A couple weeks back, I decided to take advantage of the amazingly low AQI and enjoy the fluffy clouds from Mountainyoga, a yoga retreat center in the Fragrant Hills. I checked in for the overnight retreat, which included Vinyasa yoga instruction, a workshop in drumming, and a Kirtan (mantra chanting) session. 

Spartanly furnished, a little ramshackle, and with basic facilities, although barely outside the Fifth Ring Road, the center feels far-removed from urban Beijing. The rattle of leaves in the trees is broken by the occasional dog’s bark or cockerel’s crow, and the surrounding village is the definition of sleepy.

The employees are friendly, helpful, and eager to pass on their genuine passion for yoga. For instance, having cooked and cleaned for the day, the center's ayi was the first one on her feet clapping and swaying during the call and response Kirtan singing.

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Photo courtesy of Mountainyoga

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