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Sacred Ganges
Retreat
14 days
March 2-15, 2023
 

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Registration Deadline Extended to Sept. 30, 2022

Sacred Ganges Yoga Retreat 

Nourishing, simple, life-changing...
Imagine yourself in the birthplace of Yoga on the banks of the Sacred Ganges River in the foothills of the Indian Himalaya, infused with incense, chanting, ritual and the unfolding of your own transformation. Come home with a personal daily practice.

This retreat is an off-the-beaten track experience of an India unchanged since ancient times, with a strong spiritual focus. We immerse ourselves in very special rituals and practices at their source by living at Sri Ram Ashram, attending sacred Aarti worship on the River Ganga, meeting babas and sadhus, visiting holy places. All grounded in a beautiful daily practice of pranayama (breath work), meditation and asana (physical postures) led by Chetna (Tracy) Boyd. This is not a conventional retreat and you may never be the same.  

Dates and Location
14 Days: March 2-15, 2023
North India: in the sacred mountain towns of Haridwar and Rishikesh.

Cost
$2495 CAD

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What's Included

Daily Yoga classes in Haridwar/Rishikesh
Accommodation (mostly double occ.)
3 meals/day in Haridwar
Breakfast in Delhi/Rishikesh
Ground transportation
Airport transfers
Pre-trip preparation
Assistance with Flight/Indian visa
8 Unique and fabulous Excursions
Group Excursion gratuities
 

Not Included

International flight to India

Lunch, Dinner in Delhi/Rishikesh

Indian Tourist Visa

Travel Health insurance

Free time activities

Personal items

Did We mention our Excursions?

With a strong spiritual focus, our excursions introduce you to the power and colour of Hindu rituals, temples, Gods and Goddesses, garlands of marigolds and fire ceremony. We learn about modern-day saints such as Mahatma Gandhi and Anandamayi Ma, feeling the peace and serenity of their respective sacred places. We sit at the edge of the Ganges River for worship rituals, meditation, glacial dunks and temple visits. We explore a mountain-top temple at dawn with a vigorous

hike to a waterfall. Further gems are a comparative religions tour "Any Way You Slice It (It's All God)" in Delhi with visits to the holy places of different religions, lunch at a fabulous eatery and the museum estate where Mahatma Gandhi spent his last months. We are also privileged to have an insider's view of a unique orphanage/Ashram spending the Festival of Holi playing with children in huge coloured-water fights and bonfires! The experiences are rich, rare and uniquely designed solely for our group. We guarantee you won't get this kind of deep-dive into Hindu culture in regular tours or retreats. 

Did We mention the amazing Yoga?

Practice is balanced between breathwork that creates a clear mind for meditation and classic Hatha yoga poses which work with each student's current level. Deeper practices drawn from Yoga Therapy bring self-revelations and openings of the heart to each day. We are able to spend a few days with a local Indian teacher as well. We learn to bring our practice off the mat into daily life.

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Yoga & Energy requirements:
This Retreat is for all levels and comprises meditation, pranayama, yogic philosophy and classical asana. Classes are
voluntary. There is daily Free Time to rest or explore. 2 days built-in at start of the journey to acclimatize.

Accommodation:
We stay in clean,moderate-standard bed and breakfast (3 star) in Delhi and similar standard hotel in Rishikesh with western toilets, showers, ceiling fans and two single, two double beds. Due to space limitations in our Delhi guest house you may be in a triple room with two beds and a cot. As well, we stay in a traditional Hindu Ashram/orphanage in Haridwar in rooms with more basic facilities and two single beds, think summer camp. Our accommodations are not "chocolate-on-your-pillow but clean and simple. Retreat members share a double room with another member for most of the time, however, space is limited in our Delhi guest house so there may be an extra cot in rooms (triple). Accommodations are included starting the night of Day Zero (March 1) to night of Day 14 (March 18). Arrival anticipated in the early hours of March 4, 2023. Departure taxi to leave around midnight on March 15, 2023.

