Hariharalaya – a week to reconnect

Being on the road for almost 6 months, not spending more than a couple of days at the same place, we were really looking forward to our Yoga & Meditation retreat at Hariharalaya in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Vagabondays-10@Hariharalaya meditation & yoga retreat center

We’re gonna unpack our bags, see the same faces everyday and live in the same environment for 5 consecutive days. A bit of stability won’t hurt us, it’s an appreciated change!

We enter this retreat with open minds and eyes. We don’t really know what to expect from it, we are not professional yogis nor meditation adepts but this travel has always been about new experiences…so we jump in!

Here are the simple rules we have to follow:

  • Vegan food only
  • No caffeine
  • No electronic devices – it’s gonna be our Digital Detox!

As far as the food is concerned, we have no difficulty remaining obedient as 3 times a day, we are served the most deliciously tasty vegan food ever! Our buds are in heaven and we don’t miss our meat for a single second.

Surprisingly, the caffeine-free diet doesn’t bother us either and we replace our morning coffee with fresh fruit smoothies and jasmine tea. Not a bad switch!

As far as the digital detox is concerned, I think it was almost a relief to get disconnected for a while. No Internet, no Facebook, no blog, no possible search on anything, no planning, organizing, booking… our minds are temporarily free of any stress or “to do” lists.

We can now focus on other things…

Resting and relaxing

Time to step away from the travel excitement, there is nothing else to do here than to rest, relax and find our “center” again. The first two days are hard for me. My body feels exhausted and unbalanced, I struggle in the yoga classes as I feel dizzy with the heat, I don’t feel like chatting, eating or joking around, I just want to be quiet and sleep… Rough start but I feel better after a while and eventually adapt to the new rhythm and the wonderful environment we settled in…

On the ground of the former Khmer capital, Hariharalaya, the retreat center is a lovely quiet area made of huts, a big and bright outdoor yoga hall, a covered dining area, a super interesting library, a swimming pool, an outdoor movie theather, a dozen of hammocs hanging all around the place and a bunch of ultra comfy chairs where you curl up and forget about the world around for hours, as long as you’ve got a good book.

We spent 5 busy days relaxing here… Our bodies needed that break, we now feel recharged, aligned in ourselves and full of a new strength to resume our journey.

Our minds are also at rest. The No-Internet policy helped a lot!

Instead of scrolling down our screens, we turned actual pages.
Instead of sending what’s app messages, we talked and got to know people around us.
Instead of getting virtually connected with the external world, we got to rediscover our inner selves…

Reconnecting with our bodies and minds

One of the things I really liked during this retreat was the rhythm of our days and the routine that was in place. Travelling around keeps us away from regular schedules, what could be exhausting both for our bodies and for our minds. At Hariharalaya, no need to think about it, we just follow the flow:

  • 6.30 am – everybody wakes up
  • 7 to 9 am – morning practice – including 1 hour of yoga, some chantings, breathing exercises and 30 minutes of sitting meditation.
  • 9 am – Breakfast
  • 10 am to noon – Free time
  • Noon – Dharma talks with the founder of the retreat. Subject are various.
  • 1pm – Lunch
  • 2 to 4 pm – Free Time
  • 4 pm – Optional yoga class (Deepening yoga postures, acro-yoga…)
  • 5 to 6 pm – Free time
  • 6 pm – Evening practice, started by a yoga warm-up, then entering meditation.
  • 7 pm – Dinner
  • 8 to 10.30 pm – Thematic nights (Games or movie nights, Fire ceremony, Cambodian music night, Dance night…)

Such a rhythm helped our minds to rest and our bodies to find some new points of reference. Our free time was easily filled with readings, biking around to discover the nearby village and temples, napping at the pool and chatting with other travelers.

We experienced silence also and it was a very relaxing experience, letting space to focus on the nature around us and on our deeper thoughts.

The yoga practice helped us reconnect with our bodies. Little by little as the days passed, we could feel our bodies becoming more flexible, our balance improving, our muscles managing tensions and positions better, our backs straightening up, our breathing being more conscious and deep.

On another hand, the meditation helped us getting more aware of our inner selves, re-centering internally and getting conscious of the present moment.

We learned how to BE instead of DO.

Oh we didn’t become meditation masters in a week and couldn’t sit still for more than 15 minutes but we found a little bit of peace in ourselves practicing meditation and we‘ll try to go on with it as we continue travelling…

 Processing new tools for our life

This experience has been really meaningful and inspiring, we don’t regret our decision to be part of it at all.

We learned a new practice and principles, keeping in mind that the most important thing to be happy in life is to appreciate the present moment and to make sure our inner gardens remain well-kept in order to be able to manage life, its setbacks, unexpected turns, surprises and bumps.

To ensure our gardens are well kept and peaceful, we aim at keeping a regular yoga/meditation practice while travelling... it’s gonna be a challenge but we’ll try! And eventually, when we settle down somewhere, we may subscribe to yoga classes and have our own morning practices…eventually!



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