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“Peaceful - Bliss” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat

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Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat
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Paradise Island | PO Box N7550, 4777, New Providence Island   |  
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Ranked #1 of 14 hotels in Paradise Island
Toronto, Canada
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“Peaceful - Bliss”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 12, 2013

Last year I spent 10 days as a vacationer at the Ashram. This ideal setting is perfectly beautiful, especially as a winter escape from Canada. I was warned to bring some snacks because I cannot wait until 10 am to eat. I quickly learned to package up some of the wonderful home made bread and peanut butter for a mid day snack. Doing 4 hours of Yoga a day was too much for my body. On days I didn't want to push that, I did other things. Being an Ashram there are differences from a traditional vacation property, the chanting, temple, 4 hours of yoga a day, no coffee. Knowing this before I went made all the difference. If you come expecting Club Med drinking and partying you will be upset. If you come to find some peace, experience a different culture and perhaps learn or deepen your yoga practice you will be thrilled! I will return again and again. I miss being there! I loved it so much I came back for Yoga teacher training this year. This is not an easy program, it certainly had enormous personal challenges. I came home with far more than I imagined. The rigorous schedule was challenging. The lectures, Bhagavad Gita with Shankar, philosophy, physiology with Swamiji and chanting with Ishawara were incredible. I feel so fortunate to have been taught by these incredibly knowledgeable people. The people I met, other students, staff and volunteers and the vacationers were exceptional. As with any population, some people are easier to be with than others and this too provided me tremendous learning I am blessed to have. Most of the staff are volunteers some more professional than others. Whether I enjoyed the beach, afternoon workshops, yoga classes or socializing, my experience was tremendous. I highly recommend this property to anyone for who needs some nourishment.

Room Tip: If you want privacy pay for a private room with a private bathroom. I had a lot of fun with the com...
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled solo
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
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English first
Green Bay, Wisconsin
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 12, 2013

The Yoga Teacher Training Course was a spiritual transformation for my mind, body, and soul. The experience showed me higher levels of existence and provided me with the tools for sharing yoga with the world. I am a better person for having taken this course, and I highly recommend it to others who want a holistic approach to teaching yoga.

Room Tip: If you enjoy tent camping I recommend bringing and/or staying in a tent for a mother-earthly experie...
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Austin, Texas
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 6, 2013

By far the most relaxing and nurturing vacation I have taken...where do I start... I found this place by chance on the web, while looking for ayurvedic spa vacations..read the reviews and decided to give it a try! And I am so glad that I did...4 days and 5 nights spent on the ashram, completely rejuvenated me and provided the deep relaxation I so badly needed. I met the most wonderful people there and made beautiful friends. The environment is charged with positive energy and peace..I loved the nutritious food and no tea / coffee was completely fine with me, though for those who wanted, starbucks at nearby Atlantis came to the rescue. The well being center and the staff is outstanding...would highly recommend the ayurvedic bliss therapy! I had the best of experience with the ashram staff..courteous, kind and caring! And ofcourse how can I forget the beach...blissful paradise! My only complaint is that I did not stay long enough, something to be addressed the next time. Needless to say, highly recommend!

Room Tip: ocean view room if you want to be lulled by the waves. i stayed on the east side
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
1 review
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 6, 2013

I spent 12 days over christmas 2012 at the Sivananda Ashram in the Bahamas. I've been coming her for over 12 years now, and like to visit at least once a year for R&R if not more. I had a great experience here and have brought friends and recommended it to all my coworkers and friends. My stay is mostly positive, but there are some things to be prepared for before you come here. I’m sharing my ashram experience hoping that it'll help those of you considering a stay here.

Venue-Beautiful 5.5 acres of forest land on the atlantic ocean. You can't beat this venue. The Ashram is tucked away between the Atlantis resort and private wealthy mansions. Hibiscus and bougainvillea were in full bloom in december and provided that much needed tropical air for this Canadian visitor.

beach-Pure, unspoilt and very quiet other than the motorboats since the ocean is shared by the atlantis.

Accomodation-I stayed in a shared hut.. Space is tight and the accomodation is bare bones, but that is to be expected when you are paying < $100 per night. Besides I found myself coming back to my room only to change between yoga wear & bathing suit, or night clothes. If you want to take full advantage of this ashram, may I suggest you also think of spending your day either doing yoga, or at the beach, or several workshops during the day or going for a tour of the main island.. Try to stay away from your room as much as possible as there's so much beauty outside. I enjoyed the shared accomodation, and the end of day sharing with my room mate who I'd never met before. I must admit it was my first time in shared accomodation with a perfect stranger & I wasn't sure how that would be. While it worked out, next time I might go for a private room which is just $10 extra, just so I don't disturb anyone if I came back late after attending the night satsang.