Meals:
In Delhi and Rishikesh, vegetarian breakfast is included. Lunch, dinner not included. At Sri Ram Ashram 3 vegetarian meals/day are included. Those with special diet needs, allergies or those with diet restrictions can manage well with a little planning and communication. Haridwar and Rishikesh are alcohol-free vegetarian towns!

Transport:
We have private bus/van for the journey between Haridwar and Rishikesh. We journey by train from Delhi to Haridwar and return trip is either train or private bus. Airport transfers are included. For those extending their stay in India, airport departure transfer is not included.

Health:
Travel health insurance with for the duration of the trip is mandatory. All travellers to India are required to have full vaccination (2 shots) for COVID-19 at this time. There is an Indian government app to download before arrival with results of pre-departure PCR test. Upon returning to Canada, we are required to have PCR results downloaded to ArriveCan app. We will be monitoring rules and regs closely as Retreat time draws nearer. At this time, facemarks are being worn in public spaces in India and recommended on flights. Other pre-trip immunizations are optional. If you choose to consult a travel clinic, make an appointment 6 weeks prior to travel.

A Word About COVID-19:
The global pandemic has changed the face of international travel forever and for that reason, we are closely monitoring rules and regulations carefully for before, during and after our trip to ensure all travellers stay healthy. This may entail quarantine details, pre-travel tests, personal protective equipment and may alter our regular daily hygienic practices. Rest assured that the group's health and safety are paramount in our minds as we learn to enjoy our experiences fully within the challenges presented by the present environment. Group members will be updated regularly as restrictions unfold.

Getting there and home:
The cost of flight is not included. We suggest a direct flight chosen for its expediency, but members are free to make their own arrangements if desired. We offer extensive pre-trip education and support for preparation. For those continuing to explore India on their own, Kajal India Tours can design an exciting onward journey or share ideas for your adventure.

Cancellations and Refunds:
Greater than 60 days prior to departure-receive 100% of Retreat fee as a refund (before Dec. 30, 2022)
Between 30-60 days prior to departure of the trip (Dec. 30 -Jan. 29, 2023)-forfeit deposit (return of balance).
Less than 30 days prior to departure (Jan 30-Feb. 28, 2023)-forfeit entire cost of Retreat.
Kajal India Tours/Dancing Lotus Yoga reserve the right to cancel a Retreat at our discretion and monies received by us will be fully refunded.



Itinerary Details: 
 

Leave 2 days in advance 
 

Day 1-March 2: Arrive to Delhi (Indira Gandhi International airport) in the early hours, transfer by pre-arranged taxi to the Master Guest house (www.master-guesthouse.com). A day to de-lag, get into the rhythm of India and enjoy home-cooked meals at our delightful B&B. Breakfast incl.

 

Day 2-March 3: Delhi: Full day excursion on our Any Way You Slice It (It's All God) Tour experiencing the holy places of various religions such as Hindu temple, Sikh gurudwara, Islamic mosque. We learn the different viewpoints and practices of each group. Lunch stop at the fabulous south Indian eatery Saravana Bhavan for masala dosa before visiting the museum at the site where Mahatma Gandhi spent his last months.

 

Day 3-7-March 4-8: To Haridwar: Train ride (5 hrs) to the holy city of Haridwar alongside the sacred Ganga where you begin your Yoga Retreat in earnest, staying at Sri Ram Ashram (3 meals/day and yoga included) studying the eight limbs of yoga with Chetna Dancing Lotus Yoga. Join the children at the inspiring adjoining orphanage for rousing evening worship and the festival of Holi with water and coloured powder fights. Visit temples along the Ganges and the sacred place of female saint Anandamayi Ma. Witness the unchanged ancient rituals of Aarti with chanting, flower and fire offerings at Har Ki Pauri. Watch your perceptions shift around you as layers of understanding unfold. Allow the body and mind to come into perfect balance. 

