On my first trip to Rishikesh, I was completely flashed by the small town on the Ganges. So much that I traveled back two years later. At the beginning of March. An idea that turned out to be bad.
In February and March the gurus gather in Rishikesh. Mooji with his giant sangha holds daily satsang, Shantimayi gathers her crew around and next door you can listen to the wisdom of Sri Prem Baba . It’s high season for Teacher Training and as if that were not enough, the International Yoga Festival takes place, bringing together great Western teachers like Jules Febre and Gurmukh with the Indian yoga greats, but at the same time making sure the little town explodes. It is awful, the accommodations are full and the ultra-spiritual people are annoying everywhere.
In addition, at the time is still Holi, the Indian festival in which colors are thrown. Once I’ve gone through what is definitely enough.
Nevertheless, I love Rishikesh.
The place has a very special vibe, you can eat great and hang out and crazy people to observe and get to know. Of all the meditation classes, satsangs, temples and other ways to let off steam spiritual, I do not even start. I especially wanted to practice yoga. With the great masters Rishikeshs – and will definitely go back. Just not in the high season.
Yoga in Rishikesh is worthwhile. But where do I start looking?
In my own search, the advice of my teacher Pankaj Sharma was worth gold. Now I want to support you on your journey and share my best of yoga in Rishikesh with you. Although I find it hard to put into words my enthusiasm for the teachers I met. Because it feels like I’ve traveled to the roots of yoga. As if I had finally met the original. To practice a kind of yoga that I have not found here. In short: It was great, great, great!
Hatha Yoga with a lot of heart: Surinder Singh
“You want to be hard pressed to find a nicer man,” was in a tip-mail that I got from a friend. And yes. That’s the way it is. Surinder Singh has impressed me with his teaching, his words and especially his presence.
Before taking the yoga class, Surinder takes a moment, folds his hands in front of his heart, turns to the window, where there is also a great Shiva, and prays (at least I suspect that). Then he turns to the students and takes another moment of silence.
For me, it felt like he was perceiving and energizing each individual on a different level. Then he begins to push a little prana through the room, saying “inhale, exhale” and all yogis magically make the right moves. Asana-moderately not the ultimate, but that does not matter, because something else happens here. Surindher’s assists are legendary because they work on very subtle, subtle touches, sometimes just with the help of a glance. He could also teach sack races, I would go.
During the lesson I was always looking forward to Surinder’s 5-minute satsang after the Asana part, in which he briefly edited a yogaphilosophical theme, explained a mudra (symbolic hand gesture), and shared his wisdom with us.
Back to the roots of yoga: Rudra Dev
He does not have a website, there are no contact details online, and in Rishikesh, almost nobody could tell me where to find Swamiji Rudra Dev, one of the most experienced Iyengar teachers and direct disciple of the great guru. But as the photo proves: I have practiced with the master. And now I’m in possession of a brochure on which everything stands, what you need to know. My favorite excerpt from this is “Promotes the Universal Brotherhood and Selfless service among mankind’s irrespective caste, creed, community and nationality”. If you want to practice in the Yoga Study Center at Rudra Dev, you should be serious. Engage in a 15-day course and be punctually on the mat every morning at 6:45 am with no ski. However, to be admitted to the course, you must meet Swamiji in person the night before. I was upset all the time, auditioned the day before and absorbed every word that Rudra gave in class. And I’ll tell you, I’ve never been so accurate in the tree.
After the class, I was fortunate enough to speak to Master for a while. Through all his sincerity, deep devotion to yoga, humility to his guru, and such a deep desire to teach yoga to his disciples as a path of life exude that I was deeply touched.
Also great: half of the students were Indians, which is why the lessons in English, Hindi and some Sanskrit took place.
Practicing with Grand Dame of Yoga: Usha Devi
If you are looking for good yoga in Rishikesh, Usha Devi is the place to go. Luckily! Finally a woman among all the male teachers. Born in Switzerland, she has been living in India for 30 years and started to study at BKS Iyengar in 1993 . To this day, she spreads the teachings of her “Guruji” with dedication and conviction.
Her classes at the Omkarananda Ashram, where she teaches at 6 pm Monday through Friday, are sold out incredibly quickly. It’s best to sign up for the whole week on Sunday morning. Unfortunately I was late and the list (with 70 places) was already full at noon. In the hope that someone might fail, I waited two days before the door and actually managed to get a place in Ushas class.
Often, Usha is said to be brittle, but frankly, I’ve experienced a terrific teacher who wants only the best for her students. This includes listening well. And practice. In addition to the lessons – which is according to Usha for the head – the learned in the morning self-practice should be made understandable to the body. For students who are not familiar with the Iyengar tradition , I recommend beginner introductory courses.
Very useful, I think. Even though I was only there twice, I feel very inspired by Usha’s direct and at the same time loving nature. A great woman that I can recommend to any of you.
Special tip Green Hotel, Pankaj Sharma and a little Ashtanga Yoga
You realize, I think Iyengar yoga is great. It’s a great addition to my Jivamukti practice. If you can not do anything with static asanas and prefer to practice flow, I have a tip for you. Yogi Kamal teaches classical Ashtanga yoga and should be great. You can find him at Tattvaayoga . I myself did not have the opportunity to practice with him, but I have the tip of my highly esteemed Gabriela Bozic . In that sense, you can try it!
Moreover, the Green Hotel is one of the best places for yoga in Rishikesh.
Especially for those who do not want to commit themselves to a 4-week course right away. After class with Ashish Sharma, Pankaj’s brother, I felt great. His lessons were amazing and I learned a lot again. A family that has yoga in its blood.
In December, Pankaj Sharma will also give yoga intensive classes there, primarily for yoga teachers and advanced students. From Pankaj, I learned so much about asana in his workshops at Peaceyoga that I can not wait to learn more from him.
He himself describes his teaching as Hatha Yoga , I would say: Undogmatic, great Iyengar Yoga. Pankaj’s knowledge of the human body is immense and he is so funny that learning is totally fun.