Bathroom-Since I booked late, I could only get a shared bathroom. I found that perfectly acceptable and never had to stand in line to take a shower or use the bathroom. It was probably my timing. I'd go for my shower after the morning yoga and brunch about 10:30 when the shared showers were really quiet. What I might do next time is book ahead for a private bathroom, since I sometimes forgot bathroom essentials and it would be much easier if it was a private bathroom & I didn't have to return to my room.

Food-I've read a lot about the food at this place and just wanted to share what is available and some ideas on what to bring. Meals are served twice a day, at 10:00 Am and then at 6 PM.
Meals are typically satvic again, no animal food, no onions and garlic are used in the food. Each meal has plentiful options for carbs-amazing fresh bread baked by Ganga daily, rice, potatoes; protein-tofu, lentil soups; vegetable stirfry; a variety of salads to fill up an entire table. Yoghurt, cereal, peanut butter and jam is only provided in the morning brunch meal.

Is there too much carb in the food- My reply would be it depends on how much you call too much. You will be working out quite a bit and carbs are essential. At the same time, you don’t have to load up on all the carbs available at the dining table. For the first few days at the sight of so much food, I’d fill my plate and then groan that it was too much. After the 1st week, I found a method that worked for me. Just one slice of bread or some rice, not both, a bowl of lentil soup, vegetables and very little salad since my body prefers warm and cooked foods to raw foods. I think our society places too much importance on proteins. Its not the only food item our body needs, actually the ashram does a good job of providing a variety & its up to us the ashram guests to choose what we need. A little moderation goes a long way in keeping our body & spirit happy ;) If you like the food at the ashram and want to try making some of it when you return, you might be interested in reading my blog soulofspice@wordpress.com where I share gluten free, vegetarian food recipes.

However if you feel hungry before, in between or after meals, you do have a few options
1. request the kitchen staff for some food and they're glad to oblige. I arrived after the first meal, and the kitchen staff rustled something up for me very quickly
2. Take some food from the meals in a doggy bag.. If you're considering a sandwich with jam like I did, may I suggest you bring ziplocs so that ants don't get in your room like they did in mine:)
3. Bring some snack bars from home and maybe some chocolate if you have cravings that you can take a bite of every now and then.
4. Tea and coffee are not served at the ashram to maintain a sattvic lifestyle(sattvic lifestyle means staying away from artificial stimulants). However if you bring teabags, coffee & stock them in your room, no one will stop you from indulging. And if you want to share some of your goodies with the kitchen staff, which is primarily made up of volunteers, you'll be a very welcome guest.

Water – both hot and cold water are available 24/7 in the dining area and are safe to drink

Yoga-Yoga is taught twice daily, 2 hour sessions each at 8 am and then again at 4 pm. They’re typically done on an empty stomach, but if your body can;t handle being hungry till 10 AM, then do have a quick bite to satisfy yourself.

Depending on the number of guests at any given point of time, the ashram offers, basic, intermediate and advanced classes. As I was there at the busy holiday season I tried all 3 levels being offered. Typically the levels are not that much different. In the sivananda style of yoga, 12 asanas or postures are practiced regardless of level. The difference is that the advanced class instructor will hold poses for a longer time.

Instructors are qualified sivananda teachers. Each one has something special to offer, so try not to get caught up in instructor personality. I found that if I was able to let that go, I had a stellar experience in class. My requirements were simple--to make a call about what class I wanted to attend, I’d say to myself, today I want to do a class on the beach platform, doesn’t matter what instructor it is, or what level it is, I want to enjoy the sounds of the atlantic..

Yoga platforms-there are 3: beach platform that I’ve posted a pix on, the bay platform which overlooks the bay and can sometime be noisy as tourist boast pass by, but if you think of the origin of yoga, Indian cities can be quite noisy and to maintain inner calm within that outer turmoil is a yogic way as well.

The ashram suggests that attendance at both yoga classes is mandatory. I did that for the first 5 days of my stay, and then found that I had hip and glute aches and couldn’t bend anymore.

Speaking with an instructor about this, I was asked ‘How many hours of yoga are you doing” – 4 was my reply.. that’s too much , she said, do one class for 2 hours and then spend the rest of the time enjoying the beach. I did that & found that I recovered from my pains quite fast.. After a few days of this, I could go back to the 4 hour yoga practice which I enjoyed thoroughly after. It seems my body needed to get used to this extensive yoga practice and I might suggest you try something like this instead of trying to break into yoga bootcamp.

