Yoga and Hiking Wellness Immersion2020-01-31T09:25:09-05:00

Great Smoky Mountains

A Yoga and Hiking Wellness Immersion

with Ransom Hare

May 3–6, 2020

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Immerse yourself in one of the most biodiverse places on earth for this yoga and hiking wellness retreat.

We’ll practice gentle yoga, relaxation, and meditation techniques to renew body and mind, and create the space to be nurtured and revitalized by the abundance of life residing in this area. We’ll hike through rich forests, along beautiful streams, and past waterfalls. Our home base for this excursion is Camp Atagahi. Named after the healing waters of a mythical lake in the region, we’ll “glamp” at this private camp for three nights, and return home feeling replenished and full of life.

Excursion Overview

Excursion Overview

Nourishment is at the heart of this program. Our yoga and meditation practices for this excursion are specifically designed with rest and healing in mind. With space created away from our busy day-to-day lives, learn to let go of the things that don’t serve you, and fill your body and mind with an uplifting energetic awareness that can serve you in all aspects of your life. Discover how to infuse the energy from these practices into your hiking experience through Great Smoky National Park, and connect deeply with the life around you. Furthermore, the homelike quality of Camp Atagahi and the conscious community atmosphere will continually support your path to nurturance inside and out. In summary, this program is about an experience of total well-being.

What's Included:

  • Two expert local guides with extensive knowledge of the Great Smoky Mountains
  • One passionate and enthusiastic Himalayan Institute teacher and excursion leader
  • Guided yoga and meditation practices specifically designed for this excursion
  • Four days hiking through magnificent Smoky Mountain forests
  • Three extraordinary nights at camp Atagahi’s charming property
  • Branded Himalayan Institute Excursions merchandise
  • Continuous education on the history and habitat that make the Smokies so unique
  • Thoughtfully prepared vegetarian meals from lunch on day one through lunch on day four.
  • Early morning tea and coffee, and afternoon tea and coffee with snacks
  • A like-minded and intentional community experience that fosters meaningful relationships
  • Transportation to all destinations visited on our itinerary

Key Highlights

Trek

Yoga

Yoga practice will be comprised of breath-coordinated movement, guided meditation with an emphasis on breath awareness, and systematic relaxation. The combined result of these practices will be a refined experience of prana shakti, that which nurtures, nourishes, and supports us on every level. Through breath awareness, we’ll cultivate a tangible experience of prana and learn how that experience can guide us in our daily lives and enhance our total well-being.

Hiking and Yoga in the Smoky Mountains

Hiking

Hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains is accessible to a broad audience. Our hikes are intended to energize our bodies and complement our yoga practice. Hiking through the Smokies in early May will present us with forests bursting to life, swift flowing rivers, and beautiful waterfalls. As we hike, our expert guides will educate us on the numerous different flora and fauna that we encounter on the trails. Needless to say, springtime in these mountains will delight the senses and leave you feeling fully alive!

Camp Atagahi

Camp Atagahi

Atagahi is the Native American name of a mythical lake in this region where animals went to drink healing waters, and could only be accessed by humans pure of heart. Nestled between two mountainsides, Atagahi is highlighted by its rhododendron plants and a brook flowing through the property. Followed by evening bonfires, you’ll cozy up in your sleeping bag, and fall asleep to the soothing sounds of the forest. After three nights here, you will find this camp lives up to its folklore name. (See FAQ's for more details).

Community at Sunset

Community

At the heart of this excursion is a small community of like-minded individuals. Each determined to grow and heal in their own unique way, we’ll practice yoga together, hike together, enjoy meals together, and share many laughs and stories. While there will certainly be ample time for personal space and practice, it’s the conscious community connection and opportunity to cultivate meaningful relationships that adds so much value to a trip like this.

Itinerary

May 3–6, 2020

  • Day 1

    Meet at Sugarlands visitor center in Gatlinburg, TN by 10am. Get oriented with an introduction from our staff and an educational walk through of the visitor center. Afterwards, drive to the trailhead and begin our hike to Andrew’s Bald. Upon reaching our destination, enjoy your first guided yoga and meditation practice in scenic meadows overlooking the beautiful Smoky Mountain Range. Return to our van and arrive at Camp Atagahi to make yourself at home. Following dinner, cozy up to a campfire, and then settle into your sleeping bag while you fall asleep to the songs of the forest.

