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My Amazing Yoga Retreat in the Carpathian Mountains (9 Things You Should Never Forget)

by Anna Ivanova

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There is no such thing as  a “wrong time to visit the Carpathian Mountains". This beautiful place is stunning during any time of the year. Full of green colors, blossoms, and fresh air in summer and spring. In fall, it looks like a gold mine because trees turn bright yellow and red. And in winter, it is a real fairy tale. Recently, I was really lucky to visit this amazing place on a yoga retreat to contemplate a true winter wonderland.

For me, visiting this place with a purpose to immerse myself in yoga and relaxation made it even more special, plus it was organized at one of my favorite towns Yaremche, Ukraine.

yoga in the mountains

Image credit: Anna Ivanova

The morning yoga session with Kapalabhati Pranayama kept me energized the entire day. I practiced Yoga Nidra accompanied by relaxing sounds of the singing bowl. I did meditation with the fire of a candle – this practice is good for the eyes and helps you train your inner focus. I also visited a very nice spa and took a hot bath with healing herbs. I spent the evenings with the group, talking about yoga philosophy, vegetarian diets and just sharing our positive vibes. It was snowing a lot but it didn't stop us from hiking and enjoying the beauty of the mountains. I came back refreshed, energized and full of life.

All in all, it was a fabulous experience. However, there were few things which made my trip a little bit more complicated than it should have been. I must admit that it was all my fault because I can be such a disorganized person sometimes. The good thing is that I learned my lesson, and since I don’t want you to step on the same rake, here I'm sharing some useful tips about traveling in Ukraine and what you absolutely need to bring for your yoga retreat in the mountains!


1.   Train tickets


happy yogi

Image credit: Anna Ivanova

From the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, it takes about 14-16 hours to reach Yaremche by train. It takes less time if you travel from Lviv or Ivano-Frankivsk. As of now, the train is still the most convenient and cheapest option to travel in Ukraine. Take into consideration that February (and the entire winter) is high season in the Carpathian Mountains due to all the ski resorts around, which means that most of the hotels and train tickets might be fully booked. Think of buying your tickets at least two weeks prior to your trip. I made a mistake and decided to do it last minute, which made it very complicated get my tickets and find a good place in the cabin.

Don’t repeat my mistakes and book your tickets in advance on the official website of the Ukrainian Railways.


2. Some snacks and a bottle of water


From the time you step inside the train cabin, you're going to be grateful for having brought snacks and water. Don't plan to buy something from the trainman. Yes, there is that option, but there isn't much variety and you'll have to pay double-triple the regular price for something you don’t usually eat or drink.

I always make the same mistake and forget about buying snacks and water, which is very annoying because I could have used that money on something else during my trip. Also, if there are some specific snacks or foods you like, it is better to bring them with you, so you won't waste your time looking for them there.


3. Thermal mug


thermal mug

Image credit: Anna Ivanova

Unfortunately, I don’t have a thermal mug and I regret I didn't get one before my trip. It is a must-have in the mountains and especially during winter. Whether you go for a long walk up the mountain, or skiing, or visiting the sauna in the evening, this mug will be your best friend.

Most of the participants had mugs with them and they were enjoying hot herbal tea during our stops in the forest or contemplating the spectacular picture of winter in the Carpathians, while I had to dream of someone offering me a sip. Luckily, our group was super friendly and everyone was offering their drinks, but it's always more comfortable to have your own. So, don't forget to bring at least one thermal bottle to be able to drink as much herbal tea as you want.


4. Lunchbox


When you stay a lot outside in the fresh air, you feel hungry most of the time and in the mountains area, there are not many shops or supermarkets. The lunchbox is such a useful device. It is optional but I have noticed that it was very convenient for others to keep their snacks there and take it with them on our long walks. I didn’t have mine but I’ll definitely get one for next time.


5. Shoes and clothes


Obviously, you don’t need a miniskirt or high heels here, but keep in mind that the weather in the mountains can be quite unpredictable. It could be sunny in the morning, raining in the afternoon and snowing in the evening.

Make sure you pack a high-level waterproof jacket and shoes – they are a must. I also suggest taking as many warm socks as possible and thermal underwear and don't forget about yoga pants for your practice.

Luckily, I usually have two pairs with me, which helped me to have this one right and made my life much easier.


6. Yoga tools


yoga mat for retreat

Image credit: Anna Ivanova

Don't bring a lot of props, you will only need your yoga mat. However, for beginners like me (I still consider myself as a beginner), I also suggest taking a yoga belt. It doesn’t take much place in your bag and it really helps with the stretching asanas.


7. Swimsuit and flip-flops


spa yoga retreat

Image credit: Anna Ivanova

My husband calls it an ”Epic Fail” – I forgot my swimsuit and flip-flops! Since it was a Spa Yoga Tour, of course, part of the program was visiting the spa and bathing in a hot tub with healing herbs. So, I had to buy a bathing suit at the spa hotel, and as you can imagine the price for the middle-quality product was almost the triple.

But even if you're not going on a spa yoga holiday, you still are going to need it, because visiting the sauna is something you shouldn't miss, especially after a long trek in the frosty air.


8. Connection


In the mountains, the service is as unpredictable as the weather. Also, Wifi doesn’t work properly in most of the hotels. Therefore, if you need to stay in touch with someone, then think of choosing a proper mobile carrier. There are three main companies in Ukraine: МТС/Vodafone, Kyivstar, and Lifecell. From my experience, МТС/Vodafone, as of now, works the best in that mountain area.


9. Your smile


smiling yoga retreat

Image credit: Anna Ivanova

As our yoga teacher said at the beginning of the holiday: the most important thing is to leave behind all our problems, relax and smile. It felt so good – not to be worried about anything like work, stress, meetings, etc. and see other smiling faces. An honest smile is our inner light. It is a big pleasure to share it with nice people.


A little bit about winter SPA-Yoga Tours in Yaremche, Ukraine


Aside from the small inconveniences that I caused myself, these were four amazing days. Inspiring Yoga Tour is a bit different to other regular yoga retreats. It is not 100% focused on the yoga practice, which makes it perfect for beginners and people who never tried yoga before. It is a combination of yoga and other activities like hiking, spa and just enjoying other people’s company.

Want to go on a yoga holiday but a retreat in the mountains is not your thing? Maybe you’d like to try a beach yoga holiday!

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