6 Best Yoga and Wellness Destinations in India
By Anna Phipps
Sometimes we all need a break from our busy lives to relax, rejuvenate and concentrate on the things that really matter in life – like our health, happiness and spirituality.
Luckily you don’t need to leave India to experience some of the world’s best yoga and wellness destinations. As the home of Yoga and Ayurveda, India’s numerous and diverse ashrams, retreat centres and spas attract spiritual seekers from across the globe with a promise of serenity, stress reduction, spiritual renewal and self-discovery as well as a much needed escape from a busy lifestyle.
There are so many options to choose from, from traditional yet basic ashrams to luxury wellness spa retreats and everything in between.
Here are 6 of the best places to take a rejuvenating break in India:
Everyone’s favourite fun beach escape offers so much more than just beaches and wild parties. Goa is one of the best places in India to escape on a yoga retreat and you’ll find all styles and experience levels catered for here. The best part is that you can combine your yoga practice whilst also enjoying the soothing sound of the ocean to really destress and unwind. One of the best yoga retreats in Goa is the Swan Yoga Retreat in Assagao, North Goa which offers a full ashram style holistic program in a delightful jungle setting close to the beaches.
As the ‘yoga capital of the world’ Rishikesh has more ashrams and yoga and meditation classes than you could ever hope to visit but what better place for both aspiring yogis and more advanced practitioners to visit than Rishikesh. The stunning setting with views over the Ganges and the forested hills beyond, makes Rishikesh a place that every spiritual seeker should visit at least once in their life.
Serious yogis might want to head to the famous sprawling Parmarth Niketan ashram which runs an extensive program of yoga, Vedic heritage and spirituality, teacher training courses and also performs a Ganga aarti every evening. There are also plenty of drop-in classes scattered around Rishikesh and if you prefer to have a more relaxed stay. Why not try this enchanting Himalayan Hideaway of stone-clad cottages with gorgeous views.
The luscious, tropical landscape and laidback lifestyle of ‘God’s own Country’ is rejuvenating in itself and Kerala is a great destination for yoga, Ayurveda and wellness breaks. One of the most famous ashrams in Kerala is the Sivananda Ashram, founded by Swami Sivananda, near Trivandrum. The ashram offers drop-in classes, as well as courses in yoga and meditation and teacher training. Even the popular beach resorts of Kovalam and Varkala offer many opportunities for wellness retreats.
To enjoy the best combination of a relaxing beachside vacation whilst being close to yoga schools, spas and Ayurvedic facilities why not stay at this charming sea-facing home on Kovalam beach and enjoy the stunning views over the Arabian Sea from the balcony.
The fresh mountain air of the Himalayas is enough to soothe the most stressed soul. Nearby the hill station of Almora is Jageshwar, an alluring Hindu pilgrimage town nestled in thick forests overlooking the pristine blue Jataganga River which makes a perfect escape not only for pilgrims but also for nature and wildlife lovers who want to escape from it all.
A perfect place to stay is the rustically charming Jageshwar Jungle Lodge which offers yoga and meditation with stunning 180-degree views of the Himalayas.
The flamboyant and regal city of Mysore is not only famous for the amazing palace but also for Ayurveda and as the home of Ashtanga yoga. For a peaceful Ayurvedic vacation check out the Swaasthya Ayurveda Retreat Village or the Indus Valley Ayurvedic Center.
The famous Ashtanga Institute, run by descendants of the revered guru Sri Krishna Pattabhi Jois and the Sri Patanjala Yogashala are also popular and draw many yogis to Mysore. Both offer intensive yoga courses for those who are serious about advancing their practice. You’ll need to commit to at least a month of practice and places are competitive so apply at least two months in advance. Accommodation isn’t provided but there’s plenty to be found close by. Feel at home in this elegant 2BHK apartment in Gokulam close to all the yoga schools.
Puttaparthi, a small town in South Andhra Pradesh, is most well known as the home of the ashram of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. The ashram’s name ‘Prashanti Nilayam’, literally translates into ‘The Abode of Supreme Peace’ and is a popular centre for pilgrims and spiritual seekers. The sprawling complex contains many temples, shrines and sacred places and even a planetarium and spiritual museum that aims to promote unity between all religions.
The ashram offers basic accommodation but those who prefer more comfort why not try the charming homestay at the Om Sai Ayurvedic Society which is also well located for those visiting the Dr Rao Ayurvedic Yoga Centre nearby.
This is just a taster of the huge variety of spiritual and wellness retreats and destinations in India, with so many options to choose from you are bound to find the perfect escape to refresh and rejuvenate mind, body and soul.