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The ancient science of yoga, which is over 5000 years old is today practised all over the world. It focuses on breathing techniques, movements of the body and meditation to help one become more aware, lower anxiety and get overall good physical, mental and emotional health. India, the home of this practice, hosts a variety of wellness resorts, ashram retreats and yoga-meditation centres that provide a peaceful and tranquil environment to practise yoga and also offer classes to those who wish to learn it. Here are a few of the most well-known yoga institutes.
Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana, Bengaluru
A deemed university dedicated to the study of yoga based on the teachings of Swami Vivekananda, Swami Vivekananda Yoga AnusandhanaSamsthana is accredited by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). The university is one of the most prestigious yoga training centres in the country and offers several courses like Yoga Instructor's Course, Bsc in Yoga Therapy, MD in Yoga and PhD in Yoga. It is supported by a unique yoga therapy research health home, which has a 250-bed patient treatment facility, Arogyadhama. The aim is to treat and prevent modern non-communicable diseases, promote health and ensure long-term rehabilitation. The organisation has been working towards making yoga a socially relevant science and continues to be an important centre for the study of the ancient Indian practice of Yoga.
Bihar School of Yoga, Munger
Founded in 1964 by Swami Satyananda Saraswati, the Bihar School of Yoga is one of the oldest and leading institutions imparting this ancient philosophy in the country. Located in the ancient city of Munger, 175 km from Patna, the state capital, the institution includes an ashram and the school, Bihar Yoga Bharati. Located by the banks of River Ganga, the idyllic ashram offers a serene atmosphere to learn and practice yoga. The institute welcomes both professional yoga practitioners and travellers, but it is advisable to book accommodation at least a month in advance.
Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram, Chennai
One of the most popular spots to practice yoga in Chennai, the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram is among the foremost institutions for yoga therapy in India. The centre follows the philosophy called 'yoga for the individual'. This approach is called 'viniyoga' and is used to create a tailored programme for individuals. The designed programmes are used to access the core of the problem, uproot it and then treat it. Yoga is not treated as a generalised fitness regime here but as a dedicated course of therapy. If one wants to be a part of the centre, it is done through an interview and a physical assessment test. As a part of the course, the would-be student presents the problems and the experts prescribe asanas and other exercises to cure it. While the student carries out the prescribed exercises, regular meetings are also scheduled with teachers to reassess the problem and instruct the students as and when necessary.
The building of the centre also noteworthy. There are small therapy rooms where the consultant examines the practitioner, who is then guided through steps of meditation. To create a peaceful environment, airy and polish-floored practice area is kept minimalistic.
Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga, New Delhi
Established in the year 1970, Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga is a premiere centre for yoga and other ancient sciences. It acts as the nodal agency for the promotion and development of yoga across India and is focused on yoga research, yoga therapy, yoga training and yoga education. Spread over an area of over 2 acre, it has a library that boasts a collection of over 9,000 books on yoga and related topics.
It houses a conference hall with audio-visual facilities, along with an academic block for classes and practices. The institute is also equipped with other modern labs and biochemical testing and research facilities. Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga falls under the Ministry of AYUSH.
Patanjali Yogpeeth, Haridwar
With a firm belief in ancient practices as its backbone, PatanjaliYogpeeth aims to free people across the world from diseases as well as medicines. They are encouraged instead to rely on the wisdom of sages and saints including Maharishi Patanjali, Charak and Sushrut. At the institute, practical and functional training in AstangYog, Raj Yog, DhyanYog, Hath Yog, Ashan and Pranayam, among others, is encouraged. The aim is to achieve peace, good health and extreme happiness. There are regular yoga classes organised in the institute as well as outside for all and they are also broadcasted on television. The institute conducts courses in yoga and promotes research on this ancient practice. It also has the aim of spreading awareness – books, international conferences and the like are the tools used for the purpose. There are departments of ophthalmology, ENT, dental and surgery, along with a section for physiotherapy and acupressure in the institute. It is well-equipped with latest machines and equipment.
Accommodation is also available for tourists who want to stay over. It also has a modern library, with several manuscripts and literature on yoga, Ayurveda and botany, along with an internet surfing centre. Swami RamdevjiMaharaj and AcharyaBalkrishnajiMaharaj founded the PatanjaliYogpeeth (Trust) on February 4, 2005.
SDM College of Naturopathy and Yogic Sciences, Mangaluru
Established by Sri Dharmasthala Manjunatheshwara Educational Society in August 1989, SDM College of Naturopathy and Yogic Sciences aims to revive the country’s ancient heritage of science and arts. Affiliated to Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Science and recognised by Karnataka government's Department of Ayush and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the institute offers Bachelor of Naturopathy and Yogic Sciences programme and a post-graduate programme in naturopathy and yoga. The college provides separate accommodations for girls and boys with modern facilities. Tourists who are interested in yoga and health sciences should definitely pay a visit to the institute and enhance their knowledge about the ancient techniques of yoga. The institute has made Mangaluru famous as a haven for yoga enthusiasts and continues to impart valuable teachings to its students.
Yoga Institute, Mumbai
One of the oldest organised yoga centres in the world, the Yoga Institute was founded by ShriYogendraji in 1918. It is a non-profit organisation run by the government and is located in Santacruz (East). Yogendraji wanted to bring the ancient practice of Yoga to households to help people cope with physical ailments and live balanced lives, and that is believed to be the aim with which he set up the institute. He is often referred to as the Father of the Modern Yoga Renaissance. The institute holds an eminent position in training thousands of people every day by informing them about the health benefits of yoga. It also offers training courses on teaching yoga. There have been many books published by the institute to help further its aim, relating to yoga therapy, couples' counselling, asanas, pranayam, ethics, traditional scriptures etc.
RamamaniIyengar Memorial Yoga Institute, Pune
Known to be the heart and soul of Iyengar yoga, the RamamaniIyengar Memorial Yoga Institute is dedicated to Yogacharya BKS Iyengar’s wife. On January 19, 1975, it opened its doors to the people of Pune. There are three floors in the building, dedicated to mind, body and soul. There are eight columns to denote the eight limbs of Ashtanga yoga – yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi.
It also has a library with a generous collection (over 8,000 volumes) of books on various subjects including yoga, Ayurveda and philosophy. The busts of SmtRamamani and Guruji have been placed in the premises; Guruji’s bust was chiselled by the Queen Mother of Belgium, in celebration of having performed Sirsasana at the age of 81.