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Life Post Yoga Retreat: Maintaining the Bliss Buzz

Traveling and spending time at a Yoga Retreat or Training Center is one of the most beneficial ways to deepen or re-ignite a yoga practice. Yoga retreats and immersive training centers are an oasis of physical, mental and spiritual bliss! We are fed high-quality, often organic, whole food meals, and we typically do not have to even worry about cleaning our plates after the daily feasts. A daily, often rigorous schedule of asana, pranayama and meditation rejuvenate our minds and bodies while the support of like-minded teachers and fellow yogis hold the space for our transformation and emotional release. We experience decreased responsibilities, limited social media and an absence of addictive substances during the days lived at our yoga sanctuary. We are taken care of and lovingly provided for and held. We often connect so deeply with our fellow yogis on retreat that we question how we ever lived without them in the first place.

Ahhhhh, yes, the blissful bubble of yoga immersion! The environment and community encourage our self-expression and exploration of deep, authentic conversation. We feel so connected, healthy, centered and serene which is the perfect internal environment for our highest selves to shine through.

So, what happens when we leave our yoga bubble and go back home?

We discover on our retreat how easy it can be to consistently practice and embody a yoga lifestyle in a controlled environment purposefully constructed to support yogic principles and transformation. The real world might suddenly feel harsher in contrast to the cozy yoga shalas, yurts and tents we had grown accustomed to. We won’t automatically have many hours a day carved out of our schedules to practice yoga and meditate. Social media, news and other distractions are abundant. And what? We must feed ourselves and clean up? This might feel like too much to handle.

The greatest challenge of leaving a yoga retreat is carrying our recently connected, healthy, centered and serene selves back into the habits, stresses and relationships of our daily lives. It might feel like our yoga saturated bodies and souls transformed in some way making reintegration into the regular world uncomfortable. It may take us time to relate in a new way to our external environment.

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When I return from trainings, retreats and other Yoga Trade travel opportunities, I often find it takes me a period of adjustment. There are obvious extremes I will adjust to like the climate change between the jungle of Costa Rica and my home in Germany, but more importantly, I give myself time to acclimate my inner climate to my regular life at home.

Here are a few tips I find helpful to help integrate, prolong the yoga-bliss-buzz, and stay grounded in the regular world after a yoga immersion:

1. Home Sanctuary

Create a small retreat at home. If you don’t already have a sacred practice space in your home, find a small room or corner that you can create a mini yoga sanctuary. Bring your yoga mat, any props, a pillow, candles and incense. You may even create a small altar with items that inspire you. The space doesn’t have to be big to feel like a little slice of bliss at home. This home sanctuary might even inspire you to consistently practice and dedicate more time to your self-care and well-being than before.

2. Nourish Your Physical Body

If the diet you followed on your retreat was very different than your regular diet, it might be a shock to your body to jump back into old diet regimes – especially if at the retreat, you avoided sugar, alcohol, caffeine, etc. You may even consider incorporating any new eating habits you learned that really worked for you. Take some time to fuel and nourish your body with what it needs and take it easy on cravings. Treats are good, but over indulgence after a week or longer on a retreat might leave you feeling less than optimal.

3. Set Goals

We often quickly embrace the schedule at a retreat as we experience the luxury of so much free-time and limited responsibilities. If your regular schedule doesn’t allow for 3 hours of asana and meditation every morning, set a realistic goal that will still get your body moving and soul connected. You might wake up 30 minutes early every day and go straight to your sacred practice space. Maybe you find a local studio with a lunch time or evening class that you can attend a few times a week. Find a self-care and yoga goal that works with your reality! A consistent physical and mental practice will help you stay grounded and connected to your highest self, long after the retreat buzz wears off.

