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Eat Pray Love in Canada!

The blockbuster movie featuring Julia Roberts followed a woman in search of her higher self and purpose in life. It took her to an ashram in India. Yoga vacations have become more and more popular as people search for the vacation where they can rejuvenate both body and soul.

You need not travel to India to find such a Hiatus. You can find the perfect Yoga getaway right here in Canada. Just north of Montreal in the beautiful Gatineau hills in the tiny village of St. Morin lies the Sivananada Ashram. Swami Vishnu Devenanda, established this ashram in 1969 after coming to Canada to spread the ancient wisdom of the Yogic culture to North Americans. There you will find a respite for both body and soul.

The day starts at 6:00 a.m. with the clanging of the bell, a call to assemble for early morning meditation. At 8:00 a.m. you head down to the yoga platform for 1.5 hours of yoga asanas (postures) under the early morning sky. By this time your stomach is desperately crying for nourishment. The brunch is all vegetarian served in stainless steel bowls, you can sit outside and chat with like-minded people or find a quite place on the floor where you can continue your inward reflection. After this time you can return to your room for a short rest before inspirational workshops begin. You are free to partake of these very informative sessions on everything from spiritual practices to healthy eating. If you like you can take advantage of the Iavedic (East Indian) massages or consult with an Iavedic doctor for any ailments you may have. These therapists come directly from India and are all certified. At 4:00 we assemble again for another session of Yoga, then dinner and finally evening meditation and lecture or entertainment. The evening is filled with music.

The Ashram is situated in one of the most scenic locations in Canada. Hiking trails and lakes are all within walking distance. Day trips to Mount Tremblanc sometimes offered on the “vacation day” for the students that are in teachers training. If you are serious about becoming a Yoga instructor there is no better place to train than at Sivananda Ashram. The course is one month of intense training, lectures and Sava ( chores). Many people who have done the TTC (Teachers training certificate)have had profound and life altering revelations, and return to teach yoga in their communities. It is a course that gives back exactly what you put in to it.

You may choose to stay in the lodge ( 80.00 per day including meals) shared accommodation (_______private room) or tent for ( 40.00 per day). There is a spring fed swimming pool, sauna, beautiful shrines, gardens and water fountains. This may be an all-inclusive vacation but don’t expect the luxury of a 5 star resort. There is no alcohol, tea or coffee allowed. You must go barefoot within the lodge and dining room and must be silent in the Library, lights out at 10:00.

Most people would not consider this to be a “vacation “ however this may be one of the most profound and exciting trips you will ever take, for it is a journey within. You will leave this vacation, more rested, peaceful, inspired and enlightened than you ever will after a week at your typical resort. You will have seen and touched things within yourself that no one else can experience. You will find the luxuries that exist in all of us if we just take the time to go within. A yoga vacation is not for everyone but for those willing to go on a daring adventure you will find what you are looking for.

For a shorter yoga getaway you can find a wonderful retreat at Sugar Ridge, just North of Barrie, Ontario. Regular scheduled events run throughout the summer or the space can be reserved for private groups. There are individual cottages in the woods, and a cozy lodge with lounge, dining room and yoga studio.

My St. Catharine’s Kundalini yoga group journeyed up for a woman’s weekend retreat led by Lisa Scandolari, (certified yoga teacher). Kundalini was brought to North America by Yoga Bhajan

in the sixties as an effort to bring this spiritual practice to the hippies of that generation who were desperately searching for a new reality. It now has over 30,0000 followers in North America. It was a wonderful weekend that rejuvenated that body, mind and spirit.. It takes dedication, to get up at 4:00 am for meditation but the rewards and the revitalization you receive from practice will give you strength to sustain you through life’s challenges.

by Sandra Ozkur April 2011

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