Yoga Retreats in Ulpotha, Sri Lanka

“What makes this place so special is the beautiful natural setting, the gentleness of the local people, the delicious food, the ambience.” Gloria Siegert. More reviews.

Location Lakeside in central Sri Lanka
Open Scheduled 2-week holidays from June - August and November - March
Activities Optional Yoga and Ayurveda
Prices Two weeks fb incl yoga USD 2940, approx £1965
Ideal for Yoga - Relaxing - Swimming - Rejuvenating - Cycling - Walking -  Retreating or socializing
Contact Ring Neal's Yard Holidays on 020 7390 0500

Why book through us? We have been there and can give you independent advice. We do not charge any extra.


As featured in The Week - Portfolio online in February 2017.

The 'Best Yoga Retreat in the World' (Observer magazine), this lakeside yoga retreat in Sri Lanka is a beautiful private hideaway open to guests for part of the year.

The focus is on yoga with mostly Western yoga teachers, or come to simply relax and unwind. Ayurvedic treatments are also offered on the side.

In keeping with the laid-back atmosphere, the twice daily yoga classes are inclusive but optional. Each guest is also treated to a weekly pampering massage, or can pay extra for daily ayurvedic treatments.

Here the most popular activity is simply being, enjoying the exquisite surroundings and the company of your hosts and fellow guests. Days can be spent sunbathing or snoozing in hammocks, watching the mango-eating monkeys and diving kingfishers, hiding out in a treehouse, hiking up to the local monastery, cycling to the village, swimming or kayaking on the huge lake. Evening is usually announced by a stunning sunset and a communal meal laid out in the ambalama or traveller's rest. At the end of the day, you will inevitably fall soundly asleep to a frog lullaby.

Accommodation and Food

Traditional adobe huts with raised rooms and a pitched roof of thatch palm fronds. These beautiful huts are spacious and airy and equipped with comfortable beds and mosquito nets. They are decorated with traditional furnishings and designs. When you return to your hut from a swim in the lake, a massage or yoga session you will often find that fresh floating flowers have been placed in a bowl of water by the entrance. Huts have views of the luscious paddy fields or gardens.

The food is simply delicious and very healthy. It is almost entirely vegan, naturally wheat free, with an abundance of fresh vegetables, organic red rice and tropical fruit freshly picked from the gardens on site, and local buffalo curd is offered on the side.
A good opportunity to detoxify your system without fuss. There are always many different dishes served at each meal and you can easily pick and choose from those depending on your taste or dietary requirements.

Feeling peckish? Drop into the 'Kade' hut on site where food is offered any time of the day: choice of tropical fruit or baked things, sweet or savoury; or request a fresh king coconut drink.

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This yoga retreat is part of a traditional working village cradled on the one side by low mountains and a lotus ringed lake, and on the other by tiny emerald green paddy fields. The huts are dotted amongst the garden and jungle. Bicycles are available to explore the nearby village (20 min).

Here you are off the beaten track yet in the heart of Sri Lanka's cultural triangle. The yoga retreat lies conveniently close to the ancient sites. It is also only a two-hour drive from the popular hill country town of Kandy.


...swimming facilities: the huge lotus ringed lake on site with it's silky water, which is fed by the natural spring from the local mountain.

...shops: a small casual shop on site selling sarongs and a selection of tops, bags, purses and other textiles. The nearest village with stalls and 'supermarkets' is about 20 min by bike. The tailor from that village will come to you and sew simple clothes on request.

...restaurants: The next village offers take-away, traditional Sri Lankan string hoppers etc made from rice flour, about 20 min bike ride away. Though you are unlikely to desire them as you are well catered for.

...other attractions: One excursion per week is offered. Local places of interest include: the lion rock of Mount Sigiriya, the Dambulla rock temple, ancient cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, the latter with the famous reclining Buddha.

...airport: Colombo International airport, Sri Lanka. A driver from the resort will collect you at whatever time you arrive. The transfer journey takes about 3 hours depending on traffic. Note that due to time difference and journey time your flight will depart the day before the day of arrival.

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Activities and prices

The Yoga Retreat is open for 15 fortnightly periods between June and August and from November till March. Between these times it is closed to allow the village time to revert to its natural state between visits. There is usually a maximum of only 23 places for guests per holiday.

You are invited to come for scheduled 2-week holidays running Sunday to Sunday. - This is in order to have least disruption during the holidays and also to fit in with the 3-hour transfer from the airport.

