What is Vira?
VIRA means “hero, or courageous warrior” in the ancient languages of Indus. The Snow Lion, a celestial being of the Himalayas is the official emblem of Vira Life Academy. According to mythology, snow lions represent yogis who live high up in the mountains and symbolizes power, strength, fearlessness, and joy. The roar of the Snow Lion embodies the sound of ’emptiness’, courage and truth.
Here we aim to cultivate “viras”, or spiritual warriors who are dedicated to making the world a better place as they progress along this path of growth, connection and contribution. Each year, we try to bring teachers across different disciplines to the Himalayas and allow people from all around the world to utilize this platform as a way to learn and connect with like-minded souls while engaging in meaningful community programs. This is an academy that encourages life-long learning and aspires to actualize the potentials of all beings through a holistic approach, thus a life academy.
Vira Life Academy is an attempt to disrupt conventional education and traveling by merging them into one: incorporating various spiritual retreats, intellectual workshops, and community service activities as part of one’s expedition in a remote spiritual setting.
Join Us In The Himalayas
Each summer, we engage different partners, changemakers, and people from all walks of life to come up with meaningful programs designed for growth and contribution
Himalayan Education Action Program (HEAP) 2019
We’re now finding a team of educational enthusiasts to join us in volunteering and designing a well-rounded curriculum for nomadic kids living in a boarding school located in a village far in the East of Ladakh.
Participants will spend a large portion of their time brainstorming, teaching, and interacting with kids, as well as experimenting with different pedagogy methodologies, facilitated by veteran professor Bill Valentino. Bill is a graduate of Columbia University’s School of Education, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) expert, and a professor at Tsinghua University, China.
Besides community service, volunteers also get to learn about local Ladakhi culture and mindfulness activities such as yoga, meditation, and trekking etc.
Universal Yoga & Shiatsu Retreat Expedition 2019
Our annual all-encompassing retreat expedition that brings people to different regions of Ladakh based on the concept of growth, connection, and contribution.
The highlight of this program: Practice Universal Yoga and learn about the theories behind it with Sam Hah and Sherab Jin. You will also have a chance to learn shiatsu massage with our Japanese sensei Megumi Okubo, a professional therapist, and trainer of clinical practices from Japan Shiatsu College
Growth: Meditation, Yoga, Tai Chi and other mindfulness practices suitable for all levels of practitioners.
Contribution and Connection: Along the way, we will visit several underprivileged communities and give our loving support to them. Immerse yourself in local Ladakhi culture. Sightseeing and shopping are included, a dose of everything in moderation!
Vira Shaolin-Yoga Retreat Expedition 2020
Planning one year ahead, we’re organizing our very first martial arts- yoga, yin-yang cross-training program. We will be collaborating with Alexis Charrier, a French-Canadian martial artist, acupuncturist, and musician most probably in August 2020!
Participants will spend each morning and evening learning the fundamental pieces of training and taolu (sequences) of Shaolin, their practical knowledge and application, as well as qigong practices to strengthen the immune system. This is then complemented with knowledge and practice of Eastern yoga, especially in the style of Universal Yoga school.
Our retreat expedition will start easy and warm with qigong and other forms of yoga breathwork, helping you to acclimatize to the high mountains and gradually work effortlessly towards developing greater physical mobility, explosiveness, strength, flexibility as your lungs capacity evolve. Besides daily physical growth, we will also spend time volunteering with Ladakhi kids and connecting with local people through community projects.
Our Expedition Model
The same three core principles that guide all our programs. You will find the same elements in whichever retreats you join here.
Whether it’s physical, emotional or mental, we try to foster growth in at least a few areas of your life. Every Vira retreat expedition revolves around one or two special themes such as education, yoga, trekking or shiatsu massage, depending on our invited teachers and partners. Nevertheless, you still get to explore other forms of activities and fields of knowledge. Cross-Disciplinary studies is what we strive for!
You will be electrified by 3 types of connections in our community. First, connect with folks from all around the world and embrace a family by the end of the program. Secondly, connect with the locals, learn about their lifestyle and be with nature: the mountains, rivers, and lakes. Last but not least, connect with your higher self, the universe, God, spirituality, whatever you call it and actualize your potential.
Life is never fulfilling if we’re only well and happy by ourselves. Traveling can be a means to serve a community outside of our regular boundaries. Join our efforts to improve the world, whether its helping the environment through green initiatives or improving the education and medical care of underprivileged communities in the Himalayas.
We Promote Sustainable Eco-tourism
We are concerned about your wellbeing and that of our world. In our community and everywhere we travel to, we strive to reduce waste, recycle and promote sustainable living. Be close with nature and help us preserve the beauty of local culture.
Dwell into the traditional Ladakhi lifestyle in local farms, camps and learn how to plant, harvest, cook, produce fresh Apricot Jams and maybe even communicate with local people without the use of verbal languages!
Preserving Naturopathy and Holistic Healing
Besides using different holistic methodologies to heal the body, spirit, and mind, we are also working with a traditional Sogwa Rigpa a.k.a Tibetan medicine (Amchi) doctor, Pungchok Angchuk in preserving the practice of traditional medicine in the Himalaya region. In our expeditions, participants will visit his beautiful village in Durbok, got themselves diagnosed and are given medicine that suits their body types according to Ayurveda. There they will learn how to make medicines, and help distribute medicines to needy patients in rural villages.
This retreat expedition changed my perspective and transformed my life completely. I learn to appreciate the little things in life and find comfort among discomfort.
To anybody who's interested not only in yoga, meditation, India or Buddhism, or just wanting to grow and evolve as a student, here is the place to come to. The energy is so powerful and yet so gentle, humanistic, stimulating and calming. It has so many different levels here that you can't just walk away and not be inspired to want to be better in every way: physically, mentally, emotionally and as a human being: to want to give to other people as well. So if you have the opportunity to come, really, I highly recommend it.
“When mind, body, and spirit are in harmony, happiness is the natural result.”
You have to grow from the inside out. None can teach you, none can make you spiritual. There is no other teacher but your own soul.
– Swami Vivekananda
If you have any questions, please send us a message, we’d love to hear your thoughts and be connected!
Vira Life Academy would like to extend its deepest gratitude to those who provided help in setting up this website, including logo designer Rinchen Gaucher, Nicholas Choo, and photographer Ivonne (http://eyesofive.de).