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Ulpotha is a Buddhist agricultural community in the jungle heartland of Sri Lanka, offering guests not only world-class yoga but also traditional Ayurveda healing in an incomparably beautiful setting as close to nature as is humanly possible. Ulpotha's foundations are laid on the timeless grounds of nature, history, tradition, and myth. The surrounding hills continue to harbor cave-dwelling ascetics and practicing shamans, and the land remains infused with the still-potent therapeutic spirits of the gods, kings, priests, and romance of its storied past. Enjoy a relaxing yoga holiday in this magical place.
Guests are accommodated in one of a number of tastefully decorated traditional wattle and daub huts sprinkled through Ulpotha, where living is by design a communal and shared experience in nature's embrace.
There are 11 charming guest huts in Ulpotha, 10 of which are for two guests and one for three.
All of them are built using traditional wattle and daub with comfortable beds, excellent mosquito nets, cupboards, freshwater, towels and offer a sarong to wear and take home. The huts are of an open, airy design that facilitates the sense of being one with nature. Twice a year, each hut is hand-painted using different colored clays, where no designs are ever repeated. Much use has been made of clay, stone, wood, pottery, and fabrics that reflect traditional village practices and aesthetics.
With one or two exceptions, Ulpotha adheres to the Sri Lankan village tradition of keeping toilet/loo spaces separate from living spaces. The enchanting showers are open to the stars and the toilets are modern.
All the huts at Ulpotha are allocated on a twin share basis. Sharing with someone is more welcome than one might usually expect. Though ultimately soothing to the ears, the jungle noises can take some getting used to and it's quite reassuring to have a companion sharing one's space. The guests will anyway find that they end up spending very little time in their hut, except, at night.
Since gracious and priceless hospitality is what Ulpotha offers, tipping is not accepted and there are no additional service charges.
Ulpotha's natural charms lend themselves readily to a deeply satisfying experience of yoga. If ever there was a place made for Yoga, Ulpotha is it. Although Ulpotha was not planned at the outset as a Sri Lankan yoga centre, yoga very quickly took its central place in the Ulpotha experience through a series of serendipitous events. Having done so, it is hard to imagine a place better suited to the practice of this ageless discipline.
Ulpotha invites leading teachers from around the world to come and share their gift of yoga with its guests. A variety of yoga styles are on offer to suit a wide range of preferences.
Yoga is practised in the yoga shala, which is essentially an open-sided hall that lets in nature's charms, from gentle breezes to bird song. On occasion classes are conducted further afield: beneath the splaying branches of a Banyan tree, or on top of Monkey Rock, or below the neighbouring temple - or wherever else takes the collective fancy of those present.
Many of the world's most respected yoga teachers come to Ulpotha. As the teachers change every fortnight, several types of yoga - usually Hatha, Vinyasa, Yin, Yoga Therapeutics, Iyengar and Ashtanga are available at different times in the season. Every morning there's an optional yoga class in a large, open-sided building with a palm leaf roof or in the cool dappled shade of a banyan tree. Teachers who come to Ulpotha are very experienced and are open to teaching many levels of students within a class. Some may also guide dawn walks in the beautifully wooded surrounding hills for those who wish.
As Ulpotha attracts world-class yoga instructors, some guests come mainly for yoga classes. But since Ulpotha was never intended to be primarily a yoga centre, there's no pressure to attend classes and life doesn't hinge on classes of any kind. So you won't feel an outsider if yoga isn't for you. This is a place to unwind, be gentle with yourself, live close to nature and simply be; or if you feel energetic, a wonderful place to exercise and rejuvenate.
Ulpotha provides yoga mats, wooden blocks, belts, small flat cushions and bolsters in the Yoga Sri Lanka Shala.
Morning classes at Ulpotha will begin with a grounded meditation and dynamic Hatha Flow. Using creative sequences, tune into the present moment, breathe, align, and learn adjustments. Listening to your body's language will allow your true spirit to move freely throughout you. Posture and precision for each individual will be a focus. Peace, softness, and ease is cultivated and all levels are welcome.
Evening classes will explore somatic movement and restorative yoga where the parasympathetic nervous system can be addressed and stress levels reduced in the nerve body. Classes will end with a slowing down and finish gently with yoga Nidra relaxation.
In week 1, a half-day excursion to one of the outstanding local heritage sites around Ulpotha will be arranged in the afternoon.
In week 2, a full-day excursion to one of Sri Lanka's famed UNESCO cultural sites or to the beach will be offered (there are no yoga classes on this day).
A leading figure in the Bali and international yoga world, Gypsy Bast has been dancing since a child and teaching both yoga and Pilates for over 20 years. Wherever she teaches, she has a habit of offering her greatest dharma, which is to help people feel good and move freely with lasting pleasure. She has been a teacher, healer, and performer for over 23 years, with a practice that evolves from backgrounds of dance, theater, yoga, pilates, and somatic movement therapies. After surviving 10 car accidents, and numerous dance and stunt injuries, Gypsy restored herself 100% by applying exercise.
