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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, fresh water, 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 coloured 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.
By design there is no electricity in Ulpotha and life is lived by the rhythm of the day. As candles are to a restaurant, flame is to Ulpotha. Paths and accommodation are lit by lamps and lanterns with the twinkling firelight creating a captivating and romantic sense of times gone by.
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. Though 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 practise 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 the 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 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.
You will benefit from the organisation and transport of an excursion once a week. There will be a 1/2 day excursion during week one and a full day during week 2.
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 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 centre staff, who are also from either within Ulpotha or from neighboring 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 acknowledgements, 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 encourage 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.
Click to see more vegetarian-friendly Yoga Retreats
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".
Because the programmes are short by Ayurveda standards (anything less than three weeks is ‘short’), the offer includes the basic preparatory, inhalation and purgation treatments which involves oil application to the body, herbal baths, steam baths, saunas, inhalation, rice milk packs and facials; in short, you’ll feel pampered. The programmes are a great detox and, combined with the yoga and Ulpotha’s delicious food, leave one feeling very relaxed, toned and cleansed.
Please keep in mind that short treatments, which are essentially preparatory in nature, are similar regardless of your dosha type.
Dr. Srilal leaves a couple of days for the guests to acclimatise, before starting a treatment. Therefore, with a 1 week stay you can have a 3 days Santhushti Ayurveda package at 200 USD or a 5 day Ashinsanaya (Benediction) at at 300 USD (in week one only).
With a 2 weeks stay you can choose between the following packages:
Once a week during the season, an excursion is organised to some of the cultural sites in the surrounding areas. During the first week of a retreat it's normally a half-day trip allowing you to do yoga in the morning, and during the second week it is a full day trip. You may like to join one of these to discover some of the splendid ancient religious and historical sites Sri Lanka has to offer. If during your stay you wish to visit one of these sites on your own or with a group of guests outside of group excursion days, your transport and itinerary can easily be arranged for you at Ulpotha at your own cost. Here are some of the places to which trips can be arranged (times indicate minivan ride from Ulpotha to the site):
The Sacred City of Anuradhapura is acclaimed as one of the greatest monastic cities of the ancient world and served as the royal capital of 113 kings. A UNESCO world heritage site, Anuradhapura was originally founded by a King's minister named Anuradha in 500 BC. The 'tree of enlightenment' - grown from a sapling of the tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment - was brought and planted Anuradhapura in the 3rd century B.C. by Sanghamitta; it is the oldest historically documented tree in the world. The city flourished for 1300 years. In 993 AD, Anuradhapura was fought over and abandoned when the capital was moved to Polonnaruwa. Hidden away in dense jungle for many years, the splendid site with its palaces, monasteries and monuments was rediscovered in 19th century.
Huge trees, creepers and stone pillars scattered around Arankele speak of an intriguing civilisation and a bygone era, while rare species of insects, birds and other wildlife, found in abundance, tell of a rich biological heritage. This beautiful wild 800-year-old forest hermitage was scattered with patanagara (apartments designed for meditation), bathing ponds providing hot and cold water, a hospital and a two kilometre meditation path. The hermitage was built to shelter the Buddhist monks who spent their time in meditation and is featured in the ancient epic, Ramayana.
What may be called one of the wonders of the world is the tall, standing statue of the Buddha at Auwkana, another architectural marvel of the ancient Sinhalese. The statue, hewn from the rock surrounding it, stands 39 feet above its decorated lotus plinth and 10 feet across the shoulders, and belongs to the period of King Dhatusena (459 - 477 AD), the builder of the great reservoir - Kalawewa. It has been very well preserved over the years and is a joy for anyone to see and appreciate. It is a unique creation by an unknown master sculptor (see Sessuruwa below).
Dating back to the 1st Century BC, this is the most impressive cave temple in Sri Lanka. The cave monastery, with its five sanctuaries, is the largest, best preserved cave-temple complex in Sri Lanka; it has uniquely been continuously occupied by Buddhist priests over the ages. Inside the caves, the ceilings are painted with intricate patterns of religious images following the contours of the rock. There are images of the Lord Buddha and bodhisattvas, as well as various gods and goddesses.
The ruins of Hastthikuchchi are very picturesque and are set amongst numerous strangely shaped rocks. If you go behind the huge central rock you can climb up to where there is a wonderful view of Hastthikuchchi’s ruins and the forests and hills beyond it. Up here is also the famous Cave of the Overhanging Rock. According to Buddhaghosa this cave is one of the best meditation caves in Sri Lanka.
Known as the cultural capital of Sri Lanka, this sacred Buddhist site, popularly known as the city of Senkadagalapura, was the final capital of the Sinhala kings. It is also the site of the Temple of the Tooth Relic (the sacred tooth of the Buddha), which is a famous pilgrimage site. On the way you can stop off at the Elephant orphanage or the Botanical Gardens.
