Article by Jon Simpson
Yoga has been a part of India’s ethos and daily practice for over 5,000 years.. As yoga’s popularity rises across the world, travellers increasingly are making their way to the land of its birth. In India, yoga retreats have mushroomed across the country from top-end luxury spas to small hotels in religious centres such Thiruvananthapuram in the south. Fortunately for the purists, there are several yoga schools run by grand masters who still teach the practice in the time-tested way, steeped in ancient traditions and philosophy. For them, yoga isn’t instant nirvana; it’s a way of life.
Book flights to India and take some time out for your mind, body and soul and try one or all of these wonderful yoga retreats.Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute – PuneThis is a must-visit place for any serious yoga practitioner. Run by 90-year old grand master of yoga B.K.S Iyengar himself, along with his children, the Iyengar School emphasises in-depth study of postures and breathing. Situated in Lune, the institute caters to advanced students so make sure you at least know the basics before turning up with your mat. There can be a long waiting list for this one so book in advance and you will need to arrange your own accommodation. Pune has many decent hotels so it shouldn’t be a problem.Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute, MysoreMysore is a city of fountains and palaces and is near Bangalore. This institute was established by Sri K Pattabhi Jois, now 93. He propagated the ashtanga vinyasa form of yoga which is more fast paced and uses routines of movement. The courses here range from one to six months and can even be taken in Sanskrit. Jois no longer teaches, lessons are taken by his daughter and grandson, but he is always on site for those who wish to consult him.Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram, ChennaiAt this centre the gentle art of viniyoga is taught. The guru is T.K.V Desikachar, who learnt from his father, a practitioner of holistic yoga. The course is made up of elements encompassing breathing, med itation, therapy and exercise and is a four week program. Courses do book up well in advance so make sure you call earlySivananda Yoga Vedanta Dhanwantari Ashram, TrivandrumJust outside Kerala’s capital, this yoga centre is located in a 12 acre ashram and follows a holistic approach. It offers teachings on yoga, philosophy and devotion. The centre is run by 46 year old Italian Doctor, Sivaswaroopananda, who came to India more than a decade ago looking for a more ‘meaningful’ life. The school offers two week yoga vacations with dorms or tent style lodgings and a mix of yoga practices.Parmarth Niketan, RishikeshNestling in the Himalaya’s on the banks of the Ganges River this institute has long catered to India travellers going to the holy city of Rishikesh which has more camps than eateries. Swami Chidanand Saraswati runs the courses in English. The ashram has 1,000 rooms on its 8 acre site; ones with view across the Ganges cost a little more Meals are vegetarian and every March there is a yoga festival bringing together yoga, Reiki, Shinto yoga and Power yoga.For a touch more luxury…Shreyas, BangaloreRecognised as one of the finest Yoga Retreats in the world, Shreyas is dedicated to promoting the authentic spiritual traditions of yoga in an environment normally associated with a five star hotel. There is daily yoga practice, meditation, chanting and everyone helps either in the vegetable garden, teaching local village children or cooking meals. There are many therapies available from all over the world and different facets of yoga are taught. This is a very luxurious but deeply fulfilling experience.Purple Valley Yoga, GoaThis is a peaceful haven in Goa, lined with sandy beaches and the azure Arabian Sea. The centre hosts some of the world’s leading yoga courses and has stunning accommodation. Ashtanga is the main yoga of choice here. The days start with a morning walk to the school, through tropical gardens, there are incredible vegetarian and organic buffets and breakfasts feasts of fruits from the region. There is even a laundry service and help organising trips to the surrounding areas. Yossum Retreat, Himalayas, LadakhWake up to pristine peaks of the Himalayas before going to the meditation hall for some soul soothing. There are daily Hatha Yoga, Pranayama Yoga and breathing sessions, active mediations, silent meditations, nature walks through the local area, stunning accommodation and delicious, vegetarian meals provided, made mostly form the organic vegetables that grow in the retreat garden. Whether it’s serious practice or a little bit of luxury, India has it all.
About the Author
A true travel author, Jon loves nothing more than taking exciting journeys across the globe waiting for the next piece…
Group Vinyasa Flow
Morning yoga practice during yoga and ayurveda retreat to Kerala, India, 2011 with Nadya Andreeva
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