India – The Land of Yoga
India, the fabled land of seers, sages, spiritual leaders and healers has been a beacon of light for the West for centuries. It is known for its tremendous cultural power that has maintained a deep impact on the world for thousands of years. Therichness of India’s culture is manifest in a myriad traditions, languages, faiths and rituals that lend it both wealth and depth. People of this revered land exude a sense of vitality and positive energy that conveys the essence of life. Though the west has cast its influence through colonial rule, the people of India still hold on to their rich culture and heritage which is a thing to be marvelled at.
Arguably, the most trending thing in the world, yoga is believed to have originated in India about 5,000 years ago. As per the yogic lore, Adiyogi, the first yogi, transmitted the science of yoga to the legendary Saptrishis or “seven sages”. He presented and explained 112 ways through which mortal beings can surpass their limitations and unleash their ultimate potential. Adiyogi’s offerings were carried to different parts of the world by these seven enlightened sages. Agastya, the sage who travelled across to the Indian Subcontinent was the most effective in terms of incorporating the spiritual process in practical life, not just as an ideology but as a way of life itself. It is his teaching and philosophy that has crafted the Indian culture around a core yogic way of life.
However, it was not until the birth of another legend, Maharishi Patanjali, that the diversified and complex Yogic knowledge was assimilated into a certain format known as Yoga Sutra. Believed to be the incarnation of Anantha, the thousand headed serpent king, he was blessed with a deep understanding of the human body, human mind and human consciousness. His concise Sanskrit rendering of the essential philosophy and technique of yoga forms the cornerstone of Yoga literature. It is still popular today, and is a part of almost every yoga curriculum.
There is within each mortal being a spark of creativity, call it the soul, the life force or by whatever name. It is this spark that forms the basis of human consciousness. Every individual is unique in himself because he brings forth a special amalgamation of forces revolving around a spiritual core. Yoga helps us connect this spiritual core with the all prevading cosmic source.
The four paths of Yoga, namely Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga, Gyana Yoga and Raja Yoga allow us to drive away the clouds of ignorance from our consciousness. These four yoga paths are not independent of one another. Each yoga path is intricately linked to the other. When we are devoted to God, we are bhakti yogis. When we stand for our fellow human beings we are Karma Yogis. When we engross ourselves in Yoga Practices, we are Raja Yogis. When we reflect upon the true purpose of life, we are Gyana Yogis. As is commonly said, “All roads lead to Rome.”, so all paths lead to Salvation.
With increase in urbanization and emergence of start-ups, stressed lifestyles have become the order of the day in most cities. With lesser time to embrace the nature and seek physical and mental calmness, many take to Yoga as a regular regime. This is one of the main reasons why yoga retreats are catching up in India like never before.
Besides, yoga is not about escaping from a stressful routine, but it is the way to unite with one’s highest potential, one’s real self and thus, be empowered to face life with a calm mind and a positive attitude. The word ‘yoga’ comes from the Sanskrit term ‘yuj’ which means to unite. Yoga, thus, is the path to uniting with our true, creative, higher selves and with the Universal consciousness or God. The aim of yoga has always been to integrate; to restore a state of perfect balance. Yoga is not just an isolated practice but a state of mind or a way of life. A yogi is the one who lives and acts with an awareness of being in communion with the Source.
So here are some of the idyllic yoga retreats that you can visit to spend time in solitude, and learn this ancient art of connecting with yourself and with the flow of life.
Bihar School of Yoga, Munger:
Tucked away in the serene ambience of Gaya, Bihar School of Yoga is a spell binding Yoga retreat in Northern India which allows you to enter into the realm of salvation. While the serenity of this spiritual centre makes it an ideal place to connect with your inner self, revitalize your mind, body and soul, and feel alive, its ethereal scenic beauty also attracts numerous yoga lovers who travel here from across the world to transcend into a state of peace. A typical day at this offbeat retreat begins at 4 am and ends at twilight around 6 pm. In between are times of meditation, Satsang, Kirtans and different types of Yogic Practices such as Raja, Hatha and Kriya Yoga along with a little bit of rest. You can also
soak in the enlightening workshops being conducted by spiritual gurus at the centre.
Himalayan Iyengar Yoga Centre:
“Yoga is not just for a yogi to gain enlightenment and freedom but also for the common man to be peaceful and happy learning to adapt to the present environment and adopt a lifestyle that brings harmony.”
Perhaps it this ideology which has been driving Himalayan Yoga Centre since 1984. Founded by the renowned Yoga guru BKS Iyengar and well known for its rigourous, dedicated yet, practical approach, the centre boasts of an array of yoga and meditation courses to suit various requirements and time frames of visitors. Because it is situated in the arms of Himalayas, the visitors can get a rare opportunity to experience the quietness and peacefulness unknown to the urban world.
Ananda in the Himalayas, Uttranchal:
If you are thinking about taking a break from the stressful lifestyle of cities and are craving to immerse yourself in a spiritually rejuvenating yet luxurious experience, head to this award winning resort located in the Himalayan foothills. Perched at a height of 4350 ft, the place offers a breathtaking sight of the graceful Sai forests and Ganges river valley.
Once you step foot into this wellness centre, you will have a choice to pamper yourself with aromatic and soothing massages or be introduced to different types of meditation and well tried ‘Shuddhi Kriyas’ intended with the motive of restoring balance and harmonizing energy in the body.
Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Dhanwantri Ashram, Kerala:
Ever closed your eyes and wished you had your personal button to make your life easier and less stressful?
Well, dreams do come true. Especially when you arrive in this ashram located in God’s own country. Formerly an ayurvedic sanctuary of healing, the spiritual complex offers an ideal atmosphere for the practice of yoga and meditation. The best thing about this place is the library that boasts of a rich collection of books on yoga and related topics. Visitors also get to enjoy fresh fruit salads, fresh
juices and snacks prepared with love and care.
Osho Meditation Resort, Pune:
Intricately linked with Pune’s identity, this world renowned resort, located in a leafy, luxurious northern suburb, has been serving humanity since the death of Osho, a well known contemporary spiritual Guru in 1990. Situated at a distance of 7 kms from Pune airport, this sprawling property offers a unique blend of traditional Vedic life and luxurious modern amenities. With its lush gardens, luscious walking trails, luxury spa and contemporary architecture, it is, to the weary souls, the perfect place to indulge in some deep meditation. Come to this spiritual sanctuary and master the art of watching your habitual patterns in a new way.
Isha Yoga Centre, Coimbatore:
“ The reason why the ashram is being structured and created the way it is, is to make people understand that a spiritual process does not mean barrenness of life. Spiritual process means grandeur of life.”
The majestic spiritual retreat centre is constructed in the foothills o the Velliangiri mountains, forty kilometres from the city of Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu. The centre is dedicated to fostering inner transformation and creating an established state of wellbeing in individuals. Established by Sadhguru, a renowned modern – day spiritual teacher, the centre is a powerful hub for inner growth and offers the four paths of yoga – gyana (knowledge), karma (action), kriya (energy) and bhakti (devotion). It is also complete with all modern amenities that make it an ideal destination for anyone seeking spiritual solace.