SEPTEMBER 14-28th 2024: YOGA, MEDITATION & SERVICE RETREAT Our signature retreat focusing on connection to oneself in nature, cultural activities and immersion in our school
*option for arranging pre-retreat sightseeing to the Golden Triangle (Delhi, Jaipur, Agra – Taj Mahal) September 10-14th
Two Week Immersive Experiences in the Lap of Mother Nature
Spreading the Spirit from the Himalayas
Not your usual yoga retreat. A life transforming experience in the remote Indian Himalayas, this experience is for those who have a calling for deep dive into the lap of mother nature, a desire for immersive practice, and a wish for life long connections and memories. This yoga retreat is meant to capture the essence of true spiritual sadhana or practice within the rich culture of the Garhwal Himalayas. Participants will have the unique opportunity to serve at our mindful and holistic primary school. Unlike boutique yoga retreats which are disconnected from the local culture they are placed in, ours is meant to inspire simplicity, respect for others and environment and humility. Feel a part of true Himalayan culture and homes. Through the experiences of dozens of participants we can easily say that these retreats make a big impact – They are meant to give respect to the origins of Yoga and the transformative power of the Himalayas.
We are a mindful community nestled in the Indian Himalayas in Garhwal region, Uttarakhand. We live, meditate, farm, trek, make music and run a school together. Our school is situated in the Shri Bhuveneshwari Mahila Ashram (SBMA) campus, a well known local Garhwali NGO that was started by Swami Manmathan in the 1970s to provide a safe haven for women and children and to improve the livelihoods of the local villagers.
APV School is a model school and teacher training center dedicated to providing a holistic, mindful and inclusive education to the children of Uttarakhand for the last 17 years.
Find out more about our school on our website or watch our documentary film here
YOGA: Practicing Yoga in Dev Bhumi or the Land of the Gods gives one a real connection to the roots of the Yoga tradition and the countless sages and saints who did their tapas deep in the recesses of the Himalayas. We will be practicing Classical Hatha, Vinyasa Krama, Pranayama Techniques and Restorative Yoga
MEDITATION: The natural fresh and pure environment provides ample prana, life force, for one to go deep into meditation. The qualities of simplicity and humility are enhanced here to aid one in accessing a space of deep inner joy and radiance, away from the ego drives and fast pace of modern life
SERVICE: Giving service at APV School invites participants to truly develop meaningful connections and relationships with local children and teachers, as well as utilize the retreat as a means to experience one’s own transformation through the act of karma yoga. The mindful educators retreat includes extra sessions in education philosophy and engagement with the school and founder Anand Dwivedi
CULTURAL IMMERSION: Almost every day consists of a new adventure – whether a visit to a local temple, a hindi lesson, a village walk, planting seeds, boating on the lake, discussions of meditation, a jungle trek, cooking lessons etc, our retreat is focused on participants fully engaging with their environment so that the imprint of the retreat lasts a lifetime
*25% of all retreat profits are donated to Simply Himalaya Education Fund which supports APV School * Payment Plans Available, Financial Support Available for BIPOC & Marginalized Communities/those undergoing financial hardship * For those coming from non-1st world countries – please contact me for differential pricing
Transfers to/from Delhi to Retreat Site
Airport transfer via the hotel in Delhi
Accommodations in Delhi and Rishikesh: double occupancy (single occupancy available for additional fee)
Simple Double Accommodation at Retreat Site
Yoga/Meditation (Twice Daily)
All Cultural and Environmental Activities including Guided Treks, Village Visits, Temple Visits, Cooking Classes and more at retreat site
In School Immersion
EXTRAS TO PLAN FOR:
30 Day e-Visa (~$25)
Most Meals in Rishikesh & Delhi (breakfast included in Delhi)
Tips for Guides, Cooks Drivers etc. (~$50)
Optional travel to Taj Mahal on last day from Delhi (Entrance fees, tour and food at Taj Mahal)
Optional 4 night Golden Triangle Tour before each retreat
Pre and Post Retreat Tours
We are happy to arrange travel for you within India pre and post our retreat. Many participants like to do the Golden Triangle to visit the important sites and monuments, or we can arrange another experience for you. Please see the example of the Golden Triangle Tour below. Other options can include Varanasi/Sarnath, Bodh Gaya, etc.
