Monday, June 25, 2012

Arsha Yoga: a Small Yoga Ashram in Kerala, Near Fort Kochi

Arsha Yoga Ashram in Kerala Near Kochi

Arsha Yoga Gayathri is small and peaceful yoga ashram in Kerala, right next to a paradise beach! It is located about two hours drive from Fort Kochi (65km), or one hour and half (60 km) from Cochin International Airport. It is ideal for a personal retreat, but you gotta follow the strict routine.

My dear friend Lakshya had recommended me this ashram sometime before. So after two days in Fort Kochin, practicing yoga with Sajee, I decided to follow her recommendation and visit Arsha Yoga Gayathri.

I loved it. It is an ideal ashram for a personal yoga retreat, or just for yoga holidays to relax, enjoy the beach and practice yoga.

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About Arsha Yoga Gayathri

The ashram is owned by a very friendly couple.  Harilal from south India and his wife Meera from Czech Republic.  They are both very dedicated yogis.

The location of the ashram is just amazing, right in front of a paradise beach called Gayathri Beach. Such a peaceful and calm atmosphere.

They own two neighbor houses (a white house and a yellow house) that they use for the yoga courses. They have rooms in both houses to receive their guests.

The main house for the courses is the yellow house.  There is a yoga hall, with beach view, at the rooftop terrace.

Arsha Yoga ashram main building

Arsha Yoga ashram main building

Arsha Yoga ashram second building

Arsha Yoga Ashram Garden

Gayathri beach is peaceful and beautiful.  It's a long white sand beach full with coconut trees.

You can hardly see any people except for a few villagers now and then, and not a single tourist.  Completely the opposite compared to Palolem Beach, where I had stayed just a week earlier.

But if you go very early in the morning to the beach (around 6 am probably) you might find a not so pleasant view.

All the locals go at that time to the beach to have their morning bowel movement. A very healthy practice but not a nice view, specially at the beach. I never came that early to the beach, but the other ashram guests told me about it.

Yoga Courses Offered at Arsha Yoga

Harilal and Meera offer several yoga courses during the year like Vedic Psychology and Yoga Therapy Course.

They also have the regular Yoga Holiday program for any guest that wishes to stay at the ashram to enjoy the peaceful atmosphere, while practicing yoga at the same time.

While I was at this ashram there were about eight people following the yoga therapy course.  They were all very friendly and they seemed to really enjoy the course.

I was the only guest for the Yoga Holiday, so it was very peaceful and quiet for me.   But they did invited me to join some of the lectures for the yoga therapy course which were very interesting

One thing that I really liked about Arsha Yoga is that they give free yoga teacher training courses in the local language to the locals from the area, as charity work.

Some of these students would come for the evening Satsang (spiritual gathering) and very enthusiastically join the chantings. I think this is a great way to spread the teachings of yoga and get involved with the local community.

Yoga Retreat at Arsha Yoga Gayathri Near Fort Kochi

Arsha Yoga Gayathri is an excellent location for a yoga retreat.   You can relax and practice yoga when you join the Yoga Holidays program, but you need to be aware that there is a daily schedule that is mandatory to follow for all guests.  There is also a minimum stay of three days.

The schedule is not so difficult to follow and you still have plenty of time for yourself.  It is very similar to the Sivananda Ashrams schedule.  The main difference is that you only have once a day satsang, and more free time unless you are doing one of the intensives courses.

Arsha Yoga ashram path towards beach

Arsha Yoga Gayathri Daily Schedule

06:00 - 07:00 Pranayama and Meditation
07:15 Tea
08:15 - 10.00 Asana Class
10:15 Brunch
11:00 Karma Yoga
13:00 Tea
16:00 - 18.00 self yoga practice
18:15 dinner
19:30 meditation and satsang
22:00 lights out

During my free time, after doing some Karma Yoga (selfless service), I would just go to the beach and meditate under the shadow of some of the coconut trees.  Best place to meditate!

After one hour or so I would swim at the beach, and then at 4 pm I would do my own one hour and half yoga practice on the rooftop of the white house, with beach view!

Arsha Yoga ashram roof-terrace

The food was delicious but sometimes I felt that I needed just a little bit more. I guess I got used to ashrams where you can basically eat as much as you can.

The evening satsangs were very nice.

We would have a short meditation, probably 20 minutes, and then we would continue with the Jaya Ganesha chanting.   This is the main chanting at the Sivananda Ashrams.

I was looking forward to chant the Jaya Ganesha.  I hadn't heard it for a long time and although while I was at the Sivananda Ashram I felt sick of it (twice a day for three months it was just too much) after a whole year I was missing it.

One thing that I like about this chant is that, at the Sivananda Ashrams, there are several changes in the rhythm which makes it more fun.

Surprisingly, at Arsha Yoga, they chant it very slowly and they keep the same pace and rhythm during the whole chant.

That was a bit frustrating to me.  Sometimes I even tried to speed it up by playing the drums slightly faster, but this had no effect.

Another thing that was strange for me was that although the location was beautiful, calm and quite, I didn't feel that special spiritual atmosphere that I've experienced in many other ashrams before.  Like for instance at the Santosh Puri Ashram in Haridwar where I stayed a week later.

It's difficult to say why.  Perhaps it was just my imagination.  But I guess I felt that the presence of the gurus was missing to be able to really call it an ashram.