Meditation & Satsang( devotional chanting) – 20 minute silent meditation is offered twice a day : 6 AM & then again at 8 PM at the temple. But if you get lucky like I did, some days the morning meditation & satsang is done as a silent walk on the beach & then you meditate sitting on the sand, and when you finish you’l l catch the rays of the rising sun(see pix). Meditation is not taught here, its assumed that you have a practice, I already practice transcendental meditation so that’s what I would practice, if you don’t have one, no problem, just focus on your breath and remain in silence to get the benefits of that morning hour. Do bring a towel and cushion for meditation, whether its the beach or the temple, it can get cold sometimes and sitting on the floor can be hard if you`re not used to it. Chairs are available in the temple, but may get filled up quickly.

Satsang is devotional chanting done by the ashram staff. Feel free to join in, as a singer I can tell you its a spectacular experience. If you are a kirtan singer as I am, let the ashram staff know that you would like to offer a song and they will try to accommodate. Some of the chants are to hindu gods, some to Christian, some to Islamic..this is a non-denominational singing. And if you hear a lot of Indian words, its only because the ashram pays respect to the yogic masters, Sivananda and Vishnu Devananda who were both originally from india. Then again if its too much Indian words for you, don’t feel compelled to join in, but drink in the sounds. Sound value is extremely important to maintain balance in our bodies, so do take advantage of this easy and powerful technique --I hope to write a blog about this in the future & if you would like the link, just pop me a note to truebalance11@gmail.com.

Clothing- I visited in December where there were a few really cold days & my wardrobe just wasn’t prepared.. So do bring a throw, a thick sweater or sweatshirt and most of all, socks, feet tended to get very cold those few days. The ashram does provide blankets so sleep wasn’t a problem.Also bring shawls for the satsang, it can get a bit chilly in the evening and its always nice to respect places of worship and be modestly clothed, you might see some staff cover their heads in the temple, but thats entirely options..

Mosquitos-any waterfront property is bound to have mosquitos and this was no different. The ashram provides mosquito sprays in the rooms, or at least they were available in my room. If you want to be absolutely sure, bring your own.

Volunteering-You may be asked if you would like to help out by ashram staff. And this is entirely optional. If you do, you'll find an amazing experience where you get to learn more about others experiences. There are several ways to volunteer, you may be allowed to do the dishes, or help prepare a meal or if you have a special skill you would like to offer, just let the staff know & they'll do their best to accommodate. Being such a foodie, I helped out in the kitchen and experienced the loving kindness of Chef Yogeeshwara. I must say it brought a lot of appreciation for large scale cooking, for over 200 people every meal!!

Service- Most of the ashram staff are volunteers and get room and board in return for several hours of work. Its called karma yoga.. Other than kitchen staff where you have a professional chef and the outstanding housekeeping staff which is local Bahamian, pretty much every other staff member is voluntary. There are amazing people and then there were the sometimes not so amazing people just like you would expect to find anywhere. I experienced relative indifference a few time with the reception staff –which was probably due to overwork. Regardless, I don’t think training is the answer, it could be something as simple as treating guests with loving kindness as we do depend on reception as our main point of contact for help. This was my only point of concen and I was very happy that I got a chance to provide this feedback. As I was leaving a swami appeared from nowhere & helped me drag my suitcase to the docks. While waiting for the boat to arrive to take me to the main island, He asked about my experience. I shared how happy I was with the ashram and then because he asked and I think its important to share feedback in a constructive manner, I told him about my reception experience, which he said he would bring to the attention of the main swami at the ashram. He was genuinely interested to hear about my experience and I,m grateful to this swami, I think his name is Shankar, so if you meet him, say hello to him and OH! the amazing boatman, Ganesha too..

All In all a fantastic experience and I made wonderful friends with staff and guests for life, that I would repeat again I hope soon. I hope you find my tips helpful and wish you a wonderful stay at this amazing yoga ashram.
charu

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 15
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Yellowknife, Canada
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 5, 2013

My stay at the ashram for the Teacher training course was just perfect. There's nothing that I would change. And when there was something that wasn't as perfect as I expected, it was a great learning opportunity given to me to evolve and see things differently.

Yes, the beach is absolutely wonderful. The sand is simply exquisite and the intense blue of the sea is so amazing that you'll hardly be able to look somewhere else. Really often, you even have the beach almost only for yourself and you can enjoy this enchanting scenery quietly and peacefully. It's a great comforting escape. In fact, the best that you can probably dream of.

But you know what, don't go for the beach. The beach won't change your life. You won't be able to bring it home and as soon as it will be out of sight, your hapiness will vanish and disappear.

Taking the TTC was the best opportunity I could give to myself and to all the people surrounding me. It showed me a way to become a better human being so that I'm able to bring wonderful changes into my life and that will eventually impact the lives of others too.

