Yoga in Rishikesh
At the foothills of
the Himalayas along the banks of the sacred river Ganges, lies the town
of Rishikesh. The first town this holy river reaches on its decent from
the mountains, Rishikesh is home to many ashrams,
and most major Indian ashram, including Vivekenanda, Sivananda, Osho,
Bihar school of yoga, have an office there. It is a good
place to experience classical Indian yoga. Class instruction may leave
a few gaps for students used to the precision of western classes, but
with its slow and spiritual atmosphere, it's an enjoyable place to
begin discovering what India has to offer.
Rishikesh is less intense than other parts of India, probably because
people have religion on their minds. Most people are very
friendly and quick to say hello or namaste.
As a pilgrimage point, Rishikesh greets many devout Hindus
and wandering sadhus (holy men). Many come to bathe in the sanctified
waters of the Ganges, as Hindus believe this can remove layers of
karma. This peaceful ashram centre is certainly one of the more atmospheric places to relax and enjoy meditation in India As the sun rises from behind the
mountains, and cuts through the fog, locals wash in the river. Live
temple chanting sets the tone. Beginning around 4 am, the chants float
across the water until well after dark. During night time pujas
(ceremonies), offerings of hundreds of camphor flame leaf boats float
picturesquely on the river.
The commercial centre is more typical of India. But there is little
need to visit it as the ashram centre, located on either side of a
footbridge over the river, has great bookshops, good restaurants and
email places. As a holy city, Rishikesh is fully vegetarian,
so you won't even find an egg there. Rishikesh hosts an International
Yoga Festival, which is held every year in the first week of February.
Mother Ganga at Rishikesh
Where to Study
Yoga Study Centre, Ganga Vihar, Haridwar Road,
Rishikesh, 249201 Tel. +91 135 431196. Bramacharya Rudra Dev, a senior
Iyengar teacher, conducts lessons in a rather militaristic style and
students need to move quickly to keep up. Many western students
appreciate his style and are able to feel the warmth behind his
challenging adjustments. While Br. Dev's English is fluent, it might
take a few days to get used to his accent, which is so strong that it
is sometimes hard to tell whether he is speaking English or Hindi. His
students are a mix of locals and Westerners. Donated mats and blankets
are provided though if you are concerned about cleanliness you might
want to bring your own. As with most Indian yoga schools, women should
dress modestly. There are classes daily at the centre. Twenty day
intensives are held three times a year during February, April and
September. The centre is closed from mid-December to mid-January and
for March, May and June. The Yoga Study Centre is on the other side of
town from the other ashrams, and from where most people stay. A
constant stream of Rs3 shared rickshaws move up and down the main road,
and many go as far as the centre.
Niketan Ashram Tel. +91 135 430227.
Located near the footbridge, just south of the Sivananda Ashram,
classes are taught in a traditional Indian teaching style. Asanas
taught are the classical postures with few variations or adjustments.
Class instructors often use the sing-song voice sometimes found in
India as they gently urge you to 'Relaaaax'. The green ashram grounds
full of monkeys are a short, steep walk up from the main road, taking
you towards river views and away from the bustle. To stay on the ashram
you need to commit to 15 days or more and attendance at the morning and
evening yoga and meditation classes is compulsory. Those not staying on
the ashram are welcome to attend classes and can also use the library.
Ved Niketan Ashram Tel. +91 135 433537/430279.
