3-13 October 2018 with Noelle Sterk and Arjuna Van der Kooij
Feb/March 2019 with Afke Reijenga and Arjuna van der Kooij
Many participants have been overwhelmed by the intense beauty of this 10-day pilgrimage. Read some references down the page and check out the Mystical India albums in our photo gallery.
If you are curiuos about the mystical rituals and wonders of India, interested in the deep wisdom behind yoga, open to spiritual growth and willing to look at the world from a different perspective, this is absolutely your journey. Also when you are “not a group traveler”.
We will visit four of the main pilgrimage places in North India: Rishikesh, Haridwar, Varanasi and Vrindavan. Each one of them has a specific value and we tune into a different path of yoga in each area. We will investigate the relevance of Hatha Yoga (physical exercise), Jnana Yoga (holy scriptures), Karma Yoga (selfless service) and Bhakti Yoga (devotion to Love/God)
We have daily yoga & philosophy sessions, practice meditation on the banks of the sacred Ganges, meet with sadhu’s, visit ancient temples, meditate in sacred Himalayan caves and dive deep into the wonders of Yogic India—most of them off the beaten tourist track.
Traveling with us will make you feel safe, comfortable and provided with anything you need. Transport, accomodation and meals being arranged saves a lot of hassle so you can focus on the experience. The traveling schedule is intense but there will be enough time for peaceful reflection and to let our experiences sink in. We sleep in beautiful places with an authentic Indian atmosphere.
“A life changing experience” Everything went smoothly. So much sense and meaning in the way it was organized.” The yoga classes were very relaxing and inspiring. I absolutely loved the philosophy sessions and deep meaningfull discussions. I would absolutely recommend this trip! (Margaux Bembaron, Paris/Amsterdam NL)
“Most useful for my every day life were the yoga sessions (awesome and well suited for a variety of levels) and the philosophy sessions. Meeting with the holy man (Siddartha’s father) and the mediation in the cave – wow! Also the sacred dip in the Ganga was very profound. The laughter experienced on the River Rafting excursion was a memory that will stay with me for a long time. Loved this unexpected therapy and floating in the river. Keep this in!” Both guideds were awesome!! (Anonymous, Calgary Canada)
“As a beginner to yoga, and very new at yoga philosophy, I embarked on the trip with openness. It proved to be a powerful experience, with passionate guidance from Noelle and Arjuna. Witnessing so many rituals, participating in kirtan, visiting ancient temples and practicing yoga in sacred spaces. These activities facilitated the process that was happening inside me and Noelle and Arjuna were the perfect leaders to accompany us on this sacred journey”. Transport, accommodation, food, activities etc. There really wasn’t much for us to have to think about and that allowed us to really engage with the process and not be distracted by logistics.” (Maria Hauck, Capetown, South Africa)
Day 1: DELHI
You will be welcomed at the airport and transferred to Jyotir Mahal, a lovely hotel in the ‘backpack’ part of Delhi (main bazar) The next morning we take a train at 6.30 AM.
Day 2-5: Rishikesh
We travel by train in 5 hours from Delhi and contintue by car to Rishikesh. We arrive at 13.00 at High Bank in Tapovan, a laid-back area next to the the rumourous center. During our stay in Rishikesh we will practice yoga on beautiful spots, attend puja’s (sacred rituals) and take sacred dips in the Ganges. We will meditate in a special cave where the sage Vasishta meditated and do a 4-hour raft on the spectacular Ganges river. There will be one day off-programm in Rishikesh.
Day 6. Haridvar
In the afternoon we travel back to Haridvar and attend an impressive ancient evening ritual at the Ganges. Haridwar lies at the foothills of the Himalayas and is a famous pilgrimage place that means “Doorway to God”. In the evening time we take the night train to Varanasi.
Day 7-8 Varanasi
We arrive in our beautiful hotel (with fabulous kitchen) in Varanasi in the early afternoon. Varanasi is the most ancient city on earth. We will explore the river ghats and visit the burning grounds by boat. We make a sunrise boatride in serene silence. We practise yoga and visit some of the main Shiva temples. In the evening we take the night train to Agra.
Day 9,10 Agra & Vrindavan
We will arrive around sunrise and take a little boat to peep at the Taj Mahal from the outside which is a magical experience. Later on there is the chance to visit Taj Mahal from the inside (that will be a few hours excursion) We have lunch in a very luxury hotel on our way to Vrindavan. In Vrindavan we’ll check in the MVT Ashram, a very nice Krishna place next to Iskon Tempel. We will vist some of the mystical temples of this amazing pilgrimage town, which is the birthplace of Krishna. We will visit Sadhu’s, walk a pilgrim route around the village and practice kirtan.
Day 11 Vrindavan
Morning time closing ceremony. Departure to Delhi.
€ 1250.- ALL INCLUSIVE.
INCLUSIVE: daily yoga and meditation, excursions, three meals a day, all transport and accommodation and all entry fees.