Khushi received her training from the Himalayan Institute, the spearhead humanitarian organization of Swami Rama of the Himalayas, where she lived for 18 months. Her love of the Himalayan masters brought her right to their holy feet. She has been with APV School for more than 10 years, and has been teaching Yoga for over 15. Her style is rooted in the Tantras, classical yoga sutras and vedanta, hatha yoga, and the teachings of the Buddha. She loves to wander around nature, and play with kids and animals any chance she gets.
Mohan Panwar (Anjanisain, Uttarakhand, India)
Mohan is a native of the Himalayas and has lots of experience taking people deep into the grandeur and peace of the Himalayas. Growing up himself as a child of the local ashram, he has dedicated his life to helping children less advantaged find the care and love they so desperately need. He helped start APV school and has been a mindful educator for over 17 years. He will serenade you with his flute while taking you on hikes, and make you laugh with his wonderful stories. As he likes to say, “Discover Yourself in the Himalayas!”
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: What is the nature of this retreat?
A: This is a yoga, meditation, service oriented himalayan excursion designed to invigorate your mind and body and awaken your spirit in the lush green lower Himalayas.
Q: Is there any trekking?
A: There will be walks through different villages. 1-2 days we will take longer treks up into the mountainside for about 2 hours.
Q: What will the weather be like? Should we expect rain?
A: The skies are mostly clear, with afternoon clouds, the day times are pleasant reaching temperatures between 75-80 degrees F and the nights and early mornings are still cool with temperatures between 55-65 degrees F). However, weather can change rapidly in the mountains so it’s always good to be prepared with waterproof jackets and lots of layers.
Q: What is the method of travel?
A: You will be traveling by train and jeep.
Q: How long are travel days?
A: There is one long travel day getting to the mountains from Delhi, and the rest are generally 3-4 hours
Q: What altitudes will we travel?
A: Our travels will take us from around sea level to 7500 feet.
Q: How can I prepare for this retreat?
A: Physical fitness and overall good health are important elements for a spiritual excursion like this. If you haven’t already, we suggest that you begin a regular practice for conditioning your body. One method is fast walking, building up to a steady pace on inclines, hilly terrain, or stairs, and increasing distance* Also, the yogic breathing techniques (pranayama) of kapalabhati, bhastrika, and nadi shodhanam (alternate nostril breathing) are also good preparation, as is the practice of agni sara to energize the solar plexus and help sustain vitality. We also recommend taking probiotics and supplements to strengthen your immune system.
Q: What will be be practicing?
A: Khushi will be sharing Vinyasa Krama (pranayama, mudra, asana based) practices in the morning, and more restorative practices in the evening.
Q: Are children allowed?
A: This trip lends itself well to family excursions as we are in a safe ashram environment with lots of children. We ask minimum age be 5 years old (with the capacity to remain quiet thru the yoga sessions, participate, or play by themselves in the room during yoga sessions)
Q: Where can I change money?
A: Change currency into Indian rupees before exiting the Customs area at the Delhi airport. Traveler’s checks are no longer widely accepted, therefore, plan to bring cash for exchange. State Bank of India, near the baggage claim area (across from carousel 14) and before the Customs exit, is recommended for currency exchange. Count your rupees before leaving the window and be sure you are given an encashment certificate for your transaction. Retain this encashment certificate to use for exchanging any excess rupees at the end of your travel.
Q: Will we have access to a phone or internet?
A: Phone connections and service in the mountainous areas has gotten quite good. Phone connections in the city of Dehradun are stronger and generally more reliable. Several local telephone carriers are located in the international arrivals area of Terminal 3 at Indira Gandhi International Airport. Inquire about options and cost at Airtel or Jio upon arrival in India. If you plan to use a local SIM card in your GSM mobile phone, have your local service provider unlock the phone before your departure for India. CDMA phones may require additional attention to avoid roaming charges with a local SIM card. Check details with your service provider. At the retreat site we will provide a portable wifi device for your use. At hotels in Delhi and Rishikesh wifi is easily available.
