February 24-28th ~ Varanasi, India
5 Days, 4 Nights
An authentic yoga experience in the ancient city of Varanasi…
Have you ever wanted to travel to India, to see the REAL India? To immerse yourself in a culture so rich, so ancient, and so completely different from your own ?
Varanasi (also known as Banaras or Kashi) is often referred to as one of the most beautiful and difficult places in all of India. Spiritually it is the heart beat of the country. Not to long ago, it was our home.
The city lies on the banks of the incredible Ganges River which for Hindu’s is holds a special place of importance. Their belief is that it holds the power to wash away one’s sins and so for a Hindu to die here and have their ashes thrown in this river is to escape the cycle of reincarnation and to enter Nirvana.
For Muslims, Varanasi is the site of one of India’s most important mosques, the Alamgir Mosque which was constructed by Emperor Aurangzeb in 1669.
For Buddhists, just 10km from the city center stands Saranth, the site where it is believed that Guatama Siddhartha taught his first sermon and which is now one of the four sites of pilgrimage for devoted Buddhists.
For Christians, there is the Church of St Thomas, said to have been built in 62-72AD by the Apostle Thomas on his first trip to India after the death and resurrection of Jesus.
This experience is for anyone on any spiritual path who is curious about this incredible place. It is open to those seeking, longing for more of God. It is open to the spiritual seekers, the wanderers, and the spiritual hungry.
We want to show you real, beautiful, amazing, life changing, messy, chaotic, shocking, India.
We want to learn from the beauty of how Indians worship.
We want you to learn from the desperately poor who refuse to be ‘unseen’ and demand us to make choices constantly of how much, and when to give.
We want to learn from being confronted with life and death and suffering and hardship that is right in front of our eyes.
We want to lean into the ancient texts and find the wisdom that has gone before us.
We want to work the learning out not just in our minds, but with our bodies and our spirits through the practice of yoga and movement.
The facilitators of the retreat are Devotees of Christ and will be guiding all yoga sessions and teachings from a perspective of where Jesus can be seen in this land. Seeking to find the similarities and wrestling with the differences.
It is incredibly important to us, that we are respectful of other Spiritual paths, to India, and to the rich and deep culture found here and to learn from other paths, even if they are not our own.
If you are not a devotee of Jesus, please know that you are so welcome here, and please know that even though we will be drawing heavily from the teachings of Christ, we will also be respectful of your path.
We want you to meet with Jesus. Not the Jesus constrained by the church walls of the West, but the boundless, radically inclusive, arms flung open, comforting, loving, beautiful Satguru Yeshu Ji (the True Guru, Jesus).
Please note: I have not used the word “retreat” anywhere in this page. Varanasi is incredible and life changing, and a perspective shifting place!
However, It is rarely a place to experience rest. More likely you will find yourself stretched, and you will find times of struggling with the the sensory overload.
But the purpose of going on such a pilgrimage as this is to experience together, that we are with each other, processing together, sharing together, growing together, leaning into God together.
It will be an adventure! It’s going to be hilariously fun, stretching and moving! You will not leave unchanged.
24th February - 28th February
WHAT DOES THE EXPERIENCE INCLUDE:
* 4 Nights and 5 days at Ram Bhawan Residency overlooking the Ganges River in a heritage architecture home.
* All meals; Vegetarian Thali style, and a few special outings to some of the best places to eat.
* Twice daily Christ Centered ‘Bhakti’ Yoga flows (some on a house boat on the Ganges River!)
* Teachings on traditional Yogic and Indian Philosophy and where we can find commonality, beauty and difference.
*Sharing Circles and guided meditations, prayer circles, to check in with our hearts and how we are doing
* Yeshu Bhajans (Christ Kirtan)
*Visit to Mother Theresa home and other projects working with the poor in the city
* Guided walking tours of the city
* Shopping tour for sari’s, Kurta’s for the men (oh yes!) , handicrafts, fabrics and gifts
* Sunrise boat ride on the Ganges
* Ganga Arti at Main Ghat and Assi Ghat
* All the other things that we can scheme up between now and then.
* If you are an existing Yoga teacher, this experience counts towards Continuing education credits with the Yoga Alliance in Yogic Philosophy
WHAT DOES IT NOT INCLUDE:
* Any cafe items from Filo Cafe on the rooftop!
* any extra outings you may take apart from the group.
500hr RYT, Trauma Sensitive Yoga
In 2011, I moved to Varanasi, India with my husband and 8 month old daughter to help run a space of retreat and worship devoted to Jesus. It was called the River Ashram and lay on the banks of the Ganges river. Those years of my life were some of my best, and some of my worst. Varanasi, pushes you to your limits, and it was at the end of me where I fell deeply into the arms of Christ.
My time in India taught me about devotion, about a whole life, whole body experience of the spiritual. It taught me that Jesus is not the path for the mountaintop, but instead my Jesus is the one who incarnates and walks amongst us, in all the chaos, in all the mess.
I know this city, I love this city, and I can’t wait to show you my old stomping ground!
Naomi is married to Joshua and they have two children, Elkarnah and Jasper (who was born in Kerala, South India)
225 RYT, Movement Facilitator, Acro Yoga & Circus.
Rowan lives in Northern Thailand and is part of Shekina Garden - a Jesus Devotional Community for travellers, hippies and spiritual seekers.
She has a Bachelor's of Creative Arts - Drama, an Advanced Diploma of Theology and a 225 RYT; as well as a history in circus and a love of movement and play.
Ro spends her time doing meditation, yoga, permaculture gardening, playing music and eating delicious Thai food.
To has spent a significant amount of time in Varanasi, India and joined with the work of the River Ashram in 2014/2015
225hr RYT, Guru of all things Indian and Yogic Philosophy
YET TO BE CONFIRMED