Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Guide to the Best Ashrams in India: My Personal Experience (UPDATED 2019)

Best Ashrams to Visit in India

(Updated 2019) If you are searching for the best ashrams in India then this guide is for you. I wrote this ashram list based on the ashrams and yoga retreats in India that I have personally visited during my own yoga journey. You can read here in detail about my personal experience and their offering.


My experience visiting ashrams in India


The first time I visited an ashram in India was back in 2005. I quit my finance job in Ecuador to do this trip. Actually, I left my entire life behind, but I was not expecting that trip to be spiritual.

Later on, I did the same thing again in 2010, after I quit my corporate job in Belgium. But this time it was different. I did want to go on a spiritual journey to learn as much as I could about the yoga tradition.

Since then I've been multiple times in India visiting yoga ashrams and retreats, following trainings and practicing yoga.

So I know very well that finding the best ashram in India to learn yoga and meditation, or to deepen your sadhana, can be a challenge.

With so many ashrams and yoga retreats all around India, it is hard to make the right choice.

Actually, I often receive questions from my readers and friends asking me for advice on which ashrams to visit in India.

So I decided to write this guide based on the places that I have personally visited since 2005.

This guide includes authentic and traditional ashrams where you can practice yoga, meditation or study yoga philosophy and Vedanta.

In some ashrams, you could do a personal yoga retreat, and in others, you can even take the leap and go for a yoga teachers training course.

By the way, this ashram guide is kind of a summary of my own yoga journey. So don't forget to click on the links to read more about these ashrams and my personal experience.

Of course, there are many other ashrams all around India, but I think this guide can be a good starting point to plan your trip.


Yoga Teacher Training Courses and Yoga retreats in India


If you are interested in a yoga teacher training in India then you can visit What is the BEST Yoga Teacher Training in India? My TOP 10 List. In this article, I share with you seven tips to find the best yoga TTC for you, and I give you some of my personal TTC recommendations.

If you are rather interested in a yoga retreat in India that also includes Ayurvedic massages and other forms of healing therapies, I suggest you visit: Top 7 Yoga and Ayurveda Retreats in Kerala [With Reviews].

This is my curated list of the best yoga and Ayurveda retreats in India, that I was able to find online. They all have at least 4.5 stars in customer reviews. So you can be sure people love these retreats.


Before you start your yoga journey


There are a few items that I would definitely recommend you to bring to your ashram experience. So don't forget to check my detailed packing list for India before you start your journey.

It also includes many other indispensable travel items for India.

Another thing you should consider is the cost of using your credit card/bank card abroad. I would recommend you to get a TransferWise card to reduce your bank commissions. I use my TransferWise account all the time.

If you want to focus more on your asana practice, or if you want to learn Ashtanga vinyasa yoga, I'd recommend you to visit my blog: The Best Ashtanga Yoga Teachers in Mysore.

And if you are interested in an ashram to stay permanently, or at least long term, I would suggest you first read: What is it Like Living in an Indian Ashram for Three Years.

This is the experience of my friend Lakshya who studied Vedanta for three years in one of the ashrams I mention below.


What is an ashram?


But before we continue further, let me answer one obvious question.

What is an ashram?

Ashram is the term used in India for a monastery or hermitage.

It is a place where people gather in a community for spiritual development, usually under the guidance of a guru or self-realized master.

After visiting many ashrams in India I can tell you one thing: no two ashrams are the same.

Some are very strict and some are more easy going.

Some focus on meditation. Others focus on devotional practices, and others on selfless service.

Some of them can be very small, just a handful of people. Other ashrams can be home for thousands.

But the purpose of them all is the same. To provide a place where seekers can meet and follow spiritual practices that lead to self-realization.


Guide to the Best Ashrams in India: My Personal Experience



1. Ramana Maharshi Ashram, Tiruvannamalai


Ramana-Maharshi-Ashram-Tiruvanamalai

Every single person that I have talked to and that have been in Tiruvannamalai before has exactly the same feeling about it. Tiruvannamalai is one of the most powerful spiritual places in India.

It sits at the foothills of the sacred Arunachala Hill, which Hindus believe is Lord Shiva Himself, and it is populated with many small ashrams and temples.

Not only that but Tiruvannamalai was home to one of the greatest Indian sages, Ramana Maharshi, who recommended Self-inquiry as a path to liberation.

You can read about his teachings in Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi.

The Ramana Maharshi ashram is the main ashram in Tiruvannamalai. It is ideal for serious spiritual seekers who want to spend time in contemplation and meditation.

The ashram administration welcomes single pilgrims, couples and families. You need to book at least one month in advance, but you are allowed to stay maximum three nights.

For longer stays, you can search for accommodation nearby the ashram.

Practicing meditation in one of the meditation halls at the Ramana Maharshi Ashram was hallucinating to me.

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.

⇒ Click here to know more about the Ramana Maharshi Ashram


2. Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama, Rishikesh


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 for you.

The daily schedule includes two very gentle hatha yoga classes, and two one hour group meditation sessions.

The ashram was founded by Swami Veda Bharati, a disciple of Swami Rama.

The ashram offers ongoing meditation and yoga classes for visitors, silent retreats and a Yoga and Meditation Teacher Training Course.

⇒ Click here to know more about Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama


3. Sadhana Mandir Trust (Swami Rama's ashram), Rishikesh


Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama Rishikesh

Sadhana Mandir was founded by Swami Rama himself. It is a beautiful and very peaceful ashram that lays right next to the river Ganges, in Rishikesh.

Swami Rama authored many yoga-related books, including the inspiring Living with the Himalayan Masters.

This ashram is ideal if you want to experience some peace and tranquility, away from the crowds in Rishikesh. It is located 20 min rickshaw drive from Ram Jhula.

You can spend your days doing your personal sadhana, reading or walking in the gardens and alongside the river Ganges.

You can also join one of the meditation retreats and self-transformation programs that they run through the year.

It is about 20 minutes walk from the Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama.

⇒ Click here to know more about Sadhana Mandir


4. Swami Dayananda Ashram, Rishikesh


Swami Dayananda Ashram Rishikesh

If you are interested in studying the revelations of the great Indian Rishis, or seers, who in deep states of meditation were able to realize the difference between what is real and unreal, then this ashram is for you.

