Ulpotha, Sri Lanka

2 Week Retreat | January 2018

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Laura Gilmore is travelling further afield for two weeks in winter 2018 – transporting her usual depth of teaching and practice to the “best yoga retreat in the world” (Observer Magazine) – Ulpotha, Sri Lanka. Ulpotha’s natural charms lend themselves readily to a deeply satisfying experience of Yoga. If ever there was a place made for Yoga, this is it.
The eco-centre invites leading teachers from around the world to come and share their gift of Yoga with its guests.
If you would like to practice with one of Bristol’s best-loved teachers, in an environment specifically catered towards mindful relaxation and body exploration, then this is the perfect opportunity!

Please note, this retreat is not being organised by BCY – for any enquiries, please use the details at the bottom of the page.

Overall a wonderful week of relaxing, healing yoga with Laura – fantastic teaching has enabled me to develop my practice and learn new things – thank you Laura! Retreat Guest, 2016

 The Yoga

Laura’s teaching is adapted for the specific needs of the students, giving a deeply nurturing experience and the opportunity for supported self- healing. Laura conveys the true spirit and philosophy of yoga through movement and stillness, warmth and humour. With more than 25 years practice and 15 years teaching experience, her deep knowledge and intuition enable students to experience positive transformation, both physical and mental.

There will be four hours of practice each day. The morning session will be Hatha based, with posture work to explore, energise and balance the body and mind. The afternoon work will include restorative practice, deeply releasing flowing practices and bio-energetic work, to balance and stimulate the flow of prana within the subtle body. Each day will also include pranayama and meditation related to our theme that day.

Laura is a creative, inspiring teacher, responding to the needs of the students before her, while relying on the yogic wisdom passed down from her teachers and studies. Most recently she has studied chakras with Anodea Judith, Subtle body wisdom with Tias Little, and for more than 25 years she has studied Iyengar, Hatha yoga ashtanga vinyasa yoga with some of the worlds most experienced teachers.  She has also studied Zen and Vipassana meditation, and pranayama and this is integral to her practice and teaching.

To find out more about her, click here.

Best practice I have attended – thank you for re-inspiring me. Retreat Guest, 2016


The Venue

Rebuilt on the layout of a deserted traditional village, Ulpotha covers a 20 acre site situated at the base of the Galgiriyawa Mountains in the jungle heartland of Old Ceylon. Ulpotha literally translates as water source, referring to the springs feeding the system of five ancient reservoirs that irrigate the surrounding watershed.

The property is a beautiful private hideaway open to guests for part of the year; a place of total peace, where you can experience the warm, generous and gentle hospitality Sri Lankans love to offer. In this sense, Ulpotha is not a hotel and does not aspire to be one.

This oasis of tranquility is a traditional working village cradled on one side by low mountains and a lotus ringed lake, and on the other by emerald green paddy fields. The bio-diversity of Ulpotha is extraordinary, with flora, fauna and bird life of dazzling variety. Animal life is equally varied, with even wild (but gentle) elephants visiting from time to time.

Guests who come to Ulpotha will find a natural sanctuary of exceptional beauty, where the main activity is simply relaxing in its remarkable atmosphere of peace and calm while indulging in feasts of exquisite organic cuisine.

Ulpotha remains for me the most beautiful spot in this whole complex world that I am lucky enough to travel around. Travel Editor, Harpers & Queen.

The Food

Ulpotha uses organic farming practices that follow the lunar cycle and use no mechanical means. All crops are hand planted and harvested, while the fields are ploughed and the rice is threshed by buffalo.

Local village life is based on a vegetarian tradition, with the staple diet centered on highly nutritious strains of red rice. Meals are cooked in clay pots over open fires and are largely produced from the organic crops grown in Ulpotha. Vegetables, yams and melons fill the gardens, along with mature banana, mango, papaya, jack and breadfruit trees.

All meals are cooked in the indigenous style featuring rice, curries, salads, buffalo curd, local savories and sweets and, of course, fruits.


At the centre of the village is the Walauwwa, the traditional main house now restored around a central stone courtyard with an ancient well. The adjoining Ambalama, an open sided pavilion, provides a covered sitting area with mats, cushions, and beautiful views towards the surrounding hills and which is where meals are served. Accommodation is provided in exquisitely but simply detailed wattle and daub huts. These are built using traditional methods and materials, and consist of open sleeping/living areas covered with a pitched roof of thatched palm fronds. Each accommodates two people.

Much use has been made of clay, stone, wood, pottery and fabrics which reflect traditional village aesthetics. By design there is no electricity and life is lived by the rhythm of the day.

Though the loos [toilets] are modern and clean and the showers are open-air, they are not en- suite in keeping with traditional village practice.

Had a fabulous time. Yoga with Laura – challenging, rewarding, relaxing (and that’s within the first hour). No hesitation recommending her. Retreat Guest, 2016


There is a treatment centre where you can have complete Ayurveda treatments administered by Ulpotha’s resident doctor. Proceeds from these go towards funding Ulpotha’s newly created Free Clinic for the surrounding local villages. In addition, you can go for walks in the mountains, swim in the lake, participate in meditation and Pranayama sessions, go bird watching, have massages with our visiting massage therapists, indulge in herbal steam baths, or go on excursions to some of the many intriguing cultural sites that surround Ulpotha.

Alternatively, you can just do what Ulpotha is most amenable to – relax and hang out in one of the many hammocks and hanging beds that dot the grounds or in the picturesque tree-house or lake huts.

Ulpotha is blessed with surroundings that are uncommonly beautiful and serene. The abundant bird and animal life reinforce its timeless beauty. When one looks out towards the mountain, one sees what one would have seen for two thousand years. If you take away the pretty stupa on the mountain, which seems as if it was placed there two millennia ago to make an already beautiful scene improbably more beautiful, one would be looking at a scene that has remained unchanged for hundreds of thousands of years. There are no telephone or electricity pylons or any other sign of man-made structures. The sense of deep calm and peace that is experienced simply by being held in the bosom of nature is the font of wellness. This is the essence of Ulpotha and the gift it shares with those who visit.

Prices include:

  • Full board on a twin-sharing basis (three tasty organic veggie meals per day)
  • All yoga & meditation classes
  • One massage from an international therapist per week (additional massages available at extra cost)
  • One free consultation with the resident doctor in Ulpotha’s Ayurveda centre
  • One herbal steambath in the Ayurveda center
  • Use of all amenities (including boat, bicycles, treehouse, lakehut etc)
  • One excursion per week to a cultural site or the beach (entrance fees, lunches, dinners & drinks are NOT included)
  • Guided walks within Ulpotha and to the neighbouring Temple and Free Clinic

Travelling to Ulpotha:

You fly into Sri Lanka’s primary international airport, Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) (also known as Katunayake International Airport, Negombo International Airport and Colombo International Airport), which is an hour North of the main city of Colombo and three hours to the Southwest of Ulpotha. Direct flights with Sri Lankan Airlines take about 10 hours from Europe. Please be aware that departure from Europe tends to be the day before arrival and start of the holiday due to time difference and journey time.

Someone from the venue is able to meet you at the airport and return you to the airport after your holiday. The cost per vehicle (maximum of 2 people) is approximately $100 each way. The transfer cost should be paid upon arrival in Ulpotha.
This can be arranged in advance with Ulpotha directly.


Please note, bookings are taken by Ulpotha directly – this is an external retreat, not organised by BCY.

The link (above right) will take you through to the relevant page on Ulpotha’s website, where you can also read more about the venue.

For all enquiries and questions, please contact Ulpotha directly on [email protected] or WhatsApp +94773017536. Their terms and conditions can be found here.