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Yoga in Rishikesh

Studying yoga in Rishikesh, India, with information about ashrams and teachers Yoga holidays
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Rishikesh

 At the foothills ofthe Himalayas along the banks of the sacred river Ganges, lies the townof Rishikesh. The first town this holy river reaches on its decent fromthe 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 goodplace to experience classical Indian yoga. Class instruction may leavea few gaps for students used to the precision of western classes, butwith its slow and spiritual atmosphere, it’s an enjoyable place tobegin discovering what India has to offer.Rishikesh is less intense than other parts of India, probably becausepeople have religion on their minds.  Most people are veryfriendly and quick to say hello or namaste.
 As a pilgrimage point, Rishikesh greets many devout Hindusand wandering sadhus (holy men). Many come to bathe in the sanctifiedwaters of the Ganges, as Hindus believe this can remove layers ofkarma. 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 themountains, and cuts through the fog, locals wash in the river. Livetemple chanting sets the tone. Beginning around 4 am, the chants floatacross the water until well after dark. During night time pujas(ceremonies), offerings of hundreds of camphor flame leaf boats floatpicturesquely on the river.
The commercial centre is more typical of India. But there is littleneed to visit it as the ashram centre, located on either side of afootbridge over the river, has great bookshops, good restaurants andemail places.  As a holy city, Rishikesh is fully vegetarian,so you won’t even find an egg there. Rishikesh hosts an InternationalYoga Festival, which is held every year in the first week of February.


Mother Ganga at Rishikesh

Where to Study

TheYoga Study Centre, Ganga Vihar, Haridwar Road,Rishikesh, 249201 Tel. +91 135 431196. Bramacharya Rudra Dev, a seniorIyengar teacher, conducts lessons in a rather militaristic style andstudents need to move quickly to keep up. Many western studentsappreciate his style and are able to feel the warmth behind hischallenging adjustments. While Br. Dev’s English is fluent, it mighttake a few days to get used to his accent, which is so strong that itis sometimes hard to tell whether he is speaking English or Hindi. Hisstudents are a mix of locals and Westerners. Donated mats and blanketsare provided though if you are concerned about cleanliness you mightwant to bring your own. As with most Indian yoga schools, women shoulddress modestly. There are classes daily at the centre. Twenty dayintensives are held three times a year during February, April andSeptember. The centre is closed from mid-December to mid-January andfor March, May and June. The Yoga Study Centre is on the other side oftown from the other ashrams, and from where most people stay. Aconstant stream of Rs3 shared rickshaws move up and down the main road,and many go as far as the centre.

YogaNiketan Ashram Tel. +91 135 430227.
Located near the footbridge, just south of the Sivananda Ashram,classes are taught in a traditional Indian teaching style. Asanastaught are the classical postures with few variations or adjustments.Class instructors often use the sing-song voice sometimes found inIndia as they gently urge you to ‘Relaaaax’. The green ashram groundsfull of monkeys are a short, steep walk up from the main road, takingyou towards river views and away from the bustle. To stay on the ashramyou need to commit to 15 days or more and attendance at the morning andevening yoga and meditation classes is compulsory. Those not staying onthe ashram are welcome to attend classes and can also use the library.

SriVed Niketan Ashram Tel. +91 135 433537/430279.
Across the river on the Eastern side of the Ganges, turn right afterthe footbridge and it’s a five minute walk. The classes offer gentleyoga style similar to the Bihar School of Yoga and classes cover gentlewarm ups for the joints, a few asanas and some pranayama. Meditationclasses are offered too. Classes are held morning and evening in thebig central hall. One month courses held seven times a year, and coverasana, pranayama and yoga and Hindu philosophy. It is not obligatory toparticipate in the classes, bhajans or satsangs in order to stay on thegrounds.