Subject to availability one week holidays can be offered from Sunday to Sunday. Beginners are encouraged to arrive for the first week of a Yoga holiday in order to best benefit from yoga foundation teachings.

Winter 2017-18:

12 Nov - 26 Nov Hatha Flow Yoga with Malaika MaVeena Darville
26 Nov - 10 Dec Align and Flow Yoga with Lisa Garratt
10 Dec - 24 Dec Hatha Vinyasa Yoga with Samanta Duggal
24 Dec - 07 Jan Vinyasa Yoga with Wade Gotwals – 2-week bookings only, US $ 3500
07 Jan - 21 Jan Conscious Flow Yoga with James DeMaria
21 Jan - 04 Feb Hatha Yoga with Laura Gilmore
04 Feb - 18 Feb Yoga TBC
18 Feb - 04 Mar Yoga TBC
04 Mar - 18 Mar Jivamukthi Yoga with Molly Harragin
18 Mar - 01 Apr Yoga TBC

Summer 2018: Early June to mid August 2018.

Please note, the above scheduled programme may be subject to change.

Prices (fixed in US dollars) - per person:
Two-week holidays cost $2940, approx £1965 - except Christmas/New Year see below.
(If available: One-week holidays cost $1470, approx £989. The per night rate for stays of more than a week is $210, approx £142.)
The Christmas/New Year holiday 2017/18: $3,500 for two weeks (approx £2,275).
(At Christmas/New Year the per night rate for stays of more than two weeks is $250.)

Prices include full board accommodation on a shared basis*, snacks and drinks, optional twice daily yoga (1 and a half to 2 hours each), a full day excursion per week's stay, a one-hour holistic massage per week's stay, an optional consultation with the ayurvedic doctor, herbal steam bath, hot water bathing area, guided walks within the extended grounds and to the neighbouring temple, the use of bicycles, laundry service and taxes. Since priceless hospitality is offered graciously, tipping is not accepted and there are no additional service charges.
Not included are travel costs to and from Ulpotha, insurance, Ayurveda treatments, entrance fees to cultural sites, outside meals, or any additional massages guests may wish to book with the respective therapists. These can be arranged with the therapist subject to availability at $80 per hour.

Airport transfers take about 3 hours by car, and cost US$100.00 (SLRupees 12,000) per person on a single basis, or US$ 115.00 (SLR 13,500) per person sharing a vehicle.

Ayurveda treatment packages are available separately - see below.

*Sharing an adobe hut: Most guests are happy to share and will be matched up with another guest. The huts and mosquito nets provide some privacy, each guest has a separate half of the hut with their own cupboard at either end. It can be reassuring to share a hut. If you really prefer your own space, there may be a limited number of single huts available (not at Christmas/NewYear), subject to a supplement of $125 per night.

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Ayurveda Treatment Programmes

The Ayurveda Treatment Programmes are charged for separately and need to be pre-booked (via 020 7617 7171); as capacity is limited:
5-day programmes cost $300 per person; 7-days cost $400; 10 days $600; 12 days $720;

Note: The Ayurvedic doctor requests that guests allow at least two days to acclimatise in the country before commencing any treatment.

Ayurveda has been used for health and wellbeing for over 5000 years. It can complement modern medicine. Ayurveda treats the body, mind and spirit of a person as a whole entity, and works on the basis that the mind and body affect each other and together can overcome disease and strengthen the immune system.

A one- or two-week programme can be very beneficial for general rejuvenation or a gentle detox. Allow two weeks or more for deeper health benefits. 

The resident doctor will offer consultations at the beginning and the end of the holiday. Treatments are prescribed for each guest individually, including head, face and body oil massage; herbal baths or steam baths; freshly prepared herbal medicines and elixirs.

Please be aware that Ayurveda is offered as an optional extra at this yoga retreat. For a more comprehensive Ayurveda programme you may wish to choose another holiday, please ask us at Neal's Yard Holidays for advice and guest feedback. 

More background info on Ayurveda

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Child Policy

Children are welcome, however there are no special facilities. Children from 3 - 6 can stay for 75% of the adult price and from 6 - 16 year olds for 50% of the adult price. Bringing babies is being discouraged.


Green Footprint

How ethical and environmentally friendly is the holiday?

The focus has been on restoration of an ageless agricultural way of life including bio-diverse organic farming and reforestation of the land and its immediate surroundings. Revenue from guests holidays are spent supporting the local community. In addition, the village operates and supplies a free, year round Ayurvedic clinic treating around 100 local villagers a week.