4. Reconnect

Taking time out of our lives to focus on self-care and personal growth often requires a sacrifice in another area of our lives. If you disconnected on your retreat from loved ones to focus your energy on your relaxation and transformation, take time when you return to reconnect with them. Spend some quality time and share your retreat experience with your partner, family and friends. Ask them what they have been doing while you were gone. These honest conversations will help rebuild and strengthen any weakened connections during your time away.

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5. Be Gentle

Did you discover yourself feeling more gentle, compassionate, honest, open and free than ever before on your retreat? The yoga retreat bubble is the perfect place to truly practice and embody the teachings of yoga. Sometimes, the real world with all of the challenges, stressors and calamities that inevitably transpire makes acting like an enlightened yogi nearly impossible. If you find yourself losing your calm, go easy on yourself. Don’t beat yourself with unhelpful self-talk, “I was just on a yoga retreat! I should be better/kinder/calmer than this!” Be gentle and patient with yourself. The yoga bubble is a perfect place to practice the lessons and teachings in a controlled environment, and the real world is like the exam we get to finally apply what we learned. If you want to incorporate the teachings and be better at being you in the world, practice.

I hope these tips help you ease back into daily life post-retreat with more grace and patience while maintaining the yoga bliss and teachings. Namaste.

 

 

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Sarah is a Yoga Trade Travel Representative. She loves to explore herself and the world through the lenses of yoga and travel and constantly challenge herself to uncover truth and unity within and around her.

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How to Find An Affordable Yoga Retreat

Yoga retreats are all the rage right now, but what if you don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on one week of rest and relaxation? A yoga retreat doesn’t have to break the bank to be beneficial. There are affordable yoga retreats out there, it just may take a bit more effort to find them. Here are four things you should be looking for when searching out an affordable yoga retreat.

Tips For Finding an Affordable Yoga Retreat:

 

1. Try a Less Popular Destination

Everyone knows that Bali and Costa Rica are popular yoga retreat destinations. While it is possible to find more affordable retreats in these locations, they will be more rare to come across. Try looking at retreats in less popular yoga destinations. Hint: They may be closer to the popular destinations than you would think. For instance, a yoga retreat in Costa Rica may be more than you can afford, but try looking at neighboring Nicaragua. Retreats can often be found there for half the price. Travel in the “off-season.” Yoga retreats in the fall and spring months are often less expensive. It’s harder for people to take time off of school and work in the middle of a season. Retreats over holidays and during the summer are likely to be much more expensive.

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2. Find an ‘All Inclusive’ Yoga Retreat

Yoga retreats can get expensive very fast if you don’t factor in the cost of any extras that aren’t included. Obviously there is the airfare to get to your location, which is rarely, if ever, included. On top of that, many retreats don’t include all meals, airport transfers, extra activities, etc. in the base rate. If the rest of your group is going on all the added excursions, you’re not going to want to be left out. Even if you say you won’t do any of the add on activities to save money, once you’re there it might be hard to resist. Some retreats even charge more for yoga classes over once per day. There are, however, many yoga retreats that are all inclusive, meaning everything you will need during your stay is included. You may still have to pay for an airport transfer, or tips for the hospitality staff at the end of your stay, but it will be considerably less than an ‘a la carte’ yoga retreat.

3. Share a Room to Cut Costs

It may be tempting to really treat yourself and get a private room or cabana on your yoga retreat. After all, you’re already taking the leap to care for yourself in a big way. Why not go full out and live in the lap of luxury for a week? If the big private room is worth it to you, by all means, go for it. If you are looking to cut costs, though, a shared room is the better option. Most yoga retreat centers charge a base rate by calculating the cost of whichever size room you choose plus anything that’s included, like meals. Sharing a room, or even staying in a dormitory style room, is often the cheapest option on a yoga retreat. This can actually be a major benefit in the long run, though! Not only do you save money, but you have the opportunity to really get to know your fellow retreat goers.

