Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga

»Health, happiness and harmony«


Feel like becoming a Doctor of yoga? As in a full PhD? Morarji Desai is a yoga university, a fully accredited and government-funded university with rigorous education and highly skilled graduates. There are also short courses open to all on this modern campus in Delhi, the pulsing capital of India.

  • What we love
  • The wide range of courses
  • Well-equipped facilities
  • Famous guest professors like B.K.S. Iyengar
  • Scholarship available for foreign students
  • What to know
  • PhD enrollment requires Bachelor degree
  • Accommodation and meals available on-site
  • Located in the new part of Delhi
  • Short courses available
  • Time-consuming application process for longer courses
  • Why go
  • Yoga degree
  • Modern facilities
  • Extremely welcoming student body

You know a country takes its yoga seriously when it has an entire university devoted to it. Welcome to Delhi, the heaving and hot capital of India, where first-year students on the Morarji Desai campus begin their day by flushing salt water through their nostrils in preparation for a hard day's yoga.

The phrase 'best-kept secret' is overused, but in this case it's apt. Outside of India, Morarji Desai is unheard of. Each year, 10 seats are set aside for foreign students in the doctorate program, with one full-ride scholarship. However in 2011 there was not a single applicant. For aspiring yoga teachers, there could be no qualification more worthwhile than a PhD of Yoga, but the university's recruitment has not yet spread beyond Indian shores. There are, however, conditions put on the application. Naturally, it is necessary to already have a Bachelors Degree of some sort before applying for a doctorate. Applicants must also be under 30 years old, a little insurance against a short-lived career.

While a PhD in yoga is available, it is the shorter Diploma of Yoga that is the most popular qualification. Running for one year, it is a post-graduate diploma that almost all students take with the intention of becoming yoga teachers. Luckily there are no restrictions on the type of Bachelor degree an applicant must already have before applying for the course.

The student body of Morarji Desai is almost completely local. This means that a foreign face is not only a rare sight, but is made to feel extremely welcome. The warm hearts and open minds to be found here make the atmosphere of the campus virtually unique among the world’s universities. Just another reason to apply.

For those of us not lucky enough to have a year to spend in India studying yoga at a post-graduate level, there are shorter courses. These range from open classes on the campus to the Summer Yoga Camps that are free two-hour yoga sessions held in the morning and evening at various parks dotted around Delhi. Weekend yoga programs for beginners are extremely inexpensive and provide a basic grounding in yoga practice and philosophy. Month-long courses are the university's specialty, with classes usually being held every weekday morning. These are offered for general students as well as specific courses for women and others for children. All of these month-long intensives cost a little less than a bus ride in London, for the entire month.

The fee structure is the same for foreign and local students, thanks to the almost-total subsidization by the Indian government. Tuition for the longer courses (even without that tasty scholarship) is a per-semester cost that knocks a couple of zeros off even the least-expensive European university charge. For all meals and accommodation, expect to pay the price of a moderate dinner for two. For an entire semester.

This is one yoga center that sounds too good to be true, but actually isn't. The most comprehensive yoga education available in the world today, at prices that would bring a blush to the face of the most miserly among us, and the chance to live in the hugely popular capital city of a fascinating country. Start packing – we did.

About the area: New Delhi

Lutyen’s New Delhi is a world apart from the older parts of the city. Lutyen was a British architect and his vision was a planned and fully engineered set of suburbs. This is the area of clipped gardens and wide boulevards. While the cleanliness is appealing to many, the perceived soullessness is not. Old Delhi is the area most visitors want to see; the hurly-burly of twisted streets and apartment blocks leaning together in an aged groan. Delhi is the chief city of a vast and complex country and its contrasts are simultaneously heady and bewildering. While cows meander through the streets and slum children beg with professional tenacity, the state-of-the-art Metro whizzes efficiently underfoot. Despite the contrasts, there is a welcome for strangers in every part of this vibrant city.

Image credit: Coni Hörler Photography

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