A couple of hundred kilometres north of Brasilia in Brazil, in the state of Goias, is a divine little hide-away known as "Alto Paraiso" (High Paradise). Chris Nelson, founder of Ashiyana Goa, bought 16Ha of land here in Alto eleven years ago, with the intention of creating a sister retreat to Ashiyana Goa.
Ashiyana Brazil is our expression of how a business can be a force for good through creating a virtuous loop of sustainability, based upon the 3 Rs:
At the beginning of September 2018, we launched a 40-day crowd-funding campaign through Indiegogo to help us raise the funds to bring our Brazil dream to realisation. We were overwhelmed by the support that we received – raising an outstanding £23,824!
The crowdfunding campaign may now have ended, but this is just the beginning…
The amount raised so far will go towards the completion of the Yoga Shala, preparation of the 9HA of land ready for permaculture, and the completion of the guest rooms, so that we can be ready to open our new doors in Alto Paraiso as planned, next Summer 2019.
We will shortly be opening Yoga Holiday bookings for Ashiyana Brazil – and the monies raised from this will go towards the completion of the building work and funding of the social rehabilitation and reforestation schemes - which are KEY aspects of this project.
With your continued support, we'll soon be opening our new sister retreat to Ashiyana Goa - which has itself evolved into a social enterprise - supporting our staff and guests, the local community and the wider environment.
Ashiyana is a Hindi word meaning home, and it was precisely this sense of feeling at home that Chris had in mind when he founded Ashiyana Goa. Our retreat has grown to become one of the most loved yoga and spa retreats in India, attracting 1000s of guests from all corners of the globe. The magic of the retreat though, lies beyond the beautiful design of the centre, the incredible beaches and the delicious, fresh food, and is rooted in the heartfelt desire for our guests to drop all of their worldly worries. This is clear to see in the beautiful smiling faces of the staff :)
With an eye for detail and his own published approach to wellbeing, Chris has created a unique experience for all who visit Ashiyana Goa.
- The Ashiyana Goa Family
When asked about his vision for Alto Paraiso, Brazil, Chris explained:
Alto is a very special place. It has an unassuming air, an understated beauty, and Mother Nature’s healing embrace is palpable. It's a truly unique location with exceptional bio-diversity, and its bedrock of crystals interwoven with rivers and waterfalls means that walks off the beaten track are truly spectacular.
Over the last few years, we've been slowly developing the land, planting trees, making wonderful friends and learning about the needs of the local community. With your continued support, we’ll be able to implement the 3 Rs of our Brazil vision:
- Relaxation - Complete the building of the Retreat that will finance the other two elements moving forwards
- Rehabilitation - Build a community/workshop space for the Rehabilitation Project, which integrates men and women back into society following drug and alcohol abuse
- Reforestation - Prepare the 9Ha of our agro-forestry project land for further planting, and build a sheltered structure with store for the workers
Our whole philosophy is based upon the creation of a virtuous loop of sustainability -
- Once the Retreat (Relaxation) is completed next summer, we'll be able to further fund the Rehabilitation and Reforestation elements of the project, as well as employ some of the workers who've been displaced from the fields by modern farming methods
- Our agro-forestry project will employ the same men and women that have been rehabilitated back into society, and their labour will enable the sale of seeds, saplings and trees, providing funds for our other social projects
- Our good friend Zizo, who lives on the land, is an expert in permaculture and agro-forestry, and with his help we hope to inspire many others to live in harmony with the land, teaching them that over-grazing, stripping of trees and seasonal burning creates long-term depletion of the land
An example of some of the projects at Ashiyana Goa:
- Welfare for Animals in Goa is an NGO dedicated to rescuing animals in need. Ashiyana partners with WAG and some of the Ashiyana family-members volunteer at the clinic to give love and care to the many animals in need
- Cleaner environment - we help run local rubbish clear ups every year - both on the beach and in the local villages - and sponsor the installation of local rubbish bins
- Nepal fund - After the 2015 earthquake, we have continued to support the families of our kitchen team by contributing a portion of our profits as well as raising donations from workshops and events throughout Europe and India
- Teacher Training Scholarship - we offer four scholarship places per year to those who can't afford the normal tuition fees
- BBC Media Action Correspondence Dinner - luxury holidays offered through fundraising auction
- Brighton Yoga Festival - sponsored fundraising events run by Brighton Yoga Foundation
- The Sisterhood foundation aims to give women and girls in the third world a brighter future. Ashiyana partners with the Sisterhood Foundation and supports their large scale fundraising events
In addition, in the twelve years since Ashiyana Goa has opened, well over 10,000 guests have been supporting the local shops, businesses and restaurants, enabling them to thrive.
