I discovered Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat Bahamas back in January while researching Yoga Nidra training programs (more on that later). I was immediately drawn to the idea of spending a week on a beach with the warm sun on my face and was intrigued by the opportunity to live the ashram lifestyle. The Sivananda Bahamas website gives such a clear picture of the retreat center and all of their incredible programs. Seriously, go look at all of the amazing programs they offer year-round! While I was unfamiliar with the Sivananda Yoga lineage, I trusted it was the right place for me because many of my teachers had held workshops there. I signed up for a week long retreat, trusting that there was a reason I was being called to Sivananda Bahamas.
To get to Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat, you fly into Nassau Bahamas, take a taxi to a small dock on Elizabeth street and take a short boat ride across the bay to Paradise Island. Right away when pulling up to the dock you can sense how incredibly warm, welcoming and positive the environment of the Ashram is. You are greeted by members of the Karma Yoga program; long-term residents conducting selfless service in exchange for accommodations, meals and participation in all programs. The main path of the Ashram is lined with tropical plants, little alcove seating areas for relaxation, temples and facilities offering different programming and multiple yoga asana platforms. You have your choice of accommodations from private rooms with air conditioning, to shared dorms, to pitching your own tent, with everything in-between. Included in the cost of your stay are two delicious, Ayurvedic, vegetarian meals a day. At every meal there is a vegetable or lentil soup, rice or another grain, a warm vegetable heavy main dish, a side dish of steamed or sautéed vegetables, a salad, rolls and tea. All of the food is clean, healthy and helps to purify your body during your stay. There are two asana class times every day, morning and afternoon, with your choice of beginner or intermediate level. While a structure for the day is offered, you are able to roam freely during your stay. While a good percentage of visitors are at Sivananda for a short-term program, yoga teacher training or long-term residence, the majority of visitors are simply on yoga vacation. Whatever your desired experience for your stay at Sivananda Bahamas, it can be brought to life.
For my stay at Sivananda Bahamas, aside from completing my training program, I was hoping it would serve as a time of pause. A place where I would have no distractions from doing the spiritual work I was seeking. At home it is too easy to busy myself or talk myself out of sitting in meditation, taking time to reflect on my life in a journal or reading an inspirational text. I didn’t have any expectations for what would come from doing the work, just simply wanted to give myself the space at Sivananda to allow for it. Each day I would wake up before sunrise for morning satsang, which consists of 25 minutes of silent meditation, followed by 15 minutes of kirtan and ending with a talk given by a special guest speaker. By the end of satsang, the sun would be up and the birds would be chirping. The remainder of my mornings would consist of yoga asana practice, a long walk on the beach, meeting new people at brunch and reading my book on the beach. So each day, by the time I would head to my training for the afternoon, I’d have had 5 hours of pause. I could not have anticipated that level of calm. And to top it off, after dinner there were two hours of free time to walk or read or connect with new friends, followed by another satsang to end the day. So there it was, the reason for my being called to Sivananda Bahamas, day after day filled with dedicated time for reflection and spiritual work. On top of that I encountered the kindest people from all over the world, I experienced the most breathtaking sunrises, I swam in perfectly warm crystal clear turquoise water, I got to be barefoot and carefree and every day felt luxuriously long. I spent every day filled with peace and joy. There was no space for stress or hurry. While I was sad to leave Sivananda Bahamas but thankful for the experience. I know someday I’ll return again and that I was called to go at exactly the right time. I left feeling so much calm, clarity and inspiration, which I hope to carry with me all of my days. It was such a beautiful reminder that there are many ways to live and that every day we make a series of choices that make up our lives. When you give yourself a time of pause, you can see more clearly the choices that you make and from there choose with more clarity and intention to create the life you desire.