  • Day 2

    Wake up to a cup of freshly roasted coffee or brewed tea, and begin the day with a morning yoga class. After breakfast, we’ll make our packed lunches and head for the trails. We’ll enjoy a scenic walk along Porter’s Creek trail and learn about the unique history of that area. After lunch at Fern Branch Falls and a hike back to our van, we’ll return to camp for a relaxing and contemplative afternoon at camp, supported by a guided yoga and meditation practice. Following dinner, we’ll enjoy a bonfire and a restful night sleep.

  • Day 3

    Wake up to the same routine as the day before. After breakfast we’ll head out for our most challenging hike: The Gabes Mountain trail to Maddron Bald trail. This trail is a guide favorite as the trail meanders through a quiet forest and over log bridges that cross clear, rocky streams and past old home sites. After passing through rhododendron tunnels, the trail passes by the secluded Hen Wallow Falls. The trail continues along the ridge line passing through old growth forest before descending past an old cabin built in the 1800's. Return to camp for a restorative yoga practice and feeling a sense of accomplishment. Enjoy dinner, and bonfire, and a good night sleep.

  • Day 4

    Soak in all the beauty and nourishment during our final morning at Camp Atagahi. After a complete yoga class, we’ll have breakfast and make our lunches for the day. Following a short drive, we’ll stroll leisurely along the trails, digesting our new friendships and experiences, and preparing to venture back into the world feeling renewed. At approximately noon, we will return to Sugarlands visitor center to say our goodbyes.

    *Schedule subject to change
    **Additional yoga and meditation will be included during our hikes as time and space permit.

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Excursion Leader

Ransom Hare Himalayan Institute

Ransom Hare

Ransom has been actively involved in the Himalayan Institute’s Humanitarian and Excursion activities in India, Mexico and Cameroon for over seven years. Since 2012, he has been part of the Excursion team leading groups to Allahabad, Khajuraho, and various sacred sites in the Himalayas including Dharamshala, Manali, Har Ki Doon, Gangotri and Tungnath, in India and to Cameroon, West Africa. He has a passion for exploring sacred spaces and learning how they be a catalyst for deep transformation.

Ransom has been developing his yoga practice and studying with the Himalayan Institute since 2008. He completed his 500 hour teacher training certification in 2018 and currently serves as a faculty member contributing to the Himalayan Institute. He is also a certified Wilderness First Responder.

Registration

Registration

Registration Information:
  • Dates: May 3–6, 2020
  • Deposit: $500
Early Registration
  • $1,545
  • Closes February 5, 2020
Regular Registration
  • $1,695
  • Closes March 15, 2020

For more information or to make a balance payment:

Two Ways to Register:
Online

Register online by completing the registration form below and make your payment (deposit or full) in order to save your space.

Register Online
By Mail

Download the Tour Participant Agreement (“TPA”). Print, read, complete, sign. Mail your signed TPA with deposit or full payment.

Download TPA

If mailing an application, send to:
Himalayan Institute Spiritual Excursions
Attn: Alat Shanti Tigunait
952 Bethany Turnpike
Honesdale, PA 18431 USA

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the nature of this excursion?

A: This is a community-oriented yoga and hiking wellness immersion in the Great Smoky Mountains. The hiking is designed to be accessible to a variety of fitness levels and is intended for anyone who loves moving through the outdoors. Our Yoga and meditation practice will enhance our opportunity to receive the nourishment that our external environment offers, and allow us to connect deeper within.

Q: How difficult are the hikes?

A: The hikes are easy to moderate with gradual elevation gains. One day-hike will be longer than the others and ascend 1,200 feet and descend 1,500 over 6-8 miles.

Q: How many days are we hiking?

A: There will be guided hikes offered all 4 days.

Q: How long are most of the hikes?

A: Three days the hikes will be 3.5-5.5 miles, with one 6-8 mile day.

Q: What are the hiking trails like?

A: Most of the trails will be packed dirt with roots and some old logging trails that may have gravel.

Q: What will the weather be like? Should we expect rain?

A: The weather can range from low 80’s during the day and mid 40’s at night. The Smoky Mountains are a temperate rain forest, so rain at some point during the trip is likely. Be prepared with layers and a rain jacket at minimum. Keep in mind, t’s the rain that brings so much life, and adds to the beauty of the forests.

Q: What is the highest altitude on the trek?

A: The highest potential altitude for this excursion is around 6,000 feet.

Q: When should we arrive and depart? Where does the excursion begin and end?

A: The excursion will begin and end at the Sugarlands visitor center in Gatlinburg, TN. Plan to arrive by 10am on May 3rd, 2020 for orientation. Plan to depart no earlier than 12pm on May 6th, 2020.

Q: How do I reach the Sugarlands visitor center? What about parking?