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4. Book Far in Advance

Not every yoga retreat will have a special ‘early bird’ price, but many will. Yoga retreat leaders want to get people to their retreats, and having an early promotion is a great way to start signing people up and getting the word out there. If you’re willing to commit a year in advance, this is an excellent way to find an affordable yoga retreat. By booking far in advance, you are also able to get the best flight deals to wherever your yoga retreat is located. Check out websites like Skyscanner and Kayak to find the best airline deals and track when the lowest prices will be available to purchase.

There you have it, 4 tips to help you find an affordable yoga retreat. There are many options out there for budget friendly retreats, it may just take a bit more time and effort to find them. Once you do, you are well on your way to having the experience of a lifetime. The things you learn, and the connections you form on a yoga retreat are truly priceless. Whatever you spend on your yoga retreat will pay you back tenfold in experience.

 

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Eva Casey is a writer who travels around the world. She is editor-in-chief for WeTravel, a free group trip planning tool that makes finding or planning a yoga retreat anywhere around the world a breeze. 

 

 

 

 

Join Yoga Trade, Rochelle Ballard, and inspiring guest teachers on our first Sustainable Living Yoga Continuing Education Immersion! It is affordable, educational, and will be a super fun week! Connect at Yoga Trade or WeTravel.

SUSTAINABLE LIVING YOGA IMMERSION

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Three Reasons to Retreat

Want to travel to some of the worlds most stunning locations around the world, guided by inspiring teachers, surrounded by a positive like-minded community, while enjoying daily wholesome foods and yoga? A yoga retreat is a magical experience. It is one of the best ways to self-nourish, gain perspective on life through an intentional ’time-out’ and possibly transform your life. While there are many benefits to a retreat (physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually) the following three reasons are what keeps me creating these sacred spaces for students:

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1. It shifts perspectives

When you physically travel to new locations (even if it is only hours away!) you step out of your comfort zone. Exploring unfamiliar or foreign places encourages you to see the world through fresh eyes and in order to adapt you will need to learn from the people and cultures around you through receptivity, humility and compassion.

2. Improves Wellness

A well-integrated retreat program will include practices for self-inquiry, along with plenty of time for rest, play and adventure. Every retreat experience is designed to aid you through healthy routine in a supportive atmosphere in body, mind and spirit — imagine 8 hours of deep sleep, healthy wholesome meals, fresh air and sunshine, along with daily yoga and meditation. Through rest and reflection you may begin to notice aspects of your life you would like to adjust in order to create more well-being. Unhealthy patterns and habits are often recognized and surface when in these environments. Your teacher(s) will be able to teach you simple practices and suggest tools to transform your life and maintain well-being once you are back home.

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3. Builds community from the Heart

During a retreat there is power in the intimacy that is created with oneself, but most importantly there is a greater sense of connection and harmony felt as you share this experience as a collective. The dynamics are always unique to the individuals and circumstances brought together, yet all are encouraged to welcome one another from a place of authenticity. There are fewer ‘masks’ worn as you only know one another from a neutral and supportive space. You have time to be present with once another, without distractions or alternative motives. Community forms quite quickly as you spend time together on and off the mat and in a foreign context. Often these authentic connections become long lasting relationships and remind you to stay open-hearted as you move through life.

 

 

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LAUREN LEE is passionate about holistic health, exploring the world and empowering others to live vibrant and happy lives. Founder of Raise Your Beat, dedicated yogini and sun seeker, she lives for creating connection and enjoying simple pleasures.

 

 

 

Join Living Yoga Ambassador Lauren Lee on one of her many amazing international yoga retreats! Check out THRIVE: A Soul Fueled Immersion for Wellness Entrepreneurs March 2017 in Costa Rica!!! Receive 10% off the retreat price when you use the promo code: CULTIVATE

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5 Life Lessons I Learned After Leading My Third Yoga Retreat In Costa Rica

I recently taught my third yoga retreat in Costa Rica at Blue Osa Eco-Resort and Spa, and I have to admit, leading retreats has gotten increasingly easier.

