Many spiritual centres last only a season or two in Lakeside, and your best bet is to get personal recommendations from people who’ve just come back from a retreat (while bearing in mind that people seek very different kinds of experiences in this area). Courses can easily be found by checking notice boards or online, and yoga enthusiasts are fairly easily found in Lakeside’s chatty guesthouses and cafés – especially if you head north towards Khahare, where many of the more serious meditation centres are found. There’s little doubt that some Lakeside places are fairly commercial, but then that’s true of many yoga centres back home, too. Introductory classes are sometimes free.
Ganden Yiga Chozin Buddhist Centre Khahare, Lakeside t 061 462 923 or t 061 522 923, w pokharabuddhistcentre.com. A peaceful and serious Buddhist facility with its own modest prayer hall. It’s a short walk north of Lakeside, set up and back from the main drag – albeit in an area where construction is fast taking away the rural atmosphere. They run regular three-day weekend courses (starting on Friday afternoons), as well as daily meditation and yoga classes, and simple accommodation (see Lakeside South). Buddhist monks come up in season from Kopan monastery, outside Kathmandu, to run teachings and meditations.
Nepali Yoga Centre Phewa Marg, Lakeside t 984 604 1879, w nepaliyoga.com. Run by Devika Gurung, a yoga teacher originally from Jomosom, in the Annapurna region, this small, friendly, female-staffed and central Lakeside place offers well-regarded hatha yoga classes mornings and afternoons (90min; Rs400), as well as longer residential courses.
Pokhara Vipassana Centre Pachabhaiya, Lekhnath-11, Kaski t 061 691 972, w www.pokhara.dhamma.org. In a stunning, utterly tranquil setting in the woods that rise steeply out of Begnas Tal’s southern bank, 15km east of Pokhara and close to Begnas Lake Resort, this rustic complex of buildings is taken over for ten-day courses (starting on the 1st of every month) and day-long courses (on the last Sat of every month). It’s highly regarded, but not for the tentative: the day starts at 4am and the rules designed to keep minds focused include no reading, no talking, no drinking and no sex. Relies entirely on donations.
Sadhana Yoga Ashram Sedi Bagar, north of Lakeside t 061 694 041 or t 984 607 8117, w sadhana-asanga-yoga.com. This four-storey, no-frills building sits atop a hilltock fifteen minutes above the Lakeside road, close to the path up to Sarangkot. The owners run popular ashram-style residential yoga courses – bells ring to keep you on your toes, hour by hour; you’ll have “karma yoga” domestic chores to do, and it’s more about breathing than anything athletic. You pay a premium for the secluded location and international reputation: Rs8000 for a three-day, four-night stay. Longer stays, cookery courses and sunrise tours up Sarangkot are also on offer.