We Are Starting Adventure Therapy Treks At Indiahikes

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We Are Starting Adventure Therapy Treks At Indiahikes

Category Experiential Learning How Trekking Transforms Lives Thursday Trek Talk

By Swathi Chatrapathy

2022-02-24

I want to share a small story. 

It was narrated to me by Izzat Yaganagi, the head of Experiential Learning at Indiahikes. It is a story that dates back 11 years, when Izzat was on her first Himalayan trek. The story gains more significance if you know Izzat’s background. She is a psychological counsellor, who has worked extensively with couples, youth and families.

“It was September 2011,” begins Izzat. “I was going through a difficult phase in my life. I was at a crossroads with everything — my personal life, my professional life. I felt low. I wanted to get away from everything.” 

“That’s when, on the recommendation of a colleague, I signed up for a Himalayan trek with Indiahikes. Not to cure myself, but just to get away from everything for a while. Little did I know that the trek would change everything about my life,” she reflects. 

“I remember this one moment I was sitting by Gadsar Lake, watching the blue waters lapping the shore. Small rivulets trickled down the mountain sides, feeding the lake. On my right, I could see the Gadsar valley stretching into the horizon. 

“It was at this point that somehow, my mind hit a reset button. I felt all my problems disappearing away. I felt light and relieved, like no problem was too big. For the first time in the past few months, I could feel a sense of lightness in my heart,” recollects Izzat. 

Later that night, when Izzat was reflecting on the trek, she realised that what she had gone through was very different. The trek had a big role to play in it. “The trek had helped me get out of a troublesome environment into a space where I could see my own problems from a bird’s eye view. In the city, I was constantly rushing from one day to the next, never able to give myself the mental space required to heal. I felt trapped in a bubble of my own thoughts.” 

“But on the trek, I had the luxury of time and space to open up. I was never in a rush. I had no other responsibilities. I felt calm. I could see things more objectively. The feeling of being overwhelmed all the time withered away and my problems seemed manageable.” 

“This is what most therapists do in the process of working with their clients. But the trek was naturally lending itself to such a profound outcome – in such a short duration,” she says.  

“After returning I strongly felt  ‘why not bring my clients here. It would have such a deep impact on their state of mind. It could do what months of therapy could not,” recalls Izzat. 

When Izzat sat by the lake, she saw the true potential that trekking could have on those going through personal issues. Picture shot on the Tarsar Marsar trek by Nitesh Salkade.

It was back then that Izzat decided to join Indiahikes with the intention of using trekking as a medium to help those struggling with personal issues. 

In these 11 years, Izzat Yaganagi among other things, set up the Experiential Learning Division at Indiahikes. Today, we work with innumerable professional institutions and schools to bring these learnings from the outdoors into our daily lives. The impact of these programs has been enormous. 

Group sessions and one-on-one sessions will play a key role on our adventure therapy treks.

What is adventure therapy?  

Adventure Therapy is not a new concept. It is something that has existed in many forms for over a century. 

In his paper on outdoor therapy, Stephan Natynczuk, one of the foremost adventure therapists, writes on different ways of adventure therapy — “Some rely on nature as a co-therapist; others on experiential learning. Some utilise talking therapy and others successfully blend each of these with an adventurous journey.” 

At Indiahikes, we are building on this thought of blending nature therapy, talking therapy and experiential learning to help those struggling with personal issues. 

“We’ve noticed that even on our regular treks, trekkers go through a near-therapeutic experience. It is where nature creates its own impact without human intervention,” explains Izzat. 

There is a science behind this impact, which our founder, Arjun Majumdar, covers in his TEDx talk. “Trekking has an immediate calming effect. Our nerves start soothing. Laughter flows easily. There is a spring in our step.

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There is a science behind these feelings. It is to do with hormones. 

Arjun continues, “When we trek, our body releases large doses of endorphins, the hormone that makes us happy. Added to that there is a boost of serotonin, which relaxes us. We get strong doses of Dopamine, which makes us feel accomplished, it triggers our reward centres. And there’s also a good amount of oxytocin, which gives us a sense of tranquillity and love.”

