I have been looking for places to go to continue my yoga education and I find personal blogs written by people very useful when doing such searches. This made me realise that before I go any further with my personal journey, I should write about my experience at Parmarth Niketan Ashram so that others can benefit from it.
Parmarth Niketan Ashram is situated on the banks of the Ganga, in Rishikesh, India. Rishikesh is
a valley situated on the foothills of the Himalayas, also known as the birthplace of yoga. This place is teeming with tourists, foreigners, and Indians, all year round for the various yoga and meditation courses available in every nook and corner. Parmarth Ashram is one such place and a rather well known name owing to its size and year round yoga courses.
For beginners, this is a great place to start. Even if you have no experience of yoga, the day-to-day progression here is so beautifully designed that you grow naturally from ground zero. The course includes asanas, pranayama, and mantra chanting. As you slowly progress with the courses yoga philosophy and meditation also becomes part of the curriculum.
Classes begin at 6:30 am, go on until 5:00 pm with meal breaks, and self-practise time in between. The classes are nicely planned so that you have enough free time in between and yet are kept busy the entire day. Starting from 6:30 am, the morning one and a half to two hours class comprises of basic pranayama and asanas including surya-namaskar. Post breakfast there is a chanting class where you are taught recitation of vedic mantra. This is followed by an extensive asana practise session followed by lunch break. Around 3:30 to 4 pm depending upon your course, is the self-practice time or the evening asana class, which is followed by meditation.
The teachers are very well qualified and this helps one grow in yoga not only physically but also spiritually. Living in the ashram is very conducive for sadhna and spiritual growth. The constant prayers and chanting all around engulf you in a beautiful sense of calmness.The day ends with a lovely aarti on the banks of the Ganga, which in my personal opinion should never be missed whilst your stay at the ashram.
Dinner is served by 7:30 to 8 pm. Simple vegetarian food is served in the ashram. The food is just about ok and grows mundane after a while. I especially never enjoyed the breakfast. Obviously, you do not go to an ashram expecting amazing meals and there is always the option of eating out.
During the courses, the rooms are allotted on sharing basis – two persons in one room. The rooms are basic but clean and suffice all basic needs. This is also because the practise of yoga is considered incomplete without experiencing a little austerity. During your stay, you are also expected to clean your rooms yourself stressing upon the fact that this is an ashram and not a hotel.
To sum up, this is a beautiful place to start your yoga journey and spend a good one-month or more. There is always something happening around to keep you engaged and help you grow. Living right next to the river, Ganga, is also an amazing experience and serves as a beautiful spot for meditation.
The Ashram and Rishikesh, get very busy and crowded in the summers so if you are looking for a quiet place you might not want to be there from April to July. Personally, I wouldn’t want to be in Rishikesh at all during the summers because the temperatures range from 40-45 degrees Celsius and the heat is dry and unbearable.
Once your stay at the ashram ends, there is always more to do and learn in Rishikesh. This is a great place to practice and grow in yoga and meet like-minded people.