We have compiled a guide to finding the perfect yoga school in India. Studying yoga in India can be one of the best gifts you can give yourself. While studying yoga, you would not just experience the rich culture and heritage of the country, but also get to experience the warmth of Indian hospitality. Also, it does not get more authentic than studying yoga in the country that is its birthplace.
Most yogis in India are taught yoga through the Gurukula system of education, where the pupil lives in the same place as the Guru (teacher) and learns from them. Therefore, by studying yoga in India, you will be learning from a teacher who has been schooled in a similar system from one of the many traditional yoga lineages in the country.
The boom of modern yoga has seen plenty of schools crop up in India. Most yoga aspirants searching for the perfect school do get overwhelmed; therefore, in this blog, we will look at the most well-known ‘traditional’ yoga schools in India and how to choose the perfect school based on your level of practice.
Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Ashrams India
Locations: Neyyar Dam (Kerala), Madurai (Tamil Nadu), Uttarkashi (Uttarakhand) & Guntur ( Andra Pradesh)
Levels: Beginners to Advanced
Among the well-known yoga schools in India are the Sivananda Yoga Ashrams, which are situated in four different states in India. Sivananda Yoga was developed and formulated by Swami Vishnudevananda from the teachings of his guru Swami Sivananda, one of the foremost figures and spiritual minds of the country. The Sivananda Ashram offers 200Hr (4 weeks) Yoga Teacher Training Course (YTTC), which is an intensive course where students learn about all aspects of yoga – asanas (postures), pranayama (breathwork), dhyana (meditation) and the philosophy of yoga. For the entire duration of the course, the student is required to live in the ashram and follow the ashram’s code of conduct and daily schedule. This teacher training course is ideal for beginners who have had little or no yoga practice, as students are taught all fundamentals of yoga in the YTTC. The ashram’s website is regularly updated with the YTTC schedules for the year, so we advise you to check the dates in advance.
Website: Sivananda Yoga Ashram
Bihar School of Yoga
Location: Munger, Bihar
Level: Beginners – Advanced
If there is one yoga school in India that strictly adheres to its ancient tradition and has remained unaffected by today’s modernisation of yoga, it is the Bihar School of Yoga. If you are seeking to learn traditional yoga and do have the time to dedicate yourself to the learning process, then you should choose the Bihar School of Yoga. It is also important to remember that the universal meaning of ‘yoga’ as defined by the media is purely restricted to the physical practise (postures), but the science of Yoga is much more than that. In this ashram, you will be able to experience and learn the holistic science of Yoga as it has been known – a spiritual practice where the end goal is self-actualisation. The ashram conducts only one course every year in Yoga Studies, which runs for a total duration of three months and is taught in English. The course focuses more on the spiritual aspect of Yoga by living the ashram life, practising seva (selfless service) and mantras (chanting). Since the ashram offers only one YTTC per year, it is suggested to plan and send in the applications in advance.
Website: Bihar School of Yoga
Level: Beginner – Advanced
Mysore in Southern India is a well-known ‘Yoga hub’ since the tiny city is the birth place of Ashtanga Yoga, a style pioneered by K. Pattabi Jois and which is better suited for advanced Yoga practitioners. There are plenty of schools in Mysore that offer YTTC in Ashtanga and Hatha Yoga styles. Among the many schools, Bharath Shetty’s Indea Yoga is a school that welcomes all practitioners, irrespective of their level of practice. Indea Yoga offers both YTTC courses as well only Yoga Asana classes in both Ashtanga and Hatha Yoga. Depending on your focus and timeframe, you can choose which class you’d like to enrol in. As a teacher Bharath, has a strong foundation in two of the most traditional Yoga lineages in India, Sivananda and Iyengar Yoga and he brings this wisdom to his classes and YTTC.
Level: Beginner – Advanced
The Yoga Institute in Mumbai was founded in 1918 in the financial capital of India and today it is recognised as one of the oldest Yoga centres in the world. With that title, the school till date carries forward the legacy of its founder Shri Yogendra. The TTC courses offered by the institute cater to a variety of students – those keen on pursuing an intensive course to long term courses which are ideal for working professionals. The Institute offers one month, three-month, seven-month, one year and two-year courses which are Yoga Teacher Training Courses. The one and three-month courses offered are intensive residential courses, while the other courses are non-residential courses which are offered in the evening or weekends only. They also offer specialised workshops and daily yoga classes at the Institute.
Level: Beginner – Advanced
Looming large on the banks of the River Ganga is the Parmath Niketan ashram, which is a sight you cannot miss while visiting Rishikesh. The Ashram is well-known place for most Yogi’s visiting Rishikesh for the first time because of the clean and relatively affordable accommodation and proximity to the beautiful view of the River Ganga. The Ashram is well known the world over as it annually also hosts the world-famous International Yoga Festival. They offer a wide array of courses for both beginner and advanced yoga practitioners, which range from one-month teacher training courses to 5-day, one week and two-week courses. Their one-month Yoga Teachers Training is ideal for those keen on immersing themselves into learning Yoga on a deeper level. Those pressed for time and seeking a quick ashram experience in India, usually opt for the Parmath Niketan Ashram, as they welcome beginners and are flexible on the minimum time spent in the ashram.
The contributor of this article Adithi Mathews is a yoga practitioner and teacher living in Germany; she loves to blog on the topic of yoga and meditation.