“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” - Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
Meditation, relaxation, letting go, etc.
Do any of these make you want to practise yoga?
That’s a great idea! India is the home of yoga and home to many ashrams and retreats where you can practise it.
We tend to think of Rishikesh as the home of yoga. After all, this is where The Beatles went and what inspired The White Album. From Kundalini to Ayurveda via traditional yoga, India is the go-to place for anyone interested in yoga, not just the Fab Four.
So how can Westerners practise yoga in India? Which are the best places to do yoga in India? Is Rishikesh the only place you can go to?
We’ll have a look at all of that and more in this article!
Rishikesh, the Capital of Yoga in India
As you’ll have understood, it goes without saying that we have to start this article by talking about Rishikesh. This open-air yoga centre is part of India 150 miles north of New Delhi and a place where yoga is a way of life. This is the perfect destination for yogis wanting to learn about mindfulness and there are plenty of ashrams.
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The best-known ashrams include:
- The Parmarth Niketan Ashram located on the slopes of the Himalayas and very popular among local yogis. It sits on the banks of the Ganges, includes several rooms, and offers yoga for all levels. Thus, whether you’re a beginner or a yoga teacher yourself, it’s a great place to go. Whether you’re looking for Hatha yoga, yoga Nidra, etc., welcome to Rishikesh.
- Main Market Road, Near Ram Jhula, Swarg Ashram, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand 249304, India.
- The Himalaya Institute is also a place where yoga is taught with enthusiasm. The teaching structure is great for beginners and a great way to harmonise your body and mind. In this ashram, Swami Rama offers a great course for Westerners.
- Swami Ram Ashram-Himalayan Institute near Ganga Kinare Hotel Rishikesk 249 201 UP.
- Not far from the town of Rishikesh, just a couple of miles, you’ll find the Vanamalai Yoga Centre. Located in Lakshman Jhula, this peaceful paradise offers breathtaking views of the Ganges and adopts an approach for teaching small groups about yoga. This retreat involves aspects of Hinduism and is great for beginners.
- Vanamalai ashram Tapovan Sarai PO (Laxman Jhula) Rishikesk UP.
- Finally, there’s Yoga Niketan near Shivanandashram. The Hatha Yoga courses here are famous for their quality and the diversity of their teachers. There are plenty of other activities available, too.
- Shivanandashram PO 249 192 Rishikesk UP.
It should be noted that in the beautiful region of Rishikesh, there are often monks meditating on the banks of the Ganges.
What more could you ask for?
If you head along in March, you can enjoy the International Yoga Festival, meet other yogis, and learn more about yoga poses.
Other Places for Yoga in India
“We are spiritual beings born for human experience; we are not human beings born for spiritual experience.” - Yogi Bhajan
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Rishikesh isn’t the only region in India where yoga reigns supreme. There are plenty of places all over the country where everyone is familiar with pranayama, alignment, and speaks fluent yogi!
Let’s have a look at the other parts of the country!
The Art of Living International Center is another important destination. This yoga centre is seen as a spiritual retreat destination and can be found atop the Panchagiri Hills.
What better way to harmonise your body and mind than in such an idyllic place?
There are also free courses so what’s the catch?
You just need to help out in the ashram. This is a great way to enjoy the views over the mountains, learn about yoga, and return home more centred and balanced than ever before.
Address: Road, Udayapura, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560082, India.
To the south of the country, you’ll find the Kalari Kovilakom Ashram. You can get lessons from renowned yoga instructors here, enjoy the surrounding nature, and detox. If this sounds good to you, Kalari Kalari Kovilakom is the place to be.
While Yoga Nidra is the ashram’s speciality, you can also enjoy yoga and meditation. You can also enjoy the tea plantations surrounding Kerala.
Address: Payyallur, Kollengode, Palakkad, Kerala 678506, India.
Are you familiar with Goa?
Anyone interested in yoga should plan on spending some time here for the simple reason that ashrams are popping up all over the place. The Ashiyana Yoga Retreat Village, for example, combines getting better through yoga and being environmentally friendly.
There are little wooden houses sitting side-by-side where you can practise yoga, meditate, or just recite a mantra. This is located in the heart of nature.
In short, paradise.
Address: Junas Waddo, Mandrem, Goa 403527, India.
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If you love solitude, you may be interested in the Ma Anandamayi Ashram in Almora. It’s run by Swami Nirgunananda, a disciple of Ma Anandamayi, and follows the teachings of the master. It sits on the slopes of the Himalayas and focuses on deep relaxation and inner peace and harmony.
It accurately represents the 17 years that Ma Anandamayi lived as a hermit in the Himalayas. This may be of particular interest to the devoted yogis among us.
You’ll need your yoga mat and a lot of energy and you’ll be ready to go. Welcome to India!
Address: Swami Nirgunananda Ma Anandamayi Ashram Patal Devi Almora UP.
Finally, we’ve got one more address for you in India that may be of interest. The Sivananda Vedanta Dhanwantari Ashram in Trivandrum offers meditation treatments and yoga sessions. You’ll work on your inner peace through discipline.
There are ayurvedic treatments, yoga, and breathing exercises on the schedule. For around £10 a day, you can spend 2 weeks in the beautiful Kerala region.
Address: Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Dhanwantari Ashram PO Neyyar Dam, Trivandrum, Kerala 695 572
Why Practise Yoga in a Specific Place?
You may be wondering why you should go to India for yoga lessons. The answer is quite simple; it’s about creating a bubble of well-being that you can’t create in your daily life.
Between stress, noise pollution, distractions, etc, we struggle to recentre ourselves. Heading to India is a way to find balance and relaxation by physically and spiritually getting away and letting go.
Being at one with nature and also being part of the collective in an ashram is a great way to do this. In addition to getting away, you’ll also practise yoga with the best. This is why most of the places we recommended are out of the way. We’re not just there to discover a new country, we’re there to rediscover ourselves.
So are you ready to go?
India’s waiting for you!
If you're interested in sharing your experience once you get back home, consider taking a yoga teacher training course while you're out there. India is home to many yoga teacher training courses and whether you want to specialise in Ashtanga Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, etc., many of the retreats also offer these courses.
If you'd like to get started with yoga, try the talented tutors on Superprof. There are plenty of tutors offering plenty of different types of yoga. Similarly, there are three main types of yoga tutorial available, too: face-to-face tutorials, online tutorials, and group tutorials. Each type of yoga, tutor, and tutorial has its pros and cons so you need to think carefully before you pick your tutor.
Face-to-face tutorials are between you and your tutor, allowing you to benefit fully from the tutor's expertise every second you're with them. They'll put together sessions and courses that are tailored to you. Of course, this bespoke service tends to come at a cost but since it's all done with you in mind, it makes this type of tutorial the most cost-effective you can get. If you've got the budget for them, these are the ones to go for.
Online tutorials are also between just you and the tutor but your tutor won't be there in the room with you. Thanks to the internet, anyone with a decent webcam, microphone, and internet connection can get tutoring from anyone, anywhere. With fewer expenditures for travelling and the ability to schedule more tutorials each week, online tutors tend to charge less per hour than face-to-face tutorials. You may even get a tutor from India!
Finally, group tutorials are available for those that are happy to share their tutor's time with others. Whether you and a group of friends opt to practise yoga together or you start attending tutorials with a group of strangers, these tutorials tend to cost less per person per hour since the whole group is paying for the tutor's time and expertise.