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“Yoga for beginners was great!” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat

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Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat
Ranked #1 of 14 Hotels in Paradise Island
Certificate of Excellence
Toronto, Canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Yoga for beginners was great!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 18 February 2014

I loved the whole retreat but I've decided to write my review about the Yoga for Beginners course:

I took this very basic course and loved it. I had just started yoga before coming down to the ashram and thought that I did not have any bad habits. My yoga teacher had recently completed her yoga teacher training at the Bahamas retreat before I started working with her. So she was fresh off training, extremely eager to start her practice and very attentive to all her students. I got more than my fair share of instruction and support at her classes. But I thought since I am already here at the Sivananda Retreat, why not take this course?

And WOW my appreciation of yoga went from black and white to not only colour but HD. My yoga practice was basically promising but there were huge omissions in my basic understanding. There was no time for any breathing practice, no discussion about diet, the philosophy or the spiritual nature of yoga during my one hour sessions at home. A new world opened up for me, the practice of yoga made so much more sense. The whole ashram experience was enhanced for me with this five day course. I believe that the grounding I received during the fifteen hours of the course will assist my personal home practice.

As an older beginner, (sixty year old woman), I found a lot of comfort being told that I did not always have to do what everyone else in the group was doing. There were so many alternatives presented that I feel that I can continue my growth through yoga for many years ahead. The individual attention I received to my asanas greatly helped me fine tune my positioning, and even got me over my fear of attempting the head stand.

The teaching was first class, extremely professional and genuinely kind and supportive. The group was small and we all had a great deal of fun.

I would encourage anyone new to yoga to take the course to get the most out of the yoga retreat experience.

  • Stayed January 2014, travelled solo
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Urbane Cyclist W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (214)
Date | Rating
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English first
Hamburg
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 17 February 2014 via mobile

I was looking for a place, where I could get back to a healthy sense for myself physicly and spiritually. And I found much more: friendship with others and myself, silence and solitude as well as sharing and laughter, the loving kindness of the sourounding nature, the beauty of the garden, the sea, the sunset and sundawn, the stars and the moon at night and the wonderfull sound of the sea when falling asleep and waking up, the healing power of silence and singing, beathing und moving. If we would have had organic food it would have been close to paradise.

Stayed January 2014, travelled solo
Helpful?
1 Thank Birgitta H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 12 February 2014

Good food, great location, lovely people, interesting talks/events and awesome beach..
but discipline and obligations not suitable to everyone. Wish we had had some more time to breathe and enjoy the beach... overall happy with the experience and looking forward to sharing what's been learned. Enjoy!

  • Stayed January 2014, travelled solo
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Review collected in partnership with this hotel

Helpful?
1 Thank Shafika5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Toronto, Canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 9 February 2014

I came to the Sivananda Yoga retreat for the Teacher Training Course and ended up staying 10 days extra for a little vacation. It is not a resort on the beach, but rather a haven from the chaotic world, that has rules, rituals and an existing way of functioning according to the principles of non-dual yogic philosophy. This ashram is not the place for everyone. But if you let it, it will change your life.

The accommodations are not fancy and most people live in tents. If you choose the tent option, my suggestion is to bring a big tent if you are not used to camping. The maximum they allow is around 9x9 or 10x10. Also, bring an air mattress or a therma rest and a pillow - you will be happy about that. It is a very secluded spot right on the beach and minutes away from Atlantis resort (5 minutes walk).

The schedule is rigorous for the teacher training course. You wake up at 5:30 and don't stop moving until 10:30. You eat 2 lacto-vegetarian meals a day - meaning they have dairy. No coffee. And what I figured out throughout the month is that the strict diet is not just for cruelty, but rather designed based on traditional yogic principles. I followed the crazy rules and turned out that I felt healthier and more energetic than usual.

The yoga is Sivananda style yoga, duh! It is traditional hatha yoga and the classes follow a specific sequence of postures designed specifically for maximum mental, spiritual, and physical benefit. I think it is amazing! Usually the classes are taught by new students so it helps if you are familiar with the Sivananda style yoga. If you find the classes too slow, you can practice on your own overlooking the ocean pretty much any time throughout the day.

The Rules are for you! The yoga vacation program enables relaxation, mental clarity, spiritual growth, and access to one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. But as I said, they ask that you respect their beliefs and practices. At first, I was really frustrated by the overall slowness of the place. Everyone who works here is doing it as a form of selfless service and are not receiving salaries (except for some of the cleaning staff). Lots of them have just arrived themselves and are not quite sure about the way this whole thing works. Eventually, I took these experiences as opportunities to learn about myself. For example, trying to understand why I was SO ANNOYED that I couldn't get an answer to a question immediately. It tests you and if you are willing to go a little deeper, you usually get what you need.