EXCLUSIVE: flight (approx 550), Visa (approx 50) and insurances.
Arjuna van der Kooij works as an editor for Mandala Publising, a US based publisher on award winning yoga books. He authored “Myths of the Asana’s” and a few other books and edited many. He lived in India for 6 years, and is a long time practitioner of bhakti yoga and mantra meditation.
Afke Reijenga is an enthusiastic vinyasa and yin yoga teacher based in Amsterdam studied with Svaha Yoga and Shiva Rea. She is booked national and international at the yoga festivals and organises retreats from Ibiza to India. Her fire and life lust and positive look on life is contagiously. She also loves to meditate and chant and plays the harmonium.
Noëlle Sterk has been studying and teaching yoga for around 10 years, in combination combined with different traditions and health systems from all over the world. She loves to share the similarities, her personal experience and her strong intuition for ‘what is needed here and now’ in contemporary yoga classes, empowering coaching sessions and healing massage therapy.
During this trip we will dive deep into the wonders of mystical india. India has the oldest living spiritual tradition on earth. In india people still chant the same mantras and perform the same rituals as they did over 2000 years ago. We will visit special places that will give us a good taste of spiritual life in India. we will also discuss some of the main philosophical aspects of the yoga tradition, so we’ll get a better understanding of the spiritual culture of India, and how relevant this can be in our own daily life.
Costs are euro 1250 per person inclusive daily breakfast, lunch and dinner, accommodation, yoga, meditation, philosophy, everything except the retour flight to Delhi
We wake up in Rishikesh, the Mecca of hatha-yoga. It is here where many yoga ashrams are located on the banks of the Ganges. We arrive at 1 PM in the Parmarth Niketan Ashram, our place of stay. After lunch there is time to rest. During our stay in Rishikesh we will practice yoga in various locations, attend beautiful Pujas (ritual offerings) and take sacred dips in the Ganges. We will meditate in a special cave where the sage Vasishta once meditated, and do a 4-hour raft trip on the spectacular Ganges river. In Rishikesh our focus will be on Hatha Yoga and Karma yoga, as well as the myths of the saints and sages of the yogic tradition.
In the afternoon we will travel back to Haridwar, where we will attend a beautiful and ancient evening ritual at the Ganges. Haridwar lies at the foothills of the Himalayas, where the Ganges flows into the plain of India. It is a famous pilgrimage place that means “Doorway to God”, as the Himalayas are regarded as the abode of the gods. In the evening time we take the night train to Varanasi, which is an extraordinary sensory experience. *Overnight train trip*
We arrive in Varanasi in the early afternoon. After checking in the hotel, we will wander around the River Ghats in this ancient and holy city. We will visit the burning grounds and meditate on the deeper significance of living and dying. In the evening we will attend a Ganges Puja and visit a classical Indian music concert. The next morning we visit the river Ghats and take a boat ride on the Ganges along the ghats (stone steps). We practice yoga and visit some of the main Shiva temples. Afternoon is free time to roam around this fascinating city. In the evening we take the night train to Agra. In Varanasi our focus will be on Jnana Yoga, the Yoga of Wisdom and the mythology of Shiva in his many various aspects. *Overnight train trip*
We will arrive around 06:00 and visit one of the great architectural wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal, at sunrise. We will then travel on by car to Vrindavan, which is an hour drive. In Vrindavan we will check in at the MVT Ashram where we’ll sleep two nights. In the evening time we will visit some of the mystical temples of this amazing pilgrimage town, which is the birthplace of Krishna. We will visit Sadhus, walk some special pilgrimage routes, and do lots of chanting and kirtan. In Vrindavan our focus will be on Bhakti Yoga and the mythical life of Krishna.
Morning time: closing ceremony.
Departure to Delhi. All participants will arrange their own flights home from Delhi airport (choose late afternoon (PM)on March 10th so don’t book a morning flight, or morning on the day after the 11th ).
Afke Reijenga is an enthusiastic yoga teacher in Amsterdam studied with Svaha Yoga the 500+ teacher training and also teaches Yin Yoga. Her fire and life lust and positive look on life is contagiously. She also loves to meditate and chant and plays the harmonium.
Arjuna van der Kooij received a Bsc. in engineering from the Rotterdam School of Higher Studies, and an M.A. in cultural anthropology from the University of Amsterdam. Son of a pastor and student of the late Swami B.P. Puri, he is a practitioner of bhakti yoga, and divides his time between India and Amsterdam. Co-writer of Myths of the Asanas: The Ancient Origins of Yoga. Author of Doorway to Eternity: Celebrating the Land of Krishna.
Noëlle Sterk is a yogateacher since 2008 and founded Natural Yoga in 2014. Together with other teachers en professionals she initiates events and retreats that inspire to make a change. Check www.noellesterk.com and More inspiring retreats and events on http://www.naturalyoga.nl