TRAVEL, PASSPORT, VISA
Q: What airport do I fly into?
A: You will fly into New Delhi, India, otherwise known as DEL
Q: When should I book my airfare?
A: Once the tour is confirmed as running with enough participants (you will receive a notice July 15th)
Q: Do I need a passport or visa?
A: Passports and visas are required for travel to India. Passports must be valid for at least six (6) months after your return date from India. It is also recommended that you have at least 3 blank pages in the back of your passport. A valid passport must be submitted with the visa application and your passport must be signed where indicated.
Q: Where do I apply for my visa?
A: You may apply for an e-visa directly on the Governement of India website. You can apply for this visa 30 days before you travel. You will receive an email copy within 3 days – once you arrive into India, you will get a stamp in your passport for the actual visa.
Q: What are the COVID protocols for entering the country?
A: As of now, if you have a vaccination card you are allowed to enter the country after uploading the card online in the Air Suvida Travel Portal. If you do not have a card, you are required to get a RT-PCR test 72 hours prior to travel. We personally do not require our participants to be vaccinated.
*Baggage allowance – 2 23kg suitcases + carry-on* We recommend bringing an empty suitcase as it may fill up with purchases!
The following items are essential:
Comfortable, waterproof hiking shoes/boots
Flip Flops for bathrooms
2–3 active wear T-shirts
2–3 long sleeve trekking/activewear shirts
Medium thermal base layers (tops and bottoms)
1 medium fleece jacket
Wind and waterproof layers (jacket with a hood)
2–3 trekking pants/yoga pants
Hiking socks (4–5 pairs)
Lightweight travel or pack towel
Two 1 – liter or one 2 – liter water bottle or hydration bladder*
Thermos for hot water
Sunglasses with UV protection
Walking stick / trekking poles if you have difficulty trekking – we can also just give you sticks from the forest!
Sunscreen and lip balm (vaseline)
Flashlight or headlamp
Personal toiletries, including soap and shampoo
Wet Wipes or other hand sanitizer
Prescription medicine, if required
Lightweight stuff sack or bag for excess items you may want to purchase**
Items for yoga (can be purchased from us or in Rishikesh)
Other things to consider:
Vest (down or fleece)
Sleeping bag silk liner
1 Long dress/long skirt
Stole/scarf/shawl (can be purchased in Delhi
Waterproof liner for inside your duffel (or a large garbage bag)
Extra Zip Lock or plastic bags
Camera and accessories
Power bank (portable charging device) (kept in carry-on not checked bag)
International converter kit for rechargeable items, or bring extra batteries
TSA luggage locks (locks keep zippers closed during handling, and help prevent accidental opening)
Pocket knife (packed in checked baggage, not in carry-on)
Toilet paper and/or pocket tissues (can be purchased in Rishikesh
Laundry soap (we will provide at retreat site)
Electrolyte drink mix
Snack bars, trail snacks (can be purchased in Rishikesh)
Q: What immunizations do I need?
A: No immunizations are required for the areas we are traveling to in India. You’re welcome to check the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization websites for their list of recommended vaccines. These vaccines are optional and the decision to get them is strictly a personal choice. We encourage you to discuss immunization with your health professional in order to make an informed decision based on your own personal preferences and health history.
Q: Are there natural ways to enhance my health before going to India?
A: Amla (Amalaki) is one of the world’s most concentrated naturally occurring sources of antioxidant Vitamin C. Also ashwaghanda can help with maintaining good energy levels and is adaptogenic in nature.
Q: Is the water safe to drink?
A: Reverse Osmosis (RO) water or bottled (mineral) water is recommended when staying in hotels in India and it can be purchased directly from the hotel or other local sources. Boiled and filtered water is also safe.
Q: What medicines should I bring with me?