During the first retreat, I was on edge the entire time. “Are people happy? Am I doing everything right? Am I spending enough time with everyone? Does everyone feel included?” I felt I had to be “on” the whole time overseeing everything. By the third retreat, I realized I don’t need to be present every second.

During this last retreat twenty participants showed up with a disarming willingness to be present. We shared vulnerable parts of us, and we got to re-invent ourselves in a safe, welcoming environment. We also played tons of BananaGrams and colored Japanese postcards, among other things.

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By the end of the retreat I felt a sense of relief and pure joy, mixed with sadness for being separated from a wonderful group. I did it! After all emotions had the appropriate time to sink in, I was left with these five realizations:

1. People And Experiences Are What Matters Most In Life

Without the participants, the retreat center loses its essence and remains just a beautiful, empty space. The connection is where the magic lies. In the same way, memories filled with emotion and interaction are a lot brighter than the ones reserved for objects. Meeting other people constantly inspires me to realize that in the end, we all are share similar stories and struggles.

2. People Want To Have Fun

It’s just as important to participate in mindful activities as it is to not take yourself too seriously. To let go of expectations. To not not care about how you look during barre class. Or what you sound like while chanting a mantra. Leaving time for spontaneity and irrationality is a must to understand that the very nature of life is often times unexplainably beautiful.

3. Sometimes You Gotta Be A Leader

I am not usually someone who wants to be in charge. However, teaching retreats has taught me to step in a leadership position. Quit the indecision and work up confidence and guts! People on a yoga retreat want to be lead and they need structure. They are trying to get away from constant problem solving and being in control. They can’t be bothered with logistics and big decisions, so learning to take charge of others in these situations is helpful.

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4. You Can’t Control Everything

Even though I plan everything as precisely as possible before and during the retreat, unpredictable things happen. We had a guest leave within 24 hours because the jungle was too much. Several guests’s flights were delayed and their connection were missed. Not everything can go as planned, and we must stay open to facilitate, but also step back and let things unfold.

5. Community Can Be Formed Away From Home

Community is a subject close to my heart. All twenty of us arrived for a week of fun under the sun. And we all left feeling that we had new friends to enrich our lives. While community in the traditional sense is usually set in one place, we can find a unique type of community in several places around the world, and the connection is still going strong (thank you technology).

As the saying goes, teaching is a huge learning experience. Leading a yoga retreat is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about yourself, test your skills and yes, learn from your mistakes too.

 

 

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Born and raised in Italy, Valentina is a full time yoga instructor who divides her time between Marin County, California and Matapalo, Costa Rica. When she isn’t hosting yoga retreats or blogging Valentina can be found trail running and baking quiche.

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Instagram: @valentinarose1111

Treat Your Heart

Slow down. Listen. Breathe. Feel.

No matter how many times I say, think, or hear those words; it is never enough.
We live in this incredible world, filled with energy vibrating on all different frequencies and wavelengths. The drumming grounded beat of the earth, rhythms of cleansing rain and ocean tides mixed with car engines, radio waves, lights waves, and satellite signals. The earth’s constant rotation aligned with planets and galaxies all around. People everywhere moving twenty-four hours a day in a variety of activity with thoughts and feelings that create their own pulsation.


When you think about all this, it is no wonder we often feel disconnected from nature, from others, from ourselves. How can we hear the voice of our heart amongst our abundant surroundings?

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The answers to this question are many. But for me, one answer is retreat. Finding a place of refuge to withdrawal for meditation, study and release. I take my yoga practice to Costa Rica where I can immerse my self in the beautiful tropics of jungle and ocean. Cell phones do not work and the effort to use the Internet, if it is even functioning, is hardly worth it. Retreat is not about escaping but rather reconnecting. Giving us an opportunity to pause, slow down, listen, breathe and feel. It is a nourishing gift that replenishes our soul.