TTC isn't easy, but there are worst things in life. If you go there knowing and accepting that you'll have to work hard, everything will be fine. You just have to do it. One day at a time, having faith that everything will fall into place when it is time. No matter what happens.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Arlington, Virginia
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 3, 2013

I was at the Sivananda Ashram Yoga retreat this past December for the Yoga Teacher's training certification class. I chose this school location and envrionment since I wanted to have as authentic of a training experience as was available outside of going to India. The program itself is very thorough and provides a great understanding of the spiritual background and foundation of yoga. I highly recommend this training, and can't wait to return for a workshop or additional training. I must admit though, that this training was highly intense - challenging on many different levels, physical, emotional and spiritual. The training staff was incredible - just really good, smart humble and beautifu and caring people.

One thing to keep in mind if you are a super healthy eater like I am, is that although most of the food is plant based, there are very few organic options, and protein is also a bit harder to come by. If you are ok with lentils and tofu, then protein is plentiful but I try to avoid lentils (for digestive system reasons) and also tofu, (for hormonal reasons) so I found myself sticking to eating the natural peanut butter at breakast, and eating garbanzo beans at dinner. If I had known that protein options would be in shorter supply I would have packed more energy bars, or protein powders. Also, I would recommend that travelers bring their own laundry detergent and also plenty of clothing for both warm and cold weather and also rain.

The grounds of the ashram are lush and alive, with owls, chickens, a rooster and various other birds along with beautiful vegetation and flowers. The ocean nearby has beautiful white sand with light blue clear water, and great snorkeling.

The morning and evening satsangs were the best part and included many wonderful guest speakers and musicians. New Year's eve at this Ashram was the best New Year's I have ever had! The Kirtan group Gaura Vani led us into the new year as well as special ceremonies led by the staff.

One last piece of advice - bring a really good meditation cushion! The one called "Cosmic Cushion" is supposedly really good and used by meditation experts.

OM SHANTI

Room Tip: Pay more and stay near the ocean! The sound of the crashing waves lulls you to the most restful sle...
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled on business
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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New York City, New York
Senior Contributor
28 reviews 28 reviews
17 hotel reviews
Reviews in 25 cities Reviews in 25 cities
31 helpful votes 31 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 24, 2012

I can understand some of the negative reviews here, but my experience has been entirely different. Coming to this ashram is like coming home to myself. It provides a profound opportunity to slow down, connect with my heart, learn from meaningful teachers, practice yoga, and feel peace, joy, and love for others. If you think of coming to the ashram more as a retreat than a "vacation" then the daily schedule is purposeful and lovely, albeit long. Is the place a little quirky? Yes. It is 5.5. acres situated on a narrow island with a water treatment facility on one side, with the sprawling, mega resort and casino, Atlantis, just down the beach. City-sized cruise ships line the bay. Motorboats zoom by when you're practicing yoga on the open air bay platform. One can find this unpleasant and disconcerting, or one can also accept that this is the strange world we live in, replete with contradictions, divergent desires, and the actual reality of the 21st century that yoga practitioners - and all of us - must confront as we consider how to build a healthy, just, and peacceful world.

I'm shocked to see complaints about the food. The food is lovingly prepared, abundant, and absolutely delicious. It is also highly nutritious. There is such an abundance of vegatables and always lentils or chickpeas or split peas at the meals. There are starches, of course, and I suppose it would be nice for the rice to always be brown rice rather than white, but these meals are so balanced, yummy, and plentiful.

Are there interpersonal conflicts among staff? Sure, I guess. But I encountered some of the kindest, warmest, most loving people. That so many people manage to live, practice yoga, eat in the dining area, attend the satsangs at the temple on 5.5. acres is amazing. It rarely feels crowded. And the beach is gorgeous. Meanwhile, one gets to learn! One gets to deepen one's spiritual practice - whatever it may be. One gets to experience two, 2-hour yoga classes.

If you want a typical Bahamian vacation, this place isn't it. If you want to sleep in and lie on the beach all day or play, dance, party, or gamble, then choose Atlantis. For me, this ashram is a real gem on an otherwise glittery, rhinestone-like island. I cannot wait to go back.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat

Address: Paradise Island | PO Box N7550, 4777, New Providence Island
Phone Number:
Location: Caribbean > Bahamas > New Providence Island > Paradise Island
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi )
Hotel Style:
#1 Best Value Hotel in Paradise Island
#1 Family Hotel in Paradise Island
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Yoga Retreat is a spiritual center & retreat place offering courses and workshops and yoga vacation. The daily schedule includes two yoga classes, two Satsangs (meditation sessions) and two vegetarian meals. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat Hotel Paradise Island
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat Bahamas/Paradise Island

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