Into the Heart of Yoga – Seva Retreat with Ramana’s Garden in Rishikesh India
March 8, 2019 @ 8:00 am - March 19, 2019 @ 5:00 pm
March 8th – 19th 2019
Yoga. Service. Pilgrimage
Have you ever wanted to travel to India and actually make a difference? Here is an incredible opportunity to visit the birthplace of yoga where the holy river Ganga runs through, nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas in Northern India and actually give back in a real and needed way.
We will be working with Ramana’s Garden which is an incredible children’s home, refuge, school and organic cafe which provides support, care and education to over 200 of India’s most vulnerable children giving them unbelievable opportunities to break the cycle of poverty, abuse and homelessness and bring their gifts into the world.
If you feel a longing in your heart to serve, and want to go on an adventure – this is for you. Rise up as a spiritual activist and join us in India.
It will be a small and intimate group, and we will spend five days in the children’s home in Rishikesh – supporting the kids, playing, helping out with the opportunity to also explore the city. We will then travel up to Ambiya Retreat in the mountains where we will work on the land where the organic produce for the cafe and school is grown. This whole journey will be supported by other aspects of yoga as well karma yoga including asana, meditation, mantra, spiritual teachings and sharing circles so that it is a fully held process and journey of discovery. This is an incredible opportunity to understand the true depths of yoga as well as visit India in a meaningful, eye and heart opening way. This will be a life changing experience for everybody who takes part.
What is Karma Yoga?
Karma yoga is the yoga of action – it is an important aspect of the yogic path which means giving in service to the world as a form of devotion to something bigger than yourself. It means doing something beautiful just because – not for any reward or personal gain. Seva in sanskrit means selfless service. Although the reality of seva in my experience (Amisha) is that it never is truly self-less although you may have that intention as giving to others feels good and is a very healing and transformative action. There is an innate heart opening and feeling of satisfaction which often occurs with service. Gandhi famously said “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” This is yoga – volunteering your time, and giving your energy and love to these amazing kids.
Why are we doing this?
“I have been interested for a long time in how we travel and make a difference. Travel is such a perspective changing adventure that can literally bring down walls inside of us and in the world as it challenges us to meet ourselves and redefine our understanding of race and borders. As yoga continues to grow and spread in the world, more and more people want to visit India as part of their spiritual journey, it brings about questions and cultural appropriation and the effects of spiritual tourism. I have for some time wanted to make my retreats more sustainable and impactful in the local communities – so that as well as our inner transformation work, we can make a difference. We have to understand that we are of a “travelling class” that not everyone in the world is and so it’s important that we use this in a way that really holds respect.
I feel that with our overloaded western lifestyles, retreats are an important way of going deeper and re-setting our patterns, and from spending much time in India I feel that there are experiences that you can only have there. Being in India and surrounded by the culture that yoga came from, brings the inner understanding to light in a more intense and beautiful way. And yet many travel to this and neighbouring countries and live a lifestyle that is actually quite selfish, failing to engage with the reality around them. In India it is estimated that over one billion people live below the poverty line – there are many children that do not have access to our basic human needs such as somewhere safe to live, clean water to drink and access to education. If you love yoga, and you want to understand more about India, this is an incredible way to give back to those that really need it, in a safe and supported way. I love this notion showing up with our head, heart and hands. It’s with our hands that we give.” Amisha Ghadiali
About Ramana’s Garden:
Ramana’s Garden is a children’s refuge, home, school and organic café situated in the beautiful North Indian city of Rishikesh. Located between mountains at the bank of the holy River Ganga (Ganges), Ramana’s was founded by Prabhavati Dwabha more than 20 years ago as a refuge for children at risk of poverty and abuse in India and Nepal. Approximately 70 kids live full time at Ramana’s Garden, and more than 200 kids attend school at Ramana’s each day during the school year.
The children who live in Ramana’s Garden have been determined to be ‘at risk’. Each child that comes through this gate arrives because they would be at risk of either being murdered, forced into prostitution, child labour, begging, starvation or total neglect otherwise. Ramana’s Garden takes these children in and gives them a loving home, family and education so they have the opportunity to become independent and functioning adults, securing themselves a valuable position in society.
Still today, millions of Indian children are in dangerous circumstances due to having been born into the cycle of poverty, ignorance, and homelessness. Ramana’s Garden is working to rescue as many of them as possible and the need is prominent. With your help, we believe that we can make a difference one child at a time.
Their goals are to:
- Empower and encourage every child growing up at Ramana’s to be able to take risks and grow into an integrated unique human being.
