Mountains, Monasteries & Mystics

Delhi, Ladakh & Rishikesh

with Jane Kagan

July 22–August 7, 2017

Trip at a Glance

  • July 22–August 7, 2017
  • Daily practice with Jane Kagan
  • Escorted by RetreaTours while in Ladakh
  • Explore the ancient Kingdom of Ladakh, nestled high in the Tibetan Plateau
  • Discover the magic of Rishikesh, nestled along the Ganges River
  • Limited to 15 guests
  • Early bird price of AUD $3939 per person–save $350 when you register before March 31, 2017.
  • AUD $900 extra for your own room
  • Contact Jane Kagan for payment details

Itinerary at a Glance

July 22: Arrive in Delhi
July 23: Delhi day tour
July 24: Fly from Delhi to Leh
July 25 –July 30:  Explore Thiksey & the Leh Valley, including an excursion and one overnight camp at Pangong Lake
July 31: Fly from Leh to Delhi & onward to Rishikesh
August 1– 5: Discover Rishikesh, including a trip to Haridwar
August 6: Fly from Rishikesh to Delhi
August 7: Optional Taj Mahal day trip or shopping in Delhi before evening flight home

Journey Highlights

  • Meditation lessons and morning puja (spiritual celebration) with Tibetan Buddhist monks
  • Volunteer (seva) at Thiksey Monastery
  • Share meals with the monks in their homes and in the Monastery dining hall
  • Explore Thiksey Village and surrounding area
  • Pilgrimages to monasteries from various Tibetan Buddhism sects
  • Hear the Tibetan horns—or dharma trumpets—being blown in the pre-dawn hours
  • Receive a blessing from the head Lama of the monastery (contingent on his travel schedule)
  • Overnight camp at Pangong Lake, on the border of Tibet
  • Vedic ceremony upon arrival in Rishikesh
  • Ganga Arti ceremony & flower offering along the Ganges River
  • Explore Vashistha Cave and waterfalls
  • Guided outing to the Beatle’s ashram
  • Day trip to Haridwar
  • Two spa treatments
  • Consultation with an Ayurvedic doctor 

Rishikesh

Leh, Ladakh

Delhi

Why Travel to Ladakh?

A bit about this magical region

Why Travel to Ladakh?

A bit about this magical region

About Ladakh

Nestled high in the Himalayas on India’s Tibetan Plateau, Ladakh is truly a hidden gem. This high altitude desert landscape provides a stunning backdrop for such rich and colorful Buddhist traditions. Ladakh provides one of the last glimpses into traditional Tibetan culture available in the world. In fact, at times Ladakh was part of Tibet. Ladakh & Tibet had a number of conflicts over centuries until the 13th century when they developed friendly relations. Ladakh remained an independent kingdom until 1834, and it is currently a district within the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir. Ladakh only opened to tourism in 1974, and 30,000 foreign tourists visit Ladakh each year. 

Want to know more about Ladakh? We recommend reading Helena Norberg-Hodge’s book Ancient Futures to get a better understanding of this beautiful culture and the challenges it faces.

About Thiksey Monastery

Thiksey Monastery was founded in the mid-1400’s along the banks of the Indus River. The monastery’s temples, halls, and living quarters span over 12 stories on a picturesque hill, earning it the nickname “Mini Potala” for its resemblance to the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. Thiksey is affiliated with the Gelugpa, or Yellow Hat, school of Tibetan Buddhism, and there are 2 additional monasteries, a nunnery, and 12 temples that operate under Thiksey’s care. The monastery’s head lama, Ngawang Jamyang Jampa Stanzin Rinpoche (or, Thiksey Rinpoche for short), is a well-respected, influential, and progressive voice within the Ladakhi community. He has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of Ladakhi lamas (monks) and laypeople since his narrow escape from Tibet during the Chinese invasion.

bj and dalai lamaWhy Travel to Ladakh With Us?

RetreaTours has a very special relationship with Thiksey Monastery. BJ Graf has been visiting since 1995 and has fostered extremely close ties and friendships with the lamas. This intimate personal connection allows us to reach deeper into the culture and community, breaking bread with monks in their homes. We have been bringing guests to Ladakh since 2006, and in 2015, we created the first yoga retreat ever hosted at Thiksey Monastery. With our unprecedented access to ancient prayer halls and intimate friendships with Thiksey’s monks and their families in the village, our Ladakh guests always come away inspired, moved, and uplifted.

