The Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Ashram in Kerala, south India was founded in 1978 by Swami Vishnu-devanandaji. There are Sivananda centers around the world (I almost went to the one in the Bahamas) but I eventually decided to learn more about yoga and practice in the land of it’s origin… India. The ashram is set in the foothills of the Sahyadri Mountains, amongst lush tropical forests and a freshwater lake. It’s an incredibly beautiful and peaceful location to immerse yourself in the program.
What’s an average day at the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Ashram like?
This is the basic daily schedule but rituals, ceremonies, dance shows and trips to temples do pop up quite often depending on the course you’re doing. The day begins with a wake up bell at 5.30am for a 6am group meditation and some chanting – listen to the video above and tell me that’s not a great way to start the day. At 7.30am you can drink some Indian tea (sweet milky chai… delicious). A Hatha yoga class begins at 8am followed by an Indian vegetarian breakfast at 10am.
Karma Yoga Duties
Karma yoga begins at 11am and lasts 1 hour, here you can do some selfless service, I helped out serving the food. Another chai tea break at 1.30pm before a lecture or discussion about yogic topics at 2pm. The second yoga asana class of the day begins at 4pm and then a vegetarian meal is served at 6pm. The day closes with group meditation, chanting and talks at 8pm.
Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Ashram Will Keep You Busy
You can see why my diary pages were filled with half-intelligible scrawls now right? An elephant hadn’t stomped on my right hand, I was just freaking knackered. Despite the schedule you do get plenty of time to get to know people on the course and I met some really interesting people and we helped each other get through the early mornings and strict diet. Funnily enough I kept meeting people from the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Ashram for months afterwards while I was traveling around the south, west and north of India. I love that feeling of it being a small world. To bump into people I knew while backpacking around India was pretty special. So although I was traveling solo I was hardly ever alone all thanks to this course.
What You Need To Bring
Sandals – That you can slip on and off quickly and easily. You can’t go into most of the indoor areas wearing shoes, so save your time (and back) by not wearing shoes with any kind of buckles.
Shawls – You will be up before the sun comes up and after sunset it can get quite cool too, so bring a soft shawl or wait until you arrive in India and buy a few in Trivandrum or Varkala before you arrive.
Torch – There might be power cuts.
Mosquito repellent – The mossys are like huge mutant mossies, don’t forget you’re on a lake.
There’s also a cute boutique inside the Ashram where you can buy yoga clothes, mats, mailing supplies and books etc. You’ll be fine!
Chanting… Lots of Chanting!
Here’s a video on youtube (thank you to the author) of the daily chants we did every morning at the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Ashram. It was a really special time for me. If you’re feeling reluctant about going to India or you’re just stressed out for whatever reason then I suggest playing this video. I just love it so much, it really takes me back to this Ashram and to perhaps the happiest time of my life.
Ignore the coughing at the beginning, no ones dying 🙂
- Cover up… dress modestly.
- Minimum 3 day stay.
- You must attend all programs.
- No meat, fish, eggs, alcohol, drugs or smoking allowed.
How to get there
Fly to Trivandrum and then take a taxi for 40km directly to the Ashram. All the taxi drivers in Trivandrum know where the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Ashram is… make sure you stop off for a quick chai when you’re half way up the mountain.
I was here for one month in January, you can read snippets from the diary I kept in this post.
For far more comprehensive and up to date information about the Sivananda Yoga Vedenta Centers (they have them all over the world) click here to visit their official website. The direct link to the Sivananda Ashram that I went to which was near Neyyar Dam in Kerala is here.