The study of the ultimate nature of reality is what is covered in the Upanishads, the last book of the Vedas, where the vision of these great Rishis has been preserved. To study Vedanta is to study the Upanishads.

This ashram was founded by Swami Dayananda Saraswati, a locally and internationally well respected Vedanta teacher.

One thing to note is that usually, the short term and long term courses at this ashram are on donation basis.

So you can give as much, or as little as you want, according to your means, but that doesn't mean the ashram is free.

You should keep in mind that there is a cost to run an ashram, and the teachers deserve a monetary compensation.

⇒ Click here to know more about Swami Dayananda Ashram in Rishikesh
⇒ Click here to get know a bit more about Vedanta


5. Sivananda Vedanta Ashram, Neyyar Dam, Kerala


Sivananda Ashram Neyyar Dam Kerala

The Sivananda Ashram in Kerala (Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Dhanwantari Ashram) is one of the most popular among foreigners and locals.

It was founded by Swami Vishnudevananda, a disciple of Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh and is part of the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers. They have ashrams and yoga centers in India, and around the world.

Swami Vishnudevananda was the author of a beautiful meditation book, Meditation and Mantras, and of a short commentary on the Hatha Yoga Pradipika.

The Sivananda ashram is ideal to immerse yourself in an authentic Indian ashram lifestyle, with an integral approach to yoga.

This means that the ashram routine includes, in one way or another, the four main paths of yoga (Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga, Raja Yoga, and Jnana Yoga).

They do make a lot of emphasis on hatha yoga and bhakti yoga. The daily schedule includes two hatha yoga classes, and two satsang (spiritual gatherings with chanting) per day.

The ashram is located near the Neyyar dam, which forms a beautiful lake. So there is a lot of nature around. The lake can actually be reached on foot from the ashram.

While I was at the ashram sometimes we would do a silent walk towards the dam, and then we would sit for meditation next to the lake. One of my favorite moments.

The ashram offers a yoga vacation program that you can join anytime to experience the ashram lifestyle. You'd need to stay at the ashram for at least three days, and you'd need to adhere to the daily schedule though.

They also offer a very popular one-month intense yoga teacher training course.

There is also the possibility to stay at this ashram for free for a few months as a karma yogi, doing some form of volunteering work during your stay.

⇒ Click here to know more about the ashram and about their teacher training course


6. Sivananda Ashram, Madurai, Tamil Nadu


Sivananda Ashram Madurai

This is by far the most beautiful ashram I've ever been to. The gardens are beautiful, the recent-built yoga hall is incredible, the surroundings breathtaking and the food is just delicious.

I always recommend my friends and readers to go to Madurai and visit this ashram.

This is the ashram where I did my advanced yoga teacher training course and an intensive pranayama retreat. I spent in total three months at this ashram, and I visited it again in 2016 for a week.

I have so many wonderful memories from my time at the ashram. I made many good spiritual friends.

The Sivananda Ashram in Madurai (Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Meenakshi Ashram) is also part of the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers. They have exactly the same daily schedule and rules.

Like at the ashram in Kerala, there is also the possibility to stay at the ashram for free for a few months, as a karma yogi.

⇒ Click here to know more about the Sivananda Ashram in Madurai


7. Amma's ashram, Amritapuri, Kerala


Amma Ashram Amritapuri

If you want to meet a real living guru and perhaps become a disciple, then you should definitely visit Amma's ashram in Amritapuri, Kerala.

This ashram is also a good place if you are searching for an ashram to stay permanently, or long term, under the guidance of a guru.

Amma (Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi) is considered, by her millions of followers, a real guru who is still living in her physical body.

While you are visiting the ashram you will have the opportunity to receive Amma's "darshan," which is basically a hug from Amma. That's why she is called " the hugging saint."

But a guru's hug is not an ordinary hug. It's a hug that can change people's life.

The ashram is so big that it has residential buildings with several floors, and capacity for about 3,000 visitors per day, who come specially to receive Amma's Darshan.

But even though there are so many visitors the ashram 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 in Amritapuri there is not much to do, and food is not that varied and rich.

The daily schedule starts at 5 am and ends around 10:30 pm but it is not mandatory to join any of the daily activities. From time to time there are some yoga and meditation courses.

⇒ Click here to know more about Amma's Ashram in Amritapuri


8. The Yogoda Satsanga Sakha Ashram, Dwarahat


Yogoda Satsanga Sakha Ashram

For those who follow the Kriya Yoga path and the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda, author of the classic "Autobiography of a Yogi," 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 a maximum of ten days at the ashram, and you must be a Self Realization Fellowship or Yogoda Satanga Society member.

⇒ Click here to know more about Yogoda Satsanga Sakha Ashram, Dwarahat


9. Yogoda Satsanga Math, Kolkata


Yogoda Satsanga Ashram Kolkata

This is the ashram founded in 1938 by Paramahansa Yogananda himself in Dakshniswar, Kolkata.

It is the headquarters of Yogoda Satsanga Society of India, the organization founded by Yoganandaji in 1917 to spread his teachings in India, and in neighboring countries.

I had the opportunity to stay at guruji's ashram in March 2016, for one night. I really enjoyed my stay.

The rules and activities are the same as in Yogoda Satsanga Sakha Ashram in Dwarahat. To stay at the ashram you must be a Self Realization Fellowship or Yogoda Satanga Society member.

⇒ Click here to know more about Yogoda Satsanga Math, Kolkata


10. Parmarth Niketan Ashram, Rishikesh


Parmarth Niketan Ashram Rishikesh

If you are looking for a place in Rishikesh to practice yoga, but at the same time you want to have the freedom to explore the area, and find other ashrams or yoga teachers, then this ashram is a good option.

It is easy to reach and it is located in one of the main areas in Rishikesh, Ram Jhula, right next to the holy Ganges River.

Parmarth Niketan is one of the most popular ashrams in Rishikesh. It is famous for its numerous sculptures of Hindu Gods, and the beautiful Ganga aarti.

The Ganga aarti is a ritual with chanting and lights, an offering made to the Goddess Ganges. It happens every evening at 6 pm facing the holy river.