BJ was invited to serve as Thiksey Monastery’s official photographer in 2010 and 2016 for two very special Thiksey-sponsored events with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In addition to capturing these moments in photos, BJ enjoyed some conversation, good-natured ribbing, and a good luck head rub by the Dalai Lama himself.  

Butter Tea

A Ladakhi staple, gurgur cha is made with tea leaves, salt and butter in wooden churns.

A Natural High

Ladakh’s highest point reaches 25,171 ft (7,676 m) and its lowest point a “mere” 9,000 ft (2740 m).

Western Archaic Tibetan

Another name for the Ladakhi language, which has 130,000 speakers in the world.

High and Dry

Ladakh is a high-altitude desert that receives an average of 4″ (10 cm) of rain annually.

Don't be Dense

Ladakh’s population density is just 3 people per sq mi—that’s 41% as much as all of Australia!

Jullay-redThe Ladakhi Aloha

If you learn one word of Ladakhi, let it be “Jullay.” This all-purpose phrase means hello, goodbye, please, and thank you. There is even a song about the word “jullay” which says “The good word that brings friends closer is jullay / The good word that make strangers friends is jullay.”

39 hours

That’s the amount of time you save when you fly from Delhi to Leh (1 hour) rather than drive.

One of the gems of Thiksey is the figure of Maitreya, the Future Buddha, which was consecrated in 1983 by the Dalai Lama. This 15 meter statue has a two-story temple built around it, surrounded with vivid wall paintings depicting the life of the Buddha. Upon seeing the Maitreya, the Dalai Lama said,

Rinpoche, you are very lucky. This Maitreya is very beautiful. Even if you see this Maitreya again and again, you will never see it enough; you will always want to see it more–you will never be satisfied. I have seen many statues, but this Maitreya is very special for me. I have never seen a Maitreya like this before.”

Ladakh Itinerary

This is intended as a brief outline for our activities while in Ladakh, beyond daily practice with Jane Kagan. As we will be a small group, we are flexible, fluid, and will base each day’s activities on the wishes of the group and the schedule of the monks and their families.

You’ll be met at the New Delhi airport on the evening of July 22nd and you’ll be staying at a centrally located hotel, perfect for exploring and shopping. Your flight from Delhi to Leh is only 50 minutes long, but it’s one of the most picturesque flights on the planet. It will take you directly over the Himalayas, allowing you a rare, lofty perspective on this part of the world. Upon arrival in Leh, you’ll take a short but beautiful drive to Thiksey Monastery to get settled. We’ll spend this day acclimating to the altitude and leisurely exploring some of the magnificent grounds.

Some of our activities during the rest of our journey include:

  • A thorough exploration of Thiksey Monastery, one of the most beautiful and influential monasteries in Ladakh.
  • We’ll attend special pujas in the Protector Temple, as well as powerful morning pujas in the Prayer Hall.
  • We’ll see the old nunnery and its ancient paintings, as well as the old library and its clothbound volumes
  • If his schedule permits, we’ll have a private audience with the head lama, Rinpoche Kushok Nawang Chamba Stanzin.
  • Dialogue with the monks about Tibetan Buddhism & Philosophy.
  • Fun, informal cooking and cultural lessons with the families of the monks.
  • Walks around Thiksey monastery and surrounding areas.
  • An informative photo tour around Thiksey monastery with BJ Graf.
  • Overnight camp at Pangong Lake, which shares a border with Tibet.

There are scores of monasteries and gorgeous sites in Ladakh, and we will pay a visit to some of our favorites, time permitting, including:

  • Stakna Monastery, situated on a hill overlooking the Indus river. Stakna, a Drukpa monastery, is renowned for its beautiful, vivid murals.
  • Matho Monastery, the only Sakyapa Buddhist monastery in the area. This monastery, beautiful in its own right, also provides stunning vistas across the Indus Valley.
  • Shey Monastery and Shey Palace, which houses a beautiful 3-story Shakyamuni Buddha statue. At one time, Shey was the capital of the Ladakh region.
  • Shanti Stupa and downtown Leh. Shanti Stupa, a beautiful white stupa built by Japanese Buddhists, provides a breathtaking view over the city of Leh and the surrounding mountains.