All of a sudden you are waking up naturally to the sunrise and howler monkeys. Taking siesta during the late afternoon because your body is telling you, “rest, the heat is too much.” Darkness falls and it is not long before you are asleep not realizing it is not even 9pm. You have begun to attune to the pace of nature. You spend hours in a hammock listening to the jungle opera or the waves steadily flowing in and out matching your inhale and exhale. Reading books, meditating, moving on your mat, eating fresh foods and sharing your experiences with friends you have just met. But with this slow pace comes the active mind. Accustomed to full time activity, thoughts can seem louder than ever before. Now, in this amazing environment you have the opportunity to watch and learn; to go deeper, perhaps discover some of your patterns. You begin to decipher between the voice of your head and the voice of your heart.


Eventually it is time to return home. The realization occurs that you were there all along…home in your heart. You take lessons and experiences with you, back to work, back to the routine of daily life. Perhaps now, surrounded and part of this abundant world, the slowing down, the breathing, listening, feeling comes a little easier, a little lighter. Costa Rica, not just a sweet memory, it is an integral piece of your soul.


I encourage you to retreat! Whether it is getting on a plane to a tropical place, driving to a cabin in the woods, or finding a quiet place to sit in your neighborhood, treat yourself. Slow down. Listen. Breathe. Feel.

Connect to your heart.

Treat your heart.

 

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Dana Rivkin has a passion for the outdoors, travel, breath, personal discovery and community. She shares these loves through teaching yoga classes, outdoor education and adventure guiding. Dana believes yoga is a life long practice on and off the mat. Join her for an amazing retreat in Costa Rica this February 2016!

http://www.yogafarmcostarica.org/yoga-retreat-with-dana-rivkin/

 

 

 

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Inspiring Takeaways from Life Changing Yoga Retreats

A more graceful chaturanga. A stronger Warrior II. Some new friends. I knew I’d probably gain these things, and a few more, from yoga retreats—but what I didn’t anticipate was the ways that the retreats would change my life deeply, spiritually, and completely.

I don’t have to “do it right”: the intention is to feel better and nourish my body.

I still remember the moment that my teacher brought up the possibility that my pose could look different from someone else’s, and that both could be right. I’d spent so much of my yoga journey focusing on making my pose look just like my teacher, that anything else seemed downright rebellious. But, sitting gracefully in front of the hall, she reminded us that the intention of our practice is to listen to the body, and to offer the asanas as medicine.

Apply that more globally to life, and it becomes the ultimate permission to live life in the most nourishing way possible: my way.

Slow is powerful, subtlety is everything, and I am stronger than I thought.

I came to yoga as an 18-year-old runner, so I “did” yoga like I “did” running: fast, hard, and aggressive. Over the years, I’ve learned to slow down, but my retreat showed me a style of practice that I never imagined. I found out that in slowness, there is strength. And, accordingly, I am way, way stronger than I think—when I slow down and allow myself to be so.

The body is a beautiful and wise creature, and I must treat her with respect.

Pushing gets me nowhere except injured and in pain. I once came to my yoga practice in a struggle with my body. Why wouldn’t it fold forward effortlessly, like that person can? But a yoga retreat taught me that by respecting, nourishing, and inviting my body to unfold, the unfolding would happen with less effort and more grace.

Nobody is thinking about what I’m doing- they’re too involved wondering what I’m thinking of them.

In a room of 24 other yogis, there was always someone whose pose looked better than mine. Who would look like they were holding a balance pose effortlessly while I shook and struggled. In private conversations during the retreat, we would sometimes get close and share what we were really feeling during the class.

Turns out? We all have insecurities—in abundance. We’re wasting our energy wondering what other yogis are thinking about us. If I focus on my own journey, on and off the mat, then I’ll be all set.

When the going gets tough, the yogis watch the hard stuff with love.

I remember holding Goddess Pose for what seemed like an eternity. My arms and torso were moving, my thighs were screaming, and my mind couldn’t stop thinking about what seemed like agony. All that is truly happening is a burning sensation, and it’s only that: sensation. Become the witness, the observer, and I’ll no longer be swept up in the storm of suffering.

