Sunday, September 20, 2009

Yoga Niketan Ashram in Rishikesh

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

Sivananda Ashram Rishikesh

Sivananda Ashram
Swami Sivananda
Swami Sivananda Saraswati was born as Kuppuswamy in Tamil Nadu on Sep 8, 1887. In the year 1924, he met his guru, Swami Vishwananda Saraswati, who initiated him into the Sanyas order. Thereafter, he settled in the holy city of Rishikesh and engrossed himself in intense spiritual practices. He became one of the greatest spiritual leaders of India and promoted the art of Yoga as well as the Vedanta throughout the world. Apart from being the founder of Swami Sivananda Ashram in Rishikesh, he was also the founder of Divine Life Society. He left for the holy abode on July 14, 1963.

List of Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center in India
  • Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Nataraja Center - New Delhi
  • Sivananda Kutir (ashram) - Rishikesh, Uttaranchal
  • Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center - Trivandrum, Kerala
  • Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Dhanwanthari Ashram - Trivandrum, Kerala
  • Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center - Chennai (Madras), Tamil Nadu
  • Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center - Madurai, Tamil Nadu
  • Sivananda Meenakshi Ashram - Madurai, Tamil Nadu
Swami Sivanada Ashram, Rishikesh
Sivananda Ashram at Rishikesh is the headquarters of the Divine Life Society, a worldwide organization. Swami Sivananda founded the ashram in the year 1932. Initially a small structure, Sivananda Ashram has now evolved into a huge complex with a number of halls, a temple and Gurudev's Kutir. Any person inclined towards spirituality can join this ashram and spend his life in the service of others.

Sivananda Yoga
The form of yoga taught at Shiva Nanda yoga centers and ashrams is known as Sivananda Yoga. A type of Hatha Yoga, it emphasizes on proper breathing (pranayama), exercise (asanas), relaxation (savasana), diet (vegetarian) and positive thinking and meditation (vedanta and dhyana). The teachers at these yoga centers are graduates of the internationally recognized, Sivananda Yoga Teacher Training Course.

Divine Life Society
In 1936, Swami Sivananda established the Divine Life Society at the Sivananda Ashram. The motto of this society is "Serve, Love, Give, Purify, Meditate, Realize". It was set up with the aim of spreading spiritual knowledge throughout the world. Later, in the year 1938, 'The Divine Life' Journal was started.

Yoga-Vedanta Forest Academy
Swami Sivananda instituted the Yoga-Vedanta Forest Academy in the year 1948. It was established to train disciples in the discipline of yoga.

The Course
The students of the Sivananda Ashram are educated in Yoga, Vedanta, philosophy, ethics and meditation. The three courses are offered each year, in March-April, May-June and August-September. The duration of the courses is two months.

Sivananda Eye Hospital
Swami Sivananda established the Sivananda Eye Hospital in the year 1957.

How to Reach Swami Sivananda Ashram of Rishikesh

By Air
At a distance of around 35 km, Dehradun airport falls the nearest to Rishikesh.

By Rail
The nearest railway station of Haridwar has direct train services to almost all the key cities in India.

By Road
A good network of roads connects Rishikesh with the other cities in Uttaranchal as well as the rest of the country.

Parmarth Niketan Ashram Rishikesh

Shiva @ Parmarth Niketan, Rishikesh, India

ikesh is a beautiful small town nestled in the foothills of the Indian Himalayas and known the world over for its annual yoga festival. I would surely recommend staying at an ashram while in Rishikesh. Though traditionally Hindu, Ashrams are holy places that welcome pilgrims of any race or religion that are willing to follow set guidelines. These places run based on donations and no money is required in order to stay. All donations however go back to the community and help to pay for your electricity, water and meals, which are free. I spent 10 of my 28 days at Parmarth Niketan and had the most fulfilling trip of my life. There is a deep sense of culture and community there that would be missed if staying in a hotel. Plus the hotels are on the opposite side of the Ganga from the nightly riverside Aarti Ceremony at Parmarth Niketan that is not to be missed. The ashram itself was clean and beautiful. Some of the rooms are available with western toilets and the accommodations are VERY modest. No clocks, radios, tv etc. I recommend if you are used to the finer things to bring shower shoes and a mummy-style sheet called a "Dream Sack" to sleep in (available at or amazon carries them plus cheaper alternatives) these are also great for the overnight train rides in India. They have an extensive website to check out the grounds, rooms, meals, ceremonies, rules and everything you would need to know for your stay: If you have any more questions feel free to contact me. It is worth every penny, just embrace the people and your time there and India will take over your soul. If this is your first trip to India it WILL change your life if not, then you already know.

Major Ashrams in Rishikesh

An annual International Yoga Week Festival is organised in Rishikesh, during the months of February or March. Leading spiritual leaders, Yoga teachers, Meditation teachers, Naturopath doctors and thousands of devotees participate in the festival. Some of the major ashrams in Rishikesh are:
  • Paramarth Niketan
  • Sivanand Ashram
  • Yoga Niketan
  • Omkaranand Ashram
  • Vanprastha Ashram
  • Ved Niketan Dayanand
  • Vedanta Ashram
  • Vanmali Gita Yogashram
  • Shankaracharya Nagar Transcendental Meditation Centre
  • Vithal Ashram and Yoga Study Centre

Swarg Ashram Area, Rishikesh Uttarakhand
This area comprising cafes, ashrams, temples and shops lies opposite to Shivananda Nagar and is a fascinating place full of local charm and lilting international accents. Foreigners in search of their inner selves can be found rubbing shoulders with the smiling, down-to-earth locals for whom spirituality is a deeply ingrained way of life. Some of the ashrams to visit in the Swarg Ashram area are the Baba Kali Kambliwale, founded by Shri Baba Vishuddha Nandaji and the Parmath Niketan Ashram. The Shivananda Ashram also known as the Divine Life Society is one of the oldest and most active ashrams here. It conducts many yoga and meditation courses as well as runs a charitable hospital. Next to it is the Gita Bhavan, one of the oldest temple complexes in the area where one can find the epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana inscribed on the walls. It houses an Ayurvedic dispensary and shops selling khadi and religious literature. Another popular ashram located here is the Transcendental Centre of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi made famous by the Beatles' visit in late 90s. The Neelkanth Mahadev Temple, considered a sacred temple in Rishikesh, is perched just above the Swarg Ashram at an altitude of 1675 mts. Another noteworthy ashram here is the thirteen storied Kailashnanda Ashram with each floor being dedicated to a different deity.