On the morning of July 31, you’ll say goodbye to Ladakh (and to BJ & Lauren) as the Rishikesh portion of your adventure starts to unfold! Along with Jane, you’ll fly from Leh to Delhi (one more chance to see that gorgeous vista!) and then fly onward to Rishikesh the same day.

Our Accommodation in Ladakh

We will be staying at Thiksey Monastery’s guesthouse, with a gorgeous view of the monastery itself.  In fact, this is where the Dalai Lama stayed during his August 2016 visit to Thiksey (we’ll let you know if you stay in his room!)

Although the monastery’s guesthouse is simple, it is clean, and each room has ensuite bathrooms and hot water. Wifi is sporadic, due to our very remote location, but available whenever possible. Our guesthouse has an on-site restaurant, featuring Tibetan specialties & northern Indian classics (including the best dal makhani ever!)  Most importantly, we are an extremely short walk to the monastery, which is beneficial for early morning pujas and class time.

Pictured here: A view from inside one of the 2nd floor guest rooms towards Thiksey Monastery. 

Rishikesh Itinerary

Upon arrival in Rishikesh, we’ll experience a very special welcome ceremony with a Hindu priest. We’ll explore all that Rishikesh and our practices have to offer. We’ll begin with a Vedic opening ceremony and our adventure will unfurl from there.

We’ll take a beautiful hike to the waterfall, as well as visit the Vashistha cave; in addition, we’ll have a guided exploration of the temple dedicated to the Hindu Goddess Durga. We can also pay a visit to the Beatles Ashram which just reopened in 2015. The Beatles visited the ashram of Mahareshi Mahesh Yogi in 1968 to learn how to meditate. It’s said that they wrote more than 40 songs during their stay, including some that were later featured on “The White Album” and “Abbey Road.”

We will join in the Aarti ceremony at the Parmarth Niketan, an ashram that hosts the International Yoga Festival. Ganga Aarti is a devotional fire ceremony that takes place every day at sunset on the banks of the Ganges river. We’ll take a day trip to Haridwar, one of the holiest Hindu sites in India and a center of Hindu religion and mysticism for centuries. Haridwar is located on the banks of the Ganges River at the point where the Ganges descends from the Himalayan foothills.

Rishikesh is rich with Ayurvedic treatments and nourishing massages. Two spa treatments are included in your journey, as well as one consultation with an Ayurvedic physician.

On August 6th, we’ll fly from Rishikesh back to Delhi and we will spend the night. We’ll fly home on the night of the 7th, but perhaps you’d like to explore an optional Taj Mahal day trip? Or plan a shopping day in Delhi? We can help arrange that!

Our Accommodation in Rishikesh

Our hotel in Rishikesh is perfectly located in Ram Jhula, close to the Ganges rivers, markets, and local site. All rooms have ensuite bathrooms, air conditioners, hot water, and wifi access. There is a spa on site that offers numerous Ayurvedic and western treatments and massages.

Extend your stay–let us help!

If you’d like to extend your journey before or after this RetreaTour™, we would be more than happy to help you plan your stay!  We can advise you on hotels, flights, and itineraries, whether you want to arrive in India early or stay on afterwards (or both!) We can also set you up for a tour of beautiful Bhutan, Nepal, or anywhere else in South or Southeast Asia.

We offer our RetreaTour™ guests free travel consulting, normally a $200 value.

Some ideas:

  • Side-trip to beautiful Bhutan: all-inclusive & fully guided!
  • Pokhara, Nepal (hiking in and around the Annapurna range)
  • Anywhere else in South or Southeast Asia that your heart desires!

Please click the title of the desired tab to open it.

This 17 day/16 night all-inclusive journey is $3939 (AUD) per person (double occupancy) before March 31, 2017. After that date the price is $4299AUD.

If you prefer to have your own room, the single supplement is AUD $900 and will be added to your last payment. (Click here to understand why this single supplement is necessary). Please note that we cannot guarantee you a roommate for this trip, and if you room alone, you will be responsible for the single supplement.