⇒ Click here to know more about Parmarth Niketan Ashram


11. Bihar School of Yoga, Munger


Bihar School of Yoga Ashram Munger

If you are looking for a really intense and transformative spiritual experience, then the Four Months Yogic Studies Course at the Bihar School of Yoga is for you.

Real mental training through seva (selfless service).

It doesn't matter if you are a complete beginner or an advanced yogi, anybody can join and benefit from this authentic ashram lifestyle experience.

Looking back in time, after everything that I've experienced in India, nothing compares to my stay at the Bihar School of Yoga. Best experience ever!

One of the things I loved the most about my stay at this ashram was the kirtans (devotional group chants). Their kirtans are by far the best kirtans I've ever seen in India.

Oh, and the many different pujas, yajรฑas or havans (fire rituals)... such a powerful energy, makes you feel like in a trance state.

The ashram was founded by Swami Satyananda Saraswati, disciple of Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh.

Bihar School of Yoga is also ideal if you are searching for an ashram to become a sanyasi, or an ashram to stay permanently.

⇒ Click here to know more about Bihar School of Yoga


12. Santosh Puri Ashram, Haridwar


Santosh Puri Ashram Haridwar

Santosh Puri Ashram is a vibrant small ashram in Haridwar, next to the river Ganges.

If you like fire rituals, and mantra chanting in small groups, then you'll love your stay at Santosh Puri Ashram.

There is a very special atmosphere created by the daily morning and evening mantra chanting sessions, and by the fire rituals guided by Mataji.

Mataji is a loving lady guru, originally from Germany.

Besides enjoying the daily rituals, my other favorite moment during the day was hanging out with the other spiritual seekers visiting this ashram. So many beautiful and uplifting conversations.

There are no strict rules, yet everybody is always happy to attend all the daily activities.

The daily schedule also includes hatha yoga and yoga philosophy classes.

⇒ Click here to know more about Santosh Puri Ashram


13. Atma Darsha Yogashram, Bangalore


Atma Darshan Yoga Ashram Bangalore

Atma Darshan Yogashram is a beautiful small ashram in Bangalore. It is a branch of the Bihar School of Yoga, and it's managed by young karma sannyasis (monks).

This ashram is mainly dedicated to spreading the teachings of Swami Satyananda Saraswati to the locals living in the neighborhood.

Luckily they do offer basic accommodation and tailored programs for foreign guests.

I really enjoyed my stay at this ashram.

The locals would normally join the morning and evening hatha yoga classes. The rest of the day I was pretty much the only guest there, enjoying the company of the sannyasis during meal times.

I loved the one on one yoga nidra sessions I got, and the pawanmuktasana series. I also loved watching some of the recorded lectures giving by Swami Satyananda.

⇒ Click here to know more about Atma Darshan Yogashram Bangalore


14. Arsha Yoga Gayathri, Kochi


Arsha Yoga Ashram Kerala

If you are looking for a small, peaceful and isolated place, right next to a paradise beach, then Arsha Yoga Gayathri is a good choice.

You need to stick to the strict daily schedule though, which is similar to the Sivananda ashram schedule.

I was the only visitor during my stay. The rest of the guests were a small group following a yoga therapy training.

That means that I had plenty of time to be on my own, to read and to enjoy the tranquility of this ashram, although it's more like a yoga retreat in my opinion.

⇒ Click here to know more about Arsha Yoga Gayathri


15. Swami Krishnananda Hatha Yoga Vidyapeeth, Mysore


Swami Krishnananda Yoga Vidyapeeth Mysore Ashram

Swami Krishnananda Hatha Yoga Vidyapeeth is a small and recent ashram in Mysore.

It was founded in 2014 by Yogacharya Dr. Ashutosh and Yogacharya Kadambari, following the Sivananda lineage.

This ashram focuses on Yoga Teacher Training Courses with an emphasis on Yoga Therapy.

Although you can't visit the ashram except for the one-month courses, each course is like an intense one-month yoga retreat for personal transformation.

If you are interested in learning yoga therapy to improve your physical, mental and spiritual health, then you should definitely check this ashram.

It is highly recommended by everyone who has followed any of their programs in Mysore.

Plus, the courses are so affordable that it would cost around the same amount to stay in any other ashram for one month.

⇒ Click here for more reviews or to contact them directly
⇒ Click here to know more about Swami Krishnananda Hatha Yoga Vidyapeeth


One last thing


I hope you've found this guide useful to find the right ashram, or yoga retreat, for you. Please don't hesitate to pin and share this page with anybody you think might be searching for the best ashrams to visit in India.

If you know about any other Indian ashrams, meditation retreats or yoga retreats in India that you would like to recommend, feel free to share your experience in the comment section below.

This spiritual journey is a never-ending journey. I will surely continue visiting more Indian ashrams and yoga retreats in the future, and I will definitely continue sharing my experience right in this blog.

So make sure you subscribe to my mailing list to stay updated about my yoga journey. Once you subscribe you'll be able to download my free meditation ebook. Thanks for your support!

Best Ashrams in India | Authentic Ashrams and Yoga Retreats

102 comments:

  1. Marco, your overview of the most popular Indian ashrams is absolutely brilliant! Thumbs up! I'd write another post on ashrams in Rishikesh alone as this place deserves a review like this. However, you've already included Swami Rama ashram which is 99% of the information people need to know.

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    1. Hi HYA. Thanks for your comment. Well I can only write about the ashrams that I've visited which I already have but in the future if I get the opportunity to visit more ashrams in Rishikesh I might write a post about ashrams in Rishikesh only. Thanks for the tip :-)

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  2. www.kriya.org at puri orissa.
    Living master of a respected lineage.
    you can't meet him n be inspired with love.
    Master of love...

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  3. There is also the ICYER. International center for yoga education and Research. Where one can undertake the 6 months intensive yoga teacher training course. The style is traditional ashtanga rishiculture yoga or Gitanada Yoga. http://www.icyer.com/

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  4. For the first time I am preparing my self to go there to learn yoga
    and I am alsow afraid not to find what I realy nead...lucia from Athens luciasnt@yahoo.com

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  5. Marco, in your travels did you come across an ashram where a woman would be able to stay and work and study for a year? I'm looking for a place to improve my postures, and would be happy to practice karma yoga. I don't speak hindu but have studied urdu and would be happy/able to learn if I was immersed.

