India has long been known as the birthplace of yoga and meditation. It is noted to have started over 5,000 years ago in the Indus-Sarasvati civilization in Northern India. Yoga is renowned for its wellness benefits, extending its goodness and healing, not only to the body but also to the mind. The first mention of yoga is said to be in the Rig Veda. Used by Brahmans and the Vedic priests, the Rig Verda is a collection of rituals, mantras, and songs recorded in various texts. It is the goal of many who use yoga to practice the body movements, breathing rituals, and mindful meditations in order to achieve a stronger harmony between body and mind, as well as a deeper understanding of one’s own spiritual connection to the self, others, and land.
Bihar Yoga is open to all, from beginner to advanced practitioners all year round. The school promotes lifestyle changes as well as yoga to practice humility, so chore classes like cooking, cleaning, and gardening are also scheduled into the day. The day starts at 4 am and ends at 8 pm, with participants following a strict regime that sees them work towards their goal to achieve a deep meditative state through various yoga therapies.
Phool Chatti is an ashram focused on yoga and meditation as part of their spiritual healing practices. It is to be found in the Rishikesh region of Uttarakhand in northern India, a region filled with snowy mountain tops as it is crossed by the Himalayas – not your most common imagination of India. Its ashram is over 100 years old (though recently renovated with contemporary comforts) and its seven-day course is run by the yoga director Sadhvi Lalitambay, who has lived there since she was a girl of fifteen.
The International Center for Yoga Education and Research is based in the coastal region of Tamil Nadu in south-east India. It is acclaimed as one of the more traditional guru centers to be found currently in India, and one to be especially noted for its fully immersive experience. Their three-week residential yoga course runs once a year in February and follows a strict regime. Participants are expected to follow the recommended vegetarian diet, with no drugs or alcohol allowed, and a full digital detox with extremely limited contact with the outside world.