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Highest Self in the Himalayas

Kundalini Yoga Retreat

in Ladakh & Amritsar  

with Mary Green

July 9 – 22, 2017

Trip at a Glance

  • July 9 to 22, 2017
  • Daily practice with Mary Green RYT-500
  • Explore the ancient Kingdom of Ladakh, nestled high in the Tibetan Plateau, escorted by BJ & Lauren of RetreaTours
  • Immerse yourself in spiritually-electrifying Amritsar & the Golden Temple
  • Limited to 12 guests
  • Retreat fee is $3595 (based on double occupancy)
    • Does not include international airfare
To live in the highest Self is what human life is all about.
Yogi Bhajan, 7/28/2002

Overview

You’ve come to this planet to discover your divine spark, and remember your inner Infinity. Mountains are nature’s cathedrals, built by the Universe in order to connect with Source. Unconfined, they are open in, not four, but five directions. Mountains bring you close to heaven. Earthly concerns become minuscule when perceived from higher altitudes. Make big strides towards your life’s work of becoming the highest version of yourself.

Ladakh is uniquely set up to support a sacred journey. A center of Tibetan Buddhism, tranquil Thiksey Monastery is your yoga space. Experience how Kundalini Yoga and meditations take on a supercharged intensity in the Himalayas. Elevated by the geography, the peaceful culture and Ladakh’s stunning landscapes, you naturally shift into a rhythm of loving-kindness towards yourself and the world.

The journey culminates at the resplendent Golden Temple in Amritsar, Sikhism’s most sacred destination and a meditation retreat for sages since deep antiquity. You will do the work and you will be transformed.

Mary Green

…That is why we are not calling these things “retreats.” We are not retreating for anything. We are going to advance. From whom we are retreating? We are advancing to God. We are not retreating. Why you call it that? Why you got those vibrations? I am retreating from where?

Words do mean something. They are vibrations. They build in the mental self. I am not going to retreat from everything. I’m going to fulfillment of everything. I’m going to go on the path of sacrifice. I’m going to offer my lower self as a gift to my higher self.

That is renunciation. Renounce your lower self and give it to your higher self. That is renunciation. Renunciation is not, my friend, to leave home, leave children, get away.

Yogi Bhajan, 1/31/1972 

Itinerary at a Glance

 

July 9: Arrive in Delhi

July 10: Fly from Delhi to Leh, Ladakh

July 11–16: Explore Thiksey Monastery and the greater Leh Valley

July 17: Fly from Leh to Amritsar (via Delhi)

July 18–July 21: Discover the riches of Amritsar & the Golden Temple

July 22: Fly from Amritsar to Delhi

 

Journey Highlights

  • Daily practice in a sacred prayer hall
  • Meditation lessons and morning puja with Tibetan Buddhist monks
  • Volunteer (seva) at Thiksey Monastery
  • Share meals with the monks in their homes and in the Monastery dining hall
  • Visit stunning monasteries from various Tibetan Buddhism sects
  • Discover amazing similarities between Tibetan Buddhism and Kundalini Yoga/Sikh Dharma
  • Hear the Tibetan horns—or dharma trumpets—being blown in the pre-dawn hours. This moving sound has been compared to the singing of elephants.
  • Receive a blessing from the head Lama of the monastery (contingent on his travel schedule)
  • Walk in the steps of Guru Nanak and all the Sikh Gurus in Amritsar
  • Seva at the Golden Temple Langar Hall
  • Practice yoga in the aura of the Golden Temple, in Amritsar’s newest yoga space
  • Experience the thrilling Wagah Border Ceremony

Leh, Ladakh

Take a day trip to go snorkeling around the picturesque Gili Islands

Thiksey Monastery

Amritsar

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 RetreaTours?

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 8 people per sq mi—that’s nearly .03% of New York City’s.

Jullay-redThe Ladaki 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.

Don't be Dense

Ladakh’s population density is just 8 people per sq mi—that’s nearly .03% of New York City’s.

39 hours

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

Jullay-redThe Ladaki 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.”

One of the gems of Thiksey is the figure of Maitreya, the Future Buddha, which was consecrated in 1983 by the Dalai Lama. This 49′ tall 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.”

About Amritsar

Holy Seat of the Sikh Religion

Situated in the northwest corner of the state of Punjab, Amritsar is the spiritual and cultural center of the Sikh religion. In fact, the city itself is named after the holy pool that surrounds Sikhism’s most holy temple, or gurdwara, the Golden Temple [amrit= “elixir,” “sar” (short for “sarovar“)= “lake.”] Sikhism, the world’s 5th largest religion, was founded in the 15th century by Guru Nanak in current-day Punjab; the majority of the world’s 25+ million Sikhs live in the state of Punjab. Sikhism preaches a message of devotion, remembrance of God at all times, truthful living, equality between all human beings, and social justice.

