There’s nothing quite like Nepal’s Himalayas. It’s a land of snowy peaks, tranquility, monasteries, and meditation. It’s without a doubt one of the most beautiful, serene, and spiritual places in the world.
A yoga trek in Nepal is a unique way of combining trekking with yoga and mindfulness to connect with your inner self in the serenity of the world’s highest and most spiritual mountain ranges. Your body, mind, and soul are opened through daily yoga, meditation, stretching while trekking in the Himalayas.
We came across Purna Yoga & Treks (Nepal Yoga Trek) – a yoga retreat in Pokhara which offers dedicated yoga treks in Nepal. We decided to go with Purna’s Panchassee Yoga Trek based on both a personal recommendation, and the glowing 5-star TripAdvisor reviews.
The Panchassee is a sacred place, an ancient pilgrimage trail, making it a hidden gem in Nepal. It’s one of the best short treks in the Annapurna Region, beckoning tourists from far and wide, with its ‘easy’ trek grade, rustic teahouses, and yoga practice on the backdrop of the giant Himalayan peaks.
“Rather than resist rest and gravitate toward constant motion, let’s experiment with letting go.” – Gina Greenlee
For five days we trekked through dense forest and remote villages, across creeks and lakes, up and down lots of stairs and muddy paths, whilst passing terraced fields, wild orchids, and ancient temples.
All the while, each new morning provided an energising yoga session, and a chance to stretch our bodies and practice mindfulness before the challenge of the day was upon us.
It’s the perfect trek to take in the incredible scenery and offers the opportunity to detach from the outside world and tune into your true self.
Read more about our yoga trek experience…
THE 6-DAY YOGA-TREK
DAY 1: KATHMANDU > POKHARA
We took the tourist coach from Kathmandu to Pokhara. It was only 200 kilometres away, but with dense traffic and perilously windy dirt roads, it took almost 9 hours. We quickly realised that traveling anywhere in Nepal takes a very long time.
On arrival, we were greeted at the front gate of our guest house by our trek coordinator, Manohar. His smile was wide, and we instantly felt his warm energy and much comfort in his presence.
After check-in, we made our way to the dining room for our briefing, as well as an introduction to our fellow trekkers – who were mostly Australians (8 out of 9!).
Manohar explained the trekking itinerary had changed slightly, and we will be taking a longer route on the first day to Dhampus, followed by an overnight stop at Australian Camp, before continuing the trek as per the original itinerary.
Manohar went on to recommend that we leave our passports, phones, and watches behind. These distractions only create unnecessary stress, and we should enjoy being present, without any schedule or watch to adhere to.
We tucked into a healthy dinner of dhal, couscous, salad, and vegetables. It was exactly what we needed after a long day of travel.
DAY 2: POKHARA > DHAMPUS > AUSTRALIAN CAMP
A harmonious singing bowl sounded in the early morning – a personalised alarm clock offered a soothing, graceful awakening. With a cup of hot masala tea arriving at our door soon after, our routine for the coming days was set in play.
An integral part of our Purna experience began with an introduction to yoga by our teacher Mahesh – a longtime yogi, who has been mastering the practice for 28 years.
Mahesh provided an overview of the practice, ensuring the experience would not be a daunting one for those who had not attempted yoga before.
We continued with simple asana poses, as many of us were at the beginner level, although Mahesh pointed out that there were no levels of advancement in yoga – the focus is on a person’s entire routine, rather than the physical practice of yoga alone.
It was close to midday when the trek kicked off, and the heat of the sun was fierce. We took a rocky path up through a small village, passing many friendly children, who were singing for our attention, as we stopped to catch our breath on the steep incline.
Two hours later, we arrived at Dhampus village – the lunch stop where we had a beautifully prepared dal bhat, with a round of seconds being generously piled onto our plates. Now we know where the saying “24-hour dal bhat power” comes from!
With our appetites met, we moved onwards and upwards through the mountain and into the clouds. The temperature dropped, and our trekking poles were extended to ensure safe travel through the more dense and moist section of trail.
