There is a reason why Rishikesh is called the yoga capital of India. With like a bajillion courses and styles and ashrams to choose from, it can be quite overwhelming. I won’t be able to mention every single yoga center or course style. After walking around Rishikesh myself, consulting google for hours, and chatting with a few experienced yogi students/teachers, I’d like to offer some suggestions for people interested in coming to Rishikesh to start or deepen their yoga practice.
Rishikesh is a pilgrimage town and considered a very holy place to Hindus. Sages and saints have been visiting since the days of old to meditate and gain enlightenment. What seemed to have really put Rishikesh on the map (for tourists), was a visit in 1968 from the popular English band, The Beatles. Rishikesh has a lot to offer.
My first suggestion is to do some research on what style of yoga you want to practice/study. Hatha, Ashtanga, Iyengar, Bhakti, Kundalini, Jnana, Karma yoga? The best class or school will be different for everyone. Some practices of yoga are slower-paced and focus on relaxing and breathing into each posture, while other practices focus more on movement with the breath. Determine your level. It is important you don’t push beyond your ability, no matter which class you find yourself in. Please remember to listen to your body. The teacher will tell you that you can go into Balasana, or a child’s pose, at any time during the practice; hear that!
Decide how intense you want to study. You can find single drop-in classes, 3 or 5 or 7-day courses, or completely immerse yourself in the practice and stay at an ashram for a month or more for a 24/7 yogi teacher training experience. If you’re interested in becoming a teacher, some would say it’s advisable to make sure the school is Yoga Alliance Registered. You also need to determine how much you’re willing to spend. Prices generally range from Rs. 400 for a single drop-in class, Rs. 1800 for a 6 class pack, Rs. 90,800/1300USD or more for a month-long teacher training course.
If you are already in Rishikesh, stay at a hostel that offers yoga. Live Free Hostel offers donation-based yoga on their rooftop. This gives you an opportunity to meet other people, share experiences, ask for insight, and practice yoga without committing to a course. It’ll also give you a chance to visit the ashrams for yourself before making a decision. You can try a few drop-in classes to help you get an idea of what you want to focus on. Some of the websites offer an “early bird” discount; a deal for booking online 3 or more months in advance. Don’t worry, it’s likely you’ll be able to bargain with them when you arrive at their door.
Listed in no particular order, schools worth checking out include: -
Shiva Yoga Peeth seemed to be pretty hard-core/authentic. They had a list of guidelines strongly suggested to be followed so you receive the most from your experience. They were the only website or entity to inform that the whole experience may not be easy at times. Emotions may come up. Remember to have an open heart and be compassionate with yourself.
Iyengar Yoga Centre also had a list of guidelines and dress codes that must be followed. This ashram came across as being very authentic as well. If you’re at all interested in Iyengar Yoga, this is regarded as a must-attend school. This was the ashram Reka, the yoga instructor at Live Free Hostel, suggested to me. https://www.iyengaryoga.in/ -
Yog Amritam claims to be one of the oldest schools in Rishikesh. They primarily focus on the Hatha and Ashtanga yoga traditions. Their goal is to bridge the gap between yogis and non-yogis. They include the whole philosophy of yoga science in their curriculum, not just asanas. https://yogamritamrishikesh.org/ -
Jiva Yoga Academy boasts small class sizes to deliver an authentic yoga experience. They offer 100hr and 200hr teacher training courses and a few options for “detox retreats.” This ashram seems a little more low-key, less intense. The facilities and accommodations look beautiful. https://jivayogaacademy.org/ -
Jivan Chakra Foundation offers a holistic approach so students learn to develop a practice on their own and/or teach from true experience. They offer Hatha yoga teacher training, or if you want to study multiple styles; a multi-style ttc course. They also offer a pranayama course, which is nice if you’re looking for training in areas other than asana. https://jivanchakra.com/ -
Rishikesh Yog Mandir classes are all-inclusive, from asana, pranayam to meditation and philosophy per the Vedic standard. They offer 200hr, 300hr, and 500hr teacher training courses. They also offer meditation and Ayurveda classes. You can stay in their facilities or find your own if you require more accommodation. They didn’t have reviews on their website, I would personally check this one out before registering. They have a female yoga trainer! https://www.yogateachertrainingrishikesh.com/ -
World Peace Yoga School offers teacher training in Hatha and Ashtanga yoga for a traditional, authentic yoga training experience. They claim to be #1 in Rishikesh. Their website is very comprehensive and will answer any questions you may have. They have a lot to offer. Their space looks beautiful. Read the orientation manual under the “About” tab if you’ve never been to India or have questions about what to expect when coming to Rishikesh. https://worldpeaceyogaschool.com/
No matter where you go, there you are. Best wishes on your yoga journey! Hari Om.