Nepal is the land of ‘Living Tantra’ and our exciting journey through the Kathmandu Valley is an exploration of the ancient mandala and the Buddhist and Hindu tantric practices that permeate the land and find expression in architecture, painting, sculpture, dance and performance, as well as rituals and ceremonies. To the uninitiated eye, the true meaning behind a holy site, the deities covering temple walls, or a sacred ritual, can be intimidating and misunderstood. Our highly-qualified teachers are experienced yogis, spiritual masters, and artists who will de-mystify spiritual practice, decipher the meaning behind devotional iconography and guide you on a transformational journey taking you deep into your own practice to embody the sacred.
The thread of this unique Himalayan pilgrimage is the Yoga, and we will receive teachings and practice yoga continuously as we travel to sacred sites in Nepal. You will meet traditional yogis and Tibetan Rinpoches, wander the winding streets of the three medieval Newari kingdoms to visit ancient temples and shrines, explore sacred geography in the valleys and mountains, spin prayer wheels, raise prayer flags, recite mantras, smell the camphor and incense, meditate with monks, feel the vibration of chanting and bells ringing, experience ritual and puja, have darshan and be blessed by priests, meditate in the cremation ghats of Pashupatinath,and walk the Kora around the enormous stupa at Boudhanath topped by a gilded spire painted with the eyes of the Buddha.The sacred places in the Kathmandu Valley 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. Nepal is an inspiring destination that will leave you feeling nurtured, peaceful and serene.
Nepal is a place of contradictions which makes it perfect for yoga practice. It is both a pure land of extreme beauty and a chaotic polluted mess. Kathmandu is known as “a garbage dump filled with saints,” a sacred site buried in the confusion of the modern world. It can assault and challenge your senses in every way and yet stir the depths of your heart leaving you forever changed. This adventure will be an experience of a lifetime; one that will take you deep into your own practice and give you the skilful means to manage your life and have a good understanding of the ancient science of yoga.
Darshan is the theme of the 2019 Yoga Adventure. We’ll investigate the concept of ‘seeing’ and ‘being seen’ by the guru, deva and dakini. The teachings explore the non-dual philosophies of yoga and especially the ‘View,’ of emptiness, found in tantric traditions.
Maharaja Ishanath, an Aghori Nath yogi, living at Pashupati, is our interpreter of symbols on the spiritual path. He guides us through various temples where we learn how to make offerings, have puja and take darshan. He teaches us how to cultivate Bhakti. Without devotion we don’t get very far on the path.
The Kathmandu Valley was once a vast lake trapped by the Himalayas. Sacred texts tell the story of how the yogi Manjushri saw a sacred lotus rising from the waters and cut a channel with his sword to drain the waters. Since then, the sacred valley has been home to the Buddha, Lord Shiva, great yogis like Goraknath and Matsyendranath, Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche), Kali, Vajrayogini, a retinue of dakinis, and a continual mix of Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims dating back to the 5 BCE.
The entire Kathmandu Valley is a World Heritage site, a living museum, filled with ancient temples, hidden shrines, enormous stupas, and priceless stone sculptures. Nepal is the perfect location to explore the roots of yoga and tantric worship in both ancient Hindu and Buddhist yogic practices. This Yoga Adventure is the perfect way to experience important religious sites in a way that you will understand their meaning.
Arrive in Kathmandu.
You will be met at the airport by your guide and driven to Vajra Hotel in Swayambunath where you can relax and have a chai in the garden or explore Swayambunath temple before dinner. We will have an Opening Ceremony after dinner in the Pagoda Room.
Overnight at Swayambunath
Swayambunath to Pharping. 20.6 km; 1 hour drive.
Early morning yoga. Breakfast. We will drive to the monastery in Pharping where will stay for 3 nights. Walk to Asura Caves where Padmasambhava and Gorakshnath practiced sadhana for 12 years and attained enlightenment. Hang prayer flags. Visit the Vajrayogini Temple and stop for lunch in Pharping.
Afternoon Restorative Yoga class.
