Last updated: 11:00 PM ET, Sat July 16 2016

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  • Shannon Wolf | July 16, 2016 11:00 PM ET

    Yoga, Iced Coffee and Veggies: An Idyll in Rishikesh, India

    Yoga, Iced Coffee and Veggies: An Idyll in Rishikesh, India

    PHOTO: Walking along Ram Jhula around 6 p.m., you can watch the evening pooja at Parmarth overlooking the sparkling Ganga. (photos by Shannon Wolf)

    Rishikesh is the Yoga capital of India with affordable classes in reiki, aruyvedic healing and yoga teacher training (that you can actually afford) all within the tranquil confines of Himalayan mountains and turquoise waters.

    With that said, it's no wonder why I happily stayed for nearly two months in the peaceful area of Laxman Jhula, Rishikesh.

    It was a crazy few months prior to this, to say the least. I was literally flying by the edge of my seat sometimes on Indian railways, tuk-tuks, local buses, cars, trucks and motorcycles.  I attending the wild Holi Festival in Pushkar and endured the most intense bouts of food poisoning I've ever had. There was desert trekking by camel, sleeping on luggage racks, hitchhiking and exploring Rajasthan in increasingly humid temperatures. After all of this, I was ready for some much needed rest, relaxation and fresh mountain air.

    READ MORE: Solo Female Travel in India: Realities and Tips

    Upon arrival, I had planned to spend my time only in an ashram in this bohemian wonderland, but I found it challenging to find anything authentic and was happiest with the freedom to create my own schedule.

    Mornings were spent drinking iced coffees, afternoons of swimming in the ice cold Ganga with friends at the secret beach and evenings attending my chosen yoga class for the day followed by a mouthwatering vegan dinner at the German bakery and ice cream cones for dessert along "the sunset steps.” I then retired to my giant, private room to sleep.

    My overall daily budget never exceeded 630 rupees a day and I enjoyed my life to its fullest with personal wellness at an all time highest and living like a queen without having to sacrifice quality!

    PHOTO: Every day at 2 p.m., my friends and I would all meet for our afternoon swim at the secret beach.

    Best Private Room: Shri Sant Sewa Ashram (200 rupees for a private room)

    When you arrive at the ashram, be sure to barter the price right away to get the best deal. This ashram is in the heart of Laxman Jhula, close to all shopping, cafes and classes with views of the Ganga, no lockout and clean rooms.

    Best Dorm: Last Chance Cafe & Guesthouse (150 rupees a dorm)

    This cute and cozy hostel is closest to the Beatles ashram on the Ramjhula side and the best place to stay and meet fellow hippies with good vibes.

    Note: you need to book well in advance as they hardly ever have space.

    READ MORE: Experiencing an Indian Ashram

    Well Known Teacher Training Courses:

    (Prices typically range from $1,400-$1,800/USD)

    Shiva Yoga Peeth

    Rishikesh Yoga Peeth

    Vinyasa Yoga School

    Top Rated Drop-In Classes:

    Om Shanti Om

    Even after one class, I was hooked. I attended the owners classes and not only is he informative in explaining and making sure your positioning is correct, but he adds a level of fun and excitement to every class, really pushing you to reach your fullest potential.

    (300 rupees per class, 200 rupees a class if you buy five classes or 150 rupees a class if you buy 10 classes.)

    Yoga Vinny

    Drop-in classes are at 8:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (beginners) and 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. (200 rupees a class)

    Free Acro Yoga

    Every day at 4:30 p.m., make sure to head to the beach to try out some acro yoga! You can go alone or with friends and there will always be people to support you both physically and mentally.

    PHOTO: As they say, Rishikesh is the kind of place you plan to come for a few days but end up staying for weeks.

    Things to do:

    Besides taking a handful of classes, courses or eating your weight in vegetables and iced coffee, the best thing to do in such heat is to spend your afternoons on the beach, swimming in the ice cold Ganga, visiting the impressive Beatles ashram, watching the evening pooja at Parmarth or hiring a motorcycle to explore the surrounding areas.

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Shannon Wolf Tales From the Leap

Shannon Wolf Shannon Wolf is a freelance photographer and writer, traveling across the globe with an open itinerary and no intent of stopping. Originally from Toronto, Canada, she left behind a fast paced life to truly live and not just exist in an attempt to inspire others to follow their bliss. At age 26, Shannon has visited 20+ countries on four continents around the world. She has travelled overland by chicken-bus and tuk-tuks, hitchhiked by fruit trucks and through islands on horse and buggy. She has slept in the jungles of Nicaragua, on benches in London, secluded hidden beaches and she’s only getting started.
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