This is what we have achieved so far in Goa. Our intention is to expand upon this in Alto Paraiso, Brazil with our 3Rs. Whilst the projects in Goa are hugely supportive in the community, the size of our land in Alto Paraiso will enable us to take this to the next level!
With your continued support, we can both transform lives and continue the process of returning the land to its natural, verdant glory.
Our requirements in phase 1 of the Brazil Project have been carefully costed so that all who contributed to our campaign know exactly how their donation will help. Much of this is construction, which in turn supports the community in and around Alto Paraiso.
Phase 1: An initial cash injection of £50,000 is required, which will be used as follows:
- £27,500 to complete 10 guest rooms
- £7,500 for the rehabilitation project's workshop space
- £5,000 to build the retreat's organically constructed yoga shala
- £5,000 for final preparation of the 9Ha of land to be ready for further planting
- £5,000 for a worker’s shelter which will also house equipment in a safe storage facility
As we didn't quite hit our target of £50,000 (yet!), all donations received so far will go towards the completion of the guest rooms, permaculture land and yoga shala to enable the retreat to open for paying guests, as this will ensure we have the means to generate income from paying guests to fund the other two of our Rs.
Every person that contributed to our campaign will have their name imprinted on the entrance wall to the retreat, so that their kindness will never be forgotten.
The impact of the support for this project is wide-reaching
The contributions received so far matter a great deal to many in the community that our project is supporting, plus will have a hugely positive impact on the local environment. We have a wonderfully compassionate and energetic team at Ashiyana, and we're so grateful for all of those who have chosen to get involved and support us too!
We welcome your continued support, knowing that together we can create lasting, positive change in Alto Paraiso.
In fact Chris' vision is expansive, and once we've made a success of the Brazil Project here, we'll begin to spread our efforts to other areas around the world.
Here's what Chris had to say about founding Ashiyana Goa:
"Whilst my intentions when buying the land were pretty humble, it seems that life had other ideas. Ashiyana has grown to become quite a substantial community - providing a home away from home to many thousands of guests, employment to 50, predominantly, local Indians, and support for a large array of social projects. Ashiyana has become the manifestation of a dream that I had a long time ago. But it has become so much more than I’d imagined, and because of the efforts of many people, and a few key people in particular, it is now a world-renowned yoga retreat and community that has spawned hundreds of yoga teachers, many thousands of happy guests, and is a fundamentally important element of the local community."
We know that there will be challenges along the way, but we've set up an amazing network in Alto Paraíso and the team is primed and ready to complete Phase 1 of our beautiful project! Everything is in place, and with your continued help we can move it forward...
There is always a way to help!
Although the Indiegogo campaign has now ended, we are still receiving donations and support for this project - please get in touch if you would like to support us.
We will shortly be opening Yoga Holiday bookings for Ashiyana Brazil - and the monies raised from this will initially go towards the completion of Phase 1 - finishing the build and funding of the social rehabilitation and reforestation projects.
Look out for our next announcement on discounted Brazil holidays and retreats offers coming soon - follow us on social media and sign up to our newsletter to be amongst the first to know.
You can also pre-register your interest to stay at Ashiyana Brazil by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org - to be contacted directly when we open bookings.