For yoga teachers and serious students, “Best Yoga on the Web” is your hand-picked guide to this week’s best of the best yoga from around the world. This week – Where to Study Yoga in India
My dear friend Mariana Palau recently moved to India and asked if I could recommend where to study yoga in India. In honor of her, this is my “best of” list of ashrams and meditation centers. Any one of these would be an amazing experience, the opportunity to visit all of them would be a dream come true!
1. The Vipassana Research Institute
If you have time for only one place, the Vipassana Research Institute would be the place to go. The home of Vipassana meditation, here the offering is a 10 silent meditation course. The program is intense, but the results are worth it. It is a practical program for bringing peace of mind and pointing you towards conscious awareness. The courses are held twice a month, but are in high demand, so make reservations early.
Location: About 3 hours from Mumbai – Igatpuri, 422 403 District Nashik, Maharashtra, India
2. The Bihar Yoga Bharati
Bihar is a serious yoga school. Rather than catering to the western student by focusing on physical practice, the school teaches a full yoga lifestyle based on steadiness of awareness, self restraint, and service. Courses are four months long and one must not leave the ashram for the entire course, with no access to external services such as internet, or e-mail. The school’s teachings are based on a combination of academic and scientific methodology combined with the spiritual vision of Sri Swami Satyananda Saraswati. The four month course in English is offered once a year, usually from October to January.
Location: Ganga Darshan, Fort, Munger, Bihar
3. The Isha Foundation Ashram
A newer ashram, founded in 1992 by Sadhguru (you can see his TED Talk here), Isha is a great way to ease into the ashram experience, although you probably want to avoid their annual celebration which draws a crowd of 600,000 to 800,000 people. Isha’s introductory course is a 3-7 day program called Inner Engineering that teaches guided meditation and an inner energy process designed to promote deep transformation. Other programs offered include advanced meditation, hatha yoga, and mind/body rejuvination.
Location: The base of the Velliangiri Mountains in Tamil Nadu
4. The Osho International Meditation Resort
With “resort” in the name, you can tell that the Osho ashram is a bit more relaxed than my other recommendations. The campus is lush and beautiful, and is described as a place where “all of your emotional, bodily, and spiritual needs can be met”. The ashram is geared more towards healing than personal development, but is a beautiful place in which to practice various forms of meditation.
Location: Koregaon Park, Pune
5. The Parmarth Niketan Ashram
Parmarth Niketan is worth going to for its location alone—in Rishikesh along the Ganges, at the base of the Himalayas. Courses in philosophy and spirituality are offered and there is a required commitment to tapas (non-violence, polite etiquite, no drinking or smoking, etc), but there is also plenty of physical yoga practice, which caters to western audiences. First time visits to the ashram are limited to 15 days.
location: Swargashram, Rishikesh (Himalayas), Uttarakhandre
With all that is available on the web, plus with the spread of yoga throughout the world, I don’t think it is necessary to travel to India to be a serious student of yoga or a yoga instructor. There are an abundance of great teachers and great yoga centers all over the world at which to practice. But as the birthplace of yoga, a chance to travel to India is always a great opportunity. Happy travels!
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