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“"Who am I ..."”

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Mahadevi Ashram and Kaivalya Yoga School
GreenLeadersPlatinum level
San Diego, California
2 reviews
“"Who am I ..."”
Reviewed January 24, 2013

First, I feel called to express my deep gratitude to Arpi, Arjuna, Emma, and Kaivalya Yoga Hostel. Earlier this month, I participated in their 5-day Silent Meditation Retreat and while this sort of retreat may not be suited for all (check out their website for more details), it encouraged me to experience and release some of my fears and discomfort, relax into simply BEing, and to consider the question: "who am I?" While the retreat was challenging for me, I found inspiration, new levels of softness and peace, a budding connection to the transcendent self, and a blossoming wonderment for the beauty of life. I truly feel that these realizations were made possible by the beautiful people named above, the retreat they facilitated, and the setting of Kaivalya.
Perhaps it is important to clarify that I fully understood the setting I was entering PRIOR to my travels: Kaivalya is a budget "backpackers" style hostel, though it seems to mainly serve as a yoga and meditation school / retreat space. The accommodations are modest, clean, and secure, and while the space was noisy at times (due to neighbors and dogs), I was able to sleep at night. The bathrooms are communal and clean, with hot water in the showers, and YES, it is necessary to bring along your own soap, towels, toiletries. There is a shared kitchen that seems to be stocked with all basic cooking, eating, and dish-cleaning necessities. And yes, there are certain food restrictions at Kaivalya, based upon the yogic tradition and ideals taught in the classes offered.
**If you do the Silent Meditation Retreat, sign up for the meal-plan! Arpi prepared 3 absolutely delicious vegan meals per day and fresh tea with every meal. Seriously, eating her food is like eating LOVE**
Overall, staying at Kaivalya and participating in the 5-day Silent Meditation Retreat were incredible ways to welcome 2013. I would absolutely return to Kaivalya to attend another retreat or any of their yoga classes, meditations, or Kirtan chants. Thank you Kaivalya, and bright blessings to you all!

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled solo
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Helpful?
Thank Carla M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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61 reviews from our community

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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (14)
Date | Rating
  • English first
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English first
Barcelona, Spain
1 review
Reviewed January 7, 2013

After spending a month doing the Hridaya yoga course at Kaivalya and then a silent meditation retreat I'm still finding it hard to leave. The classes have been life changing for me & Arjuna, Arpi & Emma have been the most amazing teachers. The property gave me the space I needed to just hang out in the hammocks & watch the sunrise, squirrels & humming birds. It is a basic property similar to most in San Marcos but the shower is hot & there is a kitchen to cook meals. True the dogs in San Marcos aren't the greatest thing for quiet nights...but in my opinion the property is perfect if you are coming to practice meditation or yoga, meet great people, enjoy a simple life & get a little lost in nature & views of the volcanoes.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled solo
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Helpful?
Thank LibelulaBCN
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Level 3 Contributor
16 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed January 6, 2013

My partner and I traveled to San Marcos for the purpose of exploring, stretching, relaxing and eating great food. We managed to accomplish all of the above and our stay at Kaivalya was a great home base. It's safe, provides space to stretch/meditate and the hosts are warm and knowledgeable. They gave us many recommendations on food, massage and outings which we took advantage of and were very pleased with. We had a terrific view of the beautiful lake from our room - which I often found myself gazing out to from the cozy hammock. We are still dreaming of our San Marcos days and can't wait to go back.
Metta, R&Ax

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank rhea_ameet
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Anchorage
Level 3 Contributor
12 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed January 5, 2013

I was skeptical about making a reservation at this place, as I'm not keen on being told what I can (and can't) eat or drink. They do not allow alcohol or meat (posted on their website, fair enough), and they don't have a coffeepot in their communal kitchen. So the clues were there, and I should have trusted my gut. I ended up making a reservation anyway not because I wanted a cheap room or some ethereal experience but because I wanted to stay with my friends who had already booked there, and I thought for sure I'd at least get a good night's sleep. I was wrong about the sleep -- it was very noisy and I didn't sleep well at all. I also expected the ability to maintain good hygiene, but without soap at all of the sinks I had to carry my own around, which was a real hassle and could be a big problem if other guests are not doing it. Bathrooms are bad enough in this part of the world; not having soap is my opinion is just not acceptable.

