Yoga re-imagined

Getaway Issue 153 Aug, 2014
Text by Biplav Shrestha

A new way to getaway, we explore the newly established Nepal Yoga Retreat and Spa

Our journey to Nepal Yoga Retreat & Spa Center began from Thamel. After three days of rain, the sun and a clear blue sky was a welcome change. We met our hosts at a new restaurant, the Momo Hut, where we were to be briefed on our itinerary. There we were greeted by Mr. Rajan Simkhada, a charismatic and ambitious business entrepreneur who is the co-founder and prompter for the Yoga center. After introductions, an endless serving of various varieties of Momos and a quick but in-depth conversation with Mr. Simkhada, it was clear that our journey was going to be a memorable one. 

“Nepal is probably the most ideal place in the world for practicing yoga and meditation” Mr. Simkhada asserted as we made our way from Kathmandu towards Sankhu. His tone was of someone who understood the tourism industry well. Yoga is a spiritual, physical and mental practice which seeks to transform both the body and the mind.  In our lifetime, yoga has transformed from an esoteric practice confined to yogis and monks in ashrams and Himalayan enclaves to a soaring multi-billion dollar industry that has penetrated every international market. However, though the practice of yoga has gained countless followers throughout the West, it is still an untapped market in Asian nations, Nepal being no exception. “Nepal Tourism Board has yet to realize the true prospect and potential of yoga and meditation centers” claims Mr. Simkhada “if we had the proper funding and resources, we could boost the national tourism industry to soaring heights”. 

On our ride we learned that our hosts have been operating a Yoga retreat at Swayambhu, the Himalayan Yoga Center, which for past four years has devoted itself to bringing the unique benefits of yoga to Kathmandu valley. Their new venture, Mr. Simkhanda explained, was aimed at providing their clientele with “natural luxury” along with the “physical luxury” of yoga.

A two hour car ride brought us to our destination and as promised the retreat is located in a fully natural setting. Situated within the extensive grounds of Panchalaxmi Dham at Sankhu, the retreat is built almost entirely out of bamboo. The resort looks down upon a serene valley with the ancient city of Sankhu glimmering in the distance. Nepal Yoga Retreat & Spa is located between Kathmandu and Nagarkot, 10 kms from the Tribhuwan Intenational Airport and 19 kms from Thamel. It was constructed in 2013 inside the premises of the Muktinath Aashram. The temple and the retreat are under the tutelage of Swami Kamalnayanacharya Shree Ji Maharaji. He is the inheritor and leader of the Shree Muktinath Temple lineage.

Designed and constructed in 2013, the resort is a unique yogic residential setting. The natural bamboo construction with landscaped gardens below the lush Himalayan Shree Ban forest aims to further enhance the client’s yogic experience. There are a total of 8 rooms with 2 beds each that are furnished to a high standard. Deluxe facilities are also available upon request. A total of 20 guests can be accommodated in a day. The retreat also has a well equipped kitchen that serves an exclusively organic menu, a spacious dining hall, massage rooms, a spa and a naturopathic clinic. All the staffs including yogis, therapists, guides and chefs were handpicked by Dr. Chintamani Gautam, a highly decorated practitioner, guru and scholar of yoga.

Vital component to the success of any business institute is its employees. Every component of Nepal Yoga Retreat & Spa is over looked by Dr. Chintamani Gautum. Dr. Gautum is no stranger to the practice of Yoga and meditation. He is the first Nepalese citizen to have ever completed a PHD in Yoga, which he received at the Haridwar University in India. Upon taking part in the meditation and yoga sessions, it was clear to us that Dr. Gautam was of adept and refined knowledge. Apart from teaching us new postures and balance techniques, he explained how these postures were metaphors for certain aspects of life and how by learning to control one’s body, one can discover the secret to controlling his or her life. As a man who has been health conscious for quite a while now, I have to admit that Dr. Gautam’s teachings showed new light on my outlook towards healthy living and its practice. The rest of the staff that help run the yoga center were tremendously hospitable as well, and were always at hand to help make our stay comfortable and revitalizing.

Nepal yoga Retreat & Spa Center was built within the premises of Muktinath Aashram with the consent of Swami Kamalnayanacharya Shree Ji Maharaj. It was established to provide quality experience to both national and international visitors. However, the price schemes vary according to nationality. There are also two types of packages that the retreat provides; one being a 1 night 2 days package and the other being a 2 night 3 days package. 

Tucked quietly away from the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu City, this retreat and spa offers a unique escape for Nepalese and tourists alike. If you are in want of a few days away from the valley this idyllically set yoga center offers just that, along with the invaluable opportunity to revitalize and recharge both your physical and spiritual batteries.