6-Day Photography & Yoga / Meditation retreat in spectacular Mustang (Nepal)
Paul Barton DOP and Helen McCabe explore external and internal light in one of the most remote and dramatic places in the world.
Taught by: Paul Barton (Director of Photography) and Helen McCabe (RYT 500)
Location: Kagbeni village, in ancient Tibetan Mustang, Nepal
Cost: 180,000 Nepali Rupees (approx USD $1,760 or GBP £1,280)
Light, in all its manifestations, is at the heart and structure of life and the universe we live in. High in the Himalayas, light filters along the narrow cobbled streets and ancient mud temples of the peacefully haunting medieval village of Kagbeni, our home for this extraordinary photography retreat.
This 6-day retreat will take place in one of the most beautiful and remote areas of world, against the backdrop of the stunning Annapurna mountain range. Here in this area of high desert, the landscape is dramatic, expansive and awe-inspiring.
Paul will take you on a journey where the camera is the vehicle for learning to understand, work and play with light in all its aspects. This is a journey away from the demands and noise of daily life, a time to truly immerse in a setting of dramatic nature without distraction. The energy of this isolated place is as pure as the light quality here, with bright and clear blue skies most days at this time of the year.
It is one of the few remaining places like this in the world.
As the sun moves across the horizon and changes the colors of the mountains, there will be opportunities to play with light out in the landscape or inside. Emphasis will be on developing each individual photographer, with time for individual practical tuition so that each person in the group can develop their skills.
This retreat will suit anyone with an interest in photography, whatever their level of experience, and particularly anyone with an interest in the esoteric. Paul will be working closely with the group not only on their practical and composition skills with photography, but also the deeper layers of awareness.
Each of the photographic ‘exercises’ each day will have a strong emphasis on developing an awareness of how consciousness and energy and the material world inter-relate. Exercises will include:
- Looking at the self as part of the landscape in a number of ways, both reflected and projected.
- During the day we will be learning about light and its energy and characteristics
- At night there will be the opportunity to contemplate light in a more expansive way, using meditation and photography to explore the light energy in the stars, just as people have done since time began.
Cultivate stillness and awareness through yoga
There will also be opportunities to link our learning about the physical to the metaphysical, through yoga and meditation. Helen will support the group’s work with Paul, and will hold a space in the yoga room at our base each morning for those who wish to practice. By taking time to check in with our breath, bodies and mind, we can cultivate the stillness and awareness that enables us to be fully present with whatever arises. In turn this heightens our focus as we meditate on the world through the camera lens.
In the Himalayan footsteps of great masters who helped to shine a light on the Yoga path, the morning sessions with Helen will be open to practitioners of all levels of experience. For those not familiar with the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga method, or for complete beginners, Helen will lead an additional guided class each day.
The two forms – photography and yoga – interplay by cultivating the mindfulness needed to deeply appreciate and connect with what we see. Both are perfect creative tools for interacting with the energy of time, space, emotion and individual perspective.
Each evening, before dinner, we will come together as a group for a short meditation, where we can sit quietly, reflect upon the day and simply absorb the beautiful stillness of this extraordinary location.
The retreat will maintain an ‘organic’ and open element to each day so that we can adapt as the weather and the light changes. The very limited places (maximum group size of 12) enables plenty of personal attention and guidance for those who would like it.
Paul Barton, DOP
Since leaving the London College of Printing, where Paul studied for a Degree in photography, he has worked non-stop in the world of stills, film and television as a photographer and Director of Photography. It is a job he considers a huge privilege to do, for clients including the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, E4, Film 4, FIVE, Discovery Channel, Sky Television, Tesla and Rolls-Royce.
Over the years, his work has enabled him to experience many diverse locations and to observe the inner workings of cultural and natural systems.
He absolutely loves this work and the wonderful people that he gets to collaborate with, perhaps more than anything because it enables him to work so closely with light, both natural and ʻdesignedʼ, to capture beautiful images. Understanding how to work with light will always produce the most stunning images, no matter what the message might be.
Paul uses his knowledge of light and his meditation practice to focus a raised consciousness on the connection between all things using the medium of photography.
Helen practises and teaches Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga in Dorset, where she is director of ‘Yoga at the Space’ in beautiful Purbeck. She runs the morning Mysore programme as well as teaching and running regular retreats and workshops.
Helen started practicing yoga in 1991 and completed the BWY 3-year teacher training course in 2005, going on to be recognised by Yoga Alliance UK as a Senior Yoga Teacher. She has studied both level 1 and 2 teacher training courses with her main teachers John Scott and Lucy Crawford, and is one of the very few who have been granted the 500 hour senior teacher accreditation from John Scott.
Helen brings a mindful and gentle approach to sharing this practice and the powerful tool which it can be for everyday life. She is passionate about the importance of working with the breath and body’s own intelligence and understanding how to cultivate, strength and stability as well as flexibility. She shares these techniques in a way that is empowering and supportive, so that practitioners of any age and experience can have the confidence to develop their own sustainable self practice.
Venue for this photography and yoga retreat in Nepal
We will meet in Pokhara, where we will spend the first night in welcome and orientation before travelling together at dawn the next morning to Jomsom. This short flight offers jaw-dropping views as it passes between some of the world’s highest mountains.
From Jomsom we jeep to Kagbeni (2,800m altitude) in Mustang, one of the last regions where traditional Tibetan life thrives. A quasi-independent Tibetan kingdom until 2008, its timeless culture remains almost intact. Described as a “cauldron of myth”, Mustang has remained on the periphery of modern life, a stark land of ancient cave homes, deep ravines, pilgrims, demonic myth and profound spiritual peacefulness.
Our home in Kagbeni is the Red House Lodge, a beautiful Tibetan guesthouse with comfortable and lovingly-crafted rooms. The guesthouse has a small private Tibetan monastery with a huge clay idol of Maitreya, and you can share, if you wish, in the ancient Tibetan Buddhist traditions of our hosts.
Our life there will be simple: simple organic fresh foods, simple lifestyle, and communion with nature. Feel the demands of daily life shed away and create space for what truly matters to be heard. In this remote mountain landscape give yourself sanctuary and clarity through the peaceful simplicity of Himalayan life.
The fee for the course is 180,000 Nepali Rupees. For an indication of the rate in your currency, see xe.com. At the time of writing, this equates to approx USD $1,760 or GBP £1,280. Payment details will be sent to you on confirmation of your place.
The fee is all-inclusive from when we meet in Pokhara to when we return you there. It includes: return flights from Pokhara to Jomsom*, 5 nights’ accommodation on a twin-share basis (1 x Pokhara, 4 x Kagbeni), the cost and handling of your permits to this protected area, return jeep from Jomsom to Kagbeni plus jeep use for trips, 3 delicious meals per day, world class teaching from Paul and Helen.
*If you would like to stay on in the area for trekking or rest after the retreat, we will be happy to deduct the cost of the returning flight from your fee so you can make your own arrangements.
Once we receive your deposit, we will send you an information brochure to help you plan your trip. But if you have any questions for now, please feel welcome to contact us.
Simply register for an application form and we’ll help you from there.