Don't get me wrong, I would definitely recommend this place to anybody.  I simply felt that this was something missing at this ashram.

Maybe they should place some big portraits of their gurus in the yoga hall.  Or maybe they should do regular havans (fire rituals) to elevate the atmosphere of the place.  They do close the evening satsangs with the Arati though.

For this reason I prefer to call it a yoga retreat, or a sadhana spot, instead of an ashram.   But still, I really like this place.

Ashram Activities

I don't really know what other activities they offer at Arsha Yoga Gayathri, besides the activities already included in the daily schedule.  I'm sure though that if there is anything going on in the area, Harilal and Meera will make their best to share that experience with their guests.

The second night Harilal and Meera were very kind to drive us (all the ashram guests) to the small town so we could experience an incredible Kerala Hindu Temple Festival (click on the link to watch the video). It was fascinating, I was so happy to be at the right place and at the right time.

How to Get to Arsha Yoga Gayathri Ashram

From Fort Kochi the best way is to go the the boat jetty and take the boat that drops you to the opposite boat jetty near the KSRTC bus stand.

From there take the Guruvayur bus, get off at Vatanapally and then take a rickshaw to Edasheri beach. If you have any doubts you can call them by phone and they will guide you.

Arsha Yoga Contact Details

Tel: +91 4872606231
Mob: +91 9446813059
  Arsha Yoga
  Thampankadavu Post, Gayathri Beach
  Thrissur, Thalikulam, Kerala 680569, India

There is also an online community for those interested in yoga therapy

After a few days of enjoying the peace and tranquility of this beautiful yoga ashram in Kerala, Arsha Yoga Gayathri, I took a flight to Pushkar in Rajastan to visit a dear yogi friend.

After a week in Rajastan I traveled to Haridwar and stayed at an ashram that another friend had recommended me a few years ago, Shri Santosh Puri Ashram. I loved this place and the people, such a positive energy.

Have you ever being to Arsha Yoga Gayathri? Please don't hesitate to share your experience with us using the comment section below.

If you know anybody who is looking for a yoga ashram in Kerala, perhaps near Fort Kochi or Cochin International Airport, feel free to share this article with them. They might find it very helpful. Thanks for your support!


  1. Thank you so much for this blog and your reviews! I've been looking for a site with honest experiences. It's so hard to choose where to go from a distance. I'm leaning towards this beautiful place. It will be my first ashram holiday and first time to India. Would you consider this area safe for women traveling alone? Thank you and namaste :)

    1. Thanks to you roos vdv. I know I'm really late to reply but yes I think the area is safe enough for woman traveling alone. Did you ever make it there? How was your experience?

  2. typo in schedule?
    16:00 - 06.00 self yoga practice

    1. Oh yeah, it should read 16:00 - 18:00. I'll correct that soon. Thanks for pointing that out

  3. I tried to reply to your answer four times.. but for some reason my reply doesn't get published.. (maybe it has to be approved first? In that case please delete all other tries) I should've copied my reply instead of having to type it again..

    Anyway, I didn't go to India as this ashram was fully booked and the rest didn't feel good. If you have other recommendations for ashrams near a paradise beach, I'd love to know ;)

    Instead I went to Nepal and found a beautiful and peaceful Tibetan Buddhism center in Pokhara. I completely loved it, it was perfect for beginners, but I don't think their main program is suited for experienced yoga people. After that I did an 8 day trek into the Himalya. Which I would recommand to everyone! :D

    1. Hi Roos vdv. I think I know that peaceful Tibetan center in Pokhara. Small and beautiful place. I took some yoga and meditation classes and I really enjoyed them so I would recommend it to anybody. But I still need to do that trek! :-)

      The only ashram that I know near a beach is the Sivananda Ashram in Kerala. It's about 45 min from Kovalam Beach or from Varkala Beach but, it is an ashram so if you stay there you'll need to follow the discipline which can be challenging. You could go to the beach with the people that you'll meet there during the days off, I think every Friday. Hope this helps :-)

    2. Oh and I'm sorry that you had so much trouble publishing your comment. They do need to be approved first but I didn't receive any other comment from you in my inbox, so maybe it was just a problem with the connection :-)

  4. Hi Marco, I think it was the browser. For some reason I couldn't login on Chrome, but it was working fine in Firefox. This is the centre I went to: I loved it and they have some really good yoga lessons, but overal it's mainly very accessible for beginners. I just really really loved the building, garden and atmosphere.
    You should really go for that trek into the Himalaya! That's something else! So happy I did that :)
    Tnx for the tip. I still want to go to India this or next year, so I'll definitely come back to your website then :)

    1. Yeah that the same place that I've been to, love it too :-) and thanks, yes someday I'll do that trek as well :-)

    2. Hi Marco. How long did you spend at Arsha Yoga Gayathri? I am planning on spending 1 month there for the yoga therapy course , so any advice would be great. Thanks


    3. Hi Jason. Well this was a while ago, can't remember anymore. I guess I stayed for a week or so. I think I wrote everything I know about this place in this post so I don't have anything extra to advice you. Good luck and I hope you enjoy the course.

  5. hello,, would like to ask how much cost a day in that ashram.htmlat retreat? thank you for the very deeply informative blog..