Not Just a Trade But a Transformation

Not Just a Trade But a Transformation


My Yoga Trade Experience in Colombia: How it Birthed Lotus Retreats!

Yoga Trade inspired my life in a direction I could have never imagined until it was happening. A true transformation. 

After a couple Yoga Teacher Trainings, I was deep in the yoga studio teacher hustle bouncing from studio to studio, town to town, teaching as many classes and styles as I could. While I gained immense experience from a variety of studios, students and styles; I was quickly headed towards burnout and knew I needed to change something. 

I had heard of Yoga Trade and scavenged enough of my week’s savings to pay for a membership so I could check out what it was offering. Next thing I knew, I was scrolling through country after country of beautiful yoga retreat centers looking for yoga teachers, dreaming of where I could go!

I landed on the country of Colombia, intrigued by a boutique beach retreat whose offering spoke directly to my soul. After a few emails back and forth, a decision was made and I committed to teaching yoga at a boutique hotel on the coast of Colombia for one month. 

I set my compass so that every day prepared me for my journey into South America. Next thing I knew, I was on an international flight, sleeping on airport chairs during a long layover with a small backpack full of a huge amount of excitement!

I landed in Cartagena where I planned to spend a couple of days exploring the culture of a Colombian city. The moment I stepped off the plane, the moist air touched my skin, instantly breaking into a sweat. Wiping the sweat off my face with my shirt, I continued through Colombian customs, curiously watching every person and every moment in awe. 

“Bienvenidos a Colombia” said the customs patrol as they stamped my passport and ushered me to the exit to enter Colombia. I was in for the beginning of one of my life’s most profound journeys. 

I spent the next month falling in love with the culture, the nature, the people and the cuisine of Colombia. Arriving at Gitana Del Mar Beach Resort, I was greeted by the friendly and welcoming family, the owners themselves and their left & right hand property managers. I quickly noticed just how much heart and soul was buzzing on the grounds of this retreat property; at the time, a humble 7 bungalows, beachfront yoga shala, and open-air restaurant / kitchen. I was given a tour of the grounds, and shown where the retreat staff, yoga teachers, artists, chefs, etc. would stay in the “Maloka” I stopped to smell the eucalyptus tree in front of my room while listening to the hum of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta jungle all around me.

As the days progressed, I taught yoga twice a day on the beachfront yoga shala to hotel guests that were passing through. Each day I met new people, couples, families and solo-travelers who had also been called to visit Colombia. Aside from teaching yoga each day, I was excited for hikes, adventures and exploring the nature around me! Jungle trails leading to waterfalls, adventuring to nearby towns, and tasting new foods and fruits.. All while practicing my Colombian Spanish and observing the local families living all around us. I met the sons, fathers, daughters and mothers of everyone; seeing some of the same faces each day.  Truly, 4 weeks of waking up, eating, living and falling back to sleep in the Sierra Nevada jungle was the perfect amount of time for me to fall and love; and not only that, but to feel a pressing desire to want to come back, and bring more yoga students with me!

Halfway through my trade in Colombia, I was told I had a few days off. A yoga instructor was coming with a group to host a retreat; and I wasn’t needed to teach yoga. Even better, I was invited to attend some of the classes, and I deeply enjoyed witnessing the group interact, practice yoga and share the excitement of being in Colombia with one another.  

The pressing desire inside of my heart to share this experience, was validated in front of my eyes, and I thought to myself. I can do that.

Many mochilas, morning arepas, fruit plates, fruit juices and fresh fish later…..It was time to journey home with my eyes and heart widened by the experience I was taking home with me. 

I remember arriving back in Los Angeles, California, setting up an altar with Colombian rocks and seashells ~ envisioning how quickly I could return to what I just experienced. After some months of more teaching & training in the city, the first Lotus Retreats Self-Realization and Empowerment Retreat in Colombia had been born. Beatriz Bonnin and I sold it out on the Winter solstice in 2016 and we hugged each other in awe. 

Months later, we returned to Colombia with a group of students from the yoga studios and some of our close friends and family from our hometowns. We spent 6 days and 5 nights practicing yoga twice a day, going on hikes, waterfall treks, river tubing or horseback riding. As the days passed, our group became so close, sharing the excitement of a country as unique as Colombia. Each day and experience was so beautiful and we also got to relate with everyone else sharing it with us. Thus, the magic of community and friendships was created and have stuck, far beyond the experience of the retreat itself. 

After a few Colombia retreats, the guests who had attended the retreat, requested to go on another one! In a different country. Now I hadn’t thought about that at the time, because I was so in love with Colombia I didn’t see why we’d ever have to go somewhere else!

However, I listened to the desires of our growing community and found solace in going to explore new countries to set up a retreat. This is the best part, because I get to fall in love with a new country, bright eyed and bushy tailed each time, exploring all of the nature, the cuisine and the culture of the country I am visiting. 

As the years went on, Lotus Retreats had brought retreat groups to Colombia, Nicaragua, Mexico, Cuba, Greece, Bali, Portugal, Peru, Guatemala, and Mt. Shasta, Ojai, Taos and Sedona, USA. Even during the Covid-19 pandemic, we hosted online classes and a virtual retreat for guests to stay connected during a hard time. We were able to postpone all of our retreats and eventually return when it was time for us to gather again.

7 years later, 30 retreats in over 10 countries; Cuban cigars, Balinese incense, Lake Atitlan water and Greek, Colombian & Peruvian cuisine and culture continue to be shared with like minded health focused travelers. 

I’m forever grateful to the Yoga Trade community for first guiding me to Colombia; a decision that changed my life and propelled me in the direction to create Self-Empowerment retreats for Yogis around the world. I hope you also follow the call when your soul is inviting you to a new place, a new experience and a new opportunity to explore your life! 


 

 

Connect with Loren and Lotus Retreats!

lotusretreats.com

IG: @lotusretreats

 

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Loren Lotus
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