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By Jennifer Stile, CertifiKID Team Member
Posted Dec 21, 2019
Posted Dec 21, 2019
Situated an hour south of Charlottesville in the midst of the rural Virginia countryside, Satchidananda Ashram – Yogaville® is a residential spiritual community that offers weekend getaways to study and practice Yoga, experience the yogic life, or simply to relax, recharge, and reflect.
We sent one of our CertifiKID team members, Jennifer Stile, to experience Yogaville. She received a free weekend stay in exchange for providing an honest review of her experience.
Save 40% off a two-night Yogaville weekend getaway - includes accommodations, six vegetarian/vegan meals, group meditations, Yoga classes, and various evening programs.
I traveled to Yogavile with my sister. We arrived on Friday night for a two-night "Welcome Weekend" and were greeted by Yogaville staff to check in and get our room key.
We had a brief orientation where we were presented with a weekend agenda of events, classes and dining times, reviewed a map of the campus and hiking trails and talked about the modest dress code of loose clothing and rule for shoes off inside each building. Yogaville is a campus of several buildings with courtyards between them. It is very easy to walk around, as nothing is more than a couple of minutes walk apart from each other.
We checked into the LOTUS Guest House.
We had a two-twin bed simple room with private bath.
We walked to dinner in the Sivananda Hall, put our shoes in the designated cubbies. Dinner was a buffet of vegetarian and gluten-free options, like bok choy coconut Thai soup with rice noodles, green beans, tasty biscuits, dal, a fresh and colorful salad bar and fresh fruit and yogurts for dessert. There were lots of spice options in shakers to add flavorings to your plate.
There were about 100 people in the dining hall and before the buffet was "open" the guests chanted an unfamiliar prayer song (which we learned is chanted/sung at every meal). Table options included traditional tables with chairs or floor seating with low tables. My sister and I sat down at a typical table by ourselves. Many of the tables had reserved signs on them for groups and some tables were labeled "silent". It seemed like many of the guests were part of training groups and retreats. Most guests wore white and light loose fitting layers of clothing.
After dinner, we walked to the library for a "Welcome Weekend Orientation" where we learned more about the Yogaville Ashram and community of 200-300 residents and offerings, speakers for the weekend, guided versus regular meditations, Integral Yoga Hatha and the Friday night illuminated shrines - LOTUS (Light of Truth Universal Shrine), Chidambarum and Kailash.
After that, we drove up to the Illuminated LOTUS, which was really lovely. We were the only people at the shrine.
We drove back to our room and went to bed early, as we planned for an early start on Saturday. Saturday morning we started with a 6 a.m., 30-minute long guided meditation class in the library. We sat on the floor while a Swami guided us through chants, breathing and meditating.
After that, we took a Level 1 Integral Yoga Hatha class with a different instructor. Both classes were attended by approximately 10 people. The class included postures, breathing, chanting, eye exercises and relaxation.
After yoga class, we went to the Sivananda Hall for breakfast. Shoes off, prayer chant and the buffet opened. Breakfast included fruit, cereals, oatmeal, gluten-free and wheat breads and bagels and yogurts of multiple varieties to accommodate vegans and others - cashew, dairy and oat milks and yogurts were among the selections. Everything was labeled very well.
After breakfast, my sister and I decided to explore a few of the hiking trails. Yogaville is located in gorgeous area in the Blue Ridge mountains.
We hiked through the forest to the LOTUS, James River and the organic on-property farm. We had a great time and hiked until lunch.
We consulted our "Welcome Weekend Schedule" for lunch time. Lunch was served at 12:45 p.m. It was a silent lunch, which caught us off guard. A Swami read the teaching of the founder Sri Swami Satchidananda over the intercom system while people ate in silence. Lunch consisted of bok choy soup, dal with rice, hare krishna seasoned potatoes and the fresh salad bar with a selection of dressing options.
Later that afternoon, we popped into the on-site coffee shop and enjoyed a hot coffee and the rest of the afternoon. We checked out early on Sunday morning to return home to our families.
Yogaville was easy to find with GPS. We took highways and rural roads. We arrived after sunset, and the rural roads were dark, which made it a little tricky. I would recommend trying to arrive before sunset. Parking was plentiful and free. Yogaville sent us "what to expect" information via email before we arrived. Check-in was easy.
What Did You Enjoy Most?
Yogaville's location in the remote Virginia mountains is beautiful. My sister and I enjoyed the peace, tranquility and time together.
Tips for Visitors
Wear slide shoes for easy on and off in each building.
Yogaville is not for experienced Yogis only. I do not regularly do yoga or meditate and the intro levels classes were easy to follow.
The dress code is modest - meaning no leggings, spaghetti straps, crop tops or shorts above the knee. We observed that most people wore white or light colored layers. Some people wore palazzo beach-style flowy pants or harem pants with long tunics. My sister and I wore black sweatpants, jogger pants and long-sleeved t-shirts and felt modest and appropriately dressed.
A stay at Yogaville includes all meals. Yogaville is vegetarian with MANY vegan options/non dairy alternatives (i.e. cashew, almond and oak milks, yogurts and salad dressings). All the food was appropriately labeled (gluten free, vegan, etc.). There are no egg or meat products and they ask that guests do not bring any to the property. Alcohol is not served or permitted.
There is plenty of tea available in the dining hall. Coffee is not served in the dining hall, however it is available for purchase for a couple of dollars in the cafe.
Yogaville's Welcome Weekend is not appropriate for kids.
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