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This innovative, non-dogmatic yoga retreat, with over 75 hours of teaching, will deepen your understanding of yoga and spiritual practice. You will receive yoga teachings and practices continuously as you travel to sacred sites in Nepal. You will learn yoga directly from experienced yogis, spiritual masters, and artists, many who’ve lived in Nepal for over 25 years. They will guide you through the fascinating mix of Buddhist and Hindu iconography to discover the roots of Tantra in Nepal all within the context of yogic philosophy and practice.
You will be staying in simple, but comfortable accommodations provided by Heather Elton Yoga. The accommodation is a mix of five-star hotels and Nepalese guesthouses, from rustic chic traditional Newari homes to basic pilgrim lodges.
This yoga adventure is for anyone with an interest in yoga and Nepal. It’s great if you’re interested in a spiritual practice, have read a few basic yoga philosophy texts, and have a regular asana practice, but it’s open to all levels of yoga practitioners. Dharma practitioners, artists, sculptors, and photographers are welcome. A curious mind and a desire to experience the wider realms of yoga are essential.
This adventure is ideal for young yoga teachers needing Continuing Professional Development (CPD) courses with Yoga Alliance Professionals UK and those who want to integrate yoga philosophy and texture into the teachings, or Religious Studies academics who want to embody the theory into a living practice.
You will immerse yourself in Nepalese culture which can sometimes mean pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone. You 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. However, this is not ‘spiritual tourism’ or a ‘yoga asana holiday.’ It is not for people with a need for high standards of comfort, or who don’t wish to engage in spiritual practice.
Nepal is the land of ‘living Tantra’, and a place where you can find expressions in architecture, painting, sculpture, dance and performance, as well as rituals and ceremonies. Therefore, the program is designed to be both a transformational journey taking you deep into your own practice and provides the context to find meaning in the experience and embody the sacred. You will have a glimpse through the Newari latticed window into different Tantric practices: Tibetan Vajrayana, Hindu Shiva margi and Durga Shakti workship, Tantric priests, Bhakti, all within the context of yoga.
Heather Elton teaches the basic techniques of spiritual practice: How to use a mala, recite a mantra, spin prayer wheels, walk the Kora. Learn yogic Tantric visualizations of prana / nadis / bindu and chakra meditations to deepen your understanding of the subtle energy body. 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 realized beings. Observe a tantric priest performing an elaborate Shiva puja.
You will immerse yourself in Nepalese culture which can sometimes mean pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone. You will engage in a yoga journey that is also a spiritual sadhana. A Tantric practice is about transformation. Be united with the circumstance, you will 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 particular places.Through this retreat, you will be able to:
This retreat will take place in several sacred places in Nepal. You will visit several Hindu and Buddhist holy sites in the Kathmandu Valley that are charged with divine presence and are the abodes of the Gods. For Newari Buddhists, the shrine on top of Svayambhu is the most sacred site, while for Tibetan Buddhists Boudhanath is the most supreme. For the Hindus, Pashupati is the residence of the great god Shiva, while for Buddhists Pashupati is Avolokiteshwara. Narayana’s power place sits atop Changu Narayana. Pharping is where Guru Padmasambhava attained enlightenment. Naga serpents are in the water and the Mother Goddesses are throughout the land. Temples, pagodas, hand-hewn caves, stone, wood and bronze sculptures and ancient rocks, all evoke mystery, divine myths, and human history. These mysterious power places give access to the palaces of the gods and open us a space within where we may connect to your own divine essence.
Bhaktapur was once the capital of Nepal during the great Malla Kingdom until the second half of the fifteenth C.E. and has been an important center on the trade route between Tibet and India since time immemorial. Bhaktapur is a well-preserved ancient city and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site for its rich culture, temples, and wood, metal, and stone artwork.
Pashupatinath is a temple complex (400 A.D.) sprawling on the banks of the Bagmati River. Pashupatinath Temple is the most sacred of Lord Shiva (Pashupati) temples in the world and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temple is famous for its awe-inspiring and astounding pagoda architecture and houses the sacred linga or phallic symbol of Lord Shiva. For Newari Buddhists, Pashupati is the bodhisattva Avolokiteswara. The Tibetan mahasiddhas, Naropa and Tilopa, meditated in caves here in the 10 C.E. The Pashupati Temple Complex is filled with exquisite temples, shrines, statues and prominent tantric holy sites. It is filled with colorful Sadhus (holy Hindu ascetics), who emulate Shiva and rub ash on their bodies.
Sankhu is an unspoiled Newari village and home to the Vajra Yogini Temple. A long flagstone staircase meanders through a pine forest, past traditional hiti (water spouts) and temples to Bhairava and Daksin Kali, up to the top of the hill where lies the impressive Vajra Yogini Temple.
Boudhanath is one of the holiest Buddhist sites and is famous for its massive stupa bearing the omnipresent Buddha eyes on all four sides. Boudhanath Stupa looks like a giant mandala or diagram of the Buddhist cosmos. Four of the Dhyani Buddhas mark the cardinal points, with the fifth, Vairocana, enshrined in the center. The five Buddhas also personify the five elements (earth, water, fire, air, and ether), which are represented in the stupa’s architecture.
The nine levels of Boudhanath Stupa represent the mythical Mount Meru, the center of the cosmos, and the 13 rings from the base to the pinnacle symbolize the path to enlightenment, or “Bodhi”, hence the stupa’s name. The stupa is closely associated with the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara (Buddha of Compassion) whose 108 forms are depicted in sculptures around the base.
The mantra of Avalokiteshvara - Om Mani Padme Hum - is carved on the prayer wheels beside the images of Avalokiteshvara around the base of the stupa. Boudhanath is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Patan (third C.E.), known as the “town with a thousand golden roofs,” was the capital of one of the three ancient Malla kingdoms. The center of the city is like an open museum – highlights include the Royal Palace, with intricately carved doors and windows and beautiful courtyards adorned with exquisite icons enhance the beauty of the city. Patan is a center for artisans dedicated to the preservation of ancient crafts. Sculptures of deities are found in stone, metal, terracotta and ivory.
Pharping (pronounced ‘Farping’) is as holy a pilgrimage site as Bodhgaya for Tibetan Buddhist Vajrayana practitioners. Here is the Yangleshö cave where Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava), the second Buddha and the person who introduced Buddhism to Tibet in 6 C.E., attained the level of a Mahamudra Vidyadhara, the state of ‘awakening’. He lived and practiced here with his consort Yeshe Tsoygal.
Since then, Yangleshö has been visited by many great spiritual masters, like Marpa Lotsawa, who practiced, made offerings and aspiration prayers. For Hindus, Pharping is the place of ‘nine hoods,’ or cobra heads, symbolizing Self-Realisation and is blessed by the presence of the Naga king, Shesha – the snake that Vishnu floats on in the cosmic sea - Patanjali’s metaphor for the yoga practice.
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During this retreat, you will be served with local vegetarian meals.