The Yoga Adventure in Ladakh is an authentic journey into yoga practice, Buddhist dharma and Ladakhi culture situated in awe-inspiring Himalayan landscapes where you can relax in pure nature.
You will visit impressive Buddhist temples with extraordinary murals and deities, witness the sacred Cham dance, receive blessings and teachings from Rinpoches, meditate with monks in monasteries, explore the high altitude desert surrounded by the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas, a mountain landscape dotted with Buddhist monasteries. Himalaya means ‘abode of snow’. We will wander through small villages, experience the gentle flow of rural life and meet friendly and hospitable local people.
The thread of this unique Himalayan pilgrimage is the Yoga and you will practice daily meditation, pranayama and asana, as well as receive Buddhist teachings continuously as we travel to sacred sites in Ladhak. Buddhist holy places are charged with divine presence. They are the abodes of the Gods. These mysterious power places open up a space within us where we may connect to our own divine essence. Ladakh is an inspiring destination that will leave you feeling nurtured, peaceful and serene.
Arrive in Paro and drive to Thimphu. 50 km appx 1.5 hour drive.
You will be met at the airport by your guide and driven to Paro town for a ceremonial welcome, tea and tour orientation. Drive to Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan where you will spend 2 nights. Check into hotel and relax before exploring a few sights. See Bhutan’s national animal, the Takin, and drive to Zilukha Nunnery for evening puja. Yoga class before dinner.
Altitude: 7010 ft / 2350m
Overnight at Thimphu
Yoga and meditation early morning. Buffet breakfast. Take a day hike to Tango monastery (13th C.E.) where you will receive a teaching from a Rinpoche at the Tango University of Buddhist Studies. Have a picnic lunch before wandering over to nearby Cheri Monastery (1620 C.E.). Visit the Choki Traditonal Art & Craft center in the idyllic village of Kabesa. Drive back to Thimphu and visit the Royal Textile Museum, Memorial Chorten and Buddha Point with the tallest sitting buddha. Enjoy a traditional Bhutanese Kuney massage before dinner.
Altitude: 7010ft / 2350m
Overnight at Thimphu
Thimphu to Punakha. 77km; 2hrs drive.
Morning yoga. Drive to Punakha (which served as Bhutan’s capital for 300 years) through Dochula Pass (10142ft / 3091m) with panoramic views of the snow-covered peaks of the Eastern Himalayan mountain ranges, the 108 Druk Wangyal Khang Zhang memorial chortens, ancient forests and fertile valleys. We stop at Chhimi Lakhang, a temple of fertility dedicated to the great 14th century yogi known as Drukpa Kuenly, popularly known as the ‘Divine Madman’. Drive to the hotel. Evening yoga.
Altitude: 4430ft / 1350m
Overnight at Punakha
Morning Yoga and meditation. Visit the magnificent Punakha Dzong, the Palace of Great Happiness or Bliss. Built in 1637 C.E., this ancient monastery is the second oldest in Bhutan and one of its most majestic structures. Drive to Gaki Gantoe, the ‘happiness village’, for a walk. Afternoon yoga.
Altitude: 4430ft / 1350m
Overnight at Punakha
Punakha to Haa Valley.150 km; 5 hrs drive.
Morning yoga session and drive to the picturesque Haa Valley. Enroute we’ll stop for lunch in Thimphu and shop for souvenirs. Later afternoon arrive at the charming Has hotel. Relax before afternoon yoga class. Have a traditional Bhutanese Herbal Hot Stone Bath after dinner and sleep like a baby in the quiet valley of Haa.
Wake up in one of Bhutan’s most picturesque valleys. Morning yoga and meditation. Enjoy a traditional breakfast of buckwheat pancakes and red rice salty porridge. Visit Lhakhang Karpo (White Temple) & Nagpo (Black Temple) built in 7 C.E.. A leisurely afternoon hike through a pine forests and a traditional Bhutanese village to Junidrak/ Katsho Goenpa temple (2950m). Take in spectacular views of the entire Haa Valley and arrive back at the hotel for afternoon yoga class.
Haa to Paro. 75 km; 2.5 hour drive.
Morning yoga session and drive to Paro via Chelala Pass (1000ft / 3810m), the highest motorable pass in Bhutan. Lunch at Kila Nunnery with the nuns and watch them practice Chöd. Drive to Paro Valley and enjoy a luxury stay at he stunning Naksel Boutique Hotel & Spa on the edge of a forest above Paro. Late afternoon yoga.
Altitude: 7218ft / 2200m
Paro to Bumdra. Full moon glamping in pure nature. 4-5 hour hike.
Early morning yoga. Breakfast. Drive to the trailhead for Bumdra. Walk at a leisurely pace through ancient forests and ridges with views of the Paro and Do Chhu valleys and the snow-capped Himalayan peaks, and high wide meadows dotted with prayer flags and sacred chortens. You will celebrate the full moon with a Tshok offering at Bumdra Monastery in the Dakini Cave of a Hundred Thousand Prayers. Have a full moon bath and sleep under the stars in a luxury campsite.
Altitude: 12467ft / 3800m
Bumdra to Taktshang Paro. 4 hour hike.
The day begins with an open-air yoga and meditation, followed by a hearty breakfast. Our trek descends for 2 hours through spectacular scenery, past the cave of Machig Labdron (the renowned 11th C.E. Tibetan tantric Buddhist yogini who originated several Tibetan lineages of the Vajrayana practice of Chöd), before reaching the gardens of Zangtopelri (Heaven on Earth). Soon we arrive at the ultimate Buddhist site – Guru Rinpoche’s Taktsang Monastery, or Tiger’s Nest – perched on the edge of a sheer cliff, rising 1000 meters from the valley floor. The trail then wanders through a blue pine forest, past fluttering prayer flags and hydro-powered spinning prayer wheels, to your awaiting vehicle that will take you to Naksel Boutique Hotel & Spa. Late afternoon yoga class or luxury spa treatment.
