(Updated 08/05/16) If you are planning a trip to India to learn yoga and meditation or to deepen your personal yoga practice you might find quite difficult to find the right ashram or yoga retreat for you, with so many ashrams all around India this can be quite a challenging task. So I decided to write this Guide to Ashrams in India based on the ashrams that I have visited hoping that it will help you in your search to find places where you can practice yoga, meditation, do a personal yoga retreat or even take the leap and go for an intensive yoga teachers training course.
Of course there are many other ashrams all around India but this Guide to Ashrams in India might be a good starting point to plan your trip. You can also find a lot more information to plan your yoga journey in these posts:
- What to Pack for Your Next Travel and Yoga Adventure to India: The Ultimate India Packing List
- The Ultimate Guide for Your Yoga Journey to India: everything you need to know to plan your yoga journey to India
- Indian Ashrams Directory: a table with links to these and many other ashrams' websites and to articles on the web where you can find more information about those ashrams and the yoga or meditation courses they offer.
- The Best Ashtanga Yoga Teachers in Mysore, India: If you are rather looking for a yoga teacher to focus on your physical yoga practice
Guide to Ashrams in India
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Ramana Maharshi Ashram, Tiruvannamalai. Every single person that I have talked to and that have been in Tiruvannamalai before have exactly the same feeling about it, Tiruvannamalai is one of the most powerful spiritual places in India. Sitting at the foothills of the sacred Mountain Arunachala, which Hindus believe is Lord Shiva Himself, surrounded by many small ashrams and temples and home of the great sage Ramana Maharshi who recommended Self inquiry as a path to liberation, Tiruvannamalai has everything that a seeker needs. You can read more about his teachings in Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi.
Practicing meditation in one of the meditation halls at the Ramana Maharshi Ashram was hallucinating. I think from all the time that I have been in India my best meditation sessions happened in this ashram. If I could return to only one place in India then Tiruvannamalai would be that place. Read more »
Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama, Rishikesh. If you are more interested in the Raja Yoga path and want to improve your meditation practice or learn meditation directly from the teachings of the Himalayan Masters then this ashram is ideal for you. The daily schedule includes two hatha yoga classes a day and two one hour group meditation sessions. The ashram was founded by Swami Veda Bharati, disciple of Swami Rama, author of Living with the Himalayan Masters. The ashram offer ongoing meditation and yoga classes for visitors, silent retreats and a Yoga and Meditation Teacher Training Course. Read more about the:
Sadhana Mandir Trust (Swami Rama's ashram), Rishikesh. A beautiful and very peaceful ashram right next to the river Ganges in Rishikesh. Ideal if you want to stay away from the crowds in Rishikesh to be able to experience some peace and tranquility and to focus on your meditation or yoga practice. You can also join one of the meditation retreats and self transformation programs. It is about 20 minutes walk from the Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama. Read more »
|Swami Dayananda Ashram, Rishikesh|
Sivananda Vedanta Ashrams founded by Swami Vishnudevananda, disciple of Swami Sivananda. The Sivananda Ashrams are ideal to immerse yourself in a real Indian ashram lifestyle with an integral approach to yoga including the four main paths (Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga, Raja Yoga and Jnana Yoga) but with great emphasis on hatha yoga and bhakti yoga. The daily schedule includes two intensive hatha yoga classes per day.
The Sivananda Ashrams are one of the most popular among foreigners and locals. They offer a yoga vacation program for people who want to stay at the ashram for at least three days and are willing to adhere to the daily schedule. They also offer one month intense yoga teacher training courses.
They have ashrams and yoga centers in different locations in India and also worldwide. I've been to the Sivananda Ashram in Neyyar Dam and in Madurai, they are both beautiful but my favorite is the ashram in Madurai. Read more about the ashram and courses:
- (New) The Sivananda Ashram in Madurai. A Must Visit Ashram in India
- Sivananda Yoga Teachers Training Course, Neyyar Dam
- Sivananda Yoga Advance Teacher Training Course, Madurai
- Sivananda Sadhana Intensive Course
Amma's ashram, Amritapuri. At this ashram you can not only meet one of the most popular gurus of India, Amma "the hugging saint", but also receive her "darshan" a loving hug that can change people's life. The ashram is so big that it has residential buildings with many floors and capacity for about 3,000 visitors per day that come specially to receive Amma's Darshan.
But even though there are so many visitors at the ashram it still conserves a positive and joyful atmosphere, it's a great place to meet other fellow seekers... at least when Amma is at the ashram. I've heard from some visitors that when Amma is not at the ashram there is not much to do, food is not that good and people look depressed. The daily schedule starts at 5am and ends around 10:30pm but it is not mandatory to join any of the daily activities. From time to time there are some yoga and meditation courses. Read more »
The Yogoda Satsanga Sakha Ashram, Dwarahat. For those who are followers of Paramahansa Yogananda, author of the classic "Autobiography of a Yogi," and the Kriya Yoga path, this ashram should definitely be in your list. The ashram is small and simple with not many daily activities but the location is beautiful with astonishing landscapes. It is perfect to use as a base for a day pilgrimage to Mahavatar Babaji's cave near Kukuchina, which is just 50 minutes drive from the ashram. Unfortunately you are allowed to stay for maximum 10 days at the ashram and only for Self Realization Fellowship or Yogoda Satanga Society members. Read more »
|Yogoda Satsanga Math, Kolkata|
|Parmarth Niketam Ashram, Rishikesh|
|Bihar School of Yoga, Munger|
|Santosh Puri Ashram, Haridwar|
Atma Darsham Yogashram, Bangalore. If you happen to be in Bangalore then this ashram might be a good option. It is a center of the Bihar School of Yoga ran by young karma sannyasis. The ashram is small and beautiful although the area is very noisy. It is mainly dedicated to spread the teachings of Swami Satyananda to the people of the area but they also offer accommodation and tailored programs for guests. Read more »
Arsha Yoga Gayathri, Cochin. If you are looking for a small peaceful place with not many visitors and the opportunity to practice yoga next to a paradise beach then this is the right place, however you'll need to stick to the strict daily schedule which is similar to the Sivananda's ashram schedule. Read more »
If you are looking for a small retreat to relax and detox with yoga and ayurveda, and without braking your budget, then this is for sure an excellent option. To book a retreat at Hinterland Village you can simply visit their page at BookYogaRetreats.Com. To know more about them simply click Read more »
I frequently receive questions from my readers and from friends asking me for advice on where to go in India, which ashram to visit or where to practice yoga and meditation, so I hope this Guide to Ashrams in India will be useful for them and for anybody else who is in the search for an ashram in India.
If you know about any other ashrams, meditation retreats or yoga retreats in India that you would like to recommend please don't hesitate to share your experience in the comment section below.
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