A $1000 (AUD) deposit holds your space.  The second installment of $1549 is due by March 24, 2017 (120 days before start of trip) and the balance is due by May 23, 2017 (60 days before start of trip).  Single supplement ($900 AUD) is due along with the last installment.

Price Includes:

  • Roundtrip airfare from Delhi to Leh
  • Transportation between Delhi and Rishikesh
  • Daily practice with Jane Kagan
  • All accommodation
  • All meals
  • All site fees
  • Donation to Thiksey Monastery
  • 2 spa treatments in Rishikesh
  • Consultation with an Ayurvedic physician in Rishikesh

 

Price does not include:

  • International airfare (although we can and will be more than happy to help you decide on arrangements)
  • Indian visa fee (e-Tourist visa is about $60 (USD); we can advise on other types on visas)
  • Travel insurance (required)

 

NOTE: 

  • There is a minimum of 6 guests that must sign up in order for this trip to take place. We will hold your deposit & payments until the minimum number of guests have signed up.  Please do not purchase any airfare until you get the go-ahead from us that we’ve reached our minimum number of participants.  
  • If the minimum number of guests have not signed up 3 months prior to the departure date, we’ll give you the option to transfer your reservation to another tour or fully refund your money.

 

 

 

 

Coming soon!

 

 

Please contact Jane Kagan for payment details.

 

 

Please scroll down within this tan box to reach the end of the questionnaire and contract. At the end of the contract, you will see a “submit” box—please hit that button.  If you are having difficulty completing it on this website, you can go directly to the form here

Your spot is not considered reserved until you have completed these questions and contract on the website.

Please click here to download to view and download PDF of the contract for your records. 

 

 

 


 

 

 

Based on historical averages and 2016’s temperatures, the typical temperature while we are in Leh will be 15° to 32°C (60° to 90°F), and although rain is not likely, it is possible. It can feel quite hot in the sun and chilly in the shade, so layers are going to be your best friend on this trip!

Click here to see the current weather in Leh, Ladakh

The weather in Rishikesh will be warmer, between 26°C and 35°C (80°F to 95°F). For current Rishikesh weather please click the button below:

Click here to see the current weather in Rishikesh, India

Note: the weight limit on your internal flights (from Delhi to Leh and return) will be 44 lbs (20 kg), not the 50 lbs that you may be used to.  If you prefer to only bring a carry-on, you’re welcome to do that, as well.

One more tip: Using packing cubes may make your life easier. BJ and Lauren swear by them, and they’ve been living out of their suitcases since the beginning of 2013!

Clothing

Although more and more Indians are adopting Western wear, traditional clothing is very prevalent and modesty is the name of the game (particularly around the monastery!)  Please do not wear clothes that are tight, transparent or show too much skin or underarms. This means no tank tops or mid-riff baring tops (even for your yoga gear). We also discourage wearing form-fitting “skinny” jeans and shorts/skirts above the knee. Instead, we recommend wear loose fitting clothing such as long skirts, pants, capri-length pants, and blouses or Indian kurtas.

  • 8+ pairs undergarments; you can always have them washed or wash them yourself in your bathroom.
  • 3-5 pair pants or long skirts.  You may want to bring leggings or long johns (2 or 3 pair) to wear under your long kurtas, tunics, skirts or pants on chilly mornings or evenings (again—it’s all about the layers!) Fleece pants might be nice, and good to sleep in (remember, the nights are going to be in the 40’s to 50’s)
  • 4-5 cotton t-shirts, blouses, or long sleeve shirts.
  • A thicker sweater or jacket for cold Ladakh mornings and evenings. A windbreaker or shell might prove useful if your jacket doesn’t protect you from the wind or rain.
  • A warm hat and scarf for chilly mornings and evenings.
  • 2-3 pairs of socks. Wool (like SmartWool) or tech socks work very well, but whatever socks you have will be just fine.
  • Warm sleeping attire
  • Comfortable walking shoes. Boots aren’t necessary and can be cumbersome when going in and out of monasteries and temples. Sneakers or comfortable slip-ons will suffice.
  • Walking sandals (such as Teva’s, Chaco’s, or Merrell’s) also work very well here.
  • A hat with a brim is a very good idea for our daytime adventures.

