YOGA + MEDITATION + CULTURE
FEBRUARY 19 – MARCH 3, 2024
YOGA + MEDITATION + CULTURE
FEBRUARY 19 – MARCH 3, 2024
Urban Balance invites you to join certified Yoga & Pilates Instructor Rebecca Schefstrom and her co-host Jami Sherman on a magical journey through India steeped in ancient history, sacred rituals, holy sites, and colorful landscapes. Explore the beautiful northern part of India, visiting Agra, Vrindavan, Jaipur, Varanasi, Rishikesh and Delhi.
Each day is designed with every detail specially chosen for its unique sense of purpose, history, and ambiance. From distinctive excursions to hand-picked boutique hotels, this Mystical India retreat will be an experience of a lifetime.
Cultivating a daily practice creates strength, grace, and balance to help guide you through your journey and in your life back home. Greet each day and channel the spiritual energy of India through an early morning breathwork and meditation practice, followed by a 90-minute Hatha yoga class. In the evening, enjoy some downtime in the gorgeous pools at the stunning properties where we’re staying.
Each destination offers a variety of adventures, including fire ceremonies, cave explorations, temple visits, and trips to many historical sites. You’ll embark on a walking tour that leads you through local villages and up to mountaintops in Rishikesh. Witness the bustling city of Jaipur coming to life at dawn. Enjoy a sunset boat ride on the Yamuna River in Vrindavan. Visit an elephant sanctuary outside of Jaipur, among many other carefully selected excursions each day. Our retreat is thoughtfully designed, filled with heartfelt practices, devotional ceremonies, cultural immersion, and opportunities to bond while sharing delicious food and epic adventures with your fellow participants.
Take a break from your daily life and gift yourself the freedom to experience something completely outside your current reality. Use this time to strengthen your practice and embark on new adventures. Explore ancient and effective tools that can infuse your daily life with inspiration, devotion, and balance long after you return from your trip. Maintaining a strong practice while traveling to exotic locations awakens greater potential as you replace familiar routines with a deeper understanding of yourself.
Book your flight to arrive in New Delhi at Indira Gandhi International Airport anytime on February 19th or early on the morning of the 20th. The retreat officially starts on February 20th, 2024. If you arrive on the evening of February 19th, we recommend booking a room at the Radisson Hotel near the airport. All retreat participants will meet for breakfast at the Radisson on the 20th then hop on the Urban Balance bus to begin our Mystical India retreat.
Our first stop is the city of Agra, which sits on the banks of the Yamuna River and has been ruled by the Mughal dynasty for centuries. This city brims with historical monuments. Among those worth a visit are the Agra Fort and the Taj Mahal. We’ll spend the night at the DoubleTree Hotel by Hilton and enjoy a yoga class and dinner together in the evening.
A very early morning wake-up call provides an opportunity to see the majestic Taj Mahal at sunrise, led by a professional tour guide. Full of symmetry, white marble, and preciseness, the Taj was built for the Mughal ruler Shah Jahan’s wife and is known as one of the seven wonders of the world. It was created for her as a remembrance of their love. Afterwards, we return to the hotel for a morning practice and breakfast and embark on a scenic drive to Vrindavan.
The next stop is Vrindavan, one of the holiest cities in India. Prepare to experience a place abundant with spiritual energy. Known as the place where the Hindu deity Krishna spent his childhood, it boasts many temples dedicated to Krishna and his beloved, Radha. People come to this place on a pilgrimage to pay their respects and participate in several annual festivals.
Upon arrival, we have lunch. In the afternoon, we embark on a guided walking tour through this auspicious city. Enjoy immersing yourself in the daily life of the local people. We visit the famous Prem Mandir, which features some of the most beautiful art illustrations of Krishna’s life, helping us gain a better understanding of Krishna and Radha’s life together. Afterward, we head back to the hotel for dinner and a restful night’s sleep.
The following day begins with morning practice on the outside terrace and breakfast, followed by a special tour of Vrindavan led by a professional guide. Our first stop is to visit a few widowers, with whom we can practice seva (selfless service). Next, we take a short bus ride to a village for a special dharma talk and meditation practice under a 5000-year-old tree where Krishna played his flute to his beloved cows. If we’re fortunate, we may even hear the enchanting melodies from the tree.
Ashu, our dedicated guide, shares ancient and playful stories of Krishna and Radha to help explain why this place radiates such vibrant and special energy. In Vrindavan, you can experience three types of yoga taught by Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita: Bhakti yoga (loving devotion), Karma yoga (selfless action), and Jnana yoga (path of knowledge).
