Known as the world capital of yoga, the North Indian city of Rishikesh attracts thousands of aspiring yogis from across the world, who come here to perfect their asanas and get a taste of the philosophical roots of yoga.
A variety of styles of yoga are taught in the city, ranging from Iyengar yoga to the hatha yoga most commonly associated with the disciples of Swami Sivananda (most notably Swami Vishnudevananda of Sivananda Yoga and Swami Satyananda of the Bihar School of yoga). However, you’ll be hard-pressed to find “hot yoga” here (which is virtually unheard of in India) or some of the newer, more active styles that are popular in the west.
Most people who come here for yoga holidays choose either ashrams or yoga schools, the latter of which are almost always tailored to western students. Many of the ashrams require minimum stays of a few weeks or more and are much more focused on meditation and on the philosophical and devotional aspects of yoga than on stretching and postures. This is especially true of the Yoga Niketan Ashram (www.yoganiketanashram.org) , which has a minimum stay requirement of 15 days and the Divine Life Society (Sivananda Ashram, www.dlshq.org), which grants residential stays to seekers on a case-by-case basis.
On the other end of the spectrum is Trika Yoga and Meditation (www.trika.agamayoga.com). The courses offered by this non-residential yoga organization are based very loosely on Kashmir Shaivism and are generally taught by non-Indian instructors. Another good option is the newish Rishikesh Yog Peeth (www.rishikeshyogapeeth.com), which offers residential teacher training programs aimed at foreign students in slightly more comfortable digs than your typical ashram.
If you’re looking for something in between, you might like the courses offered at the non-residential Patanjali International Yoga Foundation (www.patanjali-yogafoundation.com), which offers both yoga teacher training programs and certificate courses in Ayurveda, India’s natural health system. Another good option is the Parmath Niketan Ashram (www.parmath.com), which offers both beginning and advanced programs in yoga, meditation, and philosophy. They also host the increasingly popular International Yoga Festival (www.internationalyogafestival.com) every winter.