Then there is the chanting...every night you are invited to attend something called satsang, which consists of 30 minutes of meditation, chanting, and a pretty interesting lecture. At first I really did not know what to make of the chanting. It seemed weird, cultish, and looonnnggg. Unless you are doing the teacher training course, you can leave! The point is not to freak you out or make you uncomfortable. This tradition definitely does not want to force people to do things the way they do, but they are welcoming in the event that you want to learn something different from what you know. And honestly, now I think the chanting is fun and invigorating, because I took the time to understand what it was about.

And then there is the wellbeing centre! They offer Ayurvedic consultations and treatments, therapeutic massages, thai massages and other things. The practitioners are really knowledgable and talented. The staff here really know their stuff about Ayurveda (Lalita and Isvari). Definitely worth trying out.

So overall, I had a fabulous time and would definitely recommend it for someone who is looking for relaxation, healing, spiritual wanderings, or even fun! The people that come here are from all over the world and that is pretty cool too. My only real criticism would be that perhaps the ashram should focus a little bit more on properly welcoming their guests to the retreat and helping them get acquainted. I was definitely a deer caught in the headlights when I arrived too, and if I had not stayed for as long as I did, I think I would not have fully understood or appreciated what this place is really about.

Room Tip: They have nice rooms with their own bathrooms, they are a bit more expensive. Dorms are tough. Tent...
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  • Stayed January 2014, travelled solo
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Jessica H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Green Bay, Wisconsin
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 9 February 2014

"Come for the booty, stay for the bliss" -Swami Sivananda

Just kidding! Swami Sivananda definitely did not say that, but I do!

Just completed the month-long teacher training course. I stayed in a tent on a small patch of ground that was barely available because the whole ashram was full. I had a great time anyway.

Was it very easy? No. Was it worth it? Yes!

Other questions:

Are the teachers knowledgable? Yes -- the spiritual teachers, the swamis, have a lot of interesting and valuable teaching to share. They truly love the yoga traditions and sharing them with students. The asana (yoga poses) teachers are also very knowledgable and some of them are genetically modified to be part pretzel.

How is the course? Rigorous but well thought-out. They keep you very busy but do not waste your time or teach things at the wrong time. Eating comes after asana practice, and all the painful floor-sitting ends up strengthening your hips and back. They will discipline you -- so if the ego is not ready for that, watch out! But it all seems to have a rhyme and reason, which they happily explain if you question. And somehow there's still some time for the beach :)

Is it comfortable? A great question to ask and to answer you need to be able to accurately gauge your ability to adjust. You can stay in the dorm (heat/AC, fans, electricity, beds and pillows, outlets, shelves), the tent huts (beds and I think they have outlets too),or in your own tent (whatever you bring, plus using sparse public outlets for your electronics). The weather was great for the most part. They spray for mosquitoes which helps but still got bitten sometimes. The food was vegetarian of course, and they had some milk products but vegan options, and you have to wait for it sometimes in a line. Part of the program is volunteering chores, like doing dishes or taking out garbage, so that's not always comfortable either. Then there's the twice daily two-hour satsangs, non-optional. I (mostly) found they framed the day in lovely way but it's good to know if this is your cup of tea or not beforehand.

I've never been to another yoga retreat or ashram so I can't compare, but I found the people hear to be mostly kind, spiritual, disciplined and focused. I liked learning about the two gurus and their lives. I found the evening programming AMAZING and unexpectedly high quality -- the kind of music and speakers you'd pay $20-50 a ticket for at an event hall. It was a great experience and I'm thankful for it.

Any negative points? A few of the facilities are a little dangerous or inconvenient. Someone fell off the satsang platform and hurt their leg badly and the next day one of the karma yogis built a handrail but it probably should have been done before that. The dining area gets a little clogged with people, especially when it rains. Also, some of the permanent staff seem kind of cliquish or shy and never really approached students or guests, but others were very social and open.

Overall very happy with this ashram! It's one-of-a-kind in a great way!