Australian Camp came into view, a welcome sight as it meant time to relax and stretch, followed by a cold shower, hot meal and early bedtime to round out the day.
Distance / 12.21km
DAY 3: AUSTRALIAN CAMP > KHADE > BHADAURE
We were awoken at dawn (5.45am) in time for sunrise over Annapurna South.
We watched curiously as the clouds parted, and were completely enthralled as the glacier-encrusted mountain came into sight. We sat still on the roof, feeling the warmth of the sun beating down on our bodies.
Continuing with our yoga session, we felt the effect on our muscles, as we now had a better understanding of the poses. Following our meditation, we said an asana prayer – not specific to a religion or god, but rather an offering to others.
We took the opportunity to eat breakfast in the sun, warming ourselves with oat-porridge topped with fruit and nuts while sipping on ginger, lemon, and honey tea.
Feeling content, we began our 4-hour trek to Bhadaure (1,900m). The first 40-minutes was downhill, mostly on rocky stairs. We passed through small villages, with more smiling children greeting us along the way, and offering us flowers.
As we began our gentle incline, we passed many groups of Nepali people in the hilltops, dancing and enjoying a picnic, celebrating the end of the festival.
Suddenly there was a steep incline, before reaching a gravel road carved out of rock formations. The trail turned to loose shale and white sand. Passing through a cloud forest, we saw cascading terraces and hilltop villages in the distance of Khade.
After a final steep ascent, we reached our little teahouse. It was discrete and ever so peaceful. We perched ourselves on the porch, taking in the surroundings of the valley, patiently waiting for the clouds to clear to reveal the mighty glaciers.
After a hearty serving of dal bhat, we took a hot shower before practicing yoga nidra, a guided meditation session. We huddled together in a room as burning incense filled the air, where we laid down and wrapped ourselves tightly in our mediation blankets.
“Yoga nidra is about acknowledging every part of your body.” – Mahesh
We started by relaxing each body part, and immediately felt the energy flow through our bodies. We made a personal resolution and were guided through a visualisation exercise. Mahesh concluded the session with light drumming and chanting.
Our aching bodies felt restored, and our minds felt renewed.
Distance / 13.37km
DAY 4: BHADAURE > PANCHASSEE HILL > BHANJYANG
Another 5.45am start – but as soon as we saw the view of Machhapuchhare (also known as Fishtail), we knew it was worth the early wake-up call.
Three enormous snow-capped mountains stood in our view, with clouds teetering on the outer edges, daring to cover the view at a moments notice.
We walked uphill for two hours, winding through the dense rhododendron forest. We spotted tree orchids, and clumps of hail along the trail, from the night before.
The first of two peaks presented a local temple, where we paused and rested briefly before reaching Panchassee Hill, the highest point of our trek (2,500m).
The philosophy of life: “Love is peace, and peace is love” – Mahesh
We made our way downhill to our teahouse at Bhanjyang (2,050m) and were immediately captivated by the tall stone staircases, red mud brick walls, and tin roofs.
The dining room was cosy, and we admired the silver tableware adorning the wall.
This was by far our favourite teahouse – it was so quaint and cosy.
After lunch, two Nepali men arrived at the teahouse, a civil engineer and an English teacher. We got chatting with them, and before we knew it we were invited to their Nepali party, taking place on the hilltop above the teahouse.
With the day turning to dusk, we rugged up as the temperature dropped, and walked precariously up the hill in the dark, towards the beaming lights and loud music.
We met our new friends at the gate, who guided us to a mat specially laid out for us. We sat by the bonfire, listening to the men singing and dancing to Nepali songs.
A man walked around offering us a drink of Raksi – a traditional home-brewed hard liquor made from millet – poured straight from a repurposed petrol-like canister!
A plate of mutton curry was passed around to sample. In the dark Carly motioned her hand across the plate and picked up what felt like a vegetable – she wasn’t wrong.
