If you want to learn yoga in its true essence, check out these top ten yoga and meditation destinations in India. Offering various programs and choices, these are the absolutely best ones from the land which gave the world the gift of this ancient discipline.
“Yoga is the journey of the Self, to the Self, through the Self.” – The Bhagavad Gita
The ancient Indian discipline of Yoga along with meditation helps in holistic healing and improvement of physical, mental and spiritual health. Owing to its immense benefits for health and well being, it comes as no surprise as why the entire world is absolutely hooked onto it! Not only does yoga improve your body and mind, it teaches you about life, yourself and how you fit into the scheme of everything, thereby imparting virtues like patience, tolerance, joy and more. However, if you want to learn the art in its true essence, you need to visit the country, which gave the world the wisdom yoga. Here are the top yoga and mediation destinations in India you must visit on your next yoga retreat.
1. Ananda in the Himalayas, Narendranagar, Uttaranchal
One of the top-rated spas of the world, Ananda in the Himalayas offers a wide range of meditation and ‘Shuddi Kriyas’ for stress management, yoga detox and other specific needs. Their retreat is conducted by some of the top yogis of India and is modelled on the curriculum of ancient Indian school of Yoga. It offers a serene experience, right in the lap of the Himalayas, just like ancient Indian hermits and yogis used to, and yet without having to compromise on the quality of life. Along with comprehensive classes on Gatyatmak, Hatha, Kriya Yoga, Yoga Nidra and several kinds of meditation like Chidakasha Dharana, Antar Mouna, and Trataka, they also offer Indian Head Massage, Tibetan Ku Nye Massage, Earth Stone Massage, and Hydrotherapy Aromatic Bath. Spread over an extensive area of 100 acres, and housed in the luxurious Palace Estate of the Maharaja, this destination spa resort has won several awards for its stellar services.
2. Purple Valley, Assagao, Goa
If you are looking for a fantastic retreat without the austere life of a yogi, the Purple Valley is your best bet. Located in the party state of the country, Goa, this retreat offers some of the best Ashtanga training classes from the top teachers, kirtans and pranayama classes on philosophy and yogic living. It offers a number of exciting programs for both beginners as well as advanced yoga practitioners. This retreat is spread over a Portuguese style property with pool, landscaped gardens, high speed Wi-Fi, an extensive buffet, massage therapists and Ayurvedic doctors on call. This is a perfect choice for someone who does not want their spiritual journey to detach them completely from their regular life, work and family.
3. The Art of Living International Centre, Bengaluru
The Art of Living is a brand, which needs absolutely no introduction! From conducting yoga sessions worldwide to imparting spiritual lessons across the globe, this organization is much loved for its benevolent work. Headquarters of the famous The Art of Living is spread around 65-acre retreat at the top of Panchagiri Hills offering some of the best yoga and meditation programs for various customized needs. Their program and lifestyle offer a unique blend of traditional Indian values along with the necessary conveniences for its Western students. Its stunning campus features its own organic farms, mountainside trails, picturesque gardens, and a beautiful lake, offering a tranquil experience surrounded by nature.
4. Osho Meditation Resort, Pune, Maharashtra
Nestled in the lap of nature, the Osho Meditation Resort offers a number of dynamic yoga and meditation programs. Along with their extensive week to month long yoga courses, they also offer eight different types of meditation every day, as well as Tai Chi and Chi Gong classes Boasting of beautiful Zen gardens, koi ponds, waterfalls, bamboo forest, a huge 12-acre park, marble meditation area, Olympic sized pool, spa, glass pyramid building and more, it is one of the most stunning yoga and mediation destinations in India. Attracting tons of students from all over the world every year, this retreat offers the facilities of a resort.
5. Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Dhanwantari Ashram, Kerala
Located in the foothills of the Agasthyamalai, right by the Neyyar Dam, the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Dhanwantari Ashram offers a rejuvenating yoga retreat for those who want to experience the Indian life on a disciplined traditional routine. Their package includes Karma Yoga classes, Asana sessions, workshops, lectures, Satsangs comprising of meditation, chanting and communication along with vegetarian meals. A three-day long residential course is the minimum option that you can opt for. They also offer a number of courses for amateur and advanced yoga teachers along with several programs for children and adults.