Accessories

  • Ear plugs and eye shades to help you sleep better and recover from jet lag more quickly. BJ swears by thisclick here to read an article he wrote on the topic.
  • Good sunscreen is CRITICAL at this altitude.  Lauren prefers mineral-based ones: good for you, good for the environment. How do you know if it’s mineral based? If the active ingredient is either titanium dioxide or zinc oxide—that’s it. MyChelle and Devita make good ones.
  • Daypack or camera bag. (If you need a recommendation on a camera, BJ would be happy to help, depending on what type of photography you like, how much you want to spend, and how much you want to carry around.)
  • If you do bring your camera, don’t forget extra batteries or your charging cord. You may want to think about an extra memory card, too.
  • Toiletries (including shampoo and conditioner, if required)
  • People tend to think they need to bring toilet paper to India—not true! However, bringing a few packs of travel tissues is a good idea, to keep on you for public restrooms.
  • Wet wipes or hand sanitizer.
  • Any necessary feminine hygiene products.
  • Plug adaptor for electronics: you’ll need a 2 pin adaptor common across Europe. Here’s a nice example of a great universal adapter and here’s one with USB ports, as well.
  • An external battery charger, such as this one, may be useful for USB-powered objects. Given the remote location of this retreat, electricity can be finicky, so it is best to have a secondary way to charge your phone or camera.
  • VERY IMPORTANT!  A print out of your RETURN airline ticket itinerary; you’ll need this to enter the airport to get home. You can also have a copy (we recommend a screenshot) on your phone.
  • Photocopy of your passport and your visa, just in case you need them.
  • A small travel umbrella is a must. It can work for rain OR as a parasol.
  • Notebook and pen for journaling purposes
  • Enough of any prescription drugs you need, as well as over-the-counter needs.  We recommend Imodium (anti-diarrheal), a probiotic (Lauren is a BIG fan of Jarrodophilus EPS), as well as melatonin and Benadryl for jet lag purposes.
  • The guesthouse at the monastery in Ladakh has Internet, but outages are not uncommon (all over Ladakh). Nevertheless, we encourage you to bring your smartphone or tablet, and please don’t forget your chargers! We recommend setting up Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp, or another wifi-based calling service before leaving home, and familiarizing your loved ones with it before you leave.

 

We require that our guests carry travel insurance because it just makes sense.  It’s a relatively small expense but affords huge peace of mind for very little cost. When choosing a travel insurance policy we require that you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We also recommend you take out trip cancellation insurance, as this may cover cancellation penalties in certain circumstances if you have to cancel your trip unexpectedly due to illness, injury or unforeseen circumstances.

 

We like World Nomads, but ultimately you have to choose the one that is right for you. If you’re 70 years old or older, you’ll have to use a different company (we can advise you if you like). We’ll be asking for confirmation of your travel insurance before your departure.

Travel Insurance. Simple & Flexible.

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    PASSPORT/VISA

    • What do I need to know about the visa?    

    First and foremost, your passport MUST be valid at least 6 months beyond the end date of the trip (that is, January 16, 2018), and you’ll need two empty pages in the Visas section of your passport (make sure they are in the Visa section, not the Amendment or Endorsement section). 

    You will need to arrange an Indian visa before you arrive. Please read this section carefully!

    On this itinerary, you will only be entering India once, making you eligible for a Visa on Arrival. (Please click here to make sure your country is eligible for a Visa on Arrival).  You can apply for a Visa on Arrival 4 to 30 days in advance of your arrival on this website.

    If you plan on staying in India longer than 30 days, you must apply for a different visa through vfsglobalonline.com. Jane can help walk you through this process.

    FOOD

    • I have special dietary needs—can I be accommodated?

    Vegetarians should have no problem anywhere on our travels. The only thing that might prove difficult is veganism in India. Although meat is entirely avoidable, India is the world’s largest consumer of butter, and it is almost unavoidable in most of their curries, stews, and even breads. Many vegans that I have known to travel through India adopt what is locally referred to as a “pure veg” diet: no meat, no eggs, but it allows for dairy consumption.  (It is worth nothing that some of the reasons for avoiding dairy consumption in the west is slightly mitigated here, as there is less factory farming and antibiotic use in livestock.) Milk can be avoided by not consuming creamy dishes or milk tea.