- Instill in every child at Ramana’s Garden a sense of well-being and compassion for their fellow travellers on this journey through life.
- Ensure every child studying or living in Ramana’s Garden will enter the job market with sufficient skills to secure a valuable position for themselves.
We arrive and meet in Rishikesh on March 8th (just after the International Yoga Festival ends). We will then spend five full days at Ramana’s Garden with the kids, before we travel up into the mountains on the 13th, where we will stay at Ambiya Retreat for five days where we will work on the farm. We will travel back to Rishikesh on the 19th March.
If any of you wish to volunteer for longer, we can discuss this with Dwabha and make it happen, just let us know!
Each day we will practice yoga and mediation together, and spend time volunteering. You can take your practice off the mat, and into the world.
This will include:
- two daily yoga asana sessions (including mythology, mantra and mudra)
- daily mediation
- sharing circles
- karma yoga
- delicious nutritious organic local farmed meals
- adventure time to explore
- a community of like-minded volunteers from across the world
- accommodation in the children’s home and the mountain retreat (please note this is simple) we may also be able to put a few of you up in local guesthouses if you prefer.
From March 8th-13th we will be staying at Ramana’s Garden in Rishikesh, where our focus will be sharing our love and attention with these beautiful children. We will ask you to bring an activity that is close to your heart and is creative and engaging. For example you might teach them a dance or a song, share yoga with them, bring your favourite games from your country, or make some beautiful art.
Whilst we are in Rishikesh, we will also:
- visit The “Beatles” Ashram (ashram of Yogi Maharishi Mahesh)
- bathe in the Holy River Ganga
- attending Satsung and Kirtan with world renowned teachers
- take part in the Aarti Puja on the River Ganga
- explore temples, ashrams, shops and cafes
Ambiya Paradise Retreat Centre in the Mountains:
From the 15th-19th March we will be up in the mountains where our seva will be out on the land.
Located deep in the oldest conifer-pine forest in the state, and part of the former hunting lodge and orchards of King of Tehri, Abiya Organic Farm is an off-the-grid paradise. The orchard was revitalized and the vacant terraces put under cultivation, producing heaps of yummy organic veggies to supply not only the kids, but also Ramana’s Organic Café. Ambiya shares it’s forest with plenty of wildlife, mostly endangered by what was previously rampant poaching, including Leopards, mink, mountain goats, deer, quail, bears, fox, and ancient 300-year-old trees. There is lots to do at Ambiya as the planting season will be upon us when we arrive. We will work for 2-3 hours per day in the gardens, or around the lodge as they are also making renovations to improve the farm’s infrastructure. Feeling your hands in the dirt, connecting with Mother Earth, and communing with the wildlife in a peaceful mountain setting will help us reconnect to our true natures.
All of the food is organic or sustainably sourced, much of it grown in the gardens. Local cheeses, organic eggs, homemade chutneys and jams, our own olive oil and fresh fruit and vegetables are always readily available.
To join this retreat the full cost is £1222 (this includes all meals and travel once in Rishikesh). You will need to organise your own travel to India, visa, and internal travel to Rishikesh. Although we will help arrange taxis and airport meet ups to make this as easy as possible. All food and accommodation for the 11 nights is included too. You will also be asked to bring various simple things that Ramana’s need such as clothing and medical supplies. So expect to be asked to buy these things and save half of your suitcase space for this!
To make this accessible for more of you to join, we also have a few spaces at £795 (email if you need this rate to be able to join us).
If you are able to make an additional donation, you can do this by sponsoring a child or making a larger donation to Ramana’s Garden.
The Replenish Effect:
It is important that our retreats bring benefit and expansion to all who are involved. We don’t just want you to fly in, taxi straight to the retreat centre and then leave the country. We make our retreats meaningful in the local community by building partnerships, supporting independently run businesses and doing all the little things that make a big difference, like helping you offset the carbon for your travel. This retreat is run fully as a seva retreat with the utmost care taken in terms of our impact in the local community and cultural appropriation.
The International Yoga Festival:
March 1-7th. The International Yoga Festival is a beautiful seven day immersion held on the banks of the River Ganga at Parmath Niketan Ashram. You have the opportunity to learn from both Indian swamis, teachers and masters as well as revered international teachers in amongst a community of around 2000 yogis. You stay in the ashram, getting a taste of the beauty of ashram life as well as being uplifted, inspired and awakened by the practices, ceremonies and musical performances.