Across the river on the Eastern side of the Ganges, turn right after
the footbridge and it's a five minute walk. The classes offer gentle
yoga style similar to the Bihar School of Yoga and classes cover gentle
warm ups for the joints, a few asanas and some pranayama. Meditation
classes are offered too. Classes are held morning and evening in the
big central hall. One month courses held seven times a year, and cover
asana, pranayama and yoga and Hindu philosophy. It is not obligatory to
participate in the classes, bhajans or satsangs in order to stay on the
& Rajiv Chanchani - Padmini Nivas Estate,
The Mall, Library, Mussoorie 248 179,
Phone: +91-135-7529, TeleFax: +
91-135-632793, Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Sri. Nanda has
been conducting regualr Iyengar style yoga courses at the Swami
Dayananda Ashram. He is a student
of Sri B.K.S. Iyengar, Sri. Gitaji
He is also a student of Vedanta taught by H.H.Swami
Dayananda Saraswatiji. On this courses you will explore the technical
details of Asana, Pranayama
and Meditation in the tradition of Iyengar Yoga. All courses are
intensive courses with single and double accommodation with delicious
yogic cuisine.From morning to evening, you’ll be engaged in
sessions of Asana, Pranayama, Meditation, Chanting, Audio-video shows
of Shri.Iyengar classes, Discussions on Yoga Philosophy, Music
Bajans. For further details email email@example.com
or visit the ashram website at www.dayananda.org
For first class Iyengar yoga
instruction it is worth spending time in Dheradun, one hour by bus from
Rishikesh and Haridwar. This husband and wife team, Rajiv and Swati
Chanchani, are both senior Iyengar teachers, each with about 25 years
experience. Authors of the book, Yoga for Children,
the couple teach occasional 5-20 day courses in Dheradun, around India,
England, Israel, and the USA. Using precise, abrupt, energy raising
instructions, relayed from a kind heart, Swati has a brilliant
understanding of the effects of the asanas. She is a wealth of
knowledge on finer adjustments and comfortably adapts them to
individuals with a spread of abilities throughout the class. During the
asana courses you will find yourself using props or modifications in
each pose. A little pranayama and philosophy is covered.
Rajiv and Swati Chanchani have written a book entitled Yoga for
Children, which has been reprinted several times and has been
translated in French. Teachers and teacher-trainees who wish to
seriously learn the art of teaching yoga to children can apprentice at
their children's classes at the schools.
Acceptance to any kind of training under Rajiv and Swati Chanchani has
to be confirmed in writing, in advance. Moreover, applicants must have
a recommendation from an Iyengar yoga teacher or from a person who has
studied with the Chanchanis.
The centre holds three intensive courses a year and each course is of
about three weeks duration. Asana, Pranayama and basic Yoga
philosophy are taught.
Besides these three-week courses, short workshops and on-going
'general-classes' are also conducted: these are held in Dehradun and
With direct trains, buses and flights from Delhi, Dheradun has an
agreeable climate and there is plenty to explore in the surrounding
mountains, rivers and forests. Capital of a newly created state,
Uttaranchal, Dheradun itself has little to recommend it as a travel
destination but lovers of Iyengar yoga will find the quality of
instruction more than makes up for lack of inspiration in the city
surroundings. Yoga students generally rent furnished cottages with
kitchens from local families for Rs3000-5000 per bedroom per month.
Swati can help set something up.
Ashram P.O. Sivanandanagar, Dist. Tehri-Garhwal,
249192. While they share the same guru, this ashram is part of the
Divine Life Society, and different to the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta
Ashrams and Centres found around the world. The Sivananda Ashram has three living gurus -
Chidananda, Brahmananda and Krishnananda, all direct disciples of the
Swami Sivananda. Although
no regular yoga classes are conducted here, it is possible to attend
the lectures on philosophical subjects, and studies of classical texts
like the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads.
To stay on the ashram it is necessary to request it in writing ahead of
time, and explain your reasons for the stay. The ashram is near the
footbridge on the west - city- side of the river.
Mahesh Yogi Ayurvedic Centre located by the Niketa
Ashram sells ayurvedic health products. It might be possible to
organise classes in ayurveda if you can put together a small group.
Places to Stay
people choose to stay along the banks of the Ganges. Omkarananda
may call itself an ashram, but feels more like a shoeless guesthouse
with a curfew. Rooms are large, light and airy, with balconies perched
over the flowing Ganges. It is worth staying there for the superb yoga
room featuring floor length windows looking out across the river. It is
fully 'block and tackle' equipped - yoga belts, blocks, back archers,
wall ropes. Room rates are inexpensive, and a discount applies to stays
over three days. Guests may use the yoga room for an additional 100
rupees a week. Book ahead in high season. (tel. +91 135 430883) Views
from The Swiss Cottage are worth
lugging your backpack for ten minutes up the dirt track. Situated high
up in a green oasis you can enjoy the chanting which wafts up from the
valley. Delight in a feast from their Swiss bakery, as you sit in the
shade overlooking a running waterfall.
is 6 hours (250 kms) by bus from Delhi. Buses depart regularly
throughout the day from near the ISBT. Trains, including the luxurious
Shatabdhi Express with its meal service and air conditioning arrive at
Haridwar, an hour by bus or taxi to Rishikesh.
Brown for Yoga Online
Photograh Malcom Beatie