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    1. Hi, you can do that at the swami Rama Sadhaka Grama and the Sivananda Ashram in Kerala or Madurai, but I'm sure there are other places where you can do that.

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    2. I live and study at www.shrijasnathasan.org more than a year. It is lovely, in north India.

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  6. Thank you for this guide to the India ashrams, a great place for me to explore before leaving for India very soon now. Kasia

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    1. Hi Kasia, thanks for your feedback, good to know that you've found this information useful. All the best for your journey in India

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  7. Hey Marco, I am looking to stay in India for an extended period of time, anywhere from 6 months to up to 1 year. I am looking to spend much of that time practicing yoga and meditation, but would also like to contribute to an Ashram community by helping out with the operations (farming, cleaning, etc) however I can. Does anything like this exist?

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    1. Hi Zack, there are many possibilities. For instance you could do a one month teacher training at a Sivananda Ashram and then you could stay as a staff for as long as you want, well, at least for six months. If you make the commitment you could apply for a student visa so you can stay for one year and serve at the ashram. I'm not sure if you can do that at that ashram without doing first the TTC

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  8. Great tips! Thanks a lot for this.

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  9. hi marco, do you happen to know which ashram would be suited to travel to with a 7 years old? childcare is not an Option... it should be a place where they either integrate the kids or where there are others around and allowed to roam around.
    best nins

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    1. Hi there, Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama is a great place for kids. I was just there for 20 days and a couple were staying there for a month with their children, and yes they were roaming all around the place :-).

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  10. Hello Marco! Wow this overview is so useful, many thanks!! :)

    Could you recommend me a place for a begginer like me in yoga? Ideally I would like to stay during a month in a place, to learn the basics and really allow me to immerse myself in this discipline.

    I've been already in India during several months, the first time in the North, and secondly to the South, so no matter where in India, I love this place :)

    I look forward to have your advice!
    Sabrina

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    1. Hi Sabrina! Well, thanks to you! I think the Sivananda Ashram in Kerala or Madurai are a good option for you, they have classes for beginners and intermediate and you get the whole ashram experience :-)

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  11. Hello Marco, did you happen to come across any ashrams that welcome children (~ages 11 & 13) as well as adults. Obviously this would be an ashram that accepts beginners! We are not looking for a long stay--a 3-4 day physical and mental well-being session before going back on the road. Thanks.

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    1. Hi there, yes the Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama is a great place for a whole family to come together. It's focused on meditation and the yoga is very gentle and specially focused on beginners. The place is really beautiful

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  12. Marco, thanks for your prompt response. I just found it on the map, NNE of Delhi. Seems (at least on the map!) to be doable. Thanks again for the information. Regards, Hadas

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    1. Hi Hadas, it's my pleasure. Are you talking about the Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama? It is in Rishikesh and to get there from Delhi you can take a local bus directly to Rishikesh for about 6 hours. I've done that a few times and it is pretty easy. I think is better than the train because the train reaches only till Haridwar and then you still need to get to Rishikesh. Anyway, in the post about the SRSG I'm sure I wrote in detailed how to get there. All the best!

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  13. Ciao Marco!where cani learn meditation I. Tiruvananmalai?grazie!

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  14. Ciaomarco!where cani learn meditation intiruvanaalai?grazie!

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    1. Ciao Siriana :-) Sorry, I know my name is Italian but I'm not italian :-/ Hey, I don't know but in this link, at the end of the article you can find links to some other websites that might offer mediation programs during the high season in Tiruvanamalai, I hope this will help www.path2yoga.net/2010/09/sri-bhagavan-ramana-maharshi-ashram.html

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  15. Hello Marco, thank you for this very helpful article :) ! I am planning to do a yoga retreat in october after 10 months travelling. I'm gonna try to go to Sivananda Ashram in Kerala or Madurai as you already advised Sabrina for beginners :). Cheers, Magali

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    1. Hi Magali, did you ever go to the Sivananda Ashram? How was your experience? I hope you had a great time :-)

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  16. Hi there Marco!
    I'm a 19 year old girl from Australia & I have been practicing yoga for 4 years. I love the peace it brings to my busy life which Is what brings me to wanting to learn more. I would love to go to an ashram or do a course for a minimum of 3 weeks, to study mostly yoga practice, the healthy eating and the meditation. I would love to learn to listen to my body & how to calm my mind & to help others do the same. Can you recommend somewhere that could do this? To stay at the residence would be something I am after to get the full effect & meet people who are after a similar learning experience. Thank you,
    Ellie :)

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    1. hi Ellie,
      Rishikesh has some v.good ashrams where you can stay as well. Failing that, there are many cheap lodges in & around. Marco has already named a few of them. Also, yoga centers adept at different forms of yoga (raja, kriya, hatha etc).
      All the best.
      Deepak

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    2. Hi Ellie, it sounds like a Teacher Training would be what you are actually looking for, that would give you pretty much everything that you are asking. There are so many around but if you ask me I would recommend the Sivananda Teachers Training. There is also a teacher in Rishikesh that I really like and I've heard that he is also doing TTC so I would also recommend him, Surinder Singh. Good luck! :-)

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  17. Hi I'm Hindu from Malaysia. Sorry to say I didnt practice yoga or medication but i wish to learn both. Which ashrams would you recommend?

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    1. Forget about ashram you can do it very well at home. Just focus of each of the action that you are doing, analyze all the activities that you have performed at the end of the day, sit in a quiet place, close your eyes and try to listen to differnt sounds (dont try to search for origin), every morning and in the evening, sit down with a an upright back and focus on yur breath (in and out) with the eyes closed for 30 minutes each session. As for exercise (asanas), these are not must but certainly these exercises are of much assistance.

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  18. Another ashram which needs to be added is Rishi Chaitanya Ashram, Gannaur where disciples and visitors can practise meditation, yoga and pranayam under the able guidance of mystic master, Anandmurti Gurumaa. You may visit www.gurumaa.com for details.

