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Located in the foothills of Kerala's Sahyadri Mountains, Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Dhanwantari Ashram is renowned for its hatha yoga courses. Established in 1978, the ashram is set amidst in a 12 acres of land in a lush jungle of jackfruit, tapioca, rubber, banana, mango and coffee beans. This Neyyar branch is one of three ashrams in India.
The forested surroundings, beautiful scenery and natural beauty of Neyyar Dam, the cool green coconut tree groves and colorful flower-filled scenes, all offers an ideal atmosphere for the practice of yoga and meditation.
It was founded by the late Swami Vishnudevananda, a senior disciple of Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh for whom the Ashram is named. He began to raise the ancient science of Yoga for physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being and to thereby make a more peaceable world.
Vishnudevananda began his yoga career at seventeen. During his short career in the Indian Army, he happened to see Sivananda's pamphlets in his office garbage can. Inspired by these instructions, within three years he had left the army and taken vows of Sannyasi in Sivananda's ashram in Rishikesh.
Swami Sivananda saw the great potential of his disciples talent in hatha yoga. He encouraged him to concentrate on this practice and appointed him as 'hatha yoga professor' at the Yoga Vedanta Forest Academy. Swami Sivananda sent Swami Vishnudevananda to the Western countries to spread the teachings of yoga and Vedanta for the good of mankind.
After the death of Sivananda in 1993, the Ashram in Kerala like other Sivananda centers wordwide - coninues under the guidance of his disciples. The ashram teaches training on the five principles of yoga – proper exercise, proper breathing, proper relaxation, proper diet and positive thinking and meditation for attaining a healthy body and mind.
The Sivananda boutique sells books, videos and cds by and about Swami Sivananda and Vishnudevananda, including the famous Complete Illustrated book of Yoga. There is a small library and a bookshop selling Sivananda writings.
Two week yoga vacations are offered year round, beginning on the first and fifteenth of each month. One can join any time and do not ncessarily have to stay for the full two week.
The two-week yoga intensive comprises of Asana and pranayama to strengthen your body and deepen your breath, meditation to focus your mind, lectures on yoga philosophy to deepen your understanding and plenty of devotional chanting to open your spirit to God.
The usual vacaction schedule includes early morning and evening meditations, morning and evening sessions of pranayama and asanas; karma yoga, a lecure by one of the swamis, and a screening of an episode from the popular TV serial of the classical spiritual epic of the Mahabharata. All events are compulsory, and the schedule leaves little time for yourself.
The hatha yoga training - held in an airy outdoor courtyard covered with a tile roof - revolves around teh twelve basic postures of the Shivananda system:Headstand, Shoulderstand, Plow, Fish, Seated Forward Bend, Cobra, Locust, Bow, Seated Twist, Standing Forward Bend, Triangle, and Crow or Peacock, plus six repetitions of the Sun Salutation. After each posture, you lie dow to relax and absorb its benefits.
Bookings are required. Month-long yoga-teacher training generally held from the mid November to mid December and mid january to mid February every year and ayurvedic massage courses are also available. An internationally recognized certificate from the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre (ISYVC) organization is awarded on successful completion of the course. The diploma is entitled 'Yoga Siromani'. Every other year there's an advance teacher's course. For these courses pre registration is required.
Other special programs include a Sanskrit camp, a two week Ayurveda and culture program, which features in depth classes on Kerala Ayurveda and workships on south Indian arts and dance.
The spoken and teaching language of the ashram is English.
Each February, The ashram also sponsors a pilgrimage to temples and holy sites of South India; in the fall, there is often a guided pilgrimage to Badrinath and Gangotri in the Himalayas. For more information ; E-mail: Contact
In the high season, daily rates (including room and food), are Rs 600 if you are staying in Kailash; Rs. 450 if you are in a hut. For the teacher training course the rates : for Indian applicants is Rs/-25,000, for foreigners it is CAD 2,450.