6-Day Photography & Yoga / Meditation retreat in spectacular Mustang (Nepal)

Paul Barton DOP and Helen McCabe explore external and internal light in one of the most remote and dramatic places in the world.

Dates: 13 October 2018 - 18 October 18
Taught by: Paul Barton (Director of Photography) and Helen McCabe (RYT 500)
Location: Kagbeni village, in ancient Tibetan Mustang, Nepal
Cost: 180,000 Nepali Rupees (approx USD $1,760 or GBP £1,280)

Image by Paul Barton

Light, in all its manifestations, is at the heart and structure of life and the universe we live in. High in the Himalayas, light filters along the narrow cobbled streets and ancient mud temples of the peacefully haunting medieval village of Kagbeni, our home for this extraordinary photography retreat.

This 6-day retreat will take place in one of the most beautiful and remote areas of world, against the backdrop of the stunning Annapurna mountain range. Here in this area of high desert, the landscape is dramatic, expansive and awe-inspiring.

Image by Paul Barton

Paul will take you on a journey where the camera is the vehicle for learning to understand, work and play with light in all its aspects. This is a journey away from the demands and noise of daily life to an immersion in dramatic wilderness. The energy of this isolated place is as pure as the light quality here, with bright and clear blue skies most days at this time of the year. 

It is one of the few remaining places like this in the world. 

The harsh landscape embodies the power of limits. By stripping away distractions, we keenly see the essence of what we’re concentrating on, for a deeply powerful experience. In this environment, you’ll capture images that have a meditative power, images that express your consciousness.

As the sun moves across the horizon and changes the colors of the mountains, there will be opportunities to play with light out in the landscape or inside. Emphasis will be on developing each individual photographer, with time for individual practical tuition so that each person in the group can develop their skills.

Image by Paul Barton

Essence of this photography retreat in Nepal

This retreat sees photography as meditation.

What is life but the exchange of energy from one form to another?

 What is love but the conscious awareness of the true connection between all that is.

 What is light? The giver of all life and the great communicator.

Image by Paul Barton

What is sound? The energy and geometries that it releases.

What is time? Where do we place it and how do we see it?

Image by Paul Barton

All is frequency.                 

The camera is the perfect vehicle to learn how to play with these elements capturing images  of interactions beyond what we cannot physically perceive.

Image by Paul Barton

The beautiful rarified location of the retreat has all the power of limitation, giving fewer obstacles to focusing on an in-depth connection between our selves and what we are relating too.

What are we but the physical manifestation of the expanding consciousness of creation?

The aim will be to capture and return with images that, like mandalas, become a meditation focus point.

Culminate with a image that expresses the new awareness of our own energy signature and how it interrelates with other energies, such as the landscape, using what we have learnt in how to play with light, time and focus as tools our creative soul.   

Image by Paul Barton

Each of the photographic ‘exercises’ each day will have a strong emphasis on developing an awareness of how consciousness and energy and the material world inter-relate. Exercises will include:

  • Looking at the self as part of the landscape in a number of ways, both reflected and projected.
  • During the day we will be learning about light and its energy and characteristics
  • At night there will be the opportunity to contemplate light in a more expansive way, using meditation and photography to explore the light energy in the stars, just as people have done since time began.


Who this retreat is aimed at

This retreat will suit anyone with an interest in photography, whatever their level of experience, and particularly anyone with an interest in the esoteric. Paul will be working closely with the group not only on their practical and composition skills with photography, but also the deeper layers of awareness.

It is not necessary to have a professional camera. You can bring whatever equipment you like to work with, but a good camera-phone will suffice. Paul can show you apps for your phone that will help you to professionalise its functionality. An interest is all that is required: we will help you to take it from there.

This is not a formulaic retreat: we are looking for those inspired to take an adventure with us. The altitude of Kagbeni is 2,800. This is just below the standard altitude-sickness threshold and means that temperatures at night can drop very low. This will affect your breathing and stamina, and for those joining the yoga it may limit your practice. This retreat will most suit those students looking to nourish their souls and skills in an extraordinary location.

This area is remote, wild and unpredictable. Rapidly changing mountain weather systems may affect flights: we will provide you with an extraordinary experience, but we seek those willing to roll with us into the unknown. The village is a step back in time: we seek those who yearn to step away from modern distractions to sit with themselves, with each other, and with the breath-taking landscape. The food and accommodation is outstanding for the location, but is basic and traditional: we seek those who find joy in simplicity.

If this is you, we wholeheartedly welcome you. 

Cultivate stillness and awareness through yoga

Image by Paul Barton

There will also be opportunities to link our learning about the physical to the metaphysical, through yoga and meditation. Helen will support the group’s work with Paul, and will hold a space in the yoga room at our base each morning for those who wish to practice. By taking time to check in with our breath, bodies and mind, we can cultivate the stillness and awareness that enables us to be fully present with whatever arises.  In turn this heightens our focus as we meditate on the world through the camera lens.

