Curated Expert Retreats

Vana , India
Exclusive to Healing Holidays

Experience a selection of curated retreats and programmes between May to October at Vana. The programmes, for the most part, can be done alongside your usual wellness treatments except a few which will require prior sign up. These fixed date retreats will be based on wisdom, arts, music, cuisine, literature and learning. Most programmes will run for 5 days and will begin either in the afternoon or evening of day 1 and finish by lunch on the last day. These programmes are optional and you can still visit Vana for one of their standard retreat types of Vana Ashram, Wellness and Lifestyle during the May-October period.  

5 Days

Wednesday 4th Sep - Monday 9th Sep 2019 

Each one will be led by different practitioners to give each a new and different flavour. The Silent Retreat in May will be facilitated by Jamyang Choden and Rinzin Wangmo, both of them are Buddhist practitioners and students of Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche. As Jetsunma Khandro Rinpoche recently said at a Talk in Vana, "It is silence and non-thought that will help us arrest the incessant movement of our mind, speech and actions."

What is a Silent Retreat

Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche; "Ideally the ultimate retreat is to retreat from the past and the future, to always remain in the present." Adding the term as well as the action "silent" to the retreat, thereby "silent retreat" = Cutting through our habitual pattern of indulging in entertaining ourselves and applying antidote by trying to apply mindfulness to our thoughts and actions by speaking only when necessary, refraining from socialising or obvious entertainment. Or in other words, trying not to be distracted all the time.

It's Benefits

Usually, our time is occupied with thoughts and plans, distracted all the time. It's like muddy water. Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche: "It lets the muddy water settle down" and at the mundane level, "How we react to situations change. What was important to us is not important anymore. What wasn't important to us becomes important."

By seeing things from a different perspective, expectations are reduced therefore less selfishness, therefore less stress, therefore more clam, more understanding, more compassion, more generosity in every sense.


This immersive 5-night retreat will begin on Wednesday, 8th May with an evening session at 6:00 pm followed by dinner. Therefore, please arrive by the early afternoon of 8th for you to settle in before the first session. The next 4 full days will have an immersive schedule as below:

Time                 Session

07:00 - 8:00    Sitting Meditation

08:00 - 9:00    Breakfast

09:00 - 12:00   Sitting and Walking Meditation

12:00 - 13:00    Lunch

13:00 - 15:00    Rest

15:00 - 17:00    Sitting and Walking Meditation

17:00 - 19:00    Rest

19:00 - 20:00   Dinner

20:00 - 21:00   Video Screening

The retreat will conclude on Sunday 13th May with the same schedule as above till lunch.


Source of the retreat will be based on Buddhism and inspired by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche's teachings and books. The retreat will be practice-oriented, with some audio and video instructions on meditation. The sessions will include techniques like sitting meditation, with few minutes of absolutely no movement sitting to help us break through our habit of applying the antidote to our 'discomfort' or boredom. While the retreat will be primarily silent, the retreat leaders will be facilitating mindful interactions during the breaks.

Practical Points

  • The Retreat must be attended in its entirety
  • To respect the immersive nature of this retreat, you must book your retreat under Vana Ashram and not Vana Wellness and Vana Lifestyle, as the schedule allows time for one treatment a day
5 Days

Wednesday 2nd Oct - Monday 7th Oct 2019 

Clay is from the earth beneath our feet and working with it gives an immediate connection that roots, calms and stabilises. The art of pottery is believed to be therapeutic and relaxing. While spinning clay, your mind and body are in natural synergy, wrapped around your creative thoughts and emotions.

The central theme of this journey is to suspend the perceived realities of our day to day life and immerse into the unique form of escapism through pottery

This programme is intended to experience mindfulness by expressing things that we don’t often have words for but are deeply felt.


The sessions will commence with a talk on how pottery lets oneself dive deep within by using its natural faculties of heart, mind and hand in balance – the whole being. The talk will be followed by hands on experience of both the hand built and wheel pottery over the course of the next few days. A few videos will also be screened to make the experience more immersive.