What can I do?

See our 10 top tips on green travel - how to make your stay more enjoyable & better for the environment. Consider offsetting your car, train or plane journey via the charity  

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  • "The resort is stunning and very spacious. The service is of a very high standard - nothing is too much trouble and everyone is very friendly. The atmosphere is very peaceful and conducive to relaxing...
    The food is exceptional - very healthy, varied and absolutely delicious. The yoga was challenging and a lot of fun - I was a relative beginner and left having learnt a lot and progressed...
    The Ayurveda treatments were incredibly good and very good value for money...Take advantage of everything on offer - especially the ayurveda." TS, project manager

  • "This is the perfect place to unwind, recharge your batteries, and restore your health in mind, body and spirit without the interferences of the modern world. ...a haven of tranquility, a real sanctuary of healing that attracts some very creative, spiritual and like-minded people." Julia Edwards

  • "Thanks for putting the holiday together, had a great time and one day I hope to return to the place. I found your information comprehensive and particularly appreciated Ulrike's personal recounts of her own time spent there, it makes a difference listening to someone's experience rather being pushed a marketing blurb. Your service was excellent and speedy." Patrick M.

  • "This is a sort of paradise - a beautiful place, fabulous weather, stylish, great service and fantastic food, swimming in the lake, yoga, and a great group of people. And occasional outings by bike to enjoy a cold Sprite. I returned happy, relaxed, healthy and fit. Tip: If you want to do the ayurvedic programme book in advance." Helen A.

  • “This is a place of balance, harmony and peace, and we have experienced all three with profound effect. A magical and wonderful place. Thank you to all the people who have shown us nothing but kindness and gentleness.” Lisa B.

  • “A conduit to well-being, higher consciousness and new friends in a paradisical environment. Thanks to the beautiful people who make it all work." Robin

  • “...walking up the steps and seeing the lake for the first time is a picture I'll always remember.” Kate

  • “The Ayurveda treatment I had was wonderful… such a wonderful experience and each day was different – from a massage with a small amount of oil to litres of oil being poured over me and then baked in their steamer. It was a wonderful cleansing process and I would recommend it. I did feel absolutely wonderful afterwards and I don't think my skin will ever quite feel as soft and moisturised is it did that week. Thank you so much for a magical, healing time in a very, very special place. The dilemma is whether to go back and tell everybody how amazing this utopia is or whether to try to keep it a secret so that it will always remain as it is. Thank you.” Mary F.

  • “One of the most beautiful and untouched places I have ever been on Earth. The perfect place to be.” Paula

  • “This is undoubtedly the most beautiful place I have ever been.” Penny S

  • “This is paradise on earth, and I will never forget it.” Lisa S

  • “It's rare to find an environment that exudes harmony in every respect.” Caroline

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Yoga Teachers

Nigel Gilderson

Nigel Gilderson's teaching has evolved over the years and incorporates a blend of many yoga styles, with influences from tai chi and shadow yoga and Alexander technique;  integrating the celebration of the heart, universal principles of alignment, and balanced energetic action in the performance of asana. Each student's abilities and limitations are deeply respected and honored. The practice builds strength, flexibility, and stamina as well as bringing awareness to the internal; creating, capturing and cultivating energy.
Students move from one posture to another in a continual flow and link movements to breath. The use of vinyasa enables the natural progression from one asana to another with a sense of ease and fluidity, ending in a deep and peaceful relaxation. As well as the yoga, Nigel will facilitate practices based on Tai Chi, Qi Gong and bodywork to deeply connect with the natural environment.

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Melissa Smith

Melissa began teaching group fitness 22 years ago while attending Texas A&M. After a Marketing degree and an adventurous corporate career, she took time off to be a Mom of 2 boys. She has lived and traveled all over the US and most recently lives abroad in Malaysia. Her 200-RYT (350 hours) is from Inspyrayoga in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2005 where Melissa specialized in pre/post natal for over 3 years.

Melissa has grown her practice and training by earning her 500-RYT. She currently leads 500 hour teacher trainings for Leeann Carey Yoga, specializing in a style called Yapana Yoga. She's also a certified AcroYoga Teacher. Melissa is also a speaker and advocate for research for a non-profit Alzheimer's Group and offers donation classes to raise awareness for Alzheimer's.  She offers international retreats where the themes center on love and service in the community they are in.

