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Alter at Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Dhanwantari Ashram. Photo Credit: Coni Hörler

Ashrams have been a big part of spiritual and religious life in India for hundreds of years. When the Beatles went to India in 1968 and were refreshed and inspired by the time they spent at the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram, the rest of the world realised that there was something of great spiritual value to be explored in India.

Unlike many modern yoga retreats, ashrams remain true to their traditional roots. Ashram life is different from everyday life; distractions are minimised, and everyone on site shares a common purpose. They are incredible places to delve deep into the mind and concentrate on self-inquiry and profound internal work.

If you’re looking for an ashram to experience authentic yoga and meditation practices, and guidance from highly experienced practitioners and teachers, it can be difficult to know where to start. This article is a small guide to Ashram life in India.

Click here to read our full guide to Ashrams in India. 

Ashram Guidelines and Etiquette

All ashrams will have their own guidelines and etiquette which residents and visitors are expected to follow. In general, though, you might expect the following:

• A modest dress code. Usually, shoes are not permitted within meditation and yoga rooms. Clothing is expected to cover shoulders and knees. Some ashrams may provide clothing. Loose, cotton garments are much better and more appropriate than the tight lycra yoga gear that’s often worn in the West.

• Simple vegetarian or vegan food — ashrams provide a nourishing and balanced diet and work on principles of ahimsa (non-violence), so do not bring animal products on site without permission.

For a more detailed guideline to ashram etiquette, click here.

Ashrams to Explore in India

Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Dhanwantari Ashram, Trivandrum

In the foothills of Kerala’s the Western Ghats, this area is set within incredible natural beauty — forests, mountains and colourful flowers are everywhere you look. It’s a warm, friendly place and offers instruction in classical yoga techniques and meditation, all rooted in the teachings of Swami Sivananda and Swami Vishnudevananda. The daily schedule is simple but well structured and designed to guide you deep into an immersive yoga experience.

Click here to read more about this Ashram.

Phool Chatti Ashram

Phool Chatti Ashram is situated in the north of India along the banks of the Ganges River in the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains. Set in stunning gardens and surrounded by mountains, the name “Phool Chatti” means “Land of Flowers”.

Phool Chatti Ashram has been welcoming spiritual seekers for meditation, renewal, and spiritual growth for over 120 years.

More information on this ashram can be found here.

Swami Dayananda Ashram

The Ashram is headed by the Swami Dayananda Saraswati, who is a teacher of contemporary Vedanta and a scholar in the ancient script of Sanskrit in the Sankara tradition. He has been teaching for more than five decades in India and began spreading his teachings abroad in 1976. Swami is also well-known for his humanitarian efforts in India and his participation as a speaker for many international forums.

Click here to read the Ashram’s full profile. 

If you’re looking for an authentic ashram experience in India, then do click here to explore all the Yoga ashrams that are registered in our Yoga directory.

 

 

 

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DR. ANANDA BALAYOGI BHAVANANI

“Science and spirituality are met at Ananda Ashram, convincing even the most difficult mind that yoga is a complete mind science.” – Yogacharini Korina-Anandhi Kontaxaki one of the eminent Yoga teachers of Cyprus.

Very few Yoga schools are able to marry tradition and modernity in a seamless manner. One of the few is Ananda Ashram at ICYER, Pondicherry that is celebrating its 50th anniversary on 5 August 2018. Classical Rishiculture Ashtanga Yoga (Gitananda Yoga) as expounded by Swamiji Gitananda Giri Guru Maharaj is taught in this tradition that balances the ancient tantric and yoga wisdom with modern medical scientific knowledge. It is truly a Modern Yoga Gurukula in nature, spirit and manifestation as students live with the gurus and learn to live and love yoga as a 24-hour Sadhana of life itself. Read the rest of this entry »

Comfortable and steady posture. Photo Credit: Coni Hörler

BY SUSHANT PANDEY

Concept of Asana

Asana (posture) and Pranayama are the 3rd and 4th limbs in the text of Patanjali Yoga Sutra. Asana literally means ‘seat’. In the text of Patanjali Yoga Sutra, Asana is described as a seat of meditation. In the second chapter, verse 46; Patanjali defines asana as ‘sthiram sukham asanam’. This verse is translated as ‘posture (should be) steady and comfortable’. While defining posture Patanjali was well aware of the body-mind connection. Therefore he puts asana after Yama (social codes of conduct) and Niyama (personal codes of conduct). He knows that having practised or incorporated the aspects of Yama and Niyama in life, sitting steady is possible. Sthirta (steadiness) of the body is only possible when one has channelled the mental energies. Otherwise sitting still is a big task. Read the rest of this entry »

Study Yoga in Bangalore City. Photo Source: Pixabay

Bangalore is the capital of the Indian state of Karnataka, located in Southern India. The city is somewhat laid back and relaxed compared to other large Indian cities, making it a good place to visit for the first-timer to India. Bangalore has many yoga schools which offer a variety of yoga styles to choose from. Being a large city, all of the traditional yoga styles and schools (such as Iyengar, Ashtanga, Sivananda and Bihar etc.) are present. There are also many yoga centres on the outskirts of the city, for those who prefer to be a little away from the city. Being a city filled with young and modern minds, the yoga scene in Bangalore has started to shift and include new ‘western style’ studios with a strong focus on well-being in a broad sense. Some of these studios have hardwood floors, air-conditioning and soft music, similar in style to studios you might find in New York City and London. Read the rest of this entry »

Initiation ceremony at Vinyasa Yoga Academy, Rishikesh. Photo Source: Kelsea Walsh

BY KELSEA WALSH

I’ve always had an affinity for yoga and Eastern traditions. Travelling to Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India I completed my 200-hour yoga teacher training in June 2017. In this blog post, I’ve outlined: my experience, and my opinion of the course and teachers as a student from Canada. Read the rest of this entry »

The Author in Warrior Yoga Pose (Photograph © Jamie Williamson)

BY ANGELA MCHARDY

Becoming diagnosed with PD meant I lost my many skills in multi-tasking, I could no longer keep apace of my demanding job in education. I tried to fulfil the role but couldn’t function with the speed of thought I used to. It became too hard. With a heavy heart, I took retirement and I now think of my job as keeping myself well. I started to research Parkinson’s interventions vociferously, and these are the 2 key findings I have discovered. Read the rest of this entry »

Yamas & Niyamas according to Patanjali. Photo Credit: Coni Hörler

BY SUSHANT PANDEY

Raja yoga is understood as one of the classical branches of the yoga tradition. Literally, the term ‘Raja Yoga’ connotes, the culmination or highest state of yoga. Raja means royal; it is so named because it enables the yogin to reach the illustrious king within oneself, the supreme self or atman. In various texts or scriptures of yoga, this term is used in different context as well. In Hatha Yoga Pradipika; one of the most popular traditional Hatha yoga texts; it is mentioned that ‘the knowledge of Hatha yoga is only for Raja Yoga’. (Verse 2/chapter 1).

The term Raja Yoga used here stands for highest state or culmination of yoga i.e. Samadhi or the state of transcendence. Here most scholars and aspirants get confused that purpose of Hatha Yoga is to prepare one for Patanjali’s Raja Yoga. But here in Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the author (swami Swatmarama) is referring to attaining the state of Samadhi through Hatha yoga. Raja Yoga, therefore, refers to the highest state of yoga practice i.e. practices leading to the state of Samadhi. Read the rest of this entry »

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