 

To learn more about the basics of Sikhism, we recommend reading this article. It’s easy to read, straightforward, and fascinating!

The Breadbasket of India

The state of Punjab is called the “breadbasket of India,” a particularly apt description since the region is ideal for growing wheat. Punjab is one of the most fertile regions in India. Along with sugar cane and an assortment of fruits & vegetables are also grown, it produces over 10% of India’s cotton, 19.5% of India’s wheat, and 11% of India’s rice. (In worldwide terms, Indian Punjab produces 2% of the world’s cotton, 2% of its wheat and 1% of its rice!)

Punjabi cuisine is renowned throughout India–and the world! It is a very rich cuisine, using ghee (clarified butter) heavily in many dishes. Out partners in Amritsar have helped design Punjabi street food tours to give you a taste of Amritsari flavor. If you have the time and the desire, we can set your tastebuds atwitter!

Khalsas & the 5 K’s

khalsa-1The Khalsa is made up of fully initiated, orthodox Sikhs. Each member of the Khalsa community is required to wear the 5 K’s:

  • Kesh: uncut hair
  • Kara: a steel bracelet
  • Kanga: a wooden comb
  • Kaccha: special cotton undergarments
  • Kirpan: steel sword

Click here to read more about the significance of each item. 

Ladakh Itinerary

This is intended as a brief outline for our activities while in Ladakh, beyond daily practice with Mary Green. 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 9th by one of our representatives,  and you’ll be staying at a nearby 5-star hotel in order to rest up before your gorgeous flight on the morning of the 10th. The 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. Upon arrival 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 over 7 days will 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 daily 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.
  • Hiking around Thiksey monastery and surrounding areas.
  • An informative photo tour around Thiksey monastery with BJ Graf.
  • A visit to Gurudwara Pathar Sahib, a Gurudwara constructed in the memory of Guru Nanak. Please see the orange box below for more details!

There are scores of monasteries 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 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.
  • Hemis Monastery, of the Drukpa Buddhist lineage. Hemis was thought by some to be where Jesus spent his “lost years.”
  • 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.
  • Alchi Monastery, which houses some of the oldest surviving paintings in Ladakh.

On the morning of July 17th, you’ll say farewell to BJ & Lauren (and Ladakh!) and you will fly with Mary from Leh to Delhi (one more chance to see that gorgeous vista!). You’ll continue on from Delhi to Amritsar on another short flight, clocking in at 45 minutes. Continue on to read the Amritsar portion of the itinerary!

Our Accommodation in Ladakh

We will be staying at Thiksey Monastery’s guesthouse, with a gorgeous view of the monastery itself. 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 guestrooms towards Thiksey Monastery. 

Guru Nanak in Ladakh

Gurdwara Pathar Sahib, is a beautiful Gurudwara sahib constructed in the memory of Guru Nanak… The Gurdwara was built in 1517 to commemorate the visit to the Ladakh region of Guru Nanak Dev, the founder Guru of the Sikh faith.

According to a local legend, a wicked demon live in the area who terrorized the people where the gurdwara is now situated. The people prayed to the Almighty for help. It is said that Guru Nanak heard their woes and came to their aid. He settled down on the bank of the river below the hill where the wicked demon lived. The Guru blessed the people with sermons and became popular in the area. The locals called him Nanak Lama. Seeing this the demon got into a rage and decided to kill Guru Nanak Dev.

One morning when the Guru was sitting in meditation, the demon pushed a large boulder down from the hilltop, with the intention of killing the Guru. The boulder gained speed as it rumbled down the hillside, but when it touched the Guru’s body, it softened like warm wax and came to a halt against Guru Nanak’s back. The Guru kept on meditating unhurt and undisturbed. Thinking that the Guru had been killed, the demon came down and was taken aback to see the Guru deep in meditation. In a fit of anger, he tried to push the boulder with his right foot, but as the boulder still had the softness of warm wax, his foot got embedded in it. Pulling his foot from the boulder the demon was dumbfounded to see the impression his foot had just left in the stone.

On seeing this, the demon realized his own powerlessness in comparison to the spiritual power of the great Guru. He fell at the feet of Guru Nanak Dev and begged for forgiveness. Guru Sahib advised him to get rid of his wicked ways and asked him to lead a life of a noble person. This changed the life of the demon, who gave up evil deeds and started serving the people.