    Gluten is also avoidable in India by choosing rice over chapatis and other local breads. Celiactravel.com has GREAT printable cards in local language to present to restaurants and hotels about your intolerance of gluten. Click here for the Hindi version.  If you have multiple dietary needs, it may be worth your while to check out these specialty cards, available in 60 different languages.When you register for a trip, you will answer a set of questions, including a question about food allergies. We’ll take a look at your answers and let you know if we have any suggestions or concerns!

    Click here for our very own Indian Food Primer!

    • Can I drink the water?

    In a word, No. Although many cities around the world are getting more advanced public water systems, we don’t recommend it.  Not only from a pathogen standpoint, but it’s a different set of bacteria than your body is used to. Why risk an upset stomach if you don’t have to? We recommend drinking only bottled water, and you will want to rinse your toothbrush off in bottled water.

    HEALTH

    • What vaccines do I need?

    None are required to enter India, but we suggest you work with your physician or your area’s travel health expert to decide what options are best for you.  You can read the CDC’s recommendations here and the Scottish NHS recommendations here.

    • What about the altitude?

    Our home base at Thiksey Monastery rests at a lofty 11,500 ft (3350 m).  We plan our first few days very lightly, to allow you to acclimatize. However, there are things you can do before and during your trip to help your body adjust to the altitude.

    Click here to read BJ’s take on how to prevent altitude sickness, as someone who has traveled extensively at high altitudes and never had ill effect and is an avid reader on the subject.

    http://www.travelconsultants.biz/prevent-altitude-sickness/

    Click here to read Lauren’s suggestions to natural therapies to begin before your trip. Lauren is a Board-certified Acupuncture Physician and Doctor of Oriental Medicine with a speciality in the world of dietary supplements.

    How to Stay Healthy while Traveling…Naturally!

     *All of the information here is for reference purposes only and is not intended to substitute for advice from your licensed health care professional. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health condition or disease. If you are experiencing medical issues, you should contact your medical health care provider.

    • What about malaria? 

    Malaria is not a risk in Ladakh, but again, we request that you work with your physician or travel doctor when making these choices. Please see our blog about this topic for more information.

    • Do I need travel insurance?

    We require that our guests carry travel insurance because it just makes sense.  It’s a relatively small expense but affords huge peace of mind!  When choosing a travel insurance policy we require that you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We also recommend you take out trip cancellation insurance, as this may cover cancellation penalties in certain circumstances if you have to cancel your trip unexpectedly due to illness, injury or unforeseen circumstances.

    We like World Nomads, but ultimately you have to choose the one that is right for you. If you’re 70 years old or older, you’ll have to use a different company. We’ll be asking for confirmation of your travel insurance 60 days before your departure. Please click here to get a quote. We love the services of these companies so much that we became affiliates, so we would ask that if you do choose to purchase these policies, you do it through our links.

    MONEY

    • How much money should I bring?

    That is entirely up to you and how much shopping you want to do in Leh.  All of your meals and transportation is covered, so you just have to gauge how much you want to spend on extras!

    • How do I get the local currency?

    You can either exchange cash in India (although not at the airport, the rate is terrible!) or use a local ATM (which we prefer). Just make sure you call your bank and credit card company to let them know you’ll be traveling in India, so they don’t put a hold on your card when they see it being used halfway across the world.

    HOTELS

    • What kind of hotels will we be staying at?

    In Ladakh, we will be staying at the Monastery’s guesthouse (with a gorgeous view of the monastery), and although it is simple, it is clean, has hot water, and the occasional wifi (just being honest!) Most importantly, we are an extremely short walk to the monastery, which is beneficial for early morning pujas and class time.  In Rishikesh, we will be staying in a centrally located hotel with wifi, hot water, air conditioning, a spa, and our own yoga space.

    • Will I be able to charge my electronics (phone, iPad, etc)?

    Yes, just be sure to bring along a 2-pin European style converter. Better yet, grab a Universal Travel Adaptor that can go with you anywhere in the world!

    COMMUNICATION

    • How can my family get ahold of me in an emergency?