 

Day 8-12-March 9-13: To Rishikesh: A short drive (1 hr) to this fascinating town, made famous in the West by the Beatles. Incense, yogis, sadhus, orange-robed sages and sunset worship on the Ganges. Stay at Divine Ganga Cottage (www.divinegangacottage.com) (breakfast and yoga included). Visit Chaurasi Kuttia (Beatles Ashram) to see where the White Album was born. Stretch your body with Temple Walk and the Kunjapuri Trek, an excursion to hilltop temple followed by hike down to waterfall.

 

Day 13-March 14: To Delhi: Return by private bus or train (5 hrs) back to your familiar hostess with stories of your adventures! Reflect on all the inner changes absorbed in these weeks. Resolve to carry your serenity and a daily yoga practice home with you.

 

Day 14-March 15: Delhi: Last day to perhaps hit up a few sights or enjoy shopping in Connaught Circle. Say goodbye to the magic and chaos of India as you taxi to the airport for departure late tonight.



Preparing Details:
Flights: It is preferred the yoga group travel together with Chetna to India if possible. The flight favoured is Air Canada direct to New Delhi Indira Gandhi Internatinal Airport from Vancouver to arrive in the early morning hours of Day 1. Group members with air reward programs or other routes are welcome to book whatever they prefer as long as they arrive to Delhi by noon of Day 1. The night of Day Zero is included at our arrival Guest House. Please share flight information with Julie before booking to ensure dates/times are correct. Once flight is booked, please email itinerary copy to Julie. Kajal India Tours can assist with designing travel before or after your Retreat or share ideas and suggestions for onward adventures.

Passport/Visa Requirements: Canadian citizens require a valid passport for travel to India. Ensure the expiry date is more than six months from your date of departure. Visitors cannot enter India without a current tourist visa, obtained on-line prior to travel. Detailed instructions are given closer to application time frame. Once obtained, a copy must be emailed to Julie. At this time, proof of vaccination must be provided before travel, as well as an app from Indian government that must be completed.

Travel Health Insurance: It is mandatory for retreat members to have travel health insurance prior to departure that includes COVID-19 clause. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination and travel health insurance policy card must be sent to Kajal India Tours prior to departure.

Baggage/Trip Cancellation Insurance: is an optional insurance purchased within 48 hours of flight booking. Consider purchasing flights with a credit card that includes trip cancellation insurance.

Currency: Indian currency is the rupee with the exchange rate approximately Rs 55 to CAD. We suggest changing some cash at the airport Currency Exchange kiosk in baggage carousel area Delhi airport on arrival ($200). ATMS are available in Haridwar and Rishikesh. Ensure your PIN is 4 digits. Another option is to obtain rupees from bank before departure. Maximum RS to bring into Indian is 25,000 (about $400 CAD). Credit cards are handy to have for emergencies. 

Safeguarding Valuables: Transport valuable documents and currency in a light cotton waist-style money belt under the clothes. It can be locked in luggage in guest house rooms. Safes are not available. Make a copy of all important documents and keep in separate place from money belt, such as daypack or purse.

Staying Healthy: Bring all current medications in original bottles plus extra 
prescriptions for important ones you cannot do without. If you carry a syringe (for diabetes or allergies) have a letter from your doctor to avoid problems at customs. Ensure you are healthy before your trip, that your teeth are in good repair and you have an extra pair of glasses if you wear them. A small medical kit is essential (see the What to Bring section).

Immunizations: At this time, only COVID-19 vaccines are mandatory to enter India and stay at our accommodations. The Government of India requires a health questionnaire completed on an app before arrival. If you choose to consult a travel clinic, make an appointment 6 weeks prior to travel. 