Altitude: 7218ft / 2200m
Paro. Awaken in your peaceful, rustic villa to spectacular views of Bhutan’s highest mountains. Enjoy morning yoga in an exquisite wooden yoga shala, followed by a leisurely breakfast. Drive to Kyichu Lhakhang, the oldest monastery in Bhutan. Have a teaching at the Memorial House of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. The afternoon is free to shop for souvenirs in Paro town. Evening enjoy a feast and cultural program of Bhutanese dance.
Altitude: 7218ft / 2200m
Heather Elton and has led international yoga retreats in India and Nepal for over decade. She believes the Himalayas are the most authentic places to practice yoga in that ancient yoga traditions are still alive here. This realisation led to the creation of Himalayan Yoga Adventures in 2014. Heather began her practice of Modern Postural Yoga in the 1986 and has taught yoga for close to 2 years. She is also a Buddhist practitioner and has travelled extensively in Himalayan regions. Heather is the main teacher on the journey and teaches Pranayama, Meditation and Asana as well as Tools of Tantra. Hatha Vinyasa Yoga is taught in a way that integrates ancient wisdom traditions with contemporary psychology into a mindful practice designed to diminish suffering in our lives.
The ‘Tools of Tantra’ section of the program includes basic techniques of spiritual practice: How to use a mala, recite a mantra, spin prayer wheels, walk the Kora. Practice Tantric visualisations of prana/nadis/bindu and chakra meditations to deepen your understanding of the subtle energy body. Experience darshan and learn how to enter a temple in a respectful way and what to do inside. Make an offering to the deity. Receive darshan, puja and blessings. Respectful conduct in the presence of realised beings.
For details about Heather see here.
We’ll stay in three different locations with hand-picked hotels so you will experience different areas of Ladakh. We’ll stay at the stylish Nimmu House, a renovated ‘royal’ heritage house, and the Stok Palace which is the residence of the King, both traditional rammed-earth Ladhak buildings, hundred of years old restored to contemporary standardst. In t,he remote Nubra Valley we’ll stay at a charming Ladakhi guesthouse situated in a serene natural environment. You will awaken to the peaceful sound of birdsong and awe-inspiring views of Himalayan peaks. We’ll eat delicious local vegetarian cuisine, and dress and behave respectfully in accordance with local custom.
If you have an interest in yoga, Buddhism or Ladakh or mountain culture, this Yoga Adventure is for you! It’s great if you’re interested in spiritual practice and have read a few yoga philosophy texts and have a regular asana practice, but that’s not a pre-requisite. The Adventure is open to everyone and all levels of yoga practice will be nurtured. You do need to be fit enough to hike a couple of hours per day. Dharma practitioners, artists, sculptors, and photographers are all welcome. This adventure is ideal for yoga teachers who want to integrate yoga philosophy and texture into your teachings, or for academics and scholars who want to embody the theory into a living practice. A curious mind and a desire to experience the wider realms of yoga are essential.
“A spiritual polymath, Heather is able to draw on an enormous range of secular and spiritual sources to demonstrate the union of wisdom teachings, from Gandhi to Tagore, from Nagarjuna to something she read in the paper last week.” – Jonathan Ekstrom
“Heather is an outstanding yoga teacher. She is authentic with a strong approach and style of teaching. Our group was a mixed level group and Heather excelled at teaching to all levels. I’m a yoga teacher and am very impressed with how Heather handled the group. By the end of the week, everyone’s practice had evolved and deepened. She is open and friendly. Heather provided the perfect balance of asana and philosophy. Every thing she taught was relevant and interesting. Heather is an excellent instructor and she very quickly became familiar with each of us, our abilities, limitations and levels of expertise. She understands alignment principles and her adjustments were spot on. I really enjoyed the way she conducted each class and I particularly enjoyed the sequencing. She is concise, competent, and supportive yet firm. She created an atmosphere of trust and we all bonded as a group from the first day. It was truly a memorable week.” – Connie Muradyan
My yoga teacher from Nepal has created an authentic yoga journey in Bhutan. Go if you are called to exploring the roots of Buddhism, yoga and meditation. Go if you are curious about where you are capable of reaching in this life. Go if you are seeking exploration outside of this modern, West, consumerist, white supremacist, patriarchal worldview. She is a true yogi, has dedicated her life to study and practice with gurus; she is the real deal when it comes to teachers who can facilitate spiritual growth and curiosity because she has first faced herself, she has looked inward and done the work for decades. She speaks truth to what is.
“Heather provided a safe and nurturing environment, which facilitated the group dynamics as well as the individual’s pace of learning and development. It was a profound experience.” – Ellie Roberts
“Once again, THANK YOU for a great retreat. The setting was amazing, the company was great and the teaching was excellent. It has been great being taught yoga by a true yogi and I have totally enjoyed and learned plenty during the week. Thank you also for inspiring and empowering us to self-practice…” – Maria da Cunha
“I feel like this is the beginning of the rest of my life. I’ve taken that first, very difficult step, on a very long road. I’ll be eternally grateful for the support and guidance you’ve shown me in making a life-changing journey.” – Sarah Osborne
Single Supplement: $775 USD
Bhutan Yoga Adventure is produced in partnership with Sacred Himalaya Travel in Bhutan. Laxmi Sherpa is happy to arrange your international flights and further travels in Bhutan.