Ulphota Yoga Retreat Review

Ulphota Yoga and Ayurveda Retreat Review

December 18, 2018 7:59 am

Ulphota is a truly magical spot, nestled in the jungle in the North Western Province of Sri Lanka. It’s a quiet and tranquil escape from the busy South Coast and easy accessible via a long,beautiful train ride. After spending a long weekend at the retreat, I wanted to share my experience and spread the word about Ulphota. This short diary will give you an insight into the amazing experiences the retreat has to offer.

Ulphota Yoga Retreat Review

Thursday 22nd November 2018

I arrived in the afternoon andwas warmly welcomed to Ulphota with a thambili (King Coconut water) and sweet, fresh helapa (traditional Sri Lankan sweet). All food and drink is grown,prepared and cooked fresh at the retreat. Everything is absolutely delicious! I was shown to my accommodation for the weekend, which was a beautiful,traditional wattle and daub hut, hiding amongst the greenery. Monkeys wander the branches throughout the day, comfortable enough to quietly sit close to you in the trees whilst still keeping their distance. As it was a full moon Poya day, a national religious holiday in Sri Lanka, a group excursion to the local temple had been organised. We set off as a group with our lovely guides towards the stupa at the top of a hill. After crossing marshes and climbing dozens of stone steps, we made it to the top. We learnt from our guides that a few silent monks lived at the top of this hill. The view was spectacular! Green mountains,paddy fields, palm trees and jungle stretched as far as the eye could see. We made our way back down and cooled off in the lake as the sun began to set. As darkness fell, little lanterns and candles appeared along the pathways to guide us back to our hut. Showering outside surrounded by the warm glow of candles was a very relaxing experience. All the guests gathered in the evening in the ambalama for a heavenly dinner. I was expecting simple dishes but instead I was pleasantly surprised by the large variety of delicious food on offer, each pot filled with something colourful and different. It was lovely to get to know the other guests who had come from all over the world, and we shared stories until one by one we trailed off to bed. My first night sleeping in a mosquito net surrounded by jungle sounds and cooled by the breeze from the paddy fields was a really special experience.

Friday 23rd November 2018

There are yoga classes every morning and every evening at Ulphota that you can choose to go to if you wish.I missed the class in the morning on Friday because I slept for so long! I made my way down to the communal hut for a thambili, the breakfast snack of the day and some porridge. It was good to hear about some of the massages and Ayurveda treatments that the guests had experienced over the time they’d been at Ulphota. Each treatment is very personal and focused to help you as an individual. The rest of the morning was spent relaxing by the lake on one of the swings reading a book. There are small boats that you can take out onto the lake, or you can lounge and watch from the land. Lunch is ready from around 12:30, and we all gathered for another delicious meal. People hardly use their phones and often come to the retreat for a digital detox, so it was good to talk more and more with new and older guests and establish deeper connections with so many different people. Ulphota has a number of bikes you can take out,so after lunch a couple of us explored the surrounding paddy fields and soaked up the village atmosphere. Afternoon yoga started at 4:30, and we were led by a great Norwegian teacher named Michael whose style of teaching was unique and interesting. After 2 hours of yoga followed by a shower, I was looking forward to dinner! The sense of community is very touching at Ulphota, as so many activities are done as a group. Every 2 weeks there is a party night on Friday, and I was lucky enough to experience it that night. The ambalama had been decorated beautifully with real flowers. Some of the locals came together with traditional instruments to sing Sri Lankan songs and showed us some great dance moves. It was really fun to have a party together that got everyone involved!

Saturday 24th November

 Morning yoga was a great way to start the day. The vinyasa-style class was very energizing, especially after Friday night’s party! After breakfast a group of us walked to the top of Uncle Willy’s rock,which was fairly challenging but worth it for the stunning view. You can look down on the whole of Ulphota and appreciate its beauty from above. Lunch was well deserved after the walk and we were treated once again to a variety of dishes. Another afternoon was spent relaxing by the lake in the beautiful sunshine. I was treated to a back and shoulders massage by one of the lovely massage therapists who has over 10 years of experience in the industry. He currently works at a holistic centre in Doha for children with special needs. I felt truly rejuvenated even after only a short session. The owner, Suzy, was really helpful. She looked up train times back to the South Coast for the following day and organised a car to take us to the station early the next morning. After another delicious dinner, long chats and saying goodbye to everyone, it was time for an early night, as I had to wake up at 5am to catch the train from Galgamuwa at 6am.

Sunday 25th November

I left Ulphota when it was still dark. Despite it being really early, staff were there to help me with my bags and gave me some of their home-grown red rice to take back with me. Tickets were very easy to purchase at Galgamuwa station and surprisingly cheap considering the huge distance across the country. The train took 7 hours in total, direct from Galgamuwa to Galle. The carriages weren’t busy since it was early in the morning on a Sunday, so I got a good seat next to the window. Time seemed to pass quickly because the views from the window were absolutely breathtaking as the sun rose over the paddy fields. The train was fairly empty for the first few hours, in comparison to the craziness of the tourist-favourite Kandy to Ella train, which made the journey comfortable and relaxed. Musicians and vendors passed through the carriages providing great entertainment throughout the morning. The train became a lot busier at Colombo and the scenery changed from inland greenery to gorgeous coastal views. The train travels right next to the sea for a significant part of the journey from Colombo to Galle, so you can watch fisherman and beach life as you make your way further down the coast. It was lovely to be back in Galle after my weekend away, but it was refreshing to escape for a short time and I will always cherish the tranquil memories made at Ulphota.

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