Beyond the shaking of my tired legs, this detachment has become a jewel that I carry with me. Most of the time, the suffering is all in how my mind decides to perceive the events at hand—nothing more.

 

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Kai Woolner-Pratt is the content editor at Retreat Guru. He practices Ashtanga yoga, is grateful to his teachers, and counts himself lucky to have been in so many retreats. His home is Nelson, BC, Canada.

5 Amazing Destinations for Yoga Surf Adventures

Through out our life travels we all meet people that have that “spark”. We also make pilgrimages to places that really make us feel “alive”. Here are 5 places to enjoy the yoga surf lifestyle while also really tapping into connection.  The magic of these destinations does not solely come from the great waves, awe-inspiring yoga spaces, and culinary delights. What makes these places so amazing is the passion, love, hard work, and commitment you can feel from the people who have started and built these havens. Also, these spots all provide the ability to deeply connect with nature, rich cultures, and Earth’s rhythms. These special places and the sustainability-minded people who created them definitely make the world a better place! Take a personal adventure, make time for a group getaway, or lead a memorable retreat at one of these outstanding and heart-expanding locations:

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ENCANTA LA VIDA – Costa Rica

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If you have ever wanted to visit the rainforest, surf, all while enjoying modern comforts, this is the place! Encanta La Vida is a unique jungle lodge situated on the tip of the Osaencanta2 peninsula in southern Costa Rica. The lodge was started over 20 years ago by the adventurous Brian Daily who started coming to Costa Rica in his high school years and grew up exploring and diving at the Channel Islands off the California coast. This place is a bird and animal lovers paradise as seeing monkeys, toucans, and scarlet macaws can be an everyday occurrence. The lodge can accommodate groups of up to 30, and the dreamy yoga deck is an open air studio situated ocean front over looking the bay of Pan Dulce. There are several surf breaks for all levels within walking distance. Other activities include waterfall hikes, horseback riding, or indulging at the lodge’s natural spa. This part of Costa Rica is truly one of the most amazing places on Earth. Experience the Pura Vida!

 

MATANIVUSI RESORT  –  Fiji

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Brian and Donna McDonald from the Gold Coast, Australia founded this boutique eco fijiyogaresort 11 years ago. It is situated on the “coral coast”, the south side of the main island of Fiji. It is a picturesque setting and how one may dream of island life. The hotel is ocean front facing turquoise lagoon waters. They have just finished building a brand new yoga facility which boasts an indoor yoga space and an outdoor yoga deck underneath an amazing banyan tree. They have been involved with the surf industry their entire lives and are passionate about low impact surf tourism. There is boat only access to the reef breaks, which makes the surfing more appealing to intermediate and advanced surfers. When conditions are right, they take day trips to surf the world class break “Frigates”. Other activities include interacting with local Fijian culture such as kava ceremonies, snorkeling, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, or lounging by their pool. They have 12 “bures” and can comfortably accommodate groups of up to 24 people.

 

TOGAT NUSA – Mentawai Islands

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Looking to really go deep and off the grid? Check out this private tropical island sanctuary in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Surfers John and Ainsley Ocean togat2handcrafted this intimate masterpiece mostly by articles found on the island. The retreat is small and takes up to 8 guests at a time, to really give it that feeling of being “shipwrecked”. The entire island can be circumnavigated by foot in about a half an hour. The white sand beaches and crystal clear water make this place heaven on Earth! The Mentawais are renowned by surfers as being a top notch and consistent wave zone. Most of the waves are reached to by boat and best suited for intermediate to advanced surfers. John and Ainsley are true examples of “living yogis”. Their kindness, compassion, and sustainable living practices, inspire everyone they meet to rise up!

