As with many things in India today, yoga doesn’t necessarily come cheap but all of these are very good value given the quality of teaching on offer. Be advised that customer service in India isn’t always the best, and some of the more traditional places might prove hard to contact. But be patient, persevere, switch to “Indian-time” and, if you must, see it as the first step in letting go of your ego.
Bihar School of Yoga, Munger, Bihar
At the sprawling Bihar School, yoga is a lifestyle not a practice, and karma yoga is given precedence over asana. So alongside classes expect hours of seva (service) – including gardening, kitchen work and toilet cleaning – supplemented by cold showers and a simple diet.
Purple Valley, Assagao, Goa
If you’re a modern yogi craving India plus detox juices and fast Wi-Fi, with access to the world’s best Ashtanga teachers (John Scott, Petri Raisanen, Alexander Medin), Goa’s Purple Valley is your place. Despite its hardcore reputation, beginners are not only welcome but encouraged, making it a great place to kick-start your Ashtanga training, with Mysore-style self-practice in the morning and special classes in the afternoons, including philosophy, yogic living, kirtans and pranayama.
Kaivalyadhama Ashram, Lonavala, Maharashtra
Set within 180 acres of parkland at Lonavala, a hill-station between Mumbai and Pune, this ashram, designed as a yogic research centre when it opened in 1924, is the kind of place you can spend days, months or even years immersed in its myriad programmes. The ashram’s school offers diplomas and fully accredited degrees for yoga teachers, along with shorter courses for both beginners and advanced students, while the health centre – where Gandhi was an early patient after a breakdown in 1927 – has week-long packages that include yoga with a focus on either relaxation, naturopathy or Ayurveda.
Mysore Krishnamachar Yoga Shala, Mysore, Karnataka
BNS Iyengar, who has taught quietly in his Mysore shala for the last 38 years, was one of the original students of “super-guru” Krishnamacharya, the teacher of the famous BKS Iyengar and Pattabhi Jois, founders of Iyengar and Ashtanga yoga respectively.
Phool Chatti, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand
Built beside an ancient pilgrimage route on the banks of the river Ganges, 5km upriver from Rishikesh’s famous Laxman Jhula suspension bridge, the ashram taps into the holy town’s spiritual vitality while eschewing its chaotic hustle.
Though the ashram is under the stewardship of Swami Dev Swarup Nanda, most classes are led by yoga director Sadhvi Lalitambay, who has lived here since she was 15. The seven-day yoga course includes meditation, mantra chanting, neti-pot cleansing (a nasal cleaning technique), pranayama, asana practice, prayer, kirtans and plenty of discussion around yoga philosophy. Meditative walks, hiking and river dips are also included.
The Yoga House, Mumbai, Maharashtra & Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
A modern, bright and welcoming space in the lively Mumbai neighbourhood of Bandra, which seeks to link traditional Indian knowledge and practice with a contemporary health-conscious lifestyle. If you’re coming from, say, London or New York, or are desperate to discover “the real India” (whatever that might be) it could feel a little too close to home, but you’d be foolish to dismiss this place. The Yoga House is a sanctuary, the teaching is first-rate, and the cafe food (both western and Indian vegetarian) is exceptional.