Ulpotha is blessed with surroundings that are uncommonly beautiful and serene. The abundant bird and animal life reinforce its timeless beauty. If you take away the pretty stupa on the mountain, one would be looking at a scene that has remained unchanged for hundreds of thousands of years. The sense of deep calm and peace is the essence of Ulpotha and the gift it shares with those who visit.
Ulpotha is run as a self-sustained village, where the vast majority of staff are from immediately surrounding local villages and who live in and largely run Ulpotha themselves.
The resident Ayurveda doctor provides training in Ayurvedic massage and therapies for the treatment center staff, who are also from either within Ulpotha or from neighbouring villages. Nearly all the food consumed in Ulpotha is grown on-site. In addition to growing rice, fruits, vegetables, and timber trees, they have recently started growing medicinal plants and trees used for making Ayurvedic medicines.
Ulpotha sources many of their other supplies and building materials from the immediate locality. Similarly, all the Ayurvedic medicines used in the treatment center are made locally.
Ulpotha regularly invests in services and amenities for the local community (rebuilding and maintaining the reservoir that is central to local agriculture, creation of a free Ayurveda clinic for the surrounding villages, donations to the local hospitals and temples, all which are done in the lowest profile way possible - ie. without acknowledgments, notices, quid pro quo demands, plaques, etc).
The Ayurvedic treatment center within Ulpotha, which serves paying guests, is used to fund the year-round free clinic for the surrounding villages.
Only local products and services are made available to guests.
Before their arrival, guests are given an introduction as to what to expect through information provided via the website and a guest information pack.
Once in Ulpotha, guests are encouraged to learn more about the local culture and customs through immersion and interaction with the local villagers.
Guest participation is encouraged in local ceremonies and traditional gatherings while keeping them informed of locally acceptable behavior and appropriate dress code.
Guests are encouraged to visit social projects within the community (such as the free clinic) or in surrounding villages (schools for handicapped children, etc.) and to support such projects.
Ulpotha regularly holds meetings with and seek feedback from local community leaders. Ulpotha is run by a committee of villagers with help from one of the owners, himself a local.
The food at Ulpotha is simply delicious and very healthy. It is almost entirely vegan, naturally wheat-free, with an abundance of fresh vegetables, organic red rice, and tropical fruit freshly picked largely from Ulpotha's gardens. A visit to Ulpotha is a good opportunity to detoxify your system without fuss.
Special diets cannot be catered for but it is fairly easy to pick and choose, depending on your taste, from the many dishes served at each meal. If there is anything that you feel that you simply can't do without (coffee, a gin tonic, chocolate, and the like), Ulpotha suggests you bring it with you. As they have no electricity, all food is cooked fresh for each meal on open fires.
Breakfast is served from approximately 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and consists of herbal teas, fresh fruit, fresh coconut water, herbal rice porridge, and a Sri Lankan breakfast cake.
Lunch served around midday is the main meal of the day and consists of a wide array of Sri Lankan vegetarian dishes, salads, Ulpotha heritage rice, fruits, curd, juice, and herbal tea.
Dinner is served after dusk and consists of an array of salads, Sri Lankan vegetarian dishes, juice, fruit, and herbal tea.
Following popular demand, Ulpotha has published a cookbook of some of the most favorite recipes of dishes served at Ulpotha - "A Kitchen in Paradise".
Meals that will be eaten outside of the facility are to be paid for additionally.
The western massage treatments range from Thai, deep tissue massage, aromatherapy to Hawaiian massage. They are done by fully qualified massage therapists from around the world. Massage styles change from month to month, as Ulpotha uses different massage experts each month.
So, if you yearn for a particular type of massage, its wise to ask when its available before booking your holiday. Guests can expect one free massage from visiting therapists per week. Any further massages can be arranged with the therapists subject to availability at a cost of 80 USD per hour.
Ulpotha also has an exciting program of Ayurveda treatments and, by the very definition of "holistic", possesses the ideal climate and environment for the practice of this deeply therapeutic and traditional art.
Bandaranaike International Airport
Transfer available for additional US$100 per person
Please book your flight to arrive at Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB). Transfer to and from this airport is available upon request.
If your arrival flight is prior to your starting date at Ulpotha or late at night (close to midnight or thereabout or in the very early hours of the morning) Ulpotha kindly requests you to check into a hotel close to the airport and they will have you picked up after your breakfast (9 - 10:00 am), and bring you to Ulpotha in during lunchtime. In such a case, please inform Ulpotha of your hotel details once you have made the booking. So the best way to proceed is for you to book a flight that lands on Sunday morning in Colombo Bandaranaike International airport, (3 hours drive from Ulpotha). They can arrange airport pick-ups from 4.30 am.
Ulpotha will arrange for a driver to collect you at the airport / hotel near the airport and will return you to the airport or drop you to your next destination after your stay with them. The cost per vehicle is 100 USD for one person and 115 USD for two persons, each way.
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