Swati& Rajiv Chanchani – Padmini Nivas Estate,The Mall, Library,  Mussoorie 248 179,Phone:  +91-135-7529, TeleFax:  +91-135-632793, Email – yoganga@nde.vsnl.net.in/ yoganga@sancharnet.inwebsite: www.yog-ganga.com
For first class Iyengar yogainstruction it is worth spending time in Dheradun, one hour by bus fromRishikesh and Haridwar. This husband and wife team, Rajiv and SwatiChanchani, are both senior Iyengar teachers, each with about 25 yearsexperience. 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 raisinginstructions, relayed from a kind heart, Swati has a brilliantunderstanding of the effects of the asanas. She is a wealth ofknowledge on finer adjustments and comfortably adapts them toindividuals with a spread of abilities throughout the class. During theasana courses you will find yourself using props or modifications ineach pose. A little pranayama and philosophy is covered.
Rajiv and Swati Chanchani have written a book entitled Yoga forChildren, which has been reprinted several times and has beentranslated in French. Teachers and teacher-trainees who wish toseriously learn the art of teaching yoga to children can apprentice attheir children’s classes at the schools.
Acceptance to any kind of training under Rajiv and Swati Chanchani hasto be confirmed in writing, in advance. Moreover, applicants must havea recommendation from an Iyengar yoga teacher or from a person who hasstudied with the Chanchanis.
The centre holds three intensive courses a year and each course is ofabout three weeks duration.  Asana, Pranayama and basic Yogaphilosophy are taught.
Besides these three-week courses, short workshops and on-going’general-classes’ are also conducted: these are held in Dehradun andother locations
With direct trains, buses and flights from Delhi, Dheradun has anagreeable climate and there is plenty to explore in the surroundingmountains, rivers and forests. Capital of a newly created state,Uttaranchal, Dheradun itself has little to recommend it as a traveldestination but lovers of Iyengar yoga will find the quality ofinstruction more than makes up for lack of inspiration in the citysurroundings. Yoga students generally rent furnished cottages withkitchens from local families for Rs3000-5000 per bedroom per month.Swati can help set something up. 

Sri. Nanda hasbeen conducting regualr Iyengar style yoga courses at the SwamiDayananda Ashram. He is a studentof Sri B.K.S. Iyengar, Sri. Gitajiand Sri.Prashanthji.He is also a student of Vedanta taught by H.H.SwamiDayananda Saraswatiji. On this courses you will explore the technicaldetails of Asana, Pranayamaand Meditation in the tradition of Iyengar Yoga. All courses areresidentialintensive courses with single and double accommodation with deliciousyogic cuisine.From morning to evening, you’ll be engaged indifferentsessions of Asana, Pranayama, Meditation, Chanting, Audio-video showsof Shri.Iyengar classes, Discussions on Yoga Philosophy, Music&Bajans.  For further details email yogiyaar@hotmai.comor visit the ashram website at www.dayananda.org

Other Thingsto Do

SivanandaAshram P.O. Sivanandanagar, Dist. Tehri-Garhwal,249192. While they share the same guru, this ashram is part of theDivine Life Society, and different to the Sivananda Yoga VedantaAshrams and Centres found around the world. The Sivananda Ashram has three living gurus -Chidananda, Brahmananda and Krishnananda, all direct disciples of theSwami Sivananda. Althoughno regular yoga classes are conducted here, it is possible to attendthe lectures on philosophical subjects, and studies of classical textslike the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads.To stay on the ashram it is necessary to request it in writing ahead oftime, and explain your reasons for the stay. The ashram is near thefootbridge on the west – city- side of the river.

MaharishiMahesh Yogi Ayurvedic Centre located by the NiketaAshram sells ayurvedic health products. It might be possible toorganise classes in ayurveda if you can put together a small group.

Places to Stay

Mostpeople choose to stay along the banks of the Ganges. Omkaranandamay call itself an ashram, but feels more like a shoeless guesthousewith a curfew. Rooms are large, light and airy, with balconies perchedover the flowing Ganges. It is worth staying there for the superb yogaroom featuring floor length windows looking out across the river. It isfully ‘block and tackle’ equipped – yoga belts, blocks, back archers,wall ropes. Room rates are inexpensive, and a discount applies to staysover three days. Guests may use the yoga room for an additional 100rupees a week. Book ahead in high season. (tel. +91 135 430883) Viewsfrom The Swiss Cottage are worthlugging your backpack for ten minutes up the dirt track. Situated highup in a green oasis you can enjoy the chanting which wafts up from thevalley. Delight in a feast from their Swiss bakery, as you sit in theshade overlooking a running waterfall.

Getting toRishikesh

Rishikeshis 6 hours (250 kms) by bus from Delhi. Buses depart regularlythroughout the day from near the ISBT. Trains, including the luxuriousShatabdhi Express with its meal service and air conditioning arrive atHaridwar, an hour by bus or taxi to Rishikesh. 

ChristinaBrown  for Yoga Online
Photograh Malcom Beatie

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