The darkness hid the chilli from her sight as it went into her mouth whole. Seconds later, she was red in the face and grasping for her cup of raksi, and another cup immediately after to help sooth the burn!
Distance / 14.66km
DAY 5: BHANJYANG > PUMDI BHUMDI
If you thought yesterday’s morning view was great, the view at Bhanjyang easily trumped it for greatness. Today was the first time Annapurna III came into sight.
The morning yoga routine was a condensed standing session to allow for a full day of hiking ahead – an estimated six hours.
The track proved to be quite technical, with a mix of rocky terrain and slippery jungle paths to navigate. We winded through dense forest, with little to no trail, pushing branches out of the way, and climbing over rocks and fallen trees.
The key warning of the day – watch out for leeches! These tiny slimy creatures were everywhere. When we stopped we stood in the sun, in hope that the tiny things would shy away, but it did nothing to slow their attack on our shoes, clothes, and bodies.
Tim felt a tiny bite and captured one on his stomach early on, while Carly came away unscathed, although many were flicked off shoes and pants.
The descent became challenging with uneven and oddly shaped rocks, constantly testing our balance.
After our longest and hardest day of trekking, we arrived at our final teahouse in Pumdi Bhumdi, taking in the remarkable views of Pokhara Valley.
Distance / 18.44km
DAY 6: PUMDI BHUMDI > SHANTI STUPA > POKHARA
It was a rather cool and frosty morning, with most of the valley blanketed in thick fog. We took to the grass and began our last yoga session for the trek.
Mahesh taught us the power of nostril breathing, and how it can be used to create balance. He said the right nostril is associated with solar energy, vigor, and alertness; while left nostril is connected to lunar energy, calmness, and sensitivity.
Durning breakfast, we received a visit from a local man who was helping to raise funds for the school in Pumdi Bhumdi. We began our gentle trek back to Pokhara, passing the school and groups of local farmers along the way.
As we rounded one of the final corners atop of the hill, the Pokhara Valley and Fewa Lake came into sight, and then we saw the white peace pagoda in the distance.
One of only two peace pagodas in Nepal, with a total of 80 in the world, the Shanti Stupa was built in an attempt to unite people from all over the world and promote world peace. We walked around enjoying the serene beauty, where sages were believed to have mediated years ago.
The clouds began to roll in and the skies turned grey, so we quickly began our downhill descent, trying to cross the lake before the rain set in.
We wound our way down through thick forest, uncertain of the trail length ahead, as we could not see past the trees. The steps were unforgiving; as our knees were taking the full brunt from the steep, windy and uneven trail.
45 minutes later, the lake began to peek through the treetops, and we made our way to the canoes eagerly awaiting our arrival. We sat quietly, with a sense of achievement as we looked up to see the stupa, realising how far we had trekked.
We made our way to the restaurant in Pokhara for a late lunch. We sat around the table feeling a little weary, but our spirits were quickly lifted when we realised our greatest accomplishment – we had trekked 70 kilometres in just five days!
Our mind and souls felt rejuvenated.
Distance / 14km
Total distance trekked: 72.68km
Our 6-day Panchassee Yoga Trek with Purna Yoga & Treks was extremely enjoyable. What made it so memorable – apart from the beautiful Himalayas – was our wonderful yoga teacher, Mahesh. He shared his passion and love for yoga with us and showed us powerful techniques to take into our daily routine.
If there is one thing to do in the Annapurna Region, this is it. Seeing the mighty glacier-encrusted mountains gracing our presence every morning at sunrise, was nothing short of spectacular, and introducing yoga into our trekking experience allowed for a richer appreciation of the physical and mental landscape.
Purna also offer longer and shorter treks, retreat only activities and healing holidays including nourishing food, massage and yoga activities.
Our yoga trek was made possible in partnership with Nepal Yoga Treks / Purna Yoga & Treks. As always, all opinions are our own. All photography is the property of The Travel Status and must not be used, copied or manipulated without prior permission.