A: If you are taking prescription medication, bring an adequate amount with you. Although some medicines are available in India, their supply and quality are not reliable. Bring homeopathic or herbal remedies of your choice. Consult in advance with your health practitioner regarding other medications and recommendations for known allergies, possible altitude sickness, diarrhea, or general stomach upsets. We will also carry an array of the most necessary allopathic and homeopathic medicines, as well as a first aid kit.
INDIAN CULTURAL CONSIDERATIONS
Indian culture is drastically different than what one might be accustomed to in theWest, especially in rural India. Mountain culture is dictated by hardship and hard work, as well as communion with the environment. Participants might be amazed and surprised by the amount of work women do in the community. Please be respectful to the traditions and customs, and practice being an observer. Some things you see might be contrary to your beliefs; however, we ask that you maintain an attitude of acceptance and curiosity. Any questions you might have along the way, please feel free to ask Mohan or Khushi and they will advise you accordingly, or just follow their lead. Please note the following cultural considerations:
Participants are expected to dress modestly and in line with local cultural norms. Shorts (long shorts for men are ok), tank tops, and other tight or revealing clothing is not appropriate at the retreat site. Tight yoga leggings are not permitted without longer tops to cover the backside.
No tank tops or spaghetti straps worn in public
Temperature variation from the valley regions to mountain sites is considerable therefore clothes for warm bright days and cool nights is advisable (light fleece, shawl or jacket). If you are visiting local villages Indian traditional clothes are the best, and western clothing (jeans/t-shirt etc.) is acceptable as long as it is not revealing.
What is more important is to keep your body well covered. For women it is advised to bring a light stole to cover the chest region
Modest clothing, not showing legs (above calves) or armpits.
Women are advised to wear a stole or light shawl (known as a chunni or dupatta).
If visiting someone’s home, please do not enter any kitchen unless invited by the elders in the family
Public display of physical contact between males and female (like holding hands) is not culturally appropriate
If you are entering a religious place like – a temple, mosque and gurudwara – you must take off your footwear outside. Most homes also follow this tradition
Namaste (with folded hands) is the traditional hello and goodbye greeting as well. A more respectful versionof Namaste is Namashkaar
If you are eating with local people and you have your own food, it is customary to share it with everybody
Wash your hands with water or sanitize before touching food
Don’t touch any food with your hands that is not already in your plate
Unlike the West, it is seen as highly disrespectful to share something that has touched your mouth with others (i.e: sharing your water bottle with the others etc.). You make share water if the water bottle has not touched your mouth, or food that you haven’t already bitten into. Also, while cooking, in India we never taste with the same spoon again and again. Please use a new spoon for any tasting.
REGISTRATION & CANCELLATION
How do I register?
A: Register online above and submit your deposit or full payment (Khushi will contact you with best way to pay)
Q: What if I need to cancel?
A: Requests for cancellation must be made in writing to Khushi. 2 months or more before the start date of the retreat, full refund is possible minus $150 processing fee. Any in country closures due to COVID – full refund is given minus $150 processing fee. As a non-profit we are unable to offer exceptions to our cancellation policy – we therefore highly encourage participants to purchase trip cancellation insurance in the event you need to cancel your reservation due to any reason.
Q: What is the minimum number of participants needed to run the tour?
A: Minimum is 5 people. If we do not have enough, participants will be refunded their deposits.
ACCOMMODATIONS & MEALS
Q: Where will we be staying?
A: Accommodations will vary from hotels in the cities to the ashram guest house which has very simple shared accommodation. There is hot water for bathing (bucket baths!), and electricity. The bathrooms are within your shared accommodation.
Q: What type of meals can I expect? Is alcohol allowed?
A: Freshly prepared vegetarian meals will be served throughout, including some local Garhwali delicacies made with fresh organic vegetables. Inquire about special dietary needs. This is a spiritual pilgrimage with a focus on meditation so we ask all guests to refrain from all intoxicants.
Q: Will I be able to do laundry?
A: It will be possible to do laundry by hand at the retreat site.
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