In the evening, we enjoy a majestic sunset boat ride on the sacred Yamuna River, followed by the opportunity to participate in the evening Yamuna Aarti at one of the ancient ghats. Our visit would not be complete without stopping by Vrindavan’s most famous temple, Banke Bihari, followed by dinner and a restful night’s sleep. The next day starts with morning practice, breakfast, and a scenic drive to Jaipur.
Jaipur lies in the colorful land of Rajasthan. The next two nights will be spent at the Samode Haveli Hotel, situated in the heart of the walled pink city of Jaipur, renowned for its rich history of palaces, historical sites, and bazaars offering some of the finest shopping in jewels, shawls, rugs, block printing, and handicrafts in the country. Spend the afternoon enjoying the pool and the beautiful property. There is an optional late afternoon yoga practice. In the evening, you will have free time to explore the town on your own and enjoy a fabulous dinner either in the Pink City or at the hotel’s restaurant.
In the morning, after practice and breakfast, there will be an all-day guided tour of the main sites, including the Palace of Winds, City Palace, and the Observatory. In the evening, there is an option to meet with a palm and face reader. Dinner will be shared together at the Samode restaurant.
The following day, an early morning walk through the markets provides a chance to witness how the bustling city wakes up and how the locals prepare for their day. After our walk, there will be a short practice and breakfast before heading to the rural countryside. Settle in and enjoy some quiet space to take in the new surroundings, nature, fountains, and birds. Based on the Royal Tents of the Mughal era, we will be staying in tented cottages with all the amenities one requires. In the evening, you can enjoy some downtime, go for a swim, get a massage, or simply relax.
In the morning, experience a lovely yoga practice in the gardens by the lotus pond. We head out to the elephant sanctuary where we get to be with, feed, and help wash these incredibly majestic animals. Be sure to bring an extra pair of clothes because you are going to get drenched! Though we are unable to ride the elephants, we will get to go for a nice walk with them. Afterward, there is lunch in the village. In the evening, enjoy a special gala dinner at the Samode Palace. Be sure to wear your best colorful outfit.
The next day, after morning practice and breakfast, we head to the famous Amber Fort with a stop for lunch and a little shopping on the way to the airport.
In Varanasi, you step back in time. It’s one of the oldest cities in the world and is regarded as the spiritual capital of India. Millions of people come here to bathe in the Ganges seeking cleansing from bad karma and to perform funeral rites. Many also come to pursue studies in art, Sanskrit, and higher education. Hindus believe that dying in Varanasi brings liberation, making it a significant pilgrimage center. The old city boasts numerous Ghats, winding streets, and temples, including the renowned Kashi Vishwanath, dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva. We are staying in the old city at the heritage hotel called Suryauday Haveli, situated on one of the Ghats, and meticulously preserved to maintain its authenticity.
One of the highlights of residing on the Ghats is observing how people’s daily routines intersect with the Ganges. A sunrise boat excursion down the river offers a captivating and unforgettable experience of witnessing Varanasi come alive. Watching pilgrims perform their rituals in the Ganges at sunrise, with centuries-old temples in the background, ranks among the world’s most breathtaking sights. Later in the morning, there’s an option to visit the renowned Shiva temple or attend a local wrestling match, a guaranteed source of entertainment. We also hold a memorable practice on the rooftop overlooking the Ganges.
On the last day, you can relax, indulge in a massage, or have a reading with an astrologer.
After the morning practice and breakfast, we take a quick flight to Dehradun.
Our retreat continues into the foothills of the majestic Himalayan Mountains. Rishikesh renowned as the birthplace of yoga and serves as a magnet for sadhus, yogis, and soul seekers from around the world who come here to bathe in the sacred Ganges, study yoga, and live in yoga ashrams.
Nestled approximately 30 minutes outside of Rishikesh, surrounded by exquisite natural beauty, is the Veda 5 Ayurveda & Yoga Retreat Center. Veda 5 is celebrated for its Ayurveda treatments and its commitment to serving organic vegetarian cuisine, cultivated from their own gardens.
You’ll have time to breathe in the fresh mountain air and allow nature, beauty, and serenity to work their magic, creating an unforgettable wellness experience towards the end of your retreat. Each participant will receive an Ayurveda “detox wrap” combo treatment.
Start your mornings with an optional mountain walk to appreciate the beautiful landscape and visit a local village. After lunch, we’ll head into town for some free time to explore the shops and the town itself. You can observe the monkeys on the Laxman Jhula bridge, one of the suspension bridges that crosses the river Ganges. Right across, you’ll find an excellent German bakery for a good cup of coffee and pastry.