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  19. Hi...thanks for sharing your experiences...its a great service to those who are searching for spiritual destinations....I want to ask you are there any ashrams/organizations where you can stay for life (remaining unmarried) and do yoga and other spiritual practices?

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    1. It sounds like you would like to take sannyasa, meaning to become a Swami (monk). Yes, I'm sure you can do that in many different ashrams, what I recommend to you is to find out which is the tradition/guru that attracts you the most and also what is the path that suits your temperament. Is it Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Jรฑana Yoga, Raja Yoga? That will give you an idea of where to start, then visit the ashram that offers what you are looking for for a few weeks so you get to experience what does it really mean to live in an ashram and then decide if you want to stay longer. All the best on your path

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  20. You could have visited Isha Yoga Center, located at Coimbatore, Chennai, founded by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev. It is a perfect place (beautiful place) for a real seekers of their inner nature and to explore the other dimensions of life. Those who really wish to experience and interested in... can visit this.

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  21. Hi Marco ,

    This review is fantastic . Ive already noted a couple down but just wondering if you could recommed an Ashram ideally near the water or beach that I could go for three or four days .
    I only have a week in India so I do not have much time to travel , ideally it would be around a major city or close enough that we could get bus or train.
    I would really appreciate you help . Thanks Marco .

    Lisa

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  22. Hi Marco ,

    Myself and my friend are travelling to India for only a week and we want to visit an asram for 3-4 days . as we do not have much time we do not want to spent all our time travelling . Ideally we would like to stay at an Ashram located around (even 4-5 hr drive) away from a major airport city. We would love if it was near a beach but not essential . Please let me know if you have any ideas.
    Lisa

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    1. Hi Lisa,

      Well, the Sivananda Ashram in Neyyar Dam is probably about one or two hours drive from Trivandrum. There is an airport in Trivandrum so you can get there by flight from any other major city and then take a bus/rickshaw or taxi to the ashram. I think the minimum stay at the ashram is three days so you can go after to Kovalam Beach which is about 45 min from the ashram or Varkala Beach which is about 1 hour. They are both great places with fantastic food.

      Then you have Arsha Yoga Gayatri, which is right next to the beach and which is probably about two hours journey from Fort Kochin. There is also an airport in Cochin so you can fly there, spend some days in the city and then some days at this yoga retreat center.

      Arsha Yoga is a very small place, very few people and limited accomodation and the Sivananda Ashram is big and can host hundreds of people. Both options are good, it just depends on what you are looking for. Check the links so you can read more about each place to help you make a decision. Ok, I hope this helps. Good luck.

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  23. Hi Marco, great review! Do you know where could I go to study some shakti o Kundalini awakening techniques? I´m looking for some place locals may go, not so much as a tourist visit but as an spiritual development retreat. Thanks Mel...

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  24. Hi Marco thank you for putting this together! This blog has been very helpful. I'm in the process of planning a year long trip to India and I'm trying to find the right ashram for me. I'm learning toward the year long or 4mo at Bihar. But I just read your blog on Shri Santosh Puri Yoga Ashram and this sounds great too! Do you know if there's a maximum stay here? I have been to India before but all my travel arrangements were made ahead of time. Not sure how comfortable I would feel traveling alone going from one ashram to the next. I guess I feel overwhelmed at the idea of figuring out the wheres/hows/whens in a foreign country. I won't have a phone or a laptop... Any suggestions for me?

    Sarah sarahspearin@yahoo.com

    FYI I've been to Rishikesh - I did the 200hr TTC at Rishikesh Yog Peeth. A great course and awesome experience. I highly recommend this school. Here's the link if anyone is interested https://www.rishikeshyogpeeth.com/

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    1. Hi Sarah, I'm sure there is no maximum stay at Shri Santosh Puri Ashram but it is a completely different place compared to BSY. It depends on what you are looking for, I can definitely recommend both but for a deep challenging transformative experience I can ecommend BSY. It's really tough to be there believe so read first the other articles that I wrote about my experience there like Yoga Sadhana: overcoming negative emotions .

      Oh I'm sure you'll do great traveling by yourself from ashram to ashram, I think is a fantastic experience and we can learn a lot from it. I've met many girls traveling by themself and they all were doing great but of course you need to take some precautions. You can read The Ultimate Guide for Your Yoga Journey to India to get some tips for woman traveling alone in India.

      And why you won't have a phone or a laptop? I mean, of course if you prefer to be totally disconnected while you travel in India that's great but if that's because you are not sure about bringing your stuff with you then I think there is nothing to worry about. I've been traveling with my iPhone and MacBook Air with no problem at all :-)

      Thanks for sharing about Yog Peeth, I'm sure others will find that helpful :-)

      All the best,
      Marco

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    2. Thank you Marco for getting back to me. All of your tips and suggestions will be very helpful. LOL - I do prefer to be tech disconnected. I'm sorta anti technology anyways. But even if I wanted to bring my ph I couldn't. The model I have wouldn't work. I'd have to buy a new ph.

      For those interested in taking the 200 hr TTC at Rishikesh Yog Peeth...here's my experience. I hope this helps. Please contact me if u have specific questions sarahspearin@yahoo.com

      It's a 6 week course and the price is fantastic compared to what other TT are charging. 3 vegetarian meals + you get your own room with attached bathroom. Most rooms will have western style toilets. No AC just ceiling fan. I went during the monsoon season and it was bloody hot! Most of my classmates got very sick - vomiting/diarrhea I think because of the heat, different diet, etc. Some had to go to the hospital. Somehow I was one of the lucky ones. I started taking a green shake 1mo prior, Esberitox Super Echinacea 10 days before and Grapefruit Seed extract pills 10 days before. I continued to take the grapefruit pills while in India. Bring a shawl - to combat the flies and its respectful for women to cover their shoulders. Also bring an anti-itch cream. The heat really bothered me. Definitely bring your own yoga mat. The yoga mats offered in town are very generic. The Travel Mat offered by Lulu Lemon is great! The course is authentic and balanced. You learn about asanas, pranayama, one shatkarma technique (netty pot every morning), chanting, anatomy and physiology and excellent info on philosophy. The course is designed like an ashram daily schedule. You will have free time after lunch until 5pm. You have asana practice in AM/PM. However, you won't be staying at a true ashram. They divide the students (my group was ~50) between 2 dorms. Each dorm has its own yoga room. All meals are held in the main dorm. It's in town. Keep this in mind if you're wanting an experience where you're away from stuff. The school is currently building another ashram higher up in the mountains - nothing around! Not sure when this school will be ready to except students tho. The course is M-Sat. Free days on Sun but the school normally plans an optional outing. The school is very close to town so you'll have ample time to go explore/shopping. A few months before the course the school will setup an event on meetup.com. This is where the students can coordinate with each other on sharing the ride to the school: 6-9 hours from Delhi. I loved my experience. Even if you don't want to teach, doing this course is truly life changing. Yes very challenging but you will learn so much about yourself. I hope this helps!