 “But not everyone realises this impact, especially if they’re in a troubled state of mind,” explains Izzat. “Many times, it needs facilitation by someone who can nudge them to enhance what the trek is already doing,” she adds. 

This is what we will be doing in our adventure therapy treks. 

A trek, on its own, has the power to impact your mind, body and spirit. But not everyone realises this impact. This is where a trained professional comes in, to nudge you to enhance what the trek is already doing. Picture by Faizan Shaikh

How our Adventure Therapy Treks work

This is not going to be like our regular treks. It is specially designed and facilitated by team members who are trained to conduct therapy. 

The first trek is going to be led by Ms Izzat Yaganagi herself, who is a Psychological Counselor with a practice of over 13 years. She heads the Experiential Learning division at Indiahikes. 

While the trek is going to work on its own, Ms Izzat Yaganagi will be playing a big role through one-on-one sessions, group sessions. Talking therapy and experiential learning are going to be a key feature in the adventure therapy trek.

Whom is it meant for? 

These treks are meant for those going through some difficulty in their lives. If you’re feeling low, underconfident, or finding it hard to overcome difficulties, this trek is meant for you. If you’re overcoming the loss of someone, or unable to focus on your professional life, this trek will work wonderfully for you.

We will be taking people on an invite-basis only. You will find a link to a form at the end of this email. Please fill it in. We will talk to you and see if you really need this trek before accepting you in the group.  

Whom is it not meant for? 

I’d like to clarify this here. This trek is not meant for those who are undergoing therapy for serious psychological issues.  

(It is also not meant for those who do not find a place in our regular groups.)

If you are wondering whether you qualify for it, follow this link to fill the form or email us at tws@indiahikes.com. We will consider your situation and let you know. 

When and where is the Adventure Therapy trek going to be held? 

This trek is going to be held at the beautiful Dayara Bugyal. The base camp, the campsites, the meadows, mountain views, they all lend themselves to a great setting for therapy. 

Dates for the trek: Sept 24th - Sept 29th, 2022

This is what the itinerary will look like:

Day 1:

Drive From Dehradun to Raithal (8 hour drive). Briefing and orientation about the Adventure Therapy Trek by Ms Izzat Yaganagi.

Day 2: Trek from Raithal to Gui 

Day 3: Gui to Chilapada

Day 4: Chilapada to Nayata via Dayara Top 

Day 5: Nayata to Raithal

Day 6: Drive back from Raithal to Dehradun

For the first group, the adventure therapy trek fee is the same as our regular group:  8,950 + 5% GST (base camp to base camp). 

You’ll find more details about the Dayara Bugyal trek on this page

The Dayara Bugyal trek lends itself beautifully to a setting where adventure therapy can be conducted.

How to apply: 

If you’d like to be a part of our Adventure Therapy trek, follow this link to fill the form

We will be keeping the group small, with around 12-13 members. The slots will be confirmed on a first-come-first-served basis. 

In conclusion: 

We all know how beneficial a trek can be for the mind, body and spirit. Terms like nature therapy and forest healing have firmly embedded themselves in conversations of therapists. Medics in countries like Canada, UK and New Zealand are suggesting nature prescriptions and green prescriptions as healers. At Indiahikes too, we not only believe in it, but have seen the healing powers ourselves. 

“Nature grounds us, and while the patches of green at home are helpful, there’s nothing like being out in the wide open spaces to soothe the wounded soul. To be able to commune with nature, especially with the help of an experienced facilitator, is healing,” says Mahesh Natarajan, certified counsellor and founder member of Innersight, a collective of counsellors. 

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Swathi Chatrapathy

Chief Editor

About the author

Swathi Chatrapathy heads the digital content team at Indiahikes. She is also the face behind India's popular trekking video channel, Trek With Swathi. Unknown to many, Swathi also writes a weekly column at Indiahikes which has more than 100,000 followers. A TEDx speaker and a frequent guest at other events, Swathi is a much sought after resource for her expertise in digital content. Before joining Indiahikes, Swathi worked as a reporter and sub-editor at a daily newspaper. She holds a Masters's in Digital Journalism and continues to contribute to publications. Trekking, to her, is a sport that liberates the mind more than anything else. Through trekking, Swathi hopes to bring about a profound impact on a person's mind, body and spirit.

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