The next day, we will visit the Vashistha Cave located on the east bank of the river Ganga, where, according to legend, Sage Vashistha meditated. Spend some time absorbing the emerald sacred waters and the beautiful scenery. Take a dip in the Ganges if you feel inclined or simply relax and absorb the energy while sitting by the river.
In the evening, you’ll witness the famous Ganga Aarti at the Triveni Ghat before returning to the retreat center for a farewell dinner. On your last day, there will be a morning practice and breakfast before flying back to New Delhi or your next destination.
Early Bird Price by October 1st, 2023:
Double Occupancy: $5895 | Regular Price: $6195
After October 1st, 2023
Single Occupancy: $7350 | Regular Price: $7650
$1000 deposit to hold a spot, due upon registration
Flights within India – additional cost TBD
“Urban Balance provided a wonderful trip to India. They really made me feel welcomed and cared for. It was a great way to be introduced to yoga and meditation. I never felt intimidated to participate.” Susan G. | 2019 India Retreat Participant
“I came to India with an open mind. Many people said I was crazy and they would never go, but I wanted to experience it for myself. Knowing Rebecca had been there 15 times before and knowing how much India means to her, I knew we were in for a real treat. Well, to say our expectations were exceeded is an understatement. From the hotels, to the excursions, to the fire ceremonies to the ashrams to the yoga and meditation sessions to the food, every detail Rebecca put into this retreat was a “wow” moment. Rebecca provides a balance of experiencing luxury and poverty, religious and devotional practices. The two weeks flew by, and I could have easily stayed another week. If you’ve ever wanted to experience India, I highly recommend Rebecca and the entire Urban Balance team. I promise you won’t be disappointed.” – Ryan P. | 2019 India Retreat Participant
Yoga/Pilates Clothing • Yoga Mat • Shawl • Scarf • Layers for cooler mornings & evenings • Comfortable Walking Shoes • Sneakers • Swimsuit • Sunglasses • Sunscreen • Journal • Adapters/Converters (230v) • Snacks • Medicines • Insect Repellant • Hand Sanitizer • Camera/iPhone • Hat
All classes are suitable for all levels, and no prior experience is required. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned practitioner, there is a shared space for us to practice together. Each class will be tailored to the participants attending the retreat and the instructor will offer modifications as necessary.
Early morning practice includes breathwork, subtle body practices, and guided meditation. Participants receive instructions on ancient techniques used to enhance concentration and facilitate a deeper experience. This practice encompasses chanting mantras, learning hand mudras, and practicing kriyas, all of which contribute to calming the mind and preparing for meditation. Participants are led through various meditation exercises and are provided with quiet moments to apply what they’ve learned. The meditation practice offered on this retreat is suitable for individuals of all levels, whether they are brand-new beginners or seasoned meditators.
The morning sessions draw inspiration from Hatha, Forrest, and Ashtanga yoga. Each practice is thoughtfully sequenced and tailored to every participant.
These classes can be athletic at times, aimed at generating internal heat. Each practice incorporates core exercises to enhance strength, flexibility, and posture. Overall, these practices are designed to boost energy levels and awareness through techniques such as targeted breathwork, emphasis on proper alignment, and hands-on adjustments to support each participant. Poses are often held for extended periods, and some segments of the class feature a slower-flow style. You’ll leave each session feeling rejuvenated, energized, balanced, and ready to embrace the day’s adventures.
If you have your own yoga mat, we encourage you to bring it. We also plan to provide yoga mats and straps.
The combination of daily breathwork, meditation, yoga, ceremonial activities, and nourishing meals, set against the backdrop of spectacular views and serene surroundings, will nurture and uplift the soul, extending well beyond the two weeks of this journey. You will return home forever changed, with a radiant heart, indelible memories, and a special bond with your fellow travelers.
Who pays for airfare?
Participants must arrange and pay for their own flights to India.
Urban Balance will arrange all flights within India. There is an additional fee for these intra-flights on top of the retreat price. This fee must be paid in full prior to the retreat.
What is our destination airport?
Book your flight to arrive in New Delhi at Indira Gandhi International Airport anytime on February 19th or early on the morning of the 20th. The retreat officially starts on February 20th, 2024. If you arrive on the 19th, we recommend booking a room at the Radisson Hotel near the airport. All retreat participants will meet for breakfast at the Radisson on the 20th then hop on the Urban Balance bus to begin our Mystical India retreat.
What is weather like in February & March?