The other thing to mention is that the owners seem to request all of their guests to shop for them before coming to Kaivalya, and they will reimburse you. I have no problem with this as long as the items truly are not readily available for them to get on their own since shopping and packing for others before an international trip is not convenient. We were asked to bring gf foods (flour, etc), which of course we did. But when we got to Guatemala we quickly found two places where they could have bought the exact same items -- same brand even. One of these stores was a 15 minute boat ride across the lake, very convenient to Kaivalya in my opinion, especially since the shop owner said she does special orders for locals. When we mentioned this to Kaivalya they indicated they were aware of it. Apparently it is more convenient to have a guest pack 10 lbs of flour around the world than it is for them to travel across the lake.

I have stayed in many remote places with very simple accommodations and lack of access to basic goods, so don't misinterpret that as the source of my displeasure. I have traveled enough to know what I can expect and to adjust my choices accordingly. I stayed one night at Kaivalya then moved to a blissfully quiet, clean and beautiful place just down the street, right on the lake (Jinava). The good night's sleep and wine on the patio more than made up for my forfeited deposit!

I don't mean to blast Kaivalya or its owners, and I'm sure it is great for some people (who carry their own soap). But reading the other reviews makes it sounds like this is a tropical paradise stewarded by gurus of the universe. That was not my impression of it. There are many bargain places to stay on the lake. Use the clues, and look before you book!

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
5 Thank ANCTravel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 5 Contributor
47 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
Reviewed December 27, 2012 via mobile

I stayed at the Yoga Hostel for a couple of weeks on my own as I had been travelling with my boyfriend and needed some 'me' time. I couldn't have chosen a better place to do it.

I had a dorm room upstairs and it was lovely, it was super relaxing lying on the hammocks reading a book and looking at the beautiful view.

I had a few yoga and meditation classes and did the Kirten singing (which I had never done before) and it was heaps of fun! Arjuna is an excellent Yoga teacher. When I left Arjuna and Arpi gave me some music and movies to watch on my travels which was really nice of them.

I cooked in the kitchen everyday and thought that it was adequate. This saved me a lot of money!

Overall this is an excellent budget option, and I am really glad I made the decision to stay. San Marcos is a magical place and I will be back!

  • Stayed December 2012
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Helpful?
Thank TravelonTrend
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
Reviewed December 25, 2012

I booked into Kaivalya for the 1-month hatha yoga course and it certainly changed my life. It was a really cute rustic hostel with great views over the lake. Yes there were some creepy crawlies and dogs barking at night, but no different to any of the other places in town that I have stayed. To me it really felt like home, a safe place with a family atmosphere, movie nights, nice kitchen and cool garden (hummingbirds yay!) I met some friends I will have for life there. Also the yoga and meditation course is amazing!

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled solo
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Helpful?
Thank Jese F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Anchorage, Alaska
Level 4 Contributor
46 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 58 helpful votes
Reviewed December 20, 2012

I really wanted to like Kaivalya Yoga House. I planned on staying for several weeks but I could barely make it through 4 nights. I planned way in advance to stay here, take yoga classes and meditate. Due to the accommodation and surroundings, it was not possible. There were dogs barking constantly each night, right behind the hostel, there was no relief from this loud barking. Yes, dogs are a fact of life in Guatemala and I am an absolute animal lover but barking in the property next door all night long does not provide for a peaceful environment which is what is advertised. When the dogs were not barking, loud music would blare from a nearby speaker at very odd hours, such as 6 am.

Also, the hostel was not clean. The only soap available was very small shards of bar soap in the bathroom, I did bring my own hand soap as washing hands is so important. The toilet had a cloth string hanging from the tank to flush with, this string was saturated with water from the tank, pretty disgusting. The kitchen also had very little soap to clean with, just a small puddle of dirty dish soap. I could not cook there. From my upstairs room, I could look through the cracks in the floor and view the room below me. A very large spider shared my room with me (no mosquito nets over the beds to keep bugs out)

I am very familiar with rustic conditions and with the cheap price charged for Kaivalya, I didn't expect anything fancy, but I also did not expect a place that would not allow me to sleep or have basic cleanliness. The beds were not comfortable and I suffered many bug bites during my stay there.