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    3. Sarah, thank you so much for sharing your experience with Rishikesh Yog Peeth, I'm sure lots of people will find it very useful. Thank you! :-)

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  25. Hi Marco.
    I am thinking of going to try the ashram experience. 2-3 month from this May. I am more or less beginner of yoga and have never been to india. Would you recomend Sivananda in Madurai or Neyyer Dam?

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    1. Oops, I'm a bit late here, already mid June. Well, my favorite is the ashram in Madurai, but some people love Neyyar Dam. Which one did you choose at the end? How was your experience?

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  26. Hi Marco,
    Thanks for sharing !!!!
    I am looking for an ashram for Tantra Yoga have you visited one or any suggestion.

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  27. Hi Marco,

    Thanks for the great information you've compiled here. I am an Indian, living in India. I've been practicing Yoga for about 8 years but would like to deepen my knowledge significantly now. I would like to know if you came across, or are aware of some Yoga ashram where I can stay and learn and which are very environmentally conscious, offering pure natural surroundings and living environments, while offering a great spiritual experience, I am particularly interested in learning meditation and prayanama. but also other aspects of Yoga such as the science, anatomy, philosophy and asanas. Also, since most Yoga Ashrams appear to be targetting foreigners they are quite steeply priced for Indians, do you know of some which may not be so steep.

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    1. Hi Anjor,

      The best place that I know for meditation is the Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama and they cover all other aspects of yoga including the ones that you've mentioned.

      Every ashram where I've been offers a differentiated rate for Indian and foreigners. Locals pay way less than foreigners. I hope this help. Good luck.

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  28. Dear Marco, I am looking for an ashram where I can bring my 4 year old daughter along with me and have a deep yoga experience anyway. This is a difficult task to find one! I'm working as yoga teacher since I did my TTC at Sivananda Ashram Neyyar Dam in 2005/2006. I went there again in 2010 during pregnancy. I wanted to return there for advanced teacher training course, but they do not allow children under the age of 6 years during ain season (september till april). Well, I have a small child now and my options for spiritual practices (at least concerning sadhana, vipassana or advanced teacher trainings etc are very limited). An indian member of a travel agency recommended sadhak ashram rishikesh to spend 2 weeks after christmas together with my small one. Is there any childcare option?? Do you happen to know about that? Thank you a lot for helpful information...

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    1. Hi Agnes. They love children at Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama and children also love to be there, though there is no special childcare for them. This is probably the best place for meditation, but the hatha is very very gentle so that can be a challange. I hope this helps :-) Good luck

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  29. Hi Marco,

    Firstly, a brilliant job on this page. Thank you for all the information .

    I want to spend a year or so learning Yoga as well as deep understanding of spirituality and living in spiritual light. I have a daughter who is 10 too. Is there a place you can suggest that is also cost efficient?

    Thank you in advance.

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    1. Hi, Thanks for your positive feedback.

      I'm not sure how to answer your question as it is not very clear to me but I suggest you read carefully The Ultimate Guide For Your Yoga Journey To India. I'm sure you'll find the answer to all your questions in that article. Good luck
      Namaste

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  30. Marco, of any of the other readers or his brilliant blog...

    Would you have any answers to my queries above?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Anjor, I just answered your previous question in the comment above.
      Namaste

      Delete
  31. Hi Marco,

    This is an incredible guide.

    Thanks much for describing your experiences in such detail.

    Based on your guide alone, I will be going to Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama, Sadhana Mandir and Santosh Puri Ashram this year (at least I have plans on doing it).

    I am interested in meditation and kundalini/laya yoga, and based on what you said, I feel like I can get a good understanding or practice of meditation in the above two ashrams.

    My question is have you heard of ashrams in India that specifically concentrate or mostly deal with laya/kundalini/energetic yoga? I've been researching this information on the web, but the internet looks to be silent on this. I am not sure if it's because it's not that popular in India or there is no specific authentic program devoted to this.

    If you heard something based on your vast travels and experience, I would appreciate just two lines about any place you can recommend for kundalini/laya.

    Thanks much again for your blog -- have learnt a lot just by reading all your wonderful articles.

    Kind regards,
    Lev

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    1. Hi Lev. Thanks for your nice message. I'm glad you have enjoyed reading my blog. Unfortunately I have never searched for any Kundalini yoga ashram. Maybe you could search for "Yogi Bhajan Kundalini Yoga India." Or you might be interested in Babaji's Kriya Yoga which is also Kundalini Yoga. There is an ashram in Rishikesh but I have no idea of what kind of program they offer. There is a guru called Yogiraj Gurunath who teaches Kriya Yoga. You can easily find him in YouTube. He has an ashram somewhere in India, quite expensive though. I hope this helps. Good luck.

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  32. Hi Marco . This is a very good post , thank you for all the tips from yourself and other readers .

    I would like some help please on finding a ashram in India , I want to go around November, and also stay in ashram for about 2 to 3 weeks with view to stay longer .

    To find myself and to gain a path for my future, for I feel lost within myself and need a direction .

    I think I am more interested in meditation than yoga ...but I am willing to try .

    Can you advise me please on which ashram will be good for me .
    Thank you
    Prakash

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    1. Thank you Prakash. For meditation Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama and Sadhana Mandir in Rishikesh. Perhaps Amma ashram in Kerala might also be good for you. Good luck on your search Prakash.

