Yoga Institutes, Organizations and Ashrams in India

Dr. Jayadeva, Yoga Institute, Mumbai

Some Yoga institutions, organizations and ashrams are mentioned.

The Yoga scene in India is complex with many teachers, institutions, organizations and ashrams. In this vibrant spiritual landscape there is much intermingling of traditions, lineages and ideologies. This article is far from exhaustive. These are only a few of the commonly known and respected institutes for householders and are accessible to all. Not all of these have teachers training programmes; some focus purely on individual spiritual practice.

The Yoga Institute, Mumbai

Asanas, Karma Yoga, Therapeutics

Founded by Shri Yogendra, The Yoga Institute, Mumbai is the oldest Yoga institute for householders in India.  Shri Yogendra, himself a householder Yogi, was a student of the illustrious Yogi and Sage Swami Paramhansa Madhavdasji. The Yoga Institute pioneered medical research on Yoga as early as 1918. The Yoga Institute shot in to fame with its Sunday morning TV programme in the 1980's called Yoga in Daily Living that was one of India's most successful television programmes ever.

The Yoga Institute, Mumbai, offers regular classes, teachers training programmes, 7-day and 2-day seminars.

Kaivalyadham, Lonavla

Asanas, Therapeutics, Combined Therapy

One Master two disciples. The first householder Yogi Shri Yogendra founded the Yoga Institute in Mumbai, the second a renunciate monk Swami Kuvalayananda, founded Kaivalyadham, Lonavla. Both were disciples of Swami Madhavdasji.

Kaivalyadham has done pioneering work in the field of combined therapy, using Naturopathy, Ayurveda and Yoga. Besides this it conducts scientific research as well as philosophical research in to ancient scriptures. Kaivalyadham has an excellent reputation for its various Yoga training programmes, ranging from a diploma to a doctoral study.

It is located in the idyllic Western Ghats mountain range not far from Mumbai.

ISKCON: International Society for Krishna Consciousness, Vrindavan

Bhakti Yoga, Mantra Yoga, Vedanta

Of the lineage of the great 15 century Bhakti Yogin Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada  was directed by his master to bring the teachings to the western world in English. 

In 1965, at the ripe age of  sixty-nine-year Srila Prabhupada arrived in New York. A year later he founded the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), and by the time of his death in 1977, he had created a
worldwide spiritual movement based on Bhakti Yoga (the Yoga of devotion). Householders follow the four stages of life. Rituals may be a part of the daily life of householders.

Today Iskcon is a world wide community of ashrams, centres, temples, vegetarian restaurants and schools. The international headquarters are located in Vrindavan, India. Bhaktivedanta Book Trust is one of the world's largest publisher in the field of Indian religious philosophy.

The Divine Life Society and Sivananda Ashram, Rishikesh

Asanas, Advaita, Yoga Therapeutics

Swami Sivanand, a physician, renounced more than just his medical practice to retreat to the Himalayas and devote his life to Yoga. In 1936 he established the Divine Life Society in Muni-ki-Reti near Rishikesh along the banks of the Ganges.

Over the next few decades many disciples of Swami Sivananda, translated ancient scriptures, prominent among them is Swami Venkatesananda, translator of the Yoga Vasistha.

In the 1960s and 1970s, many swamis trained by the Himalayan master Swami Sivananda,  opened their schools in Europe and the Americas. Today Yoga institutions of the lineage of Swami Sivananda have been established all over the globe.

Ramanashram, Tamil Nadu

Jnana Yoga, Advaita

Ramana Maharshi the peerless Master of Jnana Yoga is revered throughout India. Ramana who left home and family at the tender age of 16, retired to the holy mountain of Arunachala to meditate for years in unbroken silence. Slowly word spread of a young silent Yogi and disciples gathered around him. He rarely spoke in later years and never wrote any books. His teaching was simple and direct, ask yourself and contemplate upon the question: Who am I? 

His teachings are summarized in a single booklet published by Ramanashram, a collection of 28 questions asked to and answered by the great sage of Arunchala. While there are many collections of questions asked to the Sage and answered by him, this is the collection he himself recommended as the only book necessary to read.

Today Ramanashram is a place for pilgrimage for all practitioners of Yoga and the Indian spiritual traditions.

Mata Amritananda Mayi, Kerala

Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga

Known as the hugging saint and avataar of love, Amma (Mother) is the beloved of millions of disciples, followers and seekers.

Though Amma travels throughout the world, she is based in her home town in the southern state of Kerala. The path of devotion is practiced by all in the Ashram. Rituals, mantra chanting and devotional songs are part of the daily routine. Service and charity are also encouraged.


Dhiraj Sharma from Rishikesh:
Bihar School of Yoga founded in 1964 by Sri Swami Satyananda Saraswati is missing in the list.

Radhika from THATfirst:
Dhiraj, thank you for your comment. As i have already mentioned in the article, the list is far from exhaustive. There is many schools and institutes, as well as individuals, that obviously cannot be listed here.

Manoj from Bhopal, India:
The ultimate goal of life is pleasure (ananda). Such a pleasure should not be caused by any person or thing otherwise it is illusion in the name of pleasure. Pleasure n pain cannot be given by any 1 else. Its a result of your understanding and awareness, i think that is what we call yoga or meditation.

Radhika from THATfirst:
Thanks Manoj, for your contribution. I would like to make an important clarification. Yoga is going beyond all dualities, that is both pleasure and pain, since both are binding. The english word pleasure is about sensual and material pleasure. The sankrit word for pleasure is not Ananda. The sanskrit word for pleasure is preyas.
It is important to understand these two concepts: Shreyas and preyas. Preyas is pleasant at first but leaves a bitter after taste. Shreyas is not pleasant, it is that which is good. Shreyas is like medicine, it may be bitter initially but it is good for you. In daily life, chose Shreyas, not preyas!
Ananda on the other hand is Joy, without cause, without reason, not dependent on anything external. This is a high state of being and is beyond all dualities. Yes, this is Yoga.

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