We went out of our way to bring things the owners requested from us, special items they could not get in Guatemala. We were happy to do it, however, they were not willing to refund any prepaid money when we decided to leave. They require a large up front payment which no other hostel requires. There is a reason for that, it is because I was not the first to leave early due to the dogs and the conditions there. I was becoming very irritable from lack of sleep. Those who prepaid told me they felt trapped because they had paid in advance for their stay and didn't want to lose their money. For me, it was worth the loss to have a good night's sleep and to not have to stay there.

Guatemala is a wonderful country and I traveled to many places during my 6 week stay. I have many recommendations but I cannot recommend Kaivalya due to the poor conditions there. I also find it interesting that every review here is written by a person who has only reviewed one place, Kaivalya. It looks like the reviews are staged by the owners.

I am sorry to say this would not be a place I would ever consider staying. I would have gladly stayed down the street and taken yoga and meditation classes from them as I think they may have some good offerings but their unwillingness to refund my money and that of my companions (there were 3 of us and we all had the same opinion) did not make me want to throw good money after bad. Do yourself a favor, spend a little bit more and enjoy your time at the lake in a more peaceful environment.

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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
6 Thank ak_gypsy949
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Arpi-and-Arjuna, Inhaber at Mahadevi Ashram and Kaivalya Yoga School, responded to this review, December 22, 2012
Dear C.,

We are really sorry you had such a bad time at our place. We did have a feeling Kaivalya is not for you as we realize that with certain age people have different needs which is why we sent you and your friends a personal email beforehand to prevent any unrealistic expectations. We even talked to you on the phone so you know that we are running a budget place with simple conditions. Coming to the cheapest place in town and expecting western standards is just not working anywhere.

Guatemala is a third world country and San Marcos is a poor village in its beautiful countryside that naturally comes with some noise from the local community. Ubiquitous dogs are a reality here, but you have been here during a particularly noisy period as there were fresh puppies next door and the church was inaugurated with lots of loud musical celebration - for one night as we might add. The flushing string was a temporary solution that has long been replaced by now.

Deposits are common and necessary as we are overwhelmed with people asking to stay. If bookings are then canceled without any notice it is common practice (and published in our terms on the website) that deposits are forfeited. No hotel would refund if guests are suddenly moving out.

Lago Atitlan and San Marcos are among the most beautiful spots in the entire world and we offer accommodation for a mere $7 here. Yes, there are for sure better places around - for a different price and target group. The fact that people are extending their stay, coming back here, sleep in tents and hammocks in the garden just because they want to stay here even if we don`t have a bed for them at the moment, is enough to show that as always everything is a question of personal opinion and expectation.

Kaivalya is more of a yoga school than a hostel and we are really sorry you didn`t even try our (free) classes and give a chance to the rare knowledge we are offering and from which so many are benefiting which is reflected in the other reviews. We would never fake a review, that would be against our beliefs and nature.

Many blessings on your way,
Arpi and Arjuna
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Mahadevi Ashram and Kaivalya Yoga School

Property: Mahadevi Ashram and Kaivalya Yoga School
Address: Calle principal, San Marcos La Laguna 07016, Guatemala (Formerly Kaivalya Yoga School and Hostel)
Location: Guatemala > Western Highlands > Solola Department > Lake Atitlan > San Marcos La Laguna
Amenities:
Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Kitchenette
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 6 Specialty Lodging in San Marcos La Laguna
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 12
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Important! Kindly note that as from July 2015 we've moved to the newly build enchanting and peaceful Mahadevi Ashram in Tzununa (3km from San Marcos). We are happy and humbled to welcome dedicated and curious practitioners into this Sacred Space created with Love and Selfless Service in order to provide a truly inspiring and conducive environment for a deep dive into your Heart. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Mahadevi Ashram And Kaivalya Yoga School Guatemala/San Marcos La Laguna

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