Other Health Concerns: 
     
Insect Bites: We do see the occasional mosquito, although they are not prevalent enough to require bed needs. However, prevention is always a good thing. Consider a bug repellent spray for ankles around dusk, or rubber insect repellent wrist bands (child-safe ones are non-toxic) that can be worn or placed beside beds. Carry treatments for bites and infections, resist the urge to scratch insect bites to avoid infection. 
     Dehli Belly: or simple traveller's diarrhea is a common complaint among travellers worldwide. Any upset in routine, food choices and bowel habits can cause a bout. Keeping hands clean, choosing freshly cooked food, eat yogurt (curd), consider probiotics are all recommended practices. Number one preventative is frequent hand washing and avoid drinking local tap water, including ice cubes. Bottled water is widely available and filtered water is available at our retreat accommodations. We enjoy delicious home-cooked vegetarian food at our guest houses and at the Ashram and suggest keeping well hydrated.

Climate: October-March is the cool season up in the hills of Uttarakhand. Days hover around 25 degrees C and the nights can plummet to 5 degrees C. You'll feel very comfortable in short sleeves and light pants in the day and may need a sweater or shawl in the evenings. Whatever you wear onto the plane from Canada will be appropriate for the hills. Even if the weather gets hotter in the daytime, please refrain from going out and about in tank tops.

Respectful Travel: Modest behaviour and dress for women in the norm in India. As we are guests in a relatively conservative country, our dress signals a respect for local culture. For women this means wearing tops that reach the hips such as an Indian tunic over pants or a skirt. Men have less restrictions, most local men wear trousers and dress shirts. Staying in an ashram is a very special experience but also comes with limitations that foreigners may feel restricting. Because Sri Ram Ashram is also an orphanage we are in a position of responsibility to be role models to the children. In that light, we strive to present ourselves as neat, well-groomed and wearing appropriate attire. Please refrain from yoga attire outside of the studio, tank tops, sleeveless tops and visible cleavage.

What to Bring: 
Necessities:
suitcase/backpack-consider the airline weight restrictions.
money belt-cotton, light, waist-style
change purse-for the day's need of money
daypack/bag-small one for daily trips 
earplugs-indispensable! India can be loud.
eye shades-for plane ride
water bottle-bring empty and fill up in departure lounge. Avoids using many plastic bottles.

Clothing: (We will have a shopping trip on arrival for those who want to try light Indian clothing)
4 undies-quick dry, we will be able to do daily hand washing.
2 bras-your most comfy
1 pair socks
1 pair sandals/walking shoes-ensure you can walk in them for 4 hrs per day without pain. Tennis shoes or sports sandals are good for the hike. 
1 pair flip flops for short trips and around the ashram.
1 sun hat
pyjamas-fall weight sleepwear
2 pairs pants-loose comfortable, capris are acceptable.
3 long shirts-short or long sleeves, hip length or longer tunic style
1 sweater/hoodie/fleece for cool nights
2 sets of yoga wear
1 pair compression socks for DVT prevention on the flight

Toiletries:
toothbrush/paste/floss-manual brush as sometimes no outlet for electric toothbrushes
deodorant-travel size
travel wipes/moist towelettes-individually wrapped. Antibacterial gel
lip balm-for plane
shampoo/conditioner-2 in 1 are great
moisturizer-for the plane
insect repellent
feminine hygiene products
1 roll toilet paper-emergency stash 


Medical Kit: Consider splitting the kit with your roommate.
regular medications
Gravol or Gravol ginger-if you get motion sick in vehicles
Tylenol/Ibuprofen-in case of headache
eyeglasses/sunglasses-bring an extra pair of prescription specs and a hard case
contact lens gear-if you wear them, bring all the solutions
moleskin/molefoam/bandaids-for blisters or rough spots on shoes
sunscreen-SPF 15 or more
masks-cloth or medical style. consider N95 or KN95 for flights


Miscellaneous:
luggage lock
phone/camera-bring charger, adapter for plugs
flashlight-small one
journal-write down your thoughts and impressions
12 foot length of string or laundry line, pegs
yoga mat-there are mats at the studio but you may want to bring your own.




 

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