Courtesy of SikhiWiki.org

Amritsar Itinerary

In the early evening of July 17th, you’ll arrive at your home base in Amritsar.  Located just a 1 minute walk from the Golden Temple, our central location makes it easy for you to visit the temple whenever urge strikes, day or night.

We’ll have 4 full days in Amritsar, during which we’ll have plenty of time for personal exploration and reflection time. In addition, we have many fulfilling activities planned, including:

  • A guided tour of the Golden Temple. We’ll have a local expert tour and explain the vast & fascinating temple complex early on so your subsequent visits can be even richer.
  • We’ll experience the early morning installation of the Guru Granth Sahib holy book and kirtan in the amrit vela.
  • A turban tying lesson, with an opportunity to buy our own!
  • Performing seva (volunteer service) in the temple’s langar hall (kitchen and dining areas).  This kitchen feeds 100,000+ pilgrims a day for free and we can participate in the thoughtful preparation of those nourishing meals. Everyone sits on the floor together to share a meal, a very intentional move that negates any difference in class or status.
  • We’ll witness the invigorating Wagah Border Ceremony, just 45 minutes outside of Amritsar. Every single day since 1959, the border at Wagah between India and Pakistan has closed for the night with a showy military performance. This ceremony can at times feel more like a pep rally than an official military event. An enthusiastic emcee leads the Indian crowds in patriotic cheers and songs, even there’s even dancing in the streets before the event starts in earnest.

Time permitting, we can also participate in:

  • A neighborhood Heritage Walk. The Golden Temple is worth hours of exploring, but don’t forget the surrounding neighborhoods! You’ll be taken on a heritage tour of the greater Golden Temple area, including picturesque alleys and streets with some beautiful architecture.
  • Punjabi street food tour. The state of Punjab is considered the Bread Basket of India and a well-known culinary hub. These tours take you throughout the old city and allow a delicious overview into Punjabi cuisine.
  • Rural village experience. This tour can give guests a glimpse into traditional Punjabi culture. Guests can learn how to milk a cow the Indian way and ride on a traditional bull cart.

 

On the afternoon of July 22nd, you’ll fly from Amritsar back to Delhi, where you can start your journey home or continue on your adventure. Want to explore more of this area? Let us help! Read on for details.

Our Accommodation in Amritsar

Out hotel and yoga space in Amritsar is a mere 1 minute walk from the Golden Temple, allowing visits any time day or night. Each room has air conditioning, an ensuite bathroom with ‘western’ toilet and a shower, hot water, and wifi access. There are two convenient spaces for yoga on-site: the newly renovated KRIYA Space and the open air roof, overlooking the Golden Temple complex.

Pictured here: A view from inside one of the guest rooms in Amritsar. 

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!
  • Explore more of India–perhaps the Taj Mahal, Varanasi, or Rishikesh, just to start!
  • Pokhara, Nepal (hiking in and around the Annapurna range)
  • Anywhere else in South or Southeast Asia that your heart desires!

Please click the + signs or titles to expand the individual boxes below.

About Mary Green, RYT-500

Mary headshotMary Green, RYT-500, is a K.R.I certified Level One and Level Two Kundalini Yoga Teacher and a member of IKYTA. She trained with Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa in India, and returns there often to deepen her practice.

Mary believes in Kundalini yoga’s transformative power—that you can see the world through new eyes from the very first class. Her goal is for others to experience the joy of reaching for their highest selves. Through her humorous and supportive style, Mary helps people of all abilities to open their hearts, strengthen their bodies and heal their nervous systems from the stresses of the times.

mary green kundalini yoga retreatMary teaches yoga at Yoga for Everybody in Fairfield, CT. She is also an investment professional, writer, corporate stress management advocate and a mother to three boys.

Mary’s spiritual name is Dharamdyan Kaur, which means the Princess/Lioness of God who meditatively and fearlessly holds to the path of righteousness.  She looks forward to treading the path with you in Ladakh and Amritsar.

About BJ and Lauren of RetreaTours

BJ & Lauren at Georgetown, Penang muralWe are so excited to be joining talents with Mary again for this very special Ladakh retreat!

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, information about local food, 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!

(Pictured above: BJ & Lauren play on an interactive street mural in Georgetown, Malaysia.)

Your Daily Practice

This retreat offers daily Kundalini yoga opportunities beginning in the pre-dawn Amrit Vela. Start the day with a morning Sadhana, stretching and chanting your way from darkness to light as the sun rises. Enjoy a daily yoga workshop, plus a gentle evening practice to integrate the effects of the day. We will practice an 11-day meditation for the duration of our time together, which you may choose to extend to 40 days after we must come down the mountain–to continue our Sangat experience remotely.