Overnight at Pharping
Morning Hatha Vinyasa yoga class. Visit the Sesh Narayan Temple and stroll through the scenic Dollu Valley to the giant statue of Guru Rinpoche. Have lunch surrounded in sublime nature surrounded by pink lotus blossoms. Visit the Ani Gompa on the way back to the monastery. Evening yoga.
Overnight at Pharping
Morning Yoga and meditation. Walk through rice paddies to Dakshinkali, a sacred site dedicated to the goddess Kail. Wander back past various shrines to Pharping town. Lunch at Coffee Haven. Afternoon yoga in the monastery.
Overnight at Pharping
Pharping to Patan. 14.5 km; 1 hour drive.
Morning yoga session. Drive to Patan and check into hotel. Tour Patan Durbar Square and the Patan Museum. Lunch at the museum café. Afternoon tour of Patan with visits to various temples and sacred sites. Evening puja at the Golden Temple. Dinner at Yala Restaurant.
Patan, Pashupati and Boudhanath
Early morning puja at the Kumbeshwar Temple before breakfast. Drive to Pashupati, UNESCO World Heritage site and sacred place of Shiva. Pashupati tour to main sites with Maharaja Ishanath. Picnic lunch. Taxi to Boudhanth. Check into hotel and walk the kora around the giant stupa. Dinner at Rokpa.
Walk the kora at dawn. Morning yoga class. Buddhist teaching with Rinpoche. Free time for shopping, massage or to visit Tibetan doctor. Late afternoon yoga.
Boudhanath to Bhaktapur. 15.3 km; 1 hour drive.
Walk the kora at dawn. Morning yoga class. Breakfast. Visit Changu Narayan enroute to Bhaktapur. Tour of Bhaktapur visiting the main temples and shrines and strolling through the various squares of this medieval kingdom. Lunch overlooking BhaktapurDurbar Square. Evening puja at the Shiva Temple.
Bhaktapur to Namo Buddha. 28.1 km; 1.5 hrs drive.
Morning puja at the Avalokiteshwara Temple before breakfast. Drive to Namo Buddha and check into the charming Newari hotel. Relax and soak in the scenery. Have a gourmet lunch in this superb location with views towards the eastern Himalayan ranges. Trek to Namo Buddha monastery, the site where the Buddha fed a starving tigress his flesh so she could feed her cubs. Walk the kora and have afternoon puja with the monks. Late afternoon yoga class. Gourmet dinner.
Overnight: Namo Buddha
Awaken in your peaceful, rustic villa to spectacular views of the Himalayas.. Enjoy morning yoga in an exquisite wooden yoga shala, followed by a leisurely breakfast. Optional day hike to the medieval town of Panauti for lunch or still at the resort. Late afternoon yoga class and farewell dinner.
Overnight: Namo Buddha
Namo Buddhato Kathmandu airport.29.8 km; 2 hrs drive.
Heather Elton and has led international yoga retreats in India and Nepal for over decade. She believes Nepal is the most authentic place to practice yoga in that ancient yoga traditions are still alive here and 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 15 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 simple, but comfortable accommodation – a mix of 5-star hotels and Nepalese guesthouses, from rustic chic traditional Newari homes to basic pilgrim lodges. We’ll eat local vegetarian meals, and dress and behave respectfully in accordance with local custom. The program consists of a full schedule, but there will be time for shopping and exploring too.
If you’re interested in Nepal, yoga, Buddhism or spiritual practice then this Nepal Yoga Adventure is for you. It’s great if you’ve read a few yoga philosophy texts and have a regular asana practice, but that’s not essential. 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.
We will immerse ourselves in Nepalese culture which can sometimes mean pushing the boundaries of our comfort zone. We will engage in a yoga journey that is also a spiritual sadhana. A Tantric practice is about transformation. It will be fun but engaging at the same time.
Please note: This is not ‘spiritual tourism’ or a ‘yoga asana holiday.’ It’s not for people with a need for high standards of comfort, or who don’t wish to engage in spiritual practice.
“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
“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: £500
The Nepal Yoga Adventure is produced in partnership with Tsewang Bista and the Nepali travel agency Mustang Adventure Trek PVT. LTD. Tsewang is happy to arrange trekking adventures or further travel in Nepal.