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A different kind of high

About 2,900 feet above sea level, Pokhara is a town where about a dozen back-to-basics yoga retreats have opened, transforming it into Nepal’s top yoga destination.

india Updated: Jun 09, 2010 01:34 IST
James Nestor

Breathing clearly lifts the mind and spirit,” said Amar Puri, a wiry man in a sweat-stained T-shirt, as he crouched on a patch of lawn and poured saltwater in one nostril with a neti pot. He snorted and sneezed, as the morning mist hovered just above lead-gray Phewa Lake, reflecting the Himalayas. “And now, I am ready for yoga.”

About 2,900 feet above sea level, Pokhara is a town where about a dozen back-to-basics yoga retreats have opened, transforming it into Nepal’s top yoga destination.

Puri, like many yoga gurus, has opened his own studio two miles north in a secluded village known as Sedi Bagar. The centre includes nine guest rooms, which can sleep a total of 17 people, have paper-thin carpets and candy-coloured walls. The day starts with a 6 am meditation, followed by a morning hike, nasal cleansing, then an hour of hatha yoga. All meals are vegetarian, and there is no caffeine or alcohol allowed.

Where there is yoga, natural healing is never far behind. Farther south in central Pokhara are places offering cure-alls including reiki and pranayama breathing, kinesiology, craniosacral and other natural healing techniques.

While most of the yoga centres around Pokhara are bare-bones, a few cater to more discerning yogis. A 30-minute rowboat ride across Begnas Lake — a glimmering lake about seven miles south of central Pokhara — is the Begnas Lake Resort. The resort’s 30 cottages look more like Swiss ski lodges than traditional huts, but the focus is on the views of the Dhaulagiri and Annapurna Ranges, that are enough to take your breath away.

WHERE TO YOGA
Begnas Lake Resort has 28 rooms, four tents, and two suites starting at Rs 3,700. Yoga is free. Visit begnaslakeresort.com

Garden Yiga Chozin Buddhist Meditation Centre offers free meditation. A three-day retreat costs Rs 2,050. Visit pokharabuddhistcentre.com

Om Family has holistic treatments from Rs 300 onwards.

Rishi Yoga holds 10-day intensive retreats for Rs 4,015. Per session is Rs 185. No room or meals. Email rishavpokhrel@yahoo.co.in

Sadhana Yoga offers yoga, veg meals and lodging from Rs 1,480 onwards. Visit sadhana-asanga-yoga.com