Temperatures are warm in February & March and cooler in the early morning and evening time. The daytime averages around 80F. Nights will be warm but pleasant. You still want to bring additional layers to keep you warm just in case. (light jacket, light sweater) A shawl is good to pack and is nice to have on hand for the evening and early morning practice. A scarf is nice for the daytime.
Do I need travel insurance?
We highly recommend it.
Do I need a visa?
Yes, you will need a visa for India. India now offers eVisa online which makes the process easier. We recommend CIBT visas. Visit indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa for more information.
Do I have to share a room?
This a small group of only 20 participants. We will do our best to pair you up with someone. If you have a travel partner, please let us know so we can pair you together in the same room.
What if I want a single room?
There will be a few rooms available for those who prefer single accommodation. However, there is an increase in price for single occupancy.
What if my partner/friend doesn’t do yoga or meditation?
All are welcome. If your partner does not want to participate, there are plenty of other activities to take part in, or they may relax on the grounds during the classes. Who knows, they may change their mind later and participate!
What if I am a beginner or haven’t done yoga or meditation?
Each class is customized for the participants at the retreat. Classes are all-levels, and the instructor is highly qualified in guiding students, from first timers to the most advanced. If you haven’t tried any of these practices, the instructor will guide and encourage you along the way and provide plenty of modifications to fit specific needs.
Do I have to attend all the classes?
No, all classes are optional. If you feel like sleeping in, reading by the pool, or just taking some alone time, we encourage you to go at your own pace.
Do I need immunizations?
Always check www.cdc.gov for the latest recommendations.
What if I have a food allergy or dietary restriction?
Please e-mail email@example.com with any food allergies or dietary restrictions and we will work with the hotels to make any changes.
What kind of food will I be having?
Most of our meals will be vegetarian. Non-veg and alcohol are not allowed in Rishikesh or Vrindavan. The hotel we are staying at in Varanasi only serves vegetarian food. However, in Jaipur and Delhi there will be a few options to eat non-veg or have some alcohol if you’d like.
May I spread my payments out for the trip?
Yes, a $1000 deposit is required at the time of sign-up in order to hold your spot. After that, you may divide the remaining balance into two or three payments. The entire balance must be paid in full 60 days prior to the retreat, by December 1st, 2023.
How do I sign up?
A deposit of $1000 will be required at the time of sign-up to hold your reservation. You are welcome to pay for the retreat in full if you prefer. You can pay either by credit card with a 3% charge for credit card fees through the Urban Balance website, or by personal check (preferred). We will send you an official confirmation and welcome email with a terms and conditions sheet, liability waiver, and emergency contact form to fill out, sign, and return to us.
Rebecca is a certified yoga and Pilates instructor and an experienced meditation leader. She has a natural ability to empower, motivate, and guide her students in support of their wellness and spiritual goals. Rebecca embraces a practical and playful approach to her teaching. Her professional and confident manner ensures that students feel cared for and at ease. She loves working with people of all ages, from beginners to the most advanced students.
In 2014, Rebecca founded Urban Balance, a corporate wellness company that brings yoga, Pilates, meditation, massage, and nutrition to the workplace. Urban Balance’s on-site programs help busy professionals increase their health and happiness and maintain a healthy work-life balance, while helping companies achieve their business goals. Urban Balance also offers local retreats and yearly international retreats.
Rebecca is certified by Stott Pilates on all apparatuses and all levels. She has a 200-hour Ashtanga Yoga Certification from the Mount Madonna Center in Watson, CA. Rebecca has also completed a 200-hour Forrest Yoga teacher training program in Santa Monica, CA with Ana Forrest, as well as a one-year mentorship program in 2012.
She is continuously evolving her own personal yoga and Pilates practice, creating the space within to nourish her dedication to the world as a teacher. Rebecca strives to embody one of her favorite teacher’s quotes: “Teach to learn,” while learning from her students and her own practice. She has traveled to many places around the world and has been to India more than a dozen times. It has been her dream for many years to combine her love of teaching and traveling. Rebecca is excited to have the chance to bring a yoga group to India again in 2024.
Jami Sherman is a Portland native and OSU alum. Jami has used her business savvy and 20 years of aesthetician expertise to create a luxurious and eco-minded spa at Echo Natural Beauty in the Pearl District. As a respected, vibrant leader in her industry, Jami is committed to providing the highest quality natural skin care and exceptional services to her clients.
Jami has taught yoga and is a certified meditation teacher with davidji meditation academy. She has combined her love of travel and adventure with retreats to India, Bali, Morocco, Costa Rica, Mexico, Maui, California, Oregon Coast and Bend. She is passionate about inspiring others to feel great and live their best life.