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Join this eco-friendly and vegetarian yoga retreat in Ulpotha, Sri Lanka. The village traditions and principles represent the foundation of a balanced life, a healthy and close relationship with the family, community, nature, and the spiritual world. You will experience true inner peace with the help of yoga classes, organic food, and living in nature. Having no electricity or internet, you will focus on socializing with the community and on the beauty of simple life.
Guests will be 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 huts 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 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 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 is 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, Sivananda, 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 high quality 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.
While Rob’s style is ever evolving, Rob’s teaching is rooted in Prana Flow: a synthesis-oriented approach to living the art of yoga created by his primary teacher, Shiva Rea. Born from the traditions of classical yoga, Bhakti, Tantra, and Ayurveda, Prana Flow integrates various forms of spiritual embodiment practice to reveal yoga as a flow of unity consciousness.
Rob has traveled all over assisting Shiva’s workshops and teacher trainings. And through her guidance he loves to share with others all that he has come to know and hold dear to his heart. Rob’s style of teaching is fun, challenging, and lighthearted as he tries not to take life too seriously. He encourages students to enjoy the journey rather than fighting to get to the destination.
Rob has been leading workshops and trainings all over the U.S. and loves how the power of yoga is universal, that no matter where he goes you can feel an amazing sense of community and love.
Rob has found that through his own sadhana, yoga can free the body and mind from the self limitations one imposes on himself / herself and that through practice people are able to get in touch with the very essence of who they are. His goal as a teacher is to help students uncover their own personal truth and live a life that is empowered.
People will experience a fun and playful journey to the self. His teachings are open to all levels. Whether you come to Ulpotha to relax or you come to challenge your practice, Rob will be offering something for everyone.
Ian’s interest in massage and healing touch began in the 1990’s as a founding therapist in a Natural Health and Healing centre. In addition to building a niche client base, he offered his services to a government and community group working with clients with life limiting illnesses and their closest family members. After a break from hands on work, Ian’s passion was reignited 3 years ago when he was introduced to the traditional Hawaiian healing art of Kahuna Massage. His progression from the beginning levels to completing the formal learning, level 7, and becoming a member of the facilitation team at High Spirits (Mette Institute Australia), was driven with commitment and passion combining well with his previous Swedish and remedial massage skills. After practicing at the KaHuna Hub in Queensland, Ian now operates from the clinic Fivelements with his wife on the Sunshine Coast in Noosa, Australia. Ian also practices and facilitates Lomi Lomi, Lomi Lomi Heartworks for couples and Polynesian floor work. Both Lomi Lomi and Polynesian floor work can be incorporated into a massage session as appropriate.
Ian has a genuine desire to connect with clients to gain an understanding of how best to support the individual and their needs at the beginning of a bodywork session. KaHuna Temple style massage is known for its long flowing strokes delivered with forearms, arms and hands above and below the body, often covering the entire length of the body in one stroke. This style is a nurturing, rhythmical experience, with no two massages being the same. Receivers can be transported to a place of surrender and deep blissful relaxation. A ritualistic rites of passage KaHuna massage experience can range from gently nurturing to deep and firm, offering physical balance, emotional release and an enhanced sense of spiritual harmony and connection.
French born Sophie has been living in Sri Lanka for the past 23. After studying medicine in Paris she switched to physiotherapy and started on a journey that led her to explore all aspects of wellness.
She now offers a spa consultation service throughout the island providing spa evaluation, therapist training, product selection, therapy menus, etc.
Sophie’s treatments involve a relaxing mix of long strokes, pressure points and stretching movements where every muscle is worked. Her touch is gentle, soft, strong and deep allowing for deep relaxation and therapeutic release. She blends her own mixes of essential oils according to specific skin types and guests’ moods and states of mind.
During week one, there will be one half-day excursion and during week two, there will be a full-day excursion.
Rob’s Teaching has evolved and has come a long way from where he began practicing in Cleveland Ohio to his days teaching in Washington DC to now living in Ventura and owning a studio (Jai Rhythm) with his business partner Colin Brightfield. What drew him to the practice of yoga was the physical part but after years of study and devotion it’s the spiritual part of the practice that feeds his soul. And through this amazing journey he found his home in the prana flow community with his teacher Shiva Rea.
Ulpotha is very much off the beaten track in the middle of Sri Lanka, by a lakeside, at the foot of the Galgiriyawa mountains. It has been a retreat site for thousands of years and remains a perfect place for a yoga holiday in the heart of Sri Lanka.
It is a beautiful and peaceful hideaway, open to guests for part of the year. You may come here to experience yoga holidays and Ayurveda retreats and the warm, generous, and gentle hospitality the people of Sri Lanka love to offer.
Ulpotha is only open for half the year, generally from November to March and June to August. The rest of the year Ulpotha reverts to its primary role as a traditional rice growing village.
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.
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During this retreat, you will be served daily breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and drinks. The food at Ulpotha is simply delicious and very healthy. It is almost entirely vegan, 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.
Ulpotha only uses organic farming practices that follow the lunar cycle and use no mechanical means. All crops are hand planted and harvested, while the fields are plowed and the rice is threshed by buffaloes.
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, such as coffee, alcohol, and chocolate, Ulpotha suggests you bring it with you.
As there is 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.
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.
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. Ulpotha will arrange for a driver to collect you at 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. It will be a three-hour ride.
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