The yoga retreat experience at Sivananda Ashram is nothing less than life transforming. I arrived with expectations of a 'vacation' but the retreat is predominantly an education in the meaning of living in the yoga tradition. It is restful, healthy, enlivening and inspiring. A large part of the deep understanding I took home from this retreat was due to the course I took. It was called Beginner's Yoga Course. The title is misleading and I hope they change it. The course was an exploration of all of the branches of yoga: meditation, diet, asanas, daily practices, relaxation, spiritual practices, history of Sivananda, and bit of Ayurvedic understanding. Sivakami, our incredible teacher, guided the 9 of us in the group through a clear and thorough exploration of yoga. Our asana classes were enlightening. After 6 years of a weekly practice of yoga I thought I knew a great deal. I am astonished by how much more I have learned under Sivakami's guidance. I recommend the course very very highly.
The ashram is an ashram first and foremost. It is a place to relax and rejuvenate as a outgrowth of the yogic lifestyle. It is not designed to pamper you. It is designed to allow you to experience the life of a yogi. You awaken at 5:30 and meditate at 6am. This is followed by chanting, and a spiritual leader's lecture. Directly after the lecture is the first Asana class. The classes are held near the water, either the ocean or the bay. The classes and the settings are heavenly. The first meal of the day is at 10am, a vegetarian buffet. The food is ample and fresh and delicious. The setting is rustic: picnic tables under an awning or tables out in the palm trees. Lectures and workshops follow lunch. Generally there is free time between 2 and 4. At four the second asana classes begin. 6pm is dinner and 8pm is meditation, chanting, and an evening lecture. Lights are out at 10.
The rigorous schedule is part of the deeply satisfying experience. The pace of the day is reasonable and slow. The meditation and chanting are consistent reminders that sitting still is part of rejuvenation.
I highly recommend the Sivananda Ashram as a destination for any one who wants to engage in a deep Yoga experience. I strongly recommend enrolling in a course so that you are guided through the experience with a teacher dedicated to your learning process. I believe that if I had not taken the Beginner's Yoga Course, I would not have appreciated the ashram in the way that I do. I fully intend to return repeatedly.
- 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