Practising Yoga in Bhutan7 January, 2012
Along our journey around Bhutan, we have visited a number of places which offers great views of the surrounding scenery, yet without the hustle and bustle of typical tourist spots around the world – making such places perfect to meditate or even practice yoga. Travelling with a yoga teacher (Boon Cheng) on this tour around Bhutan and armed with our yoga mats, we were always on the lookout for ideal places to have a quick yoga session in the mornings and evenings (before and after our day trips to different Bhutanese cities and towns).
Yoga always begins with breathing and meditation before moving onto the actual performance of yoga exercises. This will enable an individual to reach the required meditative state and mindset to gain a deeper level of meditation experience. This is where the importance of a great environment to practise yoga comes in. This environment must facilitate for this spiritual and meditative experience and where better to do so with fresh air high up in the mountains, quietness (away from traffic – both vehicles and people) and an additional bonus – inspiring views of the surroundings e.g. river, hills, forests. All of the above can be found in many places around Bhutan.
We will be recommending 4 places in Bhutan to practise yoga which fits perfectly within the above criteria.
Punakha Meri Puensum Hotel
The most convenient place to practise yoga had to be at our hotel, especially if we are doing morning sessions to start the day with a refreshing session of yoga. Not all hotels will fit within our self-defined criteria for a good yoga place – hotel rooms are too cramped and clutter and there are of course lots of traffic from other hotel guests and staff. However, we found one in Punakha, Bhutan that perfectly fits the bill. Meri Puseunsum Hotel at Punakha is a small hotel with excellent views of the surroundings. We had our own private balcony which overlooks a quiet little village and the mountains.
Uma Paro Hotel
We have wrote about the very luxurious Uma Paro hotel at Paro, Bhutan. Uma Paro also offers daily yoga sessions conducted by its in-house instructors for hotel guests but if you just need to practise yoga on your own, there are lots of open grass patches where you lay down your yoga mat and meditate without interruptions and at the same time enjoy great views of the Paro valley. You can do this without breaking the bank (spending USD1000+) for a villa as all hotel guests are free to roam around the hotel complex and spend some quiet time on the grass patches. I would advise you to do this only in the early morning as Uma Paro arranges quite a few activities from 10am onwards for its hotel guests around the area e.g. archery, darting and other Bhutanese traditional games – so if you don’t want to be a target, come early.
Taktshang Cafeteria (Rest Stop along Climb to Taktshang Goemba Tiger’s Nest Monastery
Located at the end of Stage 1 climb towards Taktshang Goemba (Tiger’s Nest Monastery), Taktshang Cafeteria offers a great view of the magnificent Tiger’s Nest. There are 3 stages to the climb towards Tiger’s Nest and Taktshang Cafeteria is the rest stop before tourists and pilgrims embark on their next 2 climbing stages. This cafeteria is especially busy in the late mornings and early afternoon where groups will stop here for a quick breather and some biscuits and tea before their next climb and lunch for groups coming back after reaching the Tiger’s Nest Monastery. At all other times, this cafeteria is very quiet – perfect for a yoga session to relax and meditate after a steep climb up toward the Tiger’s Nest monastery.
Chimi Lhakhang Teahouse
The Chimi Lhakhang Teahouse is a rest stop for travellers going to and fro Chimi Lhakhang temple. From this teahouse, you will be able to get a glimpse of the road ahead leading towards the temple. It will be a perfect place to rest and meditate and recover especially after the long walk to and fro the temple.
Getting to Bhutan