She extends much gratitude and appreciation for her teachers and influences including: Jenny Sauer-Klein and Jason Nemer (AcroYoga), Leeann  Carey (Restorative, California), Chrys Kub (Yoga Therapy, North  Carolina), Sadhvi Abha (Kriya, India), Judith Lasater (Anatomy, California), Lance Schuler (Hatha, Australia), Stephanie Adams (mentor, Oregon), and Mandy Eubanks (Anusara, Austin).

Melissa will be offering a dynamic slow flow in the mornings and a restorative practice in the evenings, ideally suited to the setting of Ulpotha. She will also offer a few AcroYoga sessions for those who'd like to try it out.

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Geoff Mackenzie

Geoff Mackenzie began yoga practice as a curious surfer living in Bali in 1998, simply seeking to improve his physical agility and mental focus. Suffice to say he found all that and much more; the "more" including the deep desire to share the benefits of practice with all who care to give it a try. Upon completing a 200-hour Yoga Alliance teacher training course in 2004, Geoff began conducting daily classes in Victoria and then Vancouver, Canada. He later moved to Asia where he taught at Pulse Yoga in Manila, Philippines. For the last six years he has taught extensively in North America, Europe and Asia. In Summer 2010, Geoff attended the Teachers' Intensive course at the K P Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute in Mysore, India, thereupon receiving authorization to teach the Ashtanga method. He is a firm believer in the highly adaptable and therapeutic nature of yoga practice and, as such, always places the needs of each individual student first and foremost. Breath/mind/body awareness, "vinyasa counting" and hands-on assistance in key postures are all regular components of his teaching sessions. Students can expect Geoff's morning sessions to be a playful yet deep exploration of fundamental yoga asana: utilizing simple, adaptable postures, breathing techniques and subtle energetic connection to help each individual discover lightness, strength and poise, regardless of previous experience. Afternoon sessions draw more inspiration from the quieter side of practice, creating focused, calm states where equilibrium can be restored and awareness cultivated.

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Samanta Duggal

Samanta has been teaching yoga for the last 6 years having been a dancer for 10 years prior to that.  Her initial foray into yoga was a classical Hatha yoga practice with the Sivananda yoga teacher training, followed by Iyengar, Bihar school, Vinyasa as well as Yoga Therapy trainings.  Her style is therefore an eclectic mix of the classical alignment based yoga with an energetic flow of vinyasa.

Having studied various forms of bodywork —Thai massage, Ayurvedic massage and reflexology— her classes are often interactive, involving partner yoga and an approach to learn from each other.

In addition to this she has training from the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram in Vedic chanting, which has lead her to combine the use of sound with yoga postures, or to just independently use these techniques to improve her students' breath and prana. She believes the true mantra of yoga is regular disciplined practice or sadhana .... in regular practice always.
She teaches in Mumbai, India, at the YogaSutra studio as well as privately and conducts yoga and massage workshops throughout India.

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Wade Gotwals

Wade found yoga in the late 90’s during his travels and since then has made it his passion to discover alternative techniques for furthering growth of mind and spirit and for healing the body. He’s taught in Asia, Greece, South America and the U.S. and is always excited about sharing new discoveries. Wade teaches a unique fusion of styles derived from his travels and from the inspirations of teachers like Dharma Mittra and Rusty Wells. His certifications in Ashtanga/Vinyasa, Thai and Intuitive Massage, and Touch for Health added with his meditation and Advaita studies in India with Ramesh Balsekar have given him many gifts to be thankful for and share with others...

His teaching style is structured but at the same time very playful and always gives options of openness, depth and strength so that everyone will be challenged and can share their energy. The Advaitic principles of 'oneness and non separation' are the dharmic principles to his teachings.

On his retreats you can expect a daily creative vinyasa flow based practice, with individual attention to challenging poses deconstructed and a daily restorative practice infused with meditation, dharma and thai yoga. He strives to find interesting ways to keep others inspired and connected and receiving inspiration from others is what keeps his love for yoga alive.

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Why book through us?

We do not charge booking fees: you pay the same or sometimes even less than if you book direct.
We have been there and to other holidays ourselves and can give you independent advice.
We provide a quick response and a personalised service.
You will be helping us to continue spreading the word about great holidays and resorts.

Fuer Ayurveda Yoga Urlaub Sri Lanka Ceylon, auch Yoga am Meer Asien sind sie hier an der richtigen Addresse. Wir bieten auch Wellness Ferien und Yoga Reisen in Sri Lanka und Indien Kerala an. Sie duefen uns gerne eine email auf Deutsch schicken. Wir freuen uns von Ihnen zu hoeren.