  • Stayed January 2014, travelled solo
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Review collected in partnership with this hotel

Helpful?
1 Thank New_Yoga_Teacher
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
San Luis Potosi, Mexico
1 review
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 9 February 2014

My experience at the beginners course and within the Ashram really is invaluable, I am amazed at the quality of people I met during my stay, would definitely recommend this experience widely.
An excellent place to calm the mind and resume the goal of life

  • Stayed February 2014, travelled solo
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank chilees
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Washington DC, District of Columbia
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 February 2014

I thought my partner and I were going to Sivanada for a lovely "yoga retreat" (as they market it). Turned out to be any but! First off, the service was atrocious. We should have figured that out from the moment we arrived at the dock. As we pulled up a young woman walked out to the dock with two bouquets of flowers. We thought they were being so nice to welcome us this way. As we stepped off the boat she didn't even make eye contact with us, waited until we passed by her and then gave them to the boat captain. Welcome to Sivanada?

Then, literally, only one person was helpful the entire time we were there. I needed to rent a yoga mat while there (something else not clearly stated in their materials. What kind of "yoga retreat" charges for the use of a mat???). So I went to the front desk to pay. They took my money and then realized they had none in stock! They said they would send someone to get some and would be right back. I stood there for almost 30 minutes when finally the woman at the desk ran off and brought one back for me herself.

Also, they only provide 2 meals a day; which is fine. But what they don't tell you is they RATION THE FOOD they give you. i was told in the food line more than once that they had to be careful so as not to run out. What did we PAY for if not at least for food?!?!

Next, when you check in upon arrival, they make you sign a form that states you are REQUIRED to attend 4 hours of yoga and 4 hours of meditation/chanting/lecture per day. That's 8 hours a day! Why would they market themselves as providing "yoga retreats" if they actually want to make you do much, much more?!?!?

The, I got injured at the first yoga class we attended. I have been doing yoga for 14 years and this was a first. Their version of yoga is to do shivasana (resting "corpse" pose) after every asana. So you start getting warmed up and then you cool off. After a few of these rounds I injured my hip on a pretty routine pose because of this.

I wish this place would just have been up front from the beginning. Shame on me for no doing better research. And this is NOT a place for VACATIONERS or a place to be treated with RESPECT or DIGNITY. I don't imagine that's what Sivanada had in mind for how to treat other human beings. What a waste of a vacation, time, and money!

Room Tip: Rooms facing the beach are away from the general cramped feeling in central campus.
See more room tips
  • Stayed January 2014, travelled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
30 Thank Moon T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
ShankarBr, Guest Relations Manager at Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat, responded to this review, 20 February 2014
Thank you for taking the time to write down your experience. We take guest feedback seriously and I wanted to address a couple of your concerns.

It is true that when you check in, guests are asked to sign stating their attendance to morning and evening meditation, and to both yoga classes. Swami Vishnudevananda, our founder, set this requirement in order to promote a yoga immersion which is what the yoga retreat offers. At the same time, when guests attend the ashram welcome tour, we discuss this requirement and put the requirement in context. To all guests reading this: please attend the ashram welcome & history tour at 11am to ensure a well-informed visit. We do ask that guests participate in the schedule to gain the maximum benefit of a yoga immersion. At the same time, take a few days to get used to the schedule and then you will see that your enthusiasm to participate will increase.

Our teachers make safety a priority in the yoga classes so I am sorry to hear about an injury. The purpose of savasana (relaxation between postures) is to actually protect against injury. In savasana, one calms the breath, refocuses the mind and then prepares for the next posture.

The ashram meals are served buffet style with many dishes so a typical ashram plate will have portions of many different items. The servers give a single serving of each dish. If you would like a larger portion, simply ask the server for more. They will oblige.

The ashram is simple and sincere in its mission to teach yoga. We are staffed by volunteers who come to give their time and energy to serve others. For all guests: there is a guest relations representative available daily from 11-3pm at the table in front of reception. Guests are welcome to come with questions about the ashram, yoga or anything in regards to their visit.

Again thank you for bringing up these points. It's very helpful.
Om Shanti,
Sivanada Ashram Yoga Retreat Guest Relations
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat

Property: Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat
Address: 4777, New Providence Island
Phone Number:
Region: Caribbean > Bahamas > New Providence Island > Paradise Island
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi )
Hotel Style:
#1 Family Hotel in Paradise Island
#1 Best Value Hotel in Paradise Island
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £
Number of rooms: 60
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Yoga Retreat is a spiritual center & retreat place offering courses and workshops and yoga vacation. The daily schedule includes two yoga classes, two Satsangs (meditation sessions) and two vegetarian meals. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat Hotel Paradise Island
Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat Bahamas/Paradise Island

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