Another UNESCO world heritage site, Polonnarawa was the second capital of Sri Lanka after the destruction of Anuradhapura in 993. In its time, a 6-kilometer rampart protected the city. Even during the time when Anuradhapura was the capital, Polonnaruwa was an important city because it strategically commanded all the crossings over the Mahaveli River and acted as a buffer against the invading armies. It comprises the monumental ruins of the fabulous garden-city created by Parakramabahu I in the 12th century as well as the Brahmanic monuments built by the Cholas.
Originally inhabited by the aboriginals commonly known as Yakas, in here there are intriguing ruins of beautiful stone pavilions, all of which are unadorned save for the intricately decorated urinals, scattered throughout Ritigala. The mountain is supposed to have been brought by the monkey-god, Hanuman, from the Himalayas to provide a rare medicinal plant to heal Lakshmana who was injured in a battle to save Sita, Lord Rama’s consort. Interestingly, Ritigala does in fact have flora and fauna found nowhere else in Sri Lanka. The ruins of Ritigala were lost to the wilds and was rediscovered by a government surveyor, James Mantell, in 1872.
Not far from Auwkana, just seven miles away as the crow flies, is another tall statue at Sessuruwa. The two statues are believed to have been the work of a ‘guru - golaya’ (master and pupil) team. The completion of either masterpiece was to be signalled by the ringing of a bell. When the bell tolled, it was the master who had completed the statue at Auwkana first. The pupil was supposed to have been so overawed by the perfection of the master’s statue that he abandoned the one on which he was working. The unfinished but still impressive Sessuruwa statue remains at the site of what is an ancient cave monastery.
Another UNESCO world heritage site and the old capital city, built by parricidal King Kasyapa who reigned from 477 - 495 AD. The ruins of the citadel lie on the surrounding plains and at the summit of a granite peak standing some 370 meters high. One aspect of the rock was transformed into a recumbent lion. The rock itself dominates the jungle from all sides. A series of galleries and staircases emerging from the mouth of a gigantic lion constructed of bricks and plaster provide access to the site. Sigiriya is particularly famous for its frescoes of beautiful damsels seemingly floating in the sky; the frescoes themselves are considered to be the finest examples of their kind. The images have inspired visitors over the ages and the mirror wall, which is still covered in its original plaster, is strewn with graffiti paying homage to the beauty of these women over the centuries. The view is fantastic, but this trip is not for those with vertigo!
An ancient fortress and capital built in the year 1301, Yapahuwa is a rock rising to a height of 90 meters. Many traces of ancient battles can still be seen on the rocks, while an ornamental stairway remains its biggest showpiece. Yapahuwa was the 14th century capital of Sri Lanka, built by King Buvanekabahu I. The land at the base to the south is fortified with two moats and ramparts and it was here that the tooth relic was brought from Dambadeniya before going to Kandy.
NOTE: For all trips you will need to pay the entrance fee to the site, any guides you hire plus lunch and possibly dinner. For private trips, transport by minivan should be paid in advance.
Enjoy a complimentary massage treatment every week from Ulpotha's excellent visiting therapists included in the package as part of the program, or book one of the traditional Ayurveda Treatments:
Santhushti (Happiness) – 3 days – $200
Ashinsanaya (Benediction) – 5 days – $300
Sanasuma (Satisfaction) – 7 days – $400
Namskaraya (Salutation) – 10 days – $600
Abhishekaya (Coronation) – 12 days, $720
Aswesilla (Solace) – 14 days – $800
Samadhiya (Profound) – 21 days – $1,200
Mokshaya (Redemption)– 28 days – $1,600
What you can expect
All our Ayurveda treatments, regardless of the personalized elements of a treatment that stem from a personal consultation, contain preparatory and elimination therapies.
The preparatory therapies are the ones everyone likes and most Ayurveda is known for – massages, oil applications, steam baths, saunas and herbal baths.
Elimination therapies on the other hand, are the ones that some people will find a little bit more challenging to accept. They consist of what is more commonly known as Panchakarma (ie. the five specialized elimination therapies): inhalation, purgation, emesis (vomiting), enemas and blood-letting. The latter three are not prescribed or performed in Ulpotha.
Bandaranaike International Airport
Transfer available for additional US$100 per person
Please book your flight to arrive at Sri Lanka's primary international airport, Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) (also known as Katunayake International Airport, Negombo International Airport and Colombo International Airport), which is an hour North of the main city of Colombo and three hours to the Southwest of Ulpotha.
Direct flights with Sri Lankan Airlines take about 10 hours from Europe. Please be aware that departure from Europe tends to be the day before arrival and start of the holiday due to time difference and journey time.
Ulpotha will meet you at the airport and return you to the airport after your holiday. The cost per vehicle (maximum of two people) is 100 USD for one person and 115 USD for two people, each way. The transfer cost should be paid upon arrival in Ulpotha. Please inquire should you wish to be collected or dropped off at a location in Sri Lanka other than the airport.
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