Ashrams have existed in India for thousands of years. They are mostly associated with Hinduism, although other religions, including Christianity, have also adopted the model of the ashram as a spiritual retreat or residence. Historically, ashrams were located in remote places, well away from the rest of the community. They would often be in beautiful rural locations, such as forests or mountain ranges, with the natural surroundings to enhance the spiritual practices taking place there.
Although ashrams are generally considered as places to find spiritual peace and tranquility, they were also sometimes used as places for instruction in other disciplines such as martial arts. They also sometimes functioned as schools for the children of gurus.
These days, ashrams are not necessarily in such remote places, and a religious or spiritual guru and his/her disciples may choose any location to live. Usually representing a return to a simpler way of living with a focus on awakening and finding meaning in life, modern day ashrams have been established in the West in places such as Virginia, New York and Canada. They also are often still within the Indian lineage and they tend to focus on yoga. There, yogis who wish to deepen their practice and knowledge, may study the scriptures, meditate, practice yoga and perform karma yoga duties.