Yoga re­treats in Ukraine help bring fresh per­spec­tive to life

Kyiv Post - - Lifestyle - BY MARIYA KAPINOS KAPINOS@KYIVPOST.COM www.face­book.com/pg/nis­ar­ga­cen­ter/, +38093904 2892 www.gay­a­tri.com.ua, +38044 235 4888 www.minkovka.org.ua, +38067723 7892

The main rule: don’t make a sound for 10 days. For the first three days, she fo­cused on all the things she had failed to do or had not done in time. For the next three days, she fo­cused on her body and how it feels to be alive. Af­ter six days, a new feel­ing arose.

“I felt at peace with my­self, the kind of peace I can­not de­scribe in words,” says Maria Ulyanovska, 24.

Ulyanovska’s life-chang­ing ex­pe­ri­ence came at a yoga re­treat in 2014. Then, and at a sec­ond re­treat in 2016, she learned how to cut her­self off from the con­stant flow of in­for­ma­tion that bom­bards peo­ple.

Un­der the guid­ance of ex­pe­ri­enced prac­ti­tion­ers, re­treat par­tic­i­pants at­tempt to dis­con­nect from the bus­tle of ev­ery­day life.

A re­treat can last from three days to a month or more. Of­ten it in­volves stay­ing silent and not us­ing smart­phones or tablet com­put­ers. Peo­ple go to se­cluded places out­side the city and med­i­tate in groups.

In some cases, clients are di­rected by a yoga teacher to fast for a day or two, and some­times they must eat only veg­e­tar­ian food.

Ukraine of­fers plenty of op­tions for a yoga re­treat. Here’s a guide:

Vi­pas­sana Med­i­ta­tion

Ulyanovska went on a Vi­pas­sana med­i­ta­tion re­treat. This type is one of In­dia’s most an­cient as a rem­edy for many ills. Cour­ses are free, run solely on a do­na­tion ba­sis. Vi­pas­sana is taught at 10-day res­i­den­tial cour­ses. In Ukraine, the cour­ses take place in Kyiv Oblast.

Ulyanovska said she chose this type of med­i­ta­tion to ex­pe­ri­ence spir­i­tual growth. “There are lots and lots of peo­ple who want to prac­tice this med­i­ta­tion, that’s why all the places are usu­ally booked by the end of the first day when the regis­tra­tion opens, two months be­fore the course,” she says.

Ulyanovska said the ex­pe­ri­ence is not for ev­ery­one. At the re­treat cen­ter, peo­ple wake up at 4 a.m. Three times a day they have med­i­ta­tion hours dur­ing which they are for­bid­den to move, while the rest of the day they med­i­tate in si­lence, eat sim­ple food and go to bed.

Groups can be as large as 150 peo­ple. For the course sched­ule and regis­tra­tion form, go to www. ua.dhamma.org.

Yantry Re­treat

Not all re­treat cen­ters are so strict. The Yantry Re­treat Cen­ter, lo­cated in Zakarpat­tiya Oblast, is sur­rounded by pic­turesque views of the Carpathian Moun­tains.

Vis­i­tors can de­cide how many hours they are ready to de­vote to med­i­ta­tion and si­lence.

It’s not just Ukraini­ans who are at­tend­ing such yoga re­treats.

Mario Wekker, 40, from the Nether­lands, was look­ing for a place to es­cape his busy life. He had con­sid­ered a Bud­dhist re­treat in the United States, a Tai-Chi-Chi med­i­ta­tion course in Thai­land and even dog-sleigh rac­ing in La­p­land, but found an ad­ver­tise­ment for Yantry Re­treat Cen­ter and at­tended a course in the win­ter of 2016.

“It was al­most a dream came true,” Wekker said. “The ho­tel was built in Ti­betan style, the serene at­mos­phere car­ried me away, with all the in­cense, and the sounds of the lit­tle bells and singing bowls made me feel so much at home that I de­cided that this would be the best place to spend my hol­i­days.”

Tourists can choose whether they want to live in a sin­gle room, a dou­ble room or in a hos­tel with up to six peo­ple in a dor­mi­tory. Cost varies by sea­son, but ranges from Hr 200–1400 ($8-$54) per day, food not in­cluded.

www.yantry.com, info@yantry.com, +38067 420 4534, +38066 631 2321

Nis­arga Cen­ter

The Nis­agra Cen­ter ar­ranges re­treats up to five times a year in var­i­ous lo­ca­tions, even out­side Ukraine. In Ukraine, the most com­mon lo­ca­tions are ho­tels in Kyiv Oblast or the Carpathian Moun­tains.

“There are two types of peo­ple who like to come to re­treat prac­tices,” says De­nis Milo­vadov from the Nis­arga Cen­ter. “Those who have earned enough money and who have started to worry about their spir­i­tual growth, and those who feel lost and yearn to sort out their feel­ings.”

The Nis­agra Cen­ter’s re­treats last from a week to more than a month. Peo­ple stay silent, com­mu­ni­cate only with their men­tors and med­i­tate at least a cou­ple of hours per day in closed spa­ces in si­lence. They also have to fol­low a veg­e­tar­ian diet.

“Don’t think that the re­treat prac­tice is some­thing that has come to our cul­ture from the East,” says Milo­vadov. “Chris­tian­ity also em­braces such a thing as seclu­sion.”

The price of a place on a Nis­arga Cen­ter yoga re­treat is $300–400.

Other places to go

There are other re­treat cen­ters cater­ing to Ukraini­ans’ de­sire to find in­ner peace through Oriental tra­di­tions.

The Gay­a­tri Cen­ter of­fers a three­day re­treat, a one-day yoga class, and in­struc­tion in the fun­da­men­tals of yoga.

The three-day re­treat, bed and board in­cluded, costs $100.

The Minkovka Re­treat Cen­ter in Kharkiv Oblast caters to peo­ple with some ex­pe­ri­ence of the prac­tice of yoga and med­i­ta­tion. To at­tend, clients have to learn ba­sics about the prac­tice of yoga first.

Peo­ple do yoga in the Yantry Re­treat Cen­ter, lo­cated near the vil­lage of Rakhiv in the Carpathian Moun­tains, in June 2017. (Cour­tesy)

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