Best places to learn Yoga in India

Tomorrow, 21 June, is the International Yoga Day. Every year, there are grand celebrations and loads of people get together to perform asanas, and 108 suryanamaskars or sun salutations to commemorate the occasion. This year, owing to the Coronavirus pandemic, this might not quite be possible on that scale. However, India is still the land of Yoga and Mystique, the place where yoga originated and has been transforming countless lives ever since.

I was introduced to yoga early on. With my grandfather being closely associated with the Sivananda Ashram in Rishkesh, Uttarakhand, yoga was a common daily practice in our household. I was introduced to postures and asanas since childhood and I carried the practice with me into adulthood. Its been years since grandfather passed away, but the practice of yoga my father introduced me to, still sticks to me. The Sivananda Ashram and the Yoga Vedanta Forest Academy is a very peaceful place in Rishikesh by the banks of river Ganga, and just walking on the paths there gives a feeling of calmness and tranquility.

Over the years during my travels, I’ve met a lot of people who are keenly interested in learning yoga, and often fly in from different countries to pursue a Yoga training, maybe just for their own knowledge and practice, or to pursue the 100 hour or 200 hour yoga teacher training course and help others back home join the bandwagon. Sometimes, some of these people end up in places that are complete opposite of their expectations, and end up having far from pleasant experiences causing them multiple hardships. Last year, when I was learning to surf on the Kovalam beach, I met a friend who had come to India from Sweden to learn Yoga at a particular place, but ended up in trouble, and had to be admitted in the hospital for over a week for an injury.

This yoga day, I want to help everyone who is keenly interested in learning yoga, and I have put together a list of the top, fully vetted, highly rated, safe and great places to learn yoga at in India. India is a beautiful country, and is definitely the best place to learn yoga in.

The Yoga Vedanta Forest Academy, Rishikesh

The academy is a part of the Sivananda Ashram and Divine Life Society, in Sivanandanagar in Rishkesh, in the Tehri-Garhwal district of Uttarakhand. Located in the foothills of the Himalayas, on the banks of River Ganga, the place is a heaven for spiritual seekers. The academy generally hosts three batches of Yoga learners every year – March to April, May to June and September to October. This is however, tentative. The academy provides food and accommodation. The medium of instruction is English, and classes are conducted Monday to Saturday. Swami Sivananda, who founded this ashram and academy is also the founder of one of the two schools of thought of yoga – the Sivananda school.

Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute, Pune

This institute is situated in Pune and was started in 1975 by one of the chief yoga gurus, as well as founders of the second school of thought in yoga – BKS Iyengar, who started the Iyengar school of thought in yoga. This institute is the most regarded place to learn the Iyengar yoga, and it conducts yoga classes for people of all ages, with special classes for people with specific health problems. The school is very renowned and has helped countless individuals master the art of yoga.

Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Dhanvantri, Kerala

Founded in 1959 by Swami Vishnudevananda, a disciple of Swami Sivananda, yoga school specializes in classical yoga techniques from the Sivananda style – postures, meditation and breathing. The school also lays emphasis on Sanskrit, Patanjali, philosophy, anatomy and physiology during its training. The school is located near the scenic Neyyar dam, and is a great place in Kerala to learn yoga.

Krishanamacharya Yoga Mandiram, Chennai

If you are looking to learn viniyoga, ashtanga yoga and yoga therapies, then Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram in Chennai could be a good place to be at. Krishnamacharya is considered to be the father of modern yoga, and this institute has been founded by his son in 1976. The institute is also ISO certified to ensure the best quality yoga training delivery.

Ashtanga Institute, Mysore

Located in the majestic palace town of Mysore, the Ashtanga Institute is managed by the family of revered guru Shri Krishna Pattabhi Jois (who passed away in 2009), who taught yoga to renowned Hollywood personalities like Madonna, Sting and Gwyneth Paltrow. The course focusses on Ashtanga Yoga and Hath Yoga practices. The institute also lays emphasis on anatomy, philosophy, meditation and also the art of teaching. The institute is very renowned globally and receives loads of yoga enthusiasts from all over the world every year.

Yoga Institute, Mumbai

In the hustle and bustle of the financial capital of India – the city of Mumbai is located the Yoga Institute founded by Shri Yogendraji in 1918. The institute hosts various workshops and therapeutic health camps, and offers excellent courses for Yoga learners. There are also special programs for pre- and post-natal mothers, children as well as people with specific diseases and conditions like respiratory problems, heart diseases, orthopedic issues, diabetes, hypertension, etc.

These are my top 5 places to learn Yoga in India. What are yours?

Penny for your thoughts!