In the Himalayan footsteps of great masters who helped to shine a light on the Yoga path, the morning sessions with Helen will be open to practitioners of all levels of experience. For those not familiar with the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga method, or for complete beginners, Helen will lead an additional guided class each day. 

Image by Paul Barton

The two forms – photography and yoga – interplay by cultivating the mindfulness needed to deeply appreciate and connect with what we see. Both are perfect creative tools for interacting with the energy of time, space, emotion and individual perspective.

Each evening, before dinner, we will come together as a group for a short meditation, where we can sit quietly, reflect upon the day and simply absorb the beautiful stillness of this extraordinary location.


The retreat will maintain an ‘organic’ and open element to each day so that we can adapt as the weather and the light changes. The very limited places (maximum group size of 12) enables plenty of personal attention and guidance for those who would like it.

The Teachers

Paul Barton, DOP

Since leaving the London College of Printing, where Paul studied for a Degree in photography, he has worked non-stop in the world of stills, film and television as a photographer and Director of Photography. It is a job he considers a huge privilege to do, for clients including the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, E4, Film 4, FIVE, Discovery Channel, Sky Television, Tesla and Rolls-Royce.

Over the years, his work has enabled him to experience many diverse locations and to observe the inner workings of cultural and natural systems. 

He absolutely loves this work and the wonderful people that he gets to collaborate with, perhaps more than anything because it enables him to work so closely with light, both natural and ʻdesignedʼ, to capture beautiful images. Understanding how to work with light will always produce the most stunning images, no matter what the message might be. 

Paul uses his knowledge of light and his meditation practice to focus a raised consciousness on the connection between all things using the medium of photography. 

For more on Paul’s work, visit his website or read his full bio.

Helen McCabe

Helen practises and teaches Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga in Dorset, where she is director of ‘Yoga at the Space’ in beautiful Purbeck. She runs the morning Mysore programme as well as teaching and running regular retreats and workshops.

Helen started practicing yoga in 1991 and completed the BWY 3-year teacher training course in 2005, going on to be recognised by Yoga Alliance UK as a Senior Yoga Teacher. She has studied both level 1 and 2 teacher training courses with her main teachers John Scott and Lucy Crawford, and is one of the very few who have been granted the 500 hour senior teacher accreditation from John Scott.

Helen brings a mindful and gentle approach to sharing this practice and the powerful tool which it can be for everyday life. She is passionate about the importance of working with the breath and body’s own intelligence and understanding how to cultivate, strength and stability as well as flexibility. She shares these techniques in a way that is empowering and supportive, so that practitioners of any age and experience can have the confidence to develop their own sustainable self practice. 

Learn more about Helen from her website or full bio.


Venue for this photography and yoga retreat in Nepal

We will meet in Pokhara, where we will spend the first night in welcome and orientation before travelling together at dawn the next morning to Jomsom. This short flight offers jaw-dropping views as it passes between some of the world’s highest mountains.

From Jomsom we jeep to Kagbeni (2,800m altitude) in Mustang, one of the last regions where traditional Tibetan life thrives. A quasi-independent Tibetan kingdom until 2008, its timeless culture remains almost intact. Described as a “cauldron of myth”, Mustang has remained on the periphery of modern life, a stark land of ancient cave homes, deep ravines, pilgrims, demonic myth and profound spiritual peacefulness. Kagbeni itself was a 1920’s mountaineerers’ basecamp – a sanctuary among this extreme wilderness.

Image by Paul Barton

Our home in Kagbeni is the Red House Lodge, a beautiful Tibetan guesthouse with comfortable and lovingly-crafted rooms. The guesthouse has a small private Tibetan monastery with a huge clay idol of Maitreya, and you can share, if you wish, in the ancient Tibetan Buddhist traditions of our hosts.

Our life there will be simple: simple organic fresh foods, simple lifestyle, and communion with nature. Feel the demands of daily life shed away and create space for what truly matters to be heard. In this remote mountain landscape give yourself sanctuary and clarity through the peaceful simplicity of Himalayan life.


The fee for the course is 180,000 Nepali Rupees. For an indication of the rate in your currency, see xe.comAt the time of writing, this equates to approx USD $1,760 or GBP £1,280. Payment details will be sent to you on confirmation of your place.

The fee is all-inclusive from when we meet in Pokhara to when we return you there. It includes: return flights from Pokhara to Jomsom*, 5 nights’ accommodation on a twin-share basis (1 x Pokhara, 4 x Kagbeni), the cost and handling of your permits to this protected area, return jeep from Jomsom to Kagbeni plus jeep use for trips, 3 delicious meals per day, world class teaching from Paul and Helen.

*If you would like to stay on in the area for trekking or rest after the retreat, we will be happy to deduct the cost of the returning flight from your fee so you can make your own arrangements.

Once we receive your deposit, we will send you an information brochure full of tips to help you plan your trip. But if you have any questions for now, please feel welcome to contact us.

Next steps

Simply register for an application form and we’ll help you from there.

Book this course