    Even if you have an international plan, chances are you will not get cell coverage in remote Ladakh. Before the trip begins we will give you a contact for our hotels; in addition, we will give you our Ladakhi phone numbers ahead of time, as well as an American number good for text messages and voicemails. This is a very isolated part of the world, up high in the Himalayas, but we will do our best to ensure you are as connected as you want to be. Jane will also have an Indian phone number she will give to you at the start of the trip.

    MORE TO COME!

     

    Altitude Sickness Prevention

    Our home base at Thiksey Monastery rests at a lofty 11,500 ft (3350 m).  We plan our first few days very lightly, to allow you to acclimatize. Our overnight camp at Pangong Lake is at 13,940 ft (4250 m). However, there are things you can do before and during your trip to help your body adjust to the altitude.

    Click here to read BJ’s take on how to prevent altitude sickness, as someone who has traveled extensively at high altitudes and never had ill effect and is an avid reader on the subject.

    http://www.travelconsultants.biz/prevent-altitude-sickness/

    Click here to read Lauren’s suggestions to natural therapies to begin before your trip. Lauren is a Board-certified Acupuncture Physician and Doctor of Oriental Medicine with a speciality in the world of dietary supplements.

    How to Stay Healthy while Traveling…Naturally!

     *All of the information here is for reference purposes only and is not intended to substitute for advice from a licensed health care professional. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health condition or disease. If you are experiencing medical issues, you should contact your medical health care provider.

    About Jane Kagan

    Jane Kagan bio picMy intention, when I founded Flourish Yoga was to create a community of like-minded souls. The joy and happiness I receive from sharing yoga is the driving force behind my actions, it has been the motivation to grow, nurture and expand our community.

    I am a qualified Level 2 Yoga teacher with over 25 years involvement in personal improvement and self-discovery. I create a special blend of yoga, self-inquiry, relaxation and meditation to help you create a rich experience of Your Self.

    My introduction into the world of Yoga began when I was 18. My mother suggested we attend a ‘Yoga Class’ at the local church hall. I had no idea what I was going to! However, I was immediately impacted by the vitality, energy, agility and joyousness of the teacher – who was 74!  I knew in that moment that maybe we had a choice over how we feel and how we age. Since then, Yoga has been a constant in my life and has led to further studies including; nutrition, counseling, massage and personal development

    Yoga has inspired and changed my life in so many ways and that is why I love to share the wisdom, science and beauty of these ancient practices. My classes are mindful and creative, the teachings coming from a place of gratitude and compassion. I cultivate a place to unwind body and mind, breathe, catch up with yourself or with a friend, listen to your heart, hear yourself think, or forget about thinking, meditate, practice whatever is needed to be stretched, released, balanced, discovered, healed, learned and looked after.

    I believe that Yoga can bring freedom into our busy lives… allowing us the space to consciously relax, unwind and really let go. Yoga helps with the healing process, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. There appears to be a lot that needs healing in our world today and the place to start is within ourselves, cultivating love, happiness and inner peace.

    Hatha Yoga links breath and movement mindfully – with a focus on deep relaxation. My classes finish with Yoga Nidra (conscious relaxation).

     

    Start where you are. Do what you can

    Anyone can start a yoga practice, even if you don’t feel like you are very flexible or very strong. What ever your age or current physical condition, a yoga practice can improve your overall health. Moving your body, focusing your mind and learning to breathe properly can transform your life on and off the mat.

     

    Yoga encourages self-care

    People keep coming back to yoga again and again for the peace they experience at the end the class and the enhanced wellbeing they enjoy in the days that follow. In much of conventional medicine, most people are passive recipients of care. In yoga, it’s what you do for yourself that matters. Yoga gives you the tools to help you change. You may start to feel better the first time you try it. You may also notice that the more you commit to regular classes, the more you benefit. This results in 3 things: You get involved in your own care; you discover that your involvement gives you the power to effect change and seeing that you can effect change gives you hope. And hope itself can be healing.

    When practiced correctly with mindfulness and without strain or force, yoga creates extra-ordinary effects on many levels. The long, slow stretches induce a sense of wellbeing and relaxation throughout the practice. Yoga’s many benefits include stress reduction, breathing efficiency, awareness, improved posture and bone strength just to name a few.