Some of the workshops and classes planned are listed below: Hand building techniques: pinching, coiling, slab building. Introduction to the Potter’s Wheel – how to centre yourself and the clay. Create your own artwork with hand and on wheel. Trimming and burnishing.

About the Artists

Sanjay Gupta is ex-investment banker who left New York to be a potter in Dehradun. Sanjay is well known for his hand-buffed terracotta work in addition to his organic ceramic artworks and his sculptures in wood and bronze. One of his greatest works is the Tapasvi Buddha statue at Bodhivana in Vana. His artistic endeavours are spontaneous, intuitive, and in many ways quite basic, but liberating. He feels that pottery has not just taught him creative discipline but has also helped begin his spiritual journey.

Ayushi Rastogi, a design graduate of Symbiosis University, Pune, has been working with Sanjay Gupta for some years now and is evolving her own vocabulary in studio pottery in terracotta and ceramic. She enjoys exploring organic forms.

Practical Points

  • The retreat will have sessions from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm on the first five days and will conclude with a morning session and lunch on the last day.
  • The retreat must be attended from start to finish.
5 Days

Wednesday 21st Aug - Monday 26th Aug 2019

Wednesday 18th Sep - Monday 23rd Sep 2019   |    Wednesday 16th Oct - Monday 21st Oct 2019

Vanapurna – a word that combines Vana with Annapurna, the goddess of nourishment – encompasses Vana's culinary ideology and practice. Traditional Indian wisdom lies at the core of Vanapurna, and through their everyday experiences of cooking, eating, and working with farmers, Vana believe they have developed a unique and historically informed point of view. This retreat is one way in which Vana can share this knowledge, which also underpins the ‘special’ touch that many express Vana’s food is blessed with.

Through Vanapurna, Vana seek to go ‘back,’ to a more traditional idea of wellness, sans nostalgia: more than revive the ‘old,’ they aim to revive an interest in cooking for health on a daily basis, by not only showing what good food looks like, but by sharing the knowledge around what makes it ‘good.’ Eating whole ingredients, using spices with both flavour and healing in mind, cooking simply, and always thinking about balance – whether in recipes or in presentation – are sacred to Vana, no matter where in the world the recipe is drawn from. Vana are also shaped by the principles that Ayurveda has lent to cooking, and where possible, they turn to vegetarian recipes for both health and consciousness of food miles.

It is with this effort that Vana have planned this retreat: They seek to not just share recipes, but to re-introduce their Vanavasis to an India-centric history where presently trendy terms like ‘farm to table,’ were lived and practiced with simplicity.


Through practical and theoretical classes that will span five days, Vana have crafted each day of the retreat so that ‘healthy eating,’ — with an Indian, and particularly Vegetarian focus – transforms from being an empty word to a feasible, daily reality. By cooking and eating the Vana way, Vana will share how body, mind, and the natural world, can be brought together.

The retreat aims to be comprehensive, informative, and fun: each day, Vanavasis will learn how to cook food from an Indian region, and understand the importance and usefulness of these recipes. These classes will be supplemented by lectures, demonstrations, and lessons that shed light on other skills, which may be applicable to any cuisine. Examples include lessons in making delicious desserts or understanding your kitchen as an apothecary.

Some of the workshops and classes Vana have planned are listed below:

  • A discussion on the role of ayurvedic doshas and bio-energies, and how to reinstate their strength.
  • Insights in to plant based nutrition and how to use this knowledge in fun, innovative ways.
  • Learning recipes that are all natural, time-tested, and helpful in treating ailments
  • Exploring mindful snacking for an urban lifestyle
  • A lesson on Indian spices, and their healing powers.
  • A session on incompatible food combinations.
  • A focused lesson on healthy ingredient replacements.

Practical Points

  • The Retreat must be attended in its entirety
  • The retreats will begin on the afternoon of day 1, and will conclude by lunch on the last day
  • No previous culinary knowledge or expertise is required.
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