Embark on a yogic journey through Bhutan with COMO Shambhala

Embark on a yogic journey through Bhutan with COMO Shambhala

Towards healing

Text: Rachel Ng

Bored of your usual studio practice? Elevate your experience with COMO Uma Bhutan’s yoga retreat

Concrete walls, white lighting and a sea of mirrors — be it ashtanga, vinyasa, hatha, or hot yoga, you’ve seemed to exhaust all the possible doors to a refreshing practice. Enter COMO Uma Bhutan’s yoga retreat, “A Yogic Journey through the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan”, which takes you on a seven day journey through the tranquil lands of Bhutan, incorporating yoga sessions that will ground you amidst the unfamiliarity, disconnecting and connecting simultaneously — a spiritual rejuvenation of its kind.

From 12 to 18 August 2018, COMO Uma Bhutan will be organizing a yoga retreat that includes privately guided excursions exploring the Paro, Thimphu and Punakha valleys, a trip to Taktsang, the famous Tiger’s Nest Monastery and the riverside Punakha Dzong. Morning explorations of the magical land are paired with daily yoga practice led by Lynn Yeo and Sumei Shum, instructors at COMO Shambhala Urban Escape Singapore, who are renowned throughout Asia for their meticulous yet accessible teaching style. With three nights each at COMO Uma Paro and COMO Uma Punakha respectively, you can look forward to daily uplifting yoga sessions whilst immersing in the rich culture and ethereal landscapes of Bhutan. 

Why Bhutan? We let your instructors Lynn and Sumei do the talking.

Como Bhutan paro, yoga retreat

How has practising yoga impacted your life?
Practising yoga has changed our lives completely — it has been an empowering and mindful practice that has shifted us, and our perspective on life. It's a physical practice that is also energetic and spiritual; it's an exercise where we work our bodies hard to get fit, yet somehow it is so much more, lifting our hearts and nurturing our minds. It has made us much more patient, understanding, open-hearted and open-minded (more open to different view points); more discerning, and aware that we always have the power of choice. 

The yoga mat is a microcosm of life off the mat. We deal with challenges, grapple with our ego, get a high when we manage to do complex poses which were initially difficult, persevere through our fears, receive our own inner wisdom and just take time to enjoy our breath and be more aware of our bodies, our thoughts and ourselves. Life is infinitely harder off the mat so yoga is also a time for us to just “be”.

Como Bhutan paro, yoga retreat

What are the benefits of travelling overseas for yoga retreats? 
Travelling in itself takes us outside of our comfort zone and invites us to start exploring — a different place, a different culture, different food. If you include yoga into that experience, it gives you more grounding and a sense of familiarity and comfort to any feelings of stress or disconnection when we are in a different place.

Yoga brings mindfulness and an inner dimension to the travel experience, plus you get to exercise and bond with your travel mates.  Going overseas for a yoga retreat also makes the yoga more exciting, a change of scene and surroundings to the usual studio setting. So it’s like, you get the comfort of yoga in a strange place yet you add excitement and flavour to your yoga practice in a different setting

Why is Bhutan a choice destination for your annual yoga retreat?
Bhutan is magical; a country with a rich culture, interesting history and fascinating places to explore. There is palpable spirituality to this place with its Buddhist philosophy, sacred monasteries, majestic Himalayan mountains and caring, happy people which enhances the yoga retreat experience. However, we also love that we get the luxury of a beautiful resort to stay in. COMO Uma Paro has lovely grounds and surroundings. And COMO Uma Punakha not only has the best food, using produce from their own gardens as well as from the farms nearby but is situated in lovely, quiet place with a marvellous view of the valley, the river and the rice fields.

Como Bhutan, yoga retreat

What can you expect from this yoga retreat that makes it different from other yoga retreats?
We call this a destination yoga retreat where you actually explore parts of the country, enjoy the outdoors, visit monastaries and other places of interest. Trekking up to Tiger’s Nest is a highlight of the retreat. You’re challenged mentally and physically but once you get up there, you are not only rewarded with a sense of achievement but you also feel a strong spiritual connection to this sacred place perched on the mountainside that was built with faith and devotion and has survived a big fire.

Yoga is a complement to and yet an integral part of the retreat. On days where we have lots of activities — hiking, trekking, walks — the yoga restores and helps you stretch tired muscles. On days where we have a bit of travelling, the yoga starts off the day on a positive note and helps you get more limber and prepared for the drives. This yoga retreat invites you to explore yourself and also the country and the people.

Como Bhutan, yoga retreat, outdoor terrace bar lounge

Why is this specific retreat so close to your hearts? 
Bhutan — we first visited Bhutan in 2005, before it became so popular. We’ve seen a lot of development and construction but the hearts of the people and the spirit of the place remain unchanged— they are still warm, welcoming, friendly and very happy to share their country with you.

We’ve never felt as taken care of in Bhutan as we have in other destinations we’ve been to. A lot of time is spent with our guides as well so we get to know them fairly well and understand how people live. Sometimes, we have the opportunity to visit the local homes where we can sit and have tea with a local family which is a special experience. We’ve hiked up Tiger’s Nest three times and still look forward to future climbs, as we always feel a sense of excitement and newness each time we go, that is totally worth the effort.

Como Bhutan, yoga retreat, outdoor terrace bar lounge
Are there any new things you’ll be incorporating into the classes at the yoga retreat that are different from your usual classes in Singapore? 
The yoga sessions are more tailored to what the participants need. As we will be there with them for the entire seven days, hiking, eating, visiting places as a group, we get to know our guests much better and understand what they need out of the yoga.

The workshop is priced from US$4,480 per person for a three-night stay in a twin sharing Valley View Room at COMO Uma Paro and three-night twin sharing Valley View Room at COMO Uma Punakha. Click here for more information.