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How to Learn Yoga in India

Combine a Retreat with Visits to Sacred Sites

Practicing yoga in India.
Practicing yoga in India.

Yoga exists in an array of applications, which reflect the diversity of India, its land of origin. Imagine integrating yogic philosophy and practice without interruption, coupled with an unusual setting, in affordable yoga immersion. In India combining yoga retreats or ashrams with visits to temples and sacred pilgrimages are common practice.

During the summer Indians head north to hill stations and to pilgrimage sites in Himachal Pradesh (Jwalamukhi and Kulu-Manali temples). In Jammu and Kashmir the Hazratbal shrine on the shore of Srinagar’s Dal Lake is a common destination. Hindu worshippers frequent Amaranath, a sacred Shiva cave, and the Vaishnodevi sacred Shiva cave, where three forms of the mother goddess are worshipped. Winter months bring a mass migration of Indians, Westerners, and yoganinis to points farther south, such as Bangalore and Kerala or to an easy-to-reach urban location such as the Santacruz district of Mumbai, or Mysore, Bangalore. Whether you want to make your own arrangements or join a tour, good health and a memorable experience in India awaits you.

Himachal Pradesh views in India.
Himachal Pradesh views.

Starting out in southern India, in Kerela, the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Dhanwanthai Ashram Yoga offered Raja (which includes Hatha), Jnana, Karma, and Bhakti yoga. Devotional practices, such as silent meditation followed by mantra chanting in Sanskrit help illuminate the teachings. No experience is necessary but all guests must participate in the daily schedule.

Yoga is practiced beneath palm trees on the shore of a quiet lake. The ashram is located near a wildlife reserve; a weekly jungle excursion to a local waterfall is an option.

For More Info

  • Sivananda Ashram, Neyyar Dam. Many yoga ashrams offer Ayurvedic treatment and training in addition to yoga and meditation.

  • For a more urban experience The Yoga Institute, located in the Santacruz area of Mumbai, provides an array of yoga-related activities. Many of the classes are taught in Hindi; however, a helpful instructor may include English. Health camps and teacher-training programs are an integral part of this delightful training center.

  • Also located in Maharashtra, in the mountain range of Sahyadri, is Yoga Point.

A good reference is From Here to Nirvana, the Yoga Journal Guide to Spiritual India by Anne Cushman and Jerry Jones .

JONICE OWEN, a chiropractic physician, a naturopath and classically trained homeopath. She practices in Emeryville and San Francisco, Ca.

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