The five most important criteria when choosing your yoga ashram stay in India

When I decided to do a yoga teacher training in late 2018 – I still knew very little about the whole topic. I grabbed Google and typed “yoga teacher training” and was overwhelmed by a tsunami of results. How was I supposed to deal with that? I quickly realized that I needed to build my own criteria catatlogue to avoid drowning in information.

What are your personal criteria for an ashram stay in India?

Without being clear about your criteria for your training or your ashram stay, it doesn’t work. What is especially important to you? Make a list. For me it was the following points.

  • Focus – What should be the focus of your ashram?
  • Teachers and therapists – What do you expect from the people in the ashram?
  • Location – Where is your ashram located?
  • Accommodation and food – What is the accommodation like?
  • What are the experiences of others?

Now let’s look through each of the criteria. Are you ready?

Focus of your ashram

Not all yoga is the same and not all ashrams are the same. A very important criterion when choosing an ashram is the teachers and the focus. Do you emphasize asanas or philosophy and meditation? Should it be a certain, modern yoga style or do you want to learn original classical yoga? Will you be taught knowledge or a world view? Already here there are huge differences. You will also come across many yoga schools during your research. In comparison to ashrams, you will find that here the spiritual teaching is not necessarily in the foreground, but simply the business. On the other hand, you will find a more relaxed atmosphere at schools, whereas in an ashram you will be encouraged to follow a set of rules.

Teachers & Therapists

If you are interested in an ashram, you should look at the staff and teachers. If an ashram has a team that is consistent over the years, this is always a good sign and indicates a good “working atmosphere”, which will immediately transfer to you. It is also important that the teacher who is most important to you is actually teaching. It happens that a teacher establishes different ashrams and schools and of course cannot teach in all schools at the same time. Make sure that the teachers who are important to you are actually teaching and present. In yoga schools where the business interest is paramount, you will usually have a greater turnover of teachers. This affects the continuity of teaching. If wellness and Ayurvedic treatments are also important to you, you should look at how specifically the treatments are described and whether the ashram works with the same staff in the long term.

Himalayan Yog Ashram in Rishikesh Yogi Ram
Teju is an excellent Yoga Master at Himalayan Yog Ashram in Rishikesh

Location

Where is your ashram located? Especially in India this point is enormously important and you should under no circumstances apply Western European standards. Even if your ashram is located in a small town or in a suburb, you will have noise and often dust pollution there. It is India. You will only experience tranquility when you are actually in nature. Do not rely on the description, but check the location with Google Earth. If you are surrounded by other houses, it is noisy. It’s as simple as that.

On the other hand, a central location also means access to everything a city has to offer. If your ashram is even a few miles outside of a city, it can still mean that you have a long and arduous journey. It is India and the traffic is chaotic. Keep this in mind.

Part of the location, of course, is the place, and India has a lot to offer here as well: You can have your stay on the banks of the Ganges or warm yourself in the tropical sun of Goa, it’s up to you! Note here that the climate in India can be very different. Personally, I really liked the climate at the foot of the Himalayas.

Accommodation and food

Those who go to an ashram usually do not do so to eat particularly well or to enjoy the luxury of a five-star hotel. That is clear. However, accommodation and food can have a significant impact on your well-being. If it doesn’t fit, it can ruin your entire ashram stay.

Especially in ashrams you can find a considerable range of offers: from dormitory accommodation to single rooms. The food in ashrams is mostly sattvic, meaning not very spicy and can be a challenge for some tastes. When it comes to food and lodging, don’t overdo it and be honest with yourself. I was happy with my “single cell” and the possibility to add some variety to the sattvic food, which was still nothing to complain about.

What are the experiences of others?

If you have created these criteria, you may have already narrowed down your list a bit. Very good. Now you can look at the reviews on the different platforms. But be careful here as well. Especially on yoga specific platforms, many reviews seemed “samey” to me (fake?). Larger platforms are more trustworthy from my point of view. In fact, I found quite a few on Trip Advisor about my ashram, which gave me more confidence about my choice.

Fun at the Himalayan Yog Ashram with Yogi Ram
Fun at the Himalayan Yog Ashram with Yogi Ram

Other points to consider when looking for an ashram in India

There are a lot of other things you should consider. Cost is certainly one aspect for many. But here it ends up being a simple correlation: you get what you pay for.

If you are looking for the cheapest yoga teacher training possible, you will find it and get it. The best teachers probably work at other ashrams/schools. If you want the cheapest Ayurvedic treatments possible, you will have to accept that your therapist will cut corners on the oils. There will always be a compensation.

In this context it should be mentioned that I had saved a lot on my flight. During my stay, the airline unfortunately went bankrupt. I also ended up getting what I paid for. Fortunately, another flight home is easier to arrange than a good ashram stay or yoga teacher training!

Ask!

If you have any questions for the ashram, don’t hesitate to ask your questions. How / if and when they answer is another indicator of quality.

My choice

My choice was the Himalayan Yog Ashram in Tapovan/Rishikesh and Yogi Ram. A yoga ashram where classical yoga is taught with a focus on philosophy and meditation and which is completely free of newfangled, obsessively esoteric ingredients. I had already had extensive contact with Yogi Ram and his team beforehand and had a very good feeling when I booked my stay at that time. The ashram is located in Tapovan and therefore a bit less noisy. In addition, the Ganges is within walking distance as well as nature. Yogi Ram and his team support people on the path to themselves – and this mission is palpable in everyone in the ashram. Accommodation and food are very good and I could fully concentrate on my training and therapy without the slightest problems. Would I go again? Yes, – definitely!

My conclusion

Make your own thoughts, be curious and go your own way. Maybe my article helped you a little bit to put together your own criteria. If so, I would be very happy!

All the best to you!

Steffen

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