6. Ayurveda Yoga Meditation Resort, Coonoor, Tamil Nadu
Located in the picturesque town of Coonoor in the lap of the Nilgiri mountains, the Ayurveda Yoga Meditation Resort is surrounded by the lushest of the greens you will ever witness. It offers several healing packages for various physical and mental health problems along with weight loss detox, stress relief and overall well being. These packages comprise of a combination of yoga, meditation, massage and Ayurvedic treatments to reach to the root of the problems and eliminate it for good. Their unique attention to the details of individual needs is what sets them apart from a regular yoga class. They offer a variety of package options and accommodation choices but their glass rooms and cottages are highly recommended.
7. Mysore Mandala, Mysore, Karnataka
The Mysore Mandala is a dynamic and vibrant retreat in the royal city of Mysore. Located in a beautiful farm, it is housed in a century old house that is fashioned after a surprisingly modern format of a Western studio. It has a huge emphasis on the traditional form of Ashtanga, which are held in high regard. However, they also offer a wide choice of other courses to opt from, such as pranayama, Hatha, back bending, shatkriya along with comprehensive classes on yoga sutras. For those who want to read the original texts in Sanskrit, there are several lessons on Sanskrit too. They also offer extensive lessons on human anatomy as well as Ayurvedic science. Guided by a team of nine yogis, this is one of the best training institutes for yoga teachers.
8. The Yoga House, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
The esteemed Yoga House of Mumbai has opened up a brand new yoga shala and boutique hotel in Varanasi for their students. It is one of the most renowned yoga retreats, which offers a blend of traditional Indian knowledge of yoga holistic practice with a contemporary modern healthy lifestyle. This is perfect for people who are unsure of experimenting too much especially those travelling to India for the first time. It offers extensive classes on various styles of yoga such as Hatha Vinyasa, Ashtanga and Iyengar. Located in the holy city of Varanasi you get a feel of a beautiful and traditional culture the moment you step out of your accommodation and yet when you feel overwhelmed by all the sound, smell, colour and people, you can simply retreat to the calm of your room.
9. Isha Yoga Centre, Tamil Nadu
Located at the foothills of the Velliangiri Mountains, Isha Yoga Centre is a non-profit and non-religious yoga retreat, which has on its programs an extensive sets of courses. They believe in the training of Indian traditional yoga, such as Hatha Yoga, Kriya Yoga, Upayoga, punctuated with sessions of Aum as well as Shoonya Meditations. Spread over an area of 150 acres in the heart of a forest, nature plays a vital role in their programs as the students wake up to the sweet call of the birds and go to bed listening to the chirps of the crickets.
10. International Center for Yoga Education and Research, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu
This is not as much of a fancy retreat as an advanced yoga research center. It is a traditional gurukul located in the beautiful coastal town of Puducherry, which teaches the classical style of traditional yoga and its eight branches. All of its courses are strictly residential with a highly disciplined life and minimal contact outside, fit for an advanced yogi. While they do have shorter courses too there six-month long course is the most sought after and difficult to get into. Aspirants from all over the world apply for this after completing a mandatory yearlong correspondence course and only ten participants are selected following a strict elimination process.
Whether you are looking for some peace and solitude or a holistic solution or for a chronic illness or simply to enjoy a nice vacation while losing a few extra pounds, these yoga and meditation destinations in India have so much to offer! You will return home with not only a whole new experience of better health, but also a lot of perspective and wisdom.
Om Singh is blogging at Retreat Kula, a website that offers affordable yoga retreats in Costa Rica and 200 hours yoga teacher training for yogis around the world. He is always on the lookout for interesting places to visit. It took him 25 years of his life to realize where his true calling lies, but once that was done, there’s been no looking back. Since the last ten years that he is on the go, He is sharing his travel experiences by writing about them.