 

SURF MAROC – Morocco

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Surf Maroc was founded by two British friends, Ben O’Hara and Ollie Boswell, in 2003. maroc2They built this place on their passion for surf. They have a variety of accommodation options, a hip rooftop yoga pavilion, and numerous world class surf breaks to explore for all levels. The famous “Anchor Point” is very close by. There are several breaks within walking distance, and too many breaks to explore by car. But the main attraction for many that are interested in traveling to Morocco is the CULTURE! Taghazout is a gem on the Moroccan coast. It is a laid back village, with an international vibe, funky cafes, and local Berber crafts. Nearby excursions include wandering the souks (open air marketplaces), visiting a hamman (turkish bath), driving to an inland oasis, or checking out tree climbing goats.

 

NIRVANA SURF YOGA – Panama

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Join Captain Bryan Blaze for a surf and yoga adventure like no other. Sail among the San Blas Islands and Boacs Del Toro in the Caribbean aboard a 52 foot catamaran. Practicenirvana yoga onboard or at one of the remote island stops. Bryan is a third generation sailor who has been captaining for over 12 years. He is super tuned in to this region and can take you to surf, kite surf, SUP, or snorkel at numerous secluded spots. There can be surfing found for all levels. He is available to accommodate 4-12 guests with one or two boats. Visit the island populated by the Kuna people, the indigenous inhabitants of the San Blas Islands. Enjoy the consistent trade winds, the wind in your hair, and adventure at sea!

 

 

See your life as a fabulous adventure and live YOUR best life!

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Erica Hartnick grew up in the Sierra Nevada foothills of California, and enjoys all things wild and free. She teaches nature inspired yoga and leads mindful adventures in California and Costa Rica. She gets excited about; LEARNING, intense weather, glassy ocean peaks, pillows of fresh powder snow, crystal clear water, positive people, cultural travel, thriving vegetable gardens, fresh mint chip ice cream, nature’s glory, LIVING YOGA, and connecting with others. She is passionate about the collaboration with friends that led to the creation of Yoga Trade, and is devoted to connecting the yoga community with infinite opportunities!

Yoga Travel: 5 Reasons To Take Your Practice On The Road

If a yoga practice is about growth, there may be some surprising things holding you back. While a dedicated home and studio practice is super important, there is always room for more. Perhaps you’ve ventured into the great outdoors to take a class in the park. Or even gone out on a limb on vacation and enjoyed a practice on the dock at the lake. But while those efforts are great ways to try something new, did you deepen your breath? Further your practice? See change in your life? What if the biggest thing holding you back was your routine?

If you’re really wanting to take your practice to the next level, a yoga retreat or yoga travel may be a great way to expand. Keep reading and you’ll be convinced.

 

Crash Out of Your Comfort Zone

Even if you are busting out stunning birds of paradise poses in your favorite studio, a new space will challenge you to think about your body in a new way. Maybe a mirror Young woman is practicing yogaisn’t available and you must focus on every. Physical. Feeling. Or perhaps the retreat takes place in a mostly open-air pavilion, with wind, bugs and new sounds creating a new environment. You’ll work hard to focus your energy and breath into a new way of practicing; a new perspective will draw you out of your yoga comfort zone and change the way you see your mind, body, breath and practice.

Plus, going on a retreat takes guts. Even if you desperately want to go, actually booking the ticket and making definitive plans takes some huevos. No matter where you are in your practice, a yoga retreat will do you good. Banish the doubts and take the leap!

Small Fish, HUGE Pond

It’s easy to think that our small lives are the most important things in the world. A yoga retreat in another part of the world will open your eyes to the way others live. This new view on how you fit into the world is a good reminder of how interconnected we all are, while allowing you to express yourself in the most unique way possible. Some yoga retreats have a service component, and this can give you yet another chance to learn more about yourself as you learn more about the world.

