Tea houses surrounded by breathtaking scenery, challenging trekking that is accessible to most and often being referred to as a photographers paradise, its easy to understand why the Annapurna Region is a very popular destination in Nepal for yoga and trekking .
I chose to trek Gorepani and Poon Hill: this trek boasts spectacular views of the Himalayas, including Annapurna South, Annapurna I, Annapurna II, III, and IV, Dhaulagiri, Lamjung Himal, Gangapurna, and Manaslu ranges among others.
After spending some time visiting the capital Kathmandu, I went on a 8 day yoga and meditation trek, in conjunction with Purna Yoga (Pokhara, Nepal) and Himalayan Yoga & Trek. It was life changing. I can hand on heart say it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. In addition, the Annapurna region is undoubtedly one of the best trekking places in the world.
Are you thinking about practicing yoga and trekking in Nepal? Here are some reasons why it can change your life…
– Step Outside Your Comfort Zone –
Staying in tea houses dotted along the walking routes of the Himalayas, or surviving a full week without wifi, plus 4 hours of walking every day (sometimes 8 hours) along with early morning meditation and yoga class may seem like an uncomfortable thing to do at 1st. After doing it, I can say that the scenery, fresh air and trekking with like-minded people was such an amazing and fun experience.
It’s just about pushing out of your comfort zone. It will be such a magical and rewarding experience. Afterwards you’ll probably want to sign up for another one. This happened to me once my calf muscles recovered!
By stepping outside of your comfort zone, you will be able to challenge perceptions and experience the wonderful culture of Nepal. Whether it be Kathmandu, Pokhara, some of the smaller towns, or the vast countryside and mountains.
– Challenging Yourself Physically –
Walking up and down hills and different terrain, plus the positive effects of movement in yoga, being outside in the Himalayas and focusing on the breath will have a positive effect. It will rejuvenate both your respiratory and cardio-vascular system.
Again, those up hill climbs will engage your hamstrings and glutes. When walking down-hill, your quads come into play, helping to stabilize your knees. Your calves work a lot in both of these, helping to stabilize the ankles. Your core also plays a part in stabilizing the body. When walking down steep parts, your arms muscles also play a part when using walking poles to stabilize yourself.
Its easy to see why doing this for many hours in a day builds strength and endurance.
Note: If you are planning to go trekking, walking poles with suspension are a must-have! Using poles also takes a lot of pressure off your knees.
– Challenging Yourself Mentally –
It may seem like an impossible task to achieve, but if you do small walks at home and build up pace and difficulty, this is very achievable for all ages. As yoga and meditation are involved, the pace is slower than on the same trek without yoga and meditation; hence requiring 8 days to complete the trek. Others complete the trail in 4 days, so you can see the difference in pace.
To sit in meditation can be challenging, but again, like with skeletal muscles, the mind is a muscle that must be trained. Before going, perhaps do some guided meditations to help prepare you for sitting in meditation (Michael Sealey and Jason Stephenson are good on youtube for this). You will never sit for longer than 20 minutes – 30 minutes in meditation and can use chairs if necessary.
– Space within for deep meditation –
When you allow yourself time to create space within for deep meditation you gain a sense of clarity. You can set goals (like Sankalpa). Also, not being in such a rush to complete the trekking circuit means you have time to enjoy the scenery, slow down and combine yoga into the day as well as sitting and walking meditations.
Slowing the pace down and having time to enjoy your surroundings will have a positive effect for sure, the mountains, air, streams and forests are breath-taking and beautiful.
– Connections With Nature –
We need to stop being so busy, for our minds sake. One thing I and many others have found so crucial in our healing journey, is allowing time into our days and into our lives to switch off, be in nature and allow the mind to still. This is the perfect opportunity to switch off from technology and allow yourself some calming time, every day, with no phone… no laptop… no distractions.
– Energy of Nepal –
Everyday life is intertwined with spirituality in Nepal. The place is a mash up of primarily Hinduism, Buddhism and other religions and they live in harmony and peace. Mantras fill temples and flow through streets… you will hear ‘om mani padme hum‘ on a daily basis… there are prayer flags everywhere. It is a very spiritual place indeed and it will surely have a positive effect on your energy whilst here and hopefully afterwards also.
Maybe it will make you reflect on being more compassionate to yourself and others.
Ahimsa ‘no harm’ – One of the most important aspects of yoga (and of humanity too)…
-Make Interesting Friends –
People come from all walks of life to experience trekking. You’re guarranteed to make some wonderful friends, connections and bonds whilst walking for days and experiencing meditation and yoga together.
The beauty when you venture out to these places is that you realise there are a lot of like-minded people going through similar struggles and journeys just like you.
Its brilliant to realise this, I often find I make bonds with people very quickly abroad and make friends for life!
– Being Outdoors All Day –
For eight days – clean fresh air away from city life and the hustle and bustle with the added bonus of no wifi, it will do wonders for your mind, body and soul. Environment plays a big part
-Stunning Views & Different Terrain –
From the countryside, to the forests, to the mountains, streams, rivers and lakes, it really is a sight to be seen in person. One of the most breath-taking and emotionally stunning places I have been.
-Changes Your Perspective on Life –
When you trek in Nepal and focus on yoga and meditation, you are experiencing the external world and absorbing other ways of life, cultures and having new experiences whilst focusing on working on the internal also. It allows you to absorb everything and it has a magical effect by changing how we view the world.
You notice more how wonderful the world is and become kinder and more compassionate. You will have your eyes opened to different spiritual practices from Hinduism and Buddhism.
I find I notice others pain more and can rationalise why people behave the way they do. When we open up more, and focus internally, we really create space in our hearts and out minds to heal and when we do, we realise so much more about people, life and the world.
A lot of holy men say you can find all the answers to anything by just turning our focus internally.
When we focus on this and have a more still mind, a whole new magical world opens up to us. Its easy to immerse ourselves in this when away from the distractions of 21st century western life, trekking in the Himalayas.
– Have Fun –
This is the most important part I think. Every day is a new adventure in Nepal, especially on the trekking routes. You will make friends for life, in some of the most beautiful, spiritual and relaxing places whilst learning so many life changing things that will help you all through your life! It really is an amazing experience where you will create memories you will never forget.
So as you can see… the benefits of combining yoga and trekking are immense, it allows us to:
- learn new skills
- develop physical and mental fitness
- experience different cultures
- make new friends from all over the world
- deepen our spiritual practice
You will gain more confidence to venture further in the future, in life, in travel and in mind body and spirit!
It really is a magical experience.
What are your experiences of Nepal? Are you planning to visit anytime soon?
The crew at Touching The Summit would love to hear from you!