Atmavikasa Centre of Yogic Sciences

»Expansion of oneself through the science of Yoga«


“There are no gurus here” say the couple who own and run the Atmavikasa Center of Yogic Sciences, “just teachers”. Humble, deeply spiritual and highly skilled, the pair run their shala with the warm deft hand of your favorite family member. A true gem along your Indian road.

  • What we love
  • The homey comfort of the shala
  • The sweetness of the couple who own the center
  • Wide range of course options
  • What to know
  • The center is very busy over December and January
  • Off-season is during April and May
  • Book 4 weeks in advance during busy season, 2 weeks during off-season
  • No accommodation on-site
  • Why go
  • Comprehensive Teacher Training
  • Deeply authentic Hatha yoga
  • Moderate pricing

Venkatesh and Hema are the husband and wife team of Atmavikasa. Hema has a refreshingly playful approach to yoga – when our team were there, she excitedly showed off her new-found ability to move one toe independently of the others. Venkatesh has a photographic memory for yoga poses (asanas). When he began his yoga journey, he received no formal training. This was in a time when yoga was seen as little more than a parlor trick – men contorting their bodies into seemingly impossible shapes. Venkatesh followed the movements avidly and emulated them with an eerie precision. This talent earned him several wins in prestigious yoga competitions. Thanks to devotees like him and thousands of others, yoga has been brought back from the dusty realms of cheap circus act into that of mainstream respect.

Their shala is reminiscent of a suburban home. Lying placidly behind a high wall that encloses a peaceful garden, the yoga space they own and operate is a place of gentle fun, deep spirituality, and the broad knowledge of both members of this team. This is especially apparent in their Teacher Training program, which has recently been upgraded to the deeper, richer Teacher Education Program.

The couple developed their Teacher Training program 20 years ago, after becoming deeply dismayed at the increasing number of fly-by-nighters in Mysore offering a one week-long Teacher Training course to yoga novices. They were the first people to start a full Teachers Training program in Mysore. After all, they say, yoga is not a business, it is life. For over two decades now, the comprehensive and intelligent Teacher Training program at Atmavikasa has been turning out knowledgeable, worthy teachers in the Hatha style. The Teacher Education Program runs for four to twelve weeks, and assumes a deep knowledge of Hatha yoga prior to commencement. Beginners are welcome to train with Venkatesh and Hema in the general programs, but are reminded that good teachers can only share the knowledge they have. A gentle way of saying that graduation from the Teacher Education Program is unlikely unless a student knows their stuff.

While the Teacher Education Program, which runs over four to twelve weeks, is a worthwhile reason for visiting Atmavikasa, it is by no means the only one. Other courses come in two basic lengths: a four-week standard program and a two-week streamlined version. Asanas are one of the course options, as are pranayamas (breathing techniques), meditation, back-bending programs for flexibility, kriyas (internal cleansing techniques), massage, mudra (an Indian version of acu-pressure), philosophy, chanting, and Sanskrit. Courses can be combined for a 10% discount off the total cost, which is already extremely moderate. It should be noted that local prices are about one tenth of the foreigner's fees. This is a simple acknowledgment of the differing standards of living, not an opportunistic way to make money. Venkatesh and Hema hope to one day make their yoga completely free to all who seek it – a noble dream indeed.

There are two halls in the shala – one is used for locals and the other for foreigners. This is not discrimination, more of a practical solution to language barriers. Hema conducts the classes in her own specialty, using yoga as healing. Venkatesh runs the asana classes, teaching three new poses at the start of each day, so that in the Mysore way a student may practice alone for the rest of the day.

This is one of the strongholds of adherence to the purity of the gentle Hatha tradition. This unassuming couple truly believe that any of the students who cross their threshold have the potential to be as great as the legendary and ancient teachers. Yoga is not limited to the classroom here – instead it is a living thing, permeating every part of everyday life. This positivity charges the air, filling it with a peaceful kind of optimism. A gift to a jaded world.

About the area: Mysore

Mysore was once the hub of India's economic existence. While that title has been taken over by Bangalore, Mysore is still a relaxed and very pretty place to visit. There is an old-world feel here, a gentility that seems to be a holdover from 19th century India. Considered to be the incense capital of the country, Mysore's open-air markets are a sweet-smelling and completely unique experience. The ten-day Dhussera festival, held in October each year, is a city-wide celebration of a mythical triumph of good over evil. The city comes alive, and the main parade is a great chance to make the acquaintance of some of the city's holy elephants. Apart from monsoon season (June – August) Mysore is climatically pleasant year-round. Although summer temperatures can reach 39 degrees C, the humidity is low enough to make the heat bearable.

Image credit: Coni Hörler Photography

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