The secret is…these mountains, this monastery, this journey will be with you forever. Back in the real world (your true spiritual workshop) you will be able to access the clarity and divinity of your highest Self any time you close your eyes and take a deep breath.

This retreat is open to beginners as well as advanced Kundalini Yogis. You’re exactly where you need to be. Be uplifted from where you are.

FAQ (aka, Everything You're Wondering Right About Now!) Visas, Health, Hotels, Food, Money & more.

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 can apply through Cox & Kings Global Services, but you must allow more time for this process (start at least 3 to 4 months before the start of the trip).

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 India 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.

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.

 *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?

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.

  • 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 hotel; 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.

MORE TO COME!

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 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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    Price & What is Included

    This 11 day/10 night all-inclusive journey is $3595 per person (double occupancy rate).

    If you prefer to have your own room, the single supplement is $350 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.

    An $800 deposit holds your space.  The second installment of $1200 is due by March 12, 2017 (120 days before start of trip) and the balance is due by May 11, 2017 (60 days before start of trip).  Single supplement ($350) is due along with the last installment.

    Price Includes:

    • Roundtrip airfare from Delhi to Leh
    • Roundtrip airfare from Delhi to Amritsar
    • All transportation within India
    • All accommodation
    • All meals
    • All site fees
    • Donation to Thiksey Monastery
    • Daily classes with Mary Green

    Price does not include:

    • International airfare (although we can and will be more than happy to help you decide on arrangements)
    • Indian visa fee
    • Yoga mats and accessories (except blankets) are not included in this journey.
    • 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.
    Payments

    Please refer to the Price tab for specific information about price & what is included on your journey.

    We accept payments via check (which we prefer!) and credit card (via PayPal). For our international guests, we can accept wires, which we find is the most economical solution for everyone; please contact us for wire details.

    • Paying by Check: Checks can be made out to Insight Travels, LLC and sent to 8821 NW 14 Street, Pembroke Pines, FL 33024.
    • Paying by Credit Card or PayPal balance: You can pay with credit card or PayPal balance through the following the red buttons below.  Please click the appropriate amount to be taken to PayPal’s homepage to complete your transaction. All PayPal transactions must be in USD.  Note that you do not have to pay with your PayPal balance.

    Final installment due on May 11, 2017. We’ll provide you the amount and link well before the due date.

    Click here to pay the $800 deposit by credit card (via PayPal)

    Click here to pay the $1200 installment by credit card (via PayPal) [due by March 12, 2017] 

    Weather & Suggested Packing List
    The typical historic temperatures while we are in Leh will be 65 degrees to 85°F 18-31°C) but the forecast as of May indicates it may be chiller (50-70°F / 10-22°C).  We would recommend using the button below to keep tabs on the weather as it gets closer to the trip.  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 for the CURRENT weather in Leh, Ladakh   The expected temperature in Amritsar, based on historical averages, will be between 75 and 95°F (25-24°C). Click here for the CURRENT weather in Amritsar

    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 domestically in the USA.  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 a suitcase 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.

    • 6+ 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 (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.  You can always have laundry done at the hotel, but bring as many as will make you feel comfortable.
    • A sweater or jacket for chilly 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. Light wool (like SmartWool) or tech socks work very well, but whatever socks you have will be just fine.
    • 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.
    • A pair of sandals or flip-flops, if you wish.  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.
    • Yoga Clothing: stretchy, loose & comfortable!

    Accessories

    • Yoga Mat.  Because of the unique nature of this RetreaTour™ in a location where yoga is not common, you will need to bring your own mat.  Lauren likes these Khataland mats because of their unique folding pattern (that way, the bottom of your mat never has to touch the top of your mat); if you use this link or the promo code “MATT,” you’ll get 5% off at checkout. 
    • Any other yoga accessory you think you may need. You may want to consider a sheepskin/felt/blanket for mat cushioning, meditation cushion, shawl (for morning meditations) or eye pillow. A blanket will be provided for you; blankets are really versatile and can be used to prop up the hips during long meditations, although they can be bulky. Please reach out to Mary with any questions at [email protected]
    • 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 while in Leh, electricity can be finnicky, 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.

    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.

    Click here to read Lauren’s suggestions on 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.

     *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.

    Registration Questions & Contract (click plus sign to expand)

    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. 

     

     

    Contact BJ & Lauren (click plus sign to expand)

    Mountains bring you close to heaven. Earth plane concerns become miniscule when perceived from high altitudes. Make big strides towards your life’s work of becoming the very highest version of yourself.

    Photo Album

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