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  33. I really want to visit an ashram in india. I have just found out I am pregnant and still really want to go so i'm wondering if you had a suggestion

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  34. Hello Marco,
    Ive been very interested about the whole ashram experience for a while now. Im 19 years old and very confused on the "first step". Im looking to stay for 3-4 months, and want to know the best time to travel to india under weather circumstances. Im looking for a powerful transformation journey of meditation and yoga. But mainly to focus on mediatation. Any sugestions and tips?

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    1. Hi Gabriella. For meditation I always recommend Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama ashram near Rishikesh. You could stay there for a week and then decide if you want to stay any longer. Then after you could explore the many ashrams or teachers in Rishikesh. For hatha yoga I always recommend Surinder Singh. You can find him in Google. Best time to visit Rishikesh Sep to Nov and Mar to May. Dec, Jan and Feb can be too cold and Jun to Aug to hot and rainy. I hope this helps :-)

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  35. Hello Marco

    Thanks for this wonderful guide. I was wondering if you know of any ashrams that have flexible daily schedules? I have a chronic illness and meditate a lot. However, I am often too unwell to participate in a specific daily schedule. I have stayed several months in a Buddhist monastery in australia, where the abbott allowed me to rest when I needed to, and participate when I felt well enough. Do you know of any ashram like this in India? Thanks so much, emma

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    1. Hi Emma, I think in your situation you can certainly talk with the ashram director of whichever ashram you visit to give you the flexibility that you need. I'm sure they'll be able to accommodate you. For meditation I always recommend Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama ashram in Rishikesh, or its sister ashram nearby and very quiet Sadhana Mandir. Namaste.

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    2. Thanks so much Marco, I will google those ashrams you mentioned. Thanks for your great website!

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    3. Thank you Ema! My pleasure :-)

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  36. Hi Marco!

    Thank you for your insights and knowledge! I recently received a message from spirit to fulfill my purpose, this message was detailed and deeply inspiring and has lead me to seek an ashram to immerse myself within. I am looking for an ashram surrounded by nature secluded from modern day life and technology where I can stay and learn guided by a master for 3-6 months. My message from spirit included deep immersion in Yogic philosophy as well as Ayurveda and Buddhism. I have never traveled to India but have always felt I would when the time was right I want to mention I have a woman so much like fellow posters I am looking for a safe environment. If you have any suggestions of Ashrams I would deeply appreciate the guidance! Thank you! Much Love and Many Blessings! Namaste

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    1. Hi There. Although similar yoga, ayurveda and buddhism are very different paths. If you want to study Buddhism then you should go to a Buddhist monastery. You can easily do that in Nepal. Maybe it will help you to read Living in a Buddhist Monastery. For Ayurveda you will need to go to an Ayurveda college, which are very popular in Kerala. For Yoga, meditation and vedanta studies you need to go to an ashram. If you want to focus on Vedanta then you could go to Swami Dayananda Ashram, Rishikesh. And for yoga there are many other ashrams like Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama or one of the Sivananda Ashrams. I hope this helps. Good luck with your search.

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  37. Marco

    I have trawled the Web and read reviews for many hours over a period of 12 months and your article is by the best most condensed and direct I've came across.
    I do ask for your recommendation.
    I wish to stay at an ashram for 3 months +
    But as volunteer. Where the monetary contribution is minimal in return for work etc.
    I would like to find a place where asanas and philosophy are a priority. I am a recently qualified teacher and want to deepen both so I can pass on.
    I do not really have a preference in teachings / swami. I've read most on upanishad, tantra and maybe these might be preference then.
    Thanking you for both your time and help
    Shane

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    1. Hi Shane, thank you so much, happy to hear that you this info useful. I think you can try the Sivananda Ashram in Madurai. They meet pretty much all your requirements and if you are sincere then they can take you as a karma yogi. You can stay there for a while. Hope this helps. All the best.

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    2. Marco thank you for the super quick reply. Appreciated.

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  38. Hello Marco! Your blog is awesome, such a complete source of informations! Keep going!
    I'm planning to go to India in June, and I understand it's going to be very hot, and probably the start of the monsoon. I come from Canada. So I am going to die if I go to an ashram in the south of India? :) Or do you have an ashram to recommend for yoga and meditation in the northern part of the country? All suggestions are welcome! Thanks a lot and best regards!

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    1. Hi there. i'm planning to go to India as well during that period to the Siavananda Kutir, UttarKashi, Himalayas for a month TTC but need to do some more reasearch on the ashram. Gud luck with your journey!

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  39. Hi Marco! thank you so much for the information.
    I'm planning to go to India as well during June/July 2016 to the Siavananda Kutir, UttarKashi, Himalayas for a month TTC. have been doing some reasearch about the ashram and how conveneient and safe it is to reach there as i will traveling from London.
    Would you recommend this place for yoga and for inward work please?
    many thanks for your help.

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    1. Hi There. I haven't been at the ashram in Uttarkashi although I have tried many times before but they normally receive guests only for their TTC programs. So I can't tell you much about it but I heard is a great place and the location should be just ideal for inner work. Whenever you are done with your TTC would be great it you could come back here and share a bit about your experience :-) Good luck with everything.

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    2. Thank you so much for your reply.
      Lots of love and light xx

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  40. Marco...Namaste...Older Man 60...would like to walk the path of Vanaprastha/Sannyasi...coupled Back/Spine Health Yoga...Herbal Instruction.
    Can you assist me on this journey...

    Mike

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  41. hello marco,

    I'm just lost and depressed and i need to find myself. i never did yoga before and I'm not familiar with this world however i want to go to an ashram and yoga retreat.. please help what do you think is suitable

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    1. Hi Safia, there is very little i can tell you, you need to be more specific. What exactly are you looking for?

      Delete
  42. Hi ๐Ÿ˜Š
    I am about to take a year (or so) out with the family to travel and as 0art of that, I wanted to come to India and study yoga.
    My children are pretty young, 1 and 4 and my husband will be with us. I'm wondering if there is somewhere that we can go together, where the children can be welcome and gain something from the ashram environment.
    I have practiced yoga on and off for many years and really enjoy mantra and kumdalini.
    At another stage in my life, I might want for a very intense, heavily demanding sort of experience, but as I still have children who night feed and will need me at times in the day etc, I am looking for somewhere peaceful to study yoga to enhance my personal practice and to be able to teach to enhance my work as a body worker.
    Any thoughts?

