Share |

by Shir Herzberg

Off the main highway between Mumbai and Pune, nestled within a beautiful mountain range, lies the Kaivalyadhama yoga institute.

This tranquil setting can be seen as one or all of the following:

The oldest yoga college in India, each year holding one 9-month diploma course. Other courses include a 6-week certificate course, advanced teachers training, and special courses on specific yoga therapy. At the moment, a one ?year Vedanta course by renowned Swami Anubhuvananda is taking place seven days a week.

A holistic hospital, which was the first of this genre of hospital in India, dedicated completely to the healing of chronic functional disorders through Yoga and Naturopathy.

An ashram, with a spiritual guide and teacher ?Swami Maheshananda. He is the third such Swamiji of Kaivalyadhama. Poojas are performed twice daily at sunrise and sunset. Audiences include travelers seeking spiritual guidance from all over the world.

A scientific research department of yogic practices ?which combines traditional yogic techniques with modern scientific theories. The department was founded in 1924 by Swami Kuvalayananda.

During peaceful walks through the lush gardens, one can cross paths with not only students from the various courses, but also patients, visiting guests, and recurring regulars.

Those who come here as patients stay for 1 week and usually experience a calming change from their hectic day-to-day lifestyle. Their stay includes daily massage treatments, yoga classes, and a consultation with an Ayurvedic doctor. Three healthy meals per day ensure fit living in a positive environment. There is a very positive feedback from these patients who experience a taste of yoga, and then can develop and cultivate their practices at home.

Those who come to Kaivalyadhama to enroll in a yoga-teaching course get to study in one of the known yoga institutes in India that is based on the teachings of the traditional yogic texts. The Kaivalyadhama College is a mix between the traditional way of teaching yoga and the modern western way that includes examinations, certifications, etc.

Any mixture like this has its advantages and limitations. On one hand, if yoga is seen the path to liberation, of what value are examinations; yet on the other hand if a certificate has no importance for you then you’re probably somewhere in the Himalayas on an a less comfortable inner journey. The Kaivalyadhama institute offers a relatively long yoga course (certificate or diploma) which includes comprehensive studies in not only the practical aspects of Yoga, but also the theoretical applications and the tying together of the two.

Kaivalyadhama is considered as a relatively dry approach to yoga. Swami Kuvalayananda, the school’s establisher and founder is known more for his scientific approach to yogic practices and meticulous research rather than the long white hair and tigerskin loincloth.

Just a few minutes walk from the main campus is the Kutti of the present Swamiji. One can come to find answers about their own spiritual journey as well as pay respect to the samadhis of the two previous swamis.

Not too far away is a beautiful mountain that is not a difficult climb, and revealed behind it is a secret lake and if one knows where to look, one can discover the cave where Swami Kuvalayananda himself practiced. Unfortunately for the peace lovers, these days the cave over looks a high way.

Kaivalyadhama offers a large library, a small provisions shop and comfortable rooms for its visitors and most importantly, a moonlit sky and starry nights.

It’s a wonderful get away in the Maharashtra mountains, offering a deep and comprehensive look in to yogic life.