Experience in the lap of Himalaya
By Rajan Simkhada
Nepal has a prime spot in the world tourism carrying a huge potential as major section of the Himalayan range, which is home to some of the tallest peak on earth, including Mt Everest, lies here. The Himalayas has always been referred to as the abode of gods. From the ancient times, the mighty Himalayas are known as the source of mystical energy and immense spirituality leading people to enlightenment. It is often said that the enlightenment can be achieved from meditation and Yoga. If we look back at the history, Lord Shiva himself, as well as various yogis and sages, practiced Yoga and meditation in and around the Himalayas and achieved salvation.
Yoga means the union of individual soul with the cosmic soul or spirit. It is believed to revitalize an individual and release the hidden energies by freeing ones’ mind. It is said that a true yogi (practitioner of Yoga) is able to surmount the physical world and comprehend divinity. The art of Yoga has been practiced in Nepal and India for centuries. Unlike other forms of exercise, especially the modern ones, it is not rigorous but relaxing while being just as effective. Dhyan (concentration) is the key to perfecting the yogic postures called Asanas. Mastering the postures is supposed to ensure mental, physical and spiritual harmony.
The Yoga and wellness traveling trend in the world is growing day by day. In this context, the Himalayan countries like Nepal can exploit this prospective market for the very good reason. Apart from the activities carried out by the visitors in Nepal, travelers also can get an additional bonus of Yoga, spirituality and wellness. The tourism in Nepal can be given a new and highly potential dimension in form of Yoga and Spiritual tourism and it can be helpful in taking the tourism of the Himalayan country like Nepal to a desired level of prosperity.
Since the first ascent of Mount Everest in 1953, most people have been coming to Nepal for trekking or climbing. But wellness and spiritual tourism can be another potential area which can be developed as an attraction and help boost our economy. Today, many established fashion brands are seen producing Yoga mats, clothing and other gears. Taking this as an example, the Yoga and wellness tourism should be given importance in Nepal also which has abundant source of natural beauty and spiritual environment along the Himalayas. We can undoubtedly claim Nepal as the home of Yogic practice.
According to the Global Wellness Tourism Economy Report of 2013, ‘wellness tourists’ spend 130 percent more than regular tourists. Elements of spirituality and its practice in the East have always become popular in the western part of the world. Yoga studios are mushrooming globally along with practitioners of meditation associated with Confucianism and Buddhism.
Located on the foothills of the Himalayas, country like Nepal is a perfect destination for Yoga and meditation lovers. As Swami Vishnu Devananda has emphasized the vast science of Yoga into five simple principles — proper exercise, proper breathing, proper relaxation, proper diet, and positive thinking and meditation, performing Yoga in Himalayas adds efficiency to its practice. It is also believed that there is no other place than the tranquility of Himalaya for achieving the goals of Yoga. Above all, the presence of immanent smile on the faces of people and placid nature in the Himalayan regions of Nepal can definitely stimulate optimism in the practitioners.
Chintamani Gautam, the first Yoga Ph.D. holder in Nepal, opines that the westerners know little about eastern spirituality and many think of Yoga as just a physical exercise. In such a spiritual country like Nepal, foreigners can learn the ways to integrate the spiritual aspects of this age-old practice, which stems from the Vedas, the most ancient Hindu scriptures. Gautam says Yoga can be a good way to reintegrate energies, particularly in today’s world where changes happen very fast.
Nepal being the land of Himalayas, birthplace of Lord Buddha and the home to large number of Hindu shrines and Buddhist monasteries of high spiritual values holds a high possibility of catering to the Yoga, wellness and spiritual travelers.
Seeing immense possibility in Yoga and spiritual tourism, some tourism enterprises are attempting to lure high-end tourists to a country which has long been a popular destination among budget travelers and adventure enthusiasts. Tourism entrepreneurs believe that foreigners traveling to Nepal for wellness and spiritual journeys will spend a fair amount of time experiencing and learning about Yoga and meditation thus increasing their expenditure in average.
To make the product more saleable and popular, there is a need of innovative thinking, willingness to return to the human roots and the much-touted public-private partnership. Proper development of Yoga and wellness tourism can catapult Nepal’s tourism into the global hall of fame. Though the entrepreneurs have the flexibility and ideas to work for the development of the product, government should also be more innovative and cooperate. Proper development of this form of activity can give the visitor an opportunity to practice Yoga, meditate and spend time in ashrams and other places of spirituality.
By yoking the Yoga with tourism, one can achieve a very high sense of spirituality and wellness and Nepal, the land of the Himalaya, is the perfect destination for Yoga travelling and immersion. Thus, if Nepal taps this potential of Yoga and spiritual tourism, it can hugely benefit the country for the prosperity. This new dimension in the Nepali tourism field certainly plays a vital role to boost the industry as well as contribute in the national economy. In return, the tourists will get an eternal experience of mind, body, and soul harmony in the Himalaya. Yoga and wellness is not only beneficial for the country but for the travelers as well.