti, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand
It is built along an ancient pilgrimage route on the banks of the Ganges River, 5 km upstream from the famous Laxman Jhula Bridge in Rishikesh. It draws on the spiritual vitality of the holy city while avoiding its chaotic turmoil.
While the ashram is run by Swami Dev Swarup Nanda, most classes are taught by Yoga Director Sadhvi Lalitambay, who has lived here since the age of 15. During the seven-day yoga course, there is meditation, mantra chanting, neti-pot cleansing (a nasal cleansing technique), pranayama, asana practice, prayer, kirtans and many dialogues around the philosophy of yoga. Also included are meditative walks, hikes and river trips.
One of the ashrams itself is over 100 years old, but the building has recently been renovated. As such, the rooms are equipped with all modern comforts, including hot showers. Yoga and Ayurveda tours in India with Namaskar India Tour. It is possible for couples to share a room. Outdoor sweets are allowed, the food prepared on-site is extremely good.
Mysore Mandala, Mysore, Karnataka
Featuring a quiet century-old house and a charming café run by the owners’ organic farm, it is often the most beautiful yoga space in Mysore – closer to a Western-style studio than a standard ashram, but no less authentic. It focuses on Ashtanga (after all, it is Mysore), but there is a good variety of other classes to be set up, including Hatha, shatkriya (purification), back bending and pranayama, as well as Sanskrit and yoga sutra lessons. In addition, teacher training is very much appreciated here. It is conducted by a team of nine teachers and includes the above-mentioned branches, as well as anatomy and Ayurveda classes.
Switzerland-born Usha Devi is a strict follower of the BKS Iyengar and its famous precise therapeutic style. Consequently, the ashram where she teaches, on the banks of the Ganges near Rishikesh, is as functional and austere as her teaching. from her own direct source. There are no teacher training or certification courses here, only daily classes (for beginners and intermediates) which do not require prior registration and a nine-day intensive course whose prerequisite is a regular three-year practice of Iyengar Yoga. A number of rooms are available on-site, so the nearby town has plenty of bed and breakfast accommodation.
International Center for Yoga Education and Research, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu
One of the most traditional and most immersive on this list is the Coastal Gurukul (guru centre), teaching an artistic style that encompasses all eight limbs of yoga. Renowned for his six-month teacher training course – which requires completion of a year-long course before it can be used, and to which only ten students a year are accepted – this course is often not for the casual yogi, but for the daring, the rewards are abundant, with a depth and breadth of teaching that is remarkable.
Nevertheless, they take a three-week course on Yantra, “the science of numbers, name and form,” as well as the daily practice of yoga and pranayama. Ayurveda Treatments In India, Ayurveda Tours with Namaskar India Tour. Every class is held in residence, with a strict vegetarian diet, a non-alcohol and non-drug policy, and truly limited contact with the outside world.