With International Yoga Day (June 21) becoming an annual feature, yoga has gained popularity like never before. Most institutions are making it compulsory, and gyms have introduced yoga classes in between the aerobics and zumba. But if you are really serious about yoga and want to take your practice to the next level, then you should complete a course at some of these yoga schools in India. They have a variety of options: from short term courses for beginners to long term courses to become yoga instructors.
Of course, each of these schools has its own distinctive style and for many yoga practitioners it’s a good way of upgrading skills.
Here’s a list of some of the top yoga schools in India:
The Sivananda style of yoga follows the five points of yoga set up by Swami Vishudevananda, a disciple of Swami Sivananda. This style looks at yoga with a holistic approach of physical, mental and spiritual health. They offer two week yoga vacations for beginners.
For those who have been practicing yoga for a while, you can apply for their teachers’ training courses (basic and advanced) in their ashrams: Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Dhanwantri Ashram at Neyyar Dam near Thiruvananthapuram, Sivananda Kutir, Netala, Uttarkashi and Sivananda Meenakshi Ashram, near Madurai. There may be a waiting list for some of the courses and you need to check their website for availability and details: www.sivananda.org/india.
RAMAMANI IYENGAR MEMORIAL YOGA INSTITUTE, PUNE
This is one of the most popular schools of yoga. It follows the asthang yoga (eight-fold) system, devised by the celebrity yoga guru, BKS Iyengar. This style uses props such as wooden gadgets, belts, ropes and advocates regular practice to integrate the body, mind and emotions. The school offers courses for beginners, general and advanced classes.
For beginners, they recommend a list of Iyengar trained teachers in your city for classes. You can do a beginners course in Pune only if your city doesn’t have a certified teacher. Pune residents can join courses there, but the waiting list can be long. For advanced learners, you have to be a practitioner of this form of yoga for at least eight years to join a course. You can check their courses and list of teachers at www.bksiyengar.com.
HIMALAYAN IYENGAR YOGA CENTER, DHARAMKOT (HP) & ARAMBOL (GOA)
Started by a disciple of KS Iyengar, Sharat Arora, this school offers a variety of courses: week-long yoga classes for beginners and continuing students, intensive yoga courses, teachers training courses, therapy courses, and yoga for children and women.
The Dharamkot ashram is located in Kangra and has amazing views, while the Goa ashram is set on a secluded white sand beach in north Goa.
K PATTABHI JOIS ASHTANGA YOGA INSTITUTE, MYSORE
This school of yoga was started in Mysore by Pattabhi Jois, a contemporary of BKS Iyengar. His teachings include – emphasis on ashtanga through Vinyasa, a breathing and movement system, Tristhana, emphasising on posture, breathing and looking place along with the 6 positions of the spiritual heart. The courses range from one month to three months and students have to give a gap of six months between two courses. The application is to be sent two months ahead of each course and they institute is selective about their students. For details and applications, check: http://kpjayi.org
The views stated here are the author’s own and do not reflect those of Lonely Planet India.
The article was first published in June, 2015 and has been updated since.