     

    Is Yoga a spiritual practice?

    To help clarify the spiritual aspect… yoga asks us to ‘believe’, to believe in something bigger than ourselves. However it does not say in what or whom. Yoga, at its truest, does not give us the answers, but a way to find our own answers. If you do have a faith – you bring it to your yoga practice and deepen your personal connection with your own faith and beliefs.

     

    Try it for yourself

    Discover for yourself if Yoga is what you are looking for. However it’s primarily a path of awareness – giving you different techniques to live life consciously, rather than unconsciously. It helps you develop mindfulness, lightness, clarity and happiness in your life. This is the real purpose and meaning of yoga – to achieve oneness with our selves, to be in harmony and unity with the world around us.

     

    What is Yoga?

    Yoga is an ancient system of health promoting practices for the body, mind and spirit that can be adapted to suit anyone – regardless of fitness, flexibility or the lack of it. Expect to feel calm, energised, stronger and balanced in mind and body at the end of a class. Improve your sleep and reduce stress with regular yoga classes.

     

    Why Yoga?

    Yoga works on the mind and the body at the same time, as well as exploring their interdependence. No other system does this. Psychology studies the mind, exercise physiology studies the effect of exercise on the body, the interrelationship of the mind and the body is yoga.

     

    Yoga makes you happy

    Apart from the physical benefits of Yoga, such as increased muscle tone, improved flexibility, increased bone density and body awareness, just to name a few, Yoga is proven to increase happy hormones and decrease unhappy hormones. Developing and maintaining a breath centered yoga practice is clinically proven to not only keep the nervous system calm but also offers mental clarity, focus, a feeling of overall wellness and good health.

    About BJ and Lauren of RetreaTours

    Lauren & BJ with their dears friends Chamba (L) and Stanzin (R).

    RetreaTours is perfectly suited to facilitate your time in Ladakh and we are THRILLED to we working the Jane Kagan again!

    BJ Graf has been traveling to Ladakh and Thiksey Monastery since 1995. He was invited as Thiksey Monastery’s official photographer for the Dalai Lama’s Summer 2010 visit to Nubra Valley and again for HHDL’s August 2016 Thiksey Monastery visit. In addition, one of BJ’s portraits of Thiksey’s head lama, Rinpoche Kushok Nawang Chamba Stanzin, graces the cover of his recent biography.

    Having developed deep and personal connections to many lamas (monks) at Thiksey, BJ and Lauren have secured access to sacred prayer halls otherwise unaccessible to the public.  In addition, you’ll experience a warm welcome into the homes of the monks and their families in the village for tea, dinner, and thought-provoking discussions about Tibetan Buddhism.

    BJ & Lauren created RetreaTours in 2010 with one goal in mind: to make world travel accessible, authentic, and astounding.  In order to focus fully on this passion, they moved out of the U.S. in January 2013 to reside full-time overseas. Each day is spent exploring new destinations, strengthening local ties & relationships, and creating memorable and transformative retreats and tours (aka, RetreaTours™!)

    BJ & Lauren take great pride in the itineraries they plan, as they can personally vouch for every hotel, every restaurant, and every activity that you will experience. They craft each element of the trip with intention, and they understand that it is this careful attention to detail that sets them apart.  Fueled by their passion, armed with know-how, and supported by knowledgeable local professionals in all of their destinations, BJ & Lauren set the scene for the vacation of a lifetime.

    The dynamic duo are available to answer any and all questions before the trip begins. From giving advice on the best flights and travel insurance to providing a packing list, FAQ, and even a tiny “phrasebook,” BJ & Lauren pride themselves on these ‘nuts & bolts’ of personalized service.

    In addition, as a guest, you receive free travel consulting services (normally a $200 value) should you choose to extend your travels. As one of their most ‘frequent fliers’ put it recently, BJ & Lauren make everything easy for you. Once you arrive in your destination city, your trip is all-inclusive—your meals, transportation, lodging, site fees, donations, and tips are all taken care of.  The research has been done, the itinerary carefully laid out, the reservations made, the t’s crossed and the i’s dotted. All you have to do is show up and take in all your destination has to show you!  So….let’s get going!

    Photo Album

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