More information here – www.internationalyogafestival.org
Holi – Festival of Colour:
Holi this year will also be right after the retreat and so you may want to stay in India to experience this. This will take place on the 21st March but the fun will start on the evening of the 20th.
Holi is a spring festival that essentially celebrates the triumph of good over evil. Coinciding with the end of winter and the beginning of a new season, it is treated as a time to give thanks for a good harvest. It is also considered a time to come together and end any conflicts you might have in your relationships with others.
Everyone will be out on the streets, throwing colours and playing. It’s something beautiful to see and be part of – especially with the kids!
Prabhavati Dwabha on The Future Is Beautiful Podcast:
Earlier this year, Amisha interviewed Dwabha (the founder of Ramana’s Garden) about her story and the importance of giving.
“Life is better if you are honestly doing your best to make a difference for another being. If you know that in living your life – however you are – you are also making a significant difference for others who would otherwise have no chance… You live different, you feel different, you are different.”~ Prabhavati Dwabha
E34 – Prabhavati Dwabha on Child Poverty, Education and Philanthropy
Breaking the cycle of poverty, ignorance, and homelessness
How can one person make a difference to overwhelming poverty and suffering?
You can find out more about this interview and the podcast, here.
“I came to Amisha’s retreat to learn more about the practice of YOGA. She taught me how to open up more and be in the moment. I loved how she created a space for the whole group to feel at home and safe. She really made me fall in love with Yoga. I will take her knowledge with me for the rest of my life. She is warm, wise and lovely.” Aemilia, Film Producer
“Amisha is a gifted yoga teacher that shows her knowledge of both the spiritual and the physical side of yoga, and teaches both brilliantly. This retreat was life changing and I still hear her voice singing mantras in my head!” Paul, Entrepreneur
“Amisha is a breath of fresh air!! She is kind, gentle, loving and full of light energy. Taking her mantra workshop at Bali Spirit Fest genuinely changed my practice and I thank her everyday for how she has helped me grow!” Ally, Entrepreneur
Amisha Ghadiali, is an award-winning social entrepreneur whose career has included demanding roles in the political, sustainability and tech start-up worlds. She combines this experience of managing a high pressure lifestyle with her deep knowledge of sustainable living, mindfulness and yoga.
With a love of yoga and meditation that has spanned over a decade, her own “burn out” whilst “trying to save the world” led her into training as a yoga and meditation teacher, which in turn opened a giant rabbit hole deeper into the mystical realms. In addition to over 1000 hours of teacher training in Yoga & Meditation, she has trained as a priestess, reiki master and intuitive energy healer. She brings all this depth and her fascination with the relationship of our inner and outer worlds, to her work.
Amisha has used these practices in her own life to work with trauma including recovering from being run over by a pick-up truck. She has lived that typical stressful city life, and found that bringing a soulful healthy approach to her every day made things much more rewarding and balanced. She set up the leadership programme – Presence Mentoring to assist you in creating space to show up for yourself each day and to facilitate the formation of lifelong habits that will support and nurture your inner and outer connections.
Her teachers include Sianna Sherman and Sally Kempton, as well as annual trips to her motherland of India, learning from Swamis and Sadhus. Amisha is of Indian origin, with a Hindu mother and a Jain father. She has grown up influenced by both these traditions and their practices and rituals.
Amisha is a writer and speaker on all aspects of conscious and green living. Her words have appeared in publications including The Huffington Post, Rebelle Society & Ecouterre. She edited the collaborative book, The Future Is Beautiful – A Collection from Think Act Vote, coining the term Creative Activism and bringing together ideas and artwork from over two hundred contributors to inspire a brighter future. Amisha has spoken or facilitated workshops at events and festivals around the world such as TEDx Oxbridge, Sunday Papers Live & Burning Man.
Amisha hosts The Future Is Beautiful Podcast which explores the weave between politics, spirituality, sustainability and creativity, so we can come out of our silos – and bring more of who we are to our lives. These inspiring conversations also look into the darkness and difficulties of modern life and challenging the status quo, providing comfort and a grounded optimism. Previous guests have included Charles Eisenstein, Samantha Roddick, Satish Kumar, Sally Kempton and Bruce Parry.
Amisha is delighted to be offering this retreat in her motherland of India, where both her parents are from. She has grown up learning to understand the bridge between Indian and Western culture. Amisha has spent extensive time in India since she was a child learning about her heritage, this combined with growing up in the UK and working in the US, she is able to offer an international perspective to yoga, combined with a native heart.
How to Book:
If you have any questions or would like to reserve a place, please contact Amisha on email@example.com