A: The Sugarlands visitor center is located at 1420 Fighting Creek Gap Rd, Gatlinburg, TN 37738. It’s approximately 1 hour from McGhee Tyson Airport in Knoxville, TN, 2 hours from Asheville International Airport, or within a 5 hour drive of Charlotte, NC, Nashville, TN, Atlanta, GA, Birmingham, Alabama, Lexington, KY, and many other metropolitan areas.

Q: How can I prepare for this hiking excursion?

A: Physical fitness and overall good health are important elements for an excursion like this. If you haven’t already, we suggest that you begin a regular practice for conditioning your body. Aerobic exercise is especially helpful to prepare for these hikes. One method is fast-walking, building up to a steady pace on inclines, hilly terrain, or stairs, and increasing distance. We highly recommend walking regularly with your day pack (filled) and pushing yourself on some longer hikes whenever possible. Also, the yogic breathing technique (pranayama) of nadi shodhanam (alternate nostril breathing) and 61 point relaxation will help cultivate internal awareness and turn your mind away from external distractions, while the practice of agni sara will support vitality and reduce stress as it activates the parasympathetic nervous system. These practices are best done regularly, starting with a few repetitions and progressing gradually according to your capacity. If you don’t know these techniques, we recommend that you take a pranayama or hatha yoga class with a qualified instructor. The Himalayan Institute’s Wisdom Library provides instructional articles and videos on these techniques, including contraindications, as do the books Path of Fire and Light, Vol. 1, by Swami Rama, and Science of Breath, by Swami Rama, Rudolph Ballentine, MD, and Alan Hymes, MD. These can be ordered through the Himalayan Institute Press at 800-822-4547, press 4, or online.

Q: Where will we be staying?

A: We’re staying at Camp Atagahi. This is a premium campsite with 10 different wooden platforms that hold a large tent, which spaciously accommodates 2 persons on elevated cots. Each platform also has a canopy outside their tent with two lounge chairs and deck space for personal yoga practice. The camp also includes a commercial kitchen, private bathing and toilet facilities, a bonfire pit, and a dining pavilion. Natrually, the camp features a flowing stream through the center of the property and is blanketed with Rhododendron plants.

Q: What type of meals can I expect?

A: Freshly prepared and delicious homemade vegetarian meals.

Q: Will I be able to do laundry?

A: You will be able to hand-wash laundry provided you bring your own detergent.

Q: What is the expected group size?

A: Our group size will be capped at 18 participants.

Q: What do I need to bring?

A: For this excursion it is important to be properly equipped with appropriate outdoor gear.

The following items are essential:

  • Soft-shell duffel bag or something similar (non-wheeled preferred)
  • Small backpack between 20-30 liters
  • Sleeping bag
  • Comfortable, waterproof hiking shoes/boots
  • 2–3 active wear T-shirts
  • 1–2 long sleeve trekking/activewear shirts
  • Lightweight base layer
  • 1 heavyweight fleece jacket or down jacket
  • Rain jacket
  • 2–3 trekking pants
  • Warm hat
  • Hiking socks
  • Lightweight travel or pack towel
  • Two 1 – liter or one 2 – liter water bottle or hydration bladder*
  • Sun hat
  • Sunglasses with UV protection
  • Sunscreen and lip balm
  • Flashlight or headlamp
  • Personal toiletries, including soap and shampoo
  • Wet Wipes or other hand sanitizer
  • Prescription medicine, if required

Other things to consider:

  • Vest (down or fleece)
  • Slip-on shoes and/or rubber sandals
  • Rain poncho
  • Extra Zip Lock or plastic bags
  • Midweight fleece
  • Camera and accessories
  • Power bank (portable charging device)
  • Pocket knife
  • Toilet paper and/or pocket tissues
  • Laundry soap (for hand laundry)
  • Earplugs
  • Electrolyte drink mix
  • Snack bars, trail snacks

Q: Will we have access to a phone or internet?

A: Cell reception will be limited throughout our trip. It might be intermittent during day hikes, but expect to be without service at Camp Atagahi. Also, there will be no Wi-fi available.

Q: How do I register for this trip?

A: Register online or download and mail the Tour Participant Agreement with your deposit or full payment.

Q: What if I need to cancel?

A: Requests for cancellation must be made in writing to the Tour Organizer. See the Tour Participant Agreement for complete terms and conditions and applicable cancellation charges. As a nonprofit, we are unable to offer exceptions to our cancellation policy — we therefore highly encourage participants to purchase trip cancellation insurance in the event you need to cancel your reservation for any reason.