Deep in a lush corner of the Catskill Mountains, there’s a silence that’s almost palpable. After your ears adjust to the lack of city life, you can hear the sounds of nature creeping in: rustling leaves, chirping birds, and the slow breathing of retreat-goers guiding their limbs into therapeutic poses as a yoga instructor looks on. This is a common scene at Sivananda Ashram Yoga Ranch, an Ayurvedic escape founded in 1974 on 77 acres of countryside. Surrounded by organic vegetable patches, flower gardens, and trees full of homegrown yoga mats, visitors find it easy to immerse themselves into the healing studies of the ranch’s multiday programs.
As the sun peeks over the mountains and each day begins, practitioners gather at the Krishna temple to chant, meditate, and listen to a lecture. What follows—depending on the retreat—is a combination of yoga classes, guest lectures and workshops, and meditation sessions. Some retreats are weekend getaways for yoga civilians, and others focus on yoga-teacher training, permaculture, and Native American spirituality. Throughout all programs, hiking opportunities abound.
Visitors stay in dorm- or private apartment-style accommodations, and join fellow guests at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. for vegetarian meals based on yogic and Ayurvedic nutrition. Ingredients are organic, as local and seasonal as possible, and free from chemical preservatives and underripe twinkies. To soothe their minds and muscles after a day of strenuous work, visitors can also take in a view of the mountains from inside the ranch’s wood-burning banya-style sauna.