There are plenty of ashrams in Rishikesh and nearby Haridwar. Most of these ashrams serve local pilgrims during the pilgrimage travel seasons. They provide simple rooms and food for the night before the pilgrims move onwards on their journey. Some ashrams have also satsangs throughout the year but they are mostly conducted in Hindi although there are a few places with satsangs in English as well.
Those ashrams that cater also to foreign guests often include a yoga programme. This is typically a full day programme starting very early in the morning with meditation followed by yoga and ends after dinner with meditation or satsangs. They are pretty strict programmes that allows very little time for relaxation, so before you sign up for it, be sure that you understand the commitment required. Some ashrams may be more flexible, allowing you to choose from the daily activities. There are normally fixed prices for ashram programmes although some might go with a stated minimum daily donation to stay in and also to take part in the activities.
Benefits of staying in an ashram? You get the full immersion experience of what ashram life is like. There are also less distractions from your practice if you sincerely want to learn about meditation, yoga and yoga philosophy. Ashram programmes often include satsang sessions which may appeal to those who are interested in Vedic knowledge, introduction in Hinduism, yoga philosophy, mantra chanting, etc. These ashram satsangs are very different from other satsang sessions conducted in non-ashram settings around Rishikesh (see other page on satsangs).
Below are a list of better known ashrams that accepts foreigners and have programmes conducted in English. Full board is often available.
(Click on the name of the ashrams to get to their websites)
Ved Niketan Ashram Courses: Yoga, lectures and meditation. Basic accommodation is available. The ashram activities are not compulsory but open to all stay-in guests.
Parmath Niketan Ashram Courses: Beginner and intensive yoga, kriya yoga, meditation, spiritual retreats and TTC. The ashram is famous for its daily evening aarti and the annual International Yoga Festival. Accommodation is available.
Sivananda Ashram Courses: Religious events, irregular yoga and vedanta classes. Schedules are to be checked at the main office. The ashram does not provide walk-in accommodation or conduct regular yoga classes but it has a fairly large library for religious and spiritual books and videos and interesting religious ceremonies are held throughout the year in the ashram/temple. To stay in the ashram, you will need to write in to them beforehand.
Phool Chatti Ashram Courses: One week introductory hatha yoga and meditation retreats. This is a short introductory programme conducted in full ashram style schedule. Accommodation is available.
Aranya Kutir (Ashram) Courses: Seasonal satsangs and one day spiritual retreats (It is a small ashram, enquire before hand). The ashram is focused on helping women in their spiritual path although men are also welcomed to attend the satsangs and retreats. Limited accommodation is available for serious, longer term female seekers. No website available, please contact Ma AtmaJyoti Ananda in the link given here.