My time at Sadhana Yoga Retreat in Nepal absolutely deserves it’s own space in it’s very own blog post. I had heard about the hilltop, lakeview meditation retreat in Nepal through the grapevine, and was intrigued. I had never done anything like that before, but hey, going yoga in Nepal, and in the mountains out of Pokhara at that, it was too tempting to ignore! Plus I heard the Ayurvedic food served throughout the day was delish…
Sadhana Yoga Retreat in Nepal :
Bonding with the Ladies over Yoga in Nepal!
Daily Schedule at Sadhana
Days at Sadhana start with wake up at 5:30AM, followed by meditation for an hour at 5:45. You read that right, 5:30 AM!
Then teatime, when we got to drink tea.
Then came nasal cleansing, basically neti potting your nose and then going through a series of exhalations to get all the lovely matter out of those sinus passages. It really is a delightful time of spit, snot, and horrendous noises. The newly discovered anthem of Nepal, which is someone graphically clearing their sinuses, was a much revolted tune.
Once the nose was cleansed, the group did an hour of morning yoga, and then we would all go for a nature walk. By this time, everybody would be getting pretty antsy, note, we have yet to eat. And had been awake for 4 hours. And I think we all know what happens when I don’t eat for a spell of time… Need more than meditation.
Then finally breakfast!
After breakfast, there is some downtime, when people either get steam baths or mud baths. While the steam bath is nice and warm, the mud bath is very muddy! If you can get over the fact that you’re covering yourself in mud on a rooftop of a hilltop ashram alongside a potbellied Nepali man, it is super fun! And your skin feels fabs after!
I did my mud bath on my second day with my brand new friend Lauren, who at the exact same time as me offered full disclaimer regarding out of control body hair. Then we laughed and rubbed mud on our hairy legs and all over each other’s backs.
Something very primitive comes over you when you are practically naked covered in mud standing on a rooftop gazing out at the lovely scenery. Yes, there was dancing, and Tarzan calling.
Now would maybe be a good time to announce my newly created superhero, THE MEDITATOR!!!!! The name obviously has to be said in a very intense and intimidating voice, and imagine she is Ironman, but far more powerful due to her mental clarity. She dances like a possessed ape with her arms rounded, hunched back, and hands in the meditation pose (thumbs and forefingers together). So welcome to her!
Following the Sadhana daily schedule, after steaming/mudding, we would have some more downtime before afternoon meditation at noon, and then lunch at 1ish. The day gets more chill after that, as we have breaks until about 2:30, when we do ‘karma yoga’ which is basically just some rudimentary labor around the ashram to increase our karma and give back. The first day I carried firewood, the second I cleaned yoga mats, and the third I raked leaves. All for about 15 minutes, so we’re not calling our union reps yet.
Then teatime, which is popcorn and masala tea, yum!
And chilling until chanting, at about 4:00.
Chanting is getting together with the owner of the ashram, a wonderful woman named Durga who has a wonderful voice. The group would pick three mantras, most in Sanskrit, and then Durga would lead us with a tune of some kind. We have the words written out for all of the mantras, but you never really know what order the lines of the mantra are going to come, maybe there will be a repetition of this line, maybe we will repeat this chunk as a bridge for a while, nobody knows! You just go with Durga!
It is comparable to the riff-off in Pitch Perfect. And sounded even better…
If you can ignore the chorus of off beat people singing in a language they don’t know to a tune they can’t anticipate. It was for sure my favourite part of the day! Because if anybody knows me, it’s that I love to sing to songs I don’t know, in keys I can’t hit.
After chanting comes afternoon yoga, and then dinner at 7pm. At 8pm comes candlegazing, a form of meditation which is staring at the flame of a candle for 2 minutes and then meditating on it’s form in your third eye. Sounds weird, is totally real. Then because we have literally been awake forever, we retire at 8:30pm.
3 Days doing Yoga in Nepal
The days are pretty much all the same, but the sessions are different, so in my 3 days, each of my 6 yoga sessions were different. My body was sore the entire time.
I fell over during yoga one night and dropped the F-bomb. I literally fell over, slow motion taking two big falling steps backwards, and landed right on my ass in a massive display of backward momentum and lack of balance. F-bomb was deserved, though I did out myself for being less transcended than previously thought.
The food was amazing and I always looked forward to mealtime. Everything is Ayurvedic, which is the sister wellness system that goes along with yoga. All clean, natural, vegetarian ingredients, all nutritious and very tasty the way they prepare it there!
I actually hadn’t eaten a ton of meat since being in Nepal, I don’t generally cook meat in developing countries, as it just looks different and I’m not totally comfortable buying meat off of slabs of wood in the mid-day sun at the market.
But in Nepal there are more than enough non-meat options, what with Hinduism and Buddhism reigning supreme over most people’s dietary choices. Sadhana food, wow!
Fun fact: my name, Emily, is a Nepali word, kind of, that means “Sweet and Sour”. That’s me, Sweet and Sour, wink. Durga told me this one day at lunch, and then she went on to tell me how she loved anything sweet and sour, but that she would not eat me. Thanks!
Making the time at Sadhana really golden was that it was a great time with the people there. A truly wonderful group of women, most around my age, were there for the same time as me, and I had an absolute riot with them. There were a few times that we were very much the opposite of peaceful, belting out 80’s classics from one of the 5 stories of the ashram, we could all be on a different level of the ashram and sing together!
We bonded over falling over in yoga class, nasal cleansing noises, and the oft occurrence of a Westerner having gastrointestinal issues in developing countries. The great news is that 4 of us will all be in Kathmandu at the same time in mid-February, so we can all get together again soon! I was so lucky to meet such fantastic ladies at the Yoga retreat, the experience was not nearly as Zen as assumed! And really with 80’s singalongs, how could it be?!?!
A Massage at Nepali Yoga Retreat, always awkward…
I got a massage while at Sadhana, and while massages in foreign countries are almost always an experience unto themselves, this one was unique in it’s very own right. Previous to the massage starting, I was lying there, head turned to the right, for all intensive purposes naked, when from the left side I heard the unmistakable sound of a man taking his pants off… WHAT KIND OF PLACE IS THIS?!?!?!?
So I very casually turn my head westward, only to find the massage dude, in his long johns (because it’s cold in Nepal so everybody wears long johns at all times, totes sexy), putting on a different pair of pants.
Seemingly his business pants.
Which looked very similar to his other, non-business, pants. Massage is serious business and you need serious pants to do it. He then proceeded to give me a pretty great, if unrelenting on the sore muscles, massage. Pants included.
Having completed my three days at Sadhana Yoga Retreat and I returned to Pokhara after a 15-minute walk, and it was like entering another world. Somehow I managed to avoid the constant rain of the day, as I seemed to make the walk during the only 15 minutes of straight non-rain. Must have been all that karma yoga.
Yoga Retreat in Nepal
Nepal is one of many great destinations for yoga retreats. The country is literally made of meditation and provides ample scope for relaxation. There are folks who come to Nepal primarily to o yoga, and while yoga isn’t what brought me to Nepal, I did spend a great deal of time bending and breathing!