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    1. Hi Sarah. Hmmmm, I don't know. I would suggest you look into Amma's ashram. Its a huge place, I'm sure your kids will love it and you'll get the opportunity to take some classes, and perhaps to do your own workshops.

      Another good option is Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama. Very comfortable specially for kids. The hatha is very gentle but very oriented to meditation. You can have plenty of time to study on your own if that's what you are looking for, you could probably practice in your room if you need a stronger practice but I don't think you'll be able to teach there unless you are a regular student/practitioner in this tradition.

      I hope this helps. Good luck!

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  43. Hi Marco,

    Thank you for writing this post. Really very helpful. I'll be leaving to India and I'm still looking where to medidate and do yoga so you can imagine my joy when finding your post. Have one small question though: Are Sadhana Mandir Trust (Swami Rama's ashram) and Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama, both in Rishikesh, the same place or not? Thanks in advance for your answer.

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    1. Yes, they are both a bit outside of Rishikesh in a very peaceful area. Just about 15 min by tuc tuc to main Rishikesh market and they are about 20 minutes walking distance from each other, which is a nice walk by the way.

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  44. Hello,

    I am one of those who enjoys reading your blog and finds it really useful :)

    I want to travel to India for The Panchakarma Detoxification Programme that would be combined with Yoga and Meditation. I am beginner at yoga and meditation. I am thinking about 2- 3 weeks.

    It would be really nice to hear what ashram could you suggest? Thank you :)

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    1. Hello! As you haven't received a reply and I stumbled upon this post, I can recommend you an Ashram I have been in - much smaller and not as known than the above ones, family-run and very nice! They offer yoga and meditation and also Ayurveda (I am not sure about the complete Panchakarma). You can have a look at http://www.jaisiyaram.com/ashram.htm
      I loved it there!
      Hope you enjoy!

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  45. Hello,

    First of all I want to say how much I like your blog and find it useful :)

    Thats why I wanna ask your opinion. I want to travel to India for The Panchakarma Detoxication Programme that would be combined with Yoga and Meditation (I am beginner in those). I am ok with strict shedule and I want to spent 2-3 weeks at ashram. What do you think could be the best?

    Thank you in advance :)

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  46. Hey Marco!
    Great blog! Thanks for this.
    Looking for an immersion experience. A place to explore the deep currents of spirituality in India. I would like to include some authentic yoga with deep roots, but not exclusively. I'm open also to Advaita, and whatever else may speak to me. I love pilgrimage. Hoping to stay for at least a month, maybe longer. Just came through a short Vipassana, and may also be looking for a location where similar meditation intensives are possible. Any wisdom you might offer would be greatly appreciated! Namaste!
    Jeff

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  47. Hi Marco...Truly a great post..

    Bihar School of Yoga is is the kind of intense and transformative experience that i have been looking for to get rid of various negative emotions and perceptions that have accumulated in my life.

    Unfortunately, I cannot do a 4 month course at a stretch. Can you please suggest an alternative ashram or course of 30-45 days which can deliver a similar transformative expereience.

    Thanks

    Vikas

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    1. Oops, replaying to your comment just a little bit late, two years late! ๐Ÿ˜ฌ Anyway, in case you or anybody still needs it. I suggest you go through the BSY website and look at the events, they have short term programs, also at the Rikhia ashram. You can find all the links in https://www.path2yoga.net/2012/01/bihar-school-of-yoga-4-months-course.html

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  48. I stumbled across this article after my trip to India has brought me across a very beautiful, small Ashram where I did a yoga retreat and loved it! I thought to share it with you, as you and your readers might like it, too - and any participation helps their children charity school which I am trying to support now in any way I can! :) They feed and education 250 children of Rikshaw-drivers, construction site workers, daily labour etc.
    One can go to see the school and even play with the kids! They have their own restaurant and another beautiful thing is that the family itself is non-religious, so there is no pressure to participate in any ceremonies, rituals etc. You have your own space when you want and need it!
    It is the Jaisiyaram Ashram. You can see it here: http://www.jaisiyaram.com/ashram.htm
    Thank you, Marco - I will go through your webpage a bit more, as it has looooots of useful information for my next trip! :)
    Namaste!

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    1. Oh thank you so much for sharing this. That is a wonderful tip, really appreciate that. Maybe I will visit this ashram in the future. ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ™

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  49. Hi Marco, check out YogaPoint in Nashik. I just completed a 200hr intensice TTC. Family run Ashram. Wonderful experience. They also offer other courses.
    Regards
    Saraswati

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    1. Thank you Saraswati, I do want to visit this ashram in the future ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ™

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  50. Hi Marco! Please tell us the ashram where you can be for work or a maximum for a small fee of about $ 1 a day and really want to get out of civilization in a remote corner of India where there will be as few people as possible. I hope for your advice! Thank you! Sorry for mistakes, I'm using an interpreter.

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  51. Hi Macro !

    Thanks for this great article. Recently, I am staying in a Siddha Yoga peeth which is yoga teacher institute in Rishikesh. My other friends are also planning to coming here and were asking for more aashrams here.

    So, Thanks for sharing this amazing post with wonderful information.

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    1. Thanks to you Ennie, I'm happy you found this article helpful. I hope you enjoyed your stay at that school.

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  52. Hello Marco
    Thank you this is such a great review. Do you have an updated more recent one to show. Thanks for sharing

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    1. Hi there, thanks for your feedback and for taking the time to read my blog. I have updated this article this year. The last ashram I mentioned, Swami Krishnananda Hatha Yoga Vidyapeeth, I visited in February this year. Whenever I visit another ashram I will add it to this list. Namaste

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  53. Mostly ashram are expensive and not affordable for a common man. Please tell about any free or cheap ashram in India

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    1. Hi there, the vedanta camps at Swami Dayananda ashram are on donation basis. Amma's ashram is really affordable, even for people from India, and you might be able to stay there for free in exchange of work. You can do the same at the Sivananda Ashrams, you can volunteer there for several months in exchange of food and accommodation, but you'll probably need to stay there for at least a week as a regular guest so that they can get to know you.

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