Appreciate Everything

Anytime you’re away from home, it’s easy to miss your favorite things. Sometimes the simple conveniences of living in our modern society become so ingrained in us that wegroup of young females practicing yoga on the seaside during the sunris can feel out of touch when removed from them. A yoga retreat will not only allow you to grow and realize that those conveniences are luxuries, but you’ll learn to appreciate them even more. Bringing awareness to the things you have and enjoy is not meant to make you feel guilty, but to allow you to experience profound gratitude.

 

Inspiration – For Yoga, For Life

When you visit a new place, especially if you’re on your own, you’ll meet all kinds of amazing people sprinkled throughout your journey. These people and their stories will teach you things you never even knew you didn’t know. You’ll be inspired by their lives and their yoga practices. As you’re challenged on your own mat, you’ll forge friendships that challenge your personal life to grow as well. Plus, when your new friend busts out a killer dragonfly pose, don’t you want them to help you get there, too?

Purpose

After such a life-changing experience, you’ll return with a renewed sense of who you are and what you want to do with your life. If you went to the retreat to discern whether you wanted to complete yoga teacher training, the answer will appear. If you attended to find more clarity in your life, you’ll find it. No matter what your intentions, the retreat will help you find what you were looking for – and some things you didn’t know were missing!

 

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Sara Sherman is a freelance writer, yogi and accidental island girl living on the island of St. Thomas. Learn more and contact Sara via her website at www.SaraMSherman.com, and read more about her island adventures at www.IslandersFromIowa.com.

It’s Been Real

For the last year, I’ve been the head resident yoga teacher at Hariharalaya Retreat Center in the Cambodian countryside. As our week-long retreats come to an end, and we bid farewell to our guests, it’s not uncommon to hear them say, “well, back to the real FullSizeRender-3world”. Sometimes I’ll give them a smile back as if to say, “are you suggesting my little bamboo hut in the jungle is some sort of false reality?” But of course, I know what they mean. During the first 6 months I spent traveling around Southeast Asia, I too have been guilty of referring to life back home in Chicago as “the real world”. When you find yourself in these situations – whether it’s practicing yoga out in the jungle, trekking the Himalayas in Nepal, or washed up on white sand beaches of Thailand – it does often feel like you’re living in a dream.

The funny thing about all of this, and the reason I can only laugh when I hear these statements, is that there is nothing more natural, more real than walking around barefoot with your feet connected to the earth, eating fresh fruits and vegetables grown by your neighbors, living in community, looking after one other, moving your body, breathing… To live in this state of oneness is to experience the true essence of Yoga, which, in Sanskrit means “to yolk” or “to unite”.

Earlier this year, Johann Hari published an article for the Huffington Post that went viral arguing that the real cause of addiction is disconnection. Hari states, “The rise ofIMG_9493 addiction is a symptom of a deeper sickness in the way we live — constantly directing our gaze towards the next shiny object we should buy, rather than the human beings all around us.” I would extend this statement further to include all life around us, and it serves as a perfect explanation for why yoga has had such a profound impact on my life as with so many others.

For two years, in my previous career as a Media Planner, I found myself traveling from apartment building to train to plastic cubicle (and reverse). Rather than seeking out balance, I found temporary gratification in the many “work perks” of the media industry – skybox tickets to Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake, $10 cupcakes dropped off at my desk, designer sunglass shopping, 10 course dinners with wine pairings at the top restaurants in Chicago. As it turns out, you can be insanely full and still feel unfulfilled.

Fast-forward a few years, and a feeling of contentment finally starts to set in as I trade it mary1all in for a grass hut in the jungle. As I cycle around the village and see kids entertaining themselves for hours jumping rope on the side of the road, or multiple generations of the same family gathered to cook meals together from food grown in their own yard, it almost feels like traveling back to a time before iPhone screens, video games and fast-food stepped into the picture. Interestingly, the first reaction from our guests at the retreat is usually, “what can we do to help these people?” There is a certain irony in the fact that many of us, myself included, find ourselves traveling far from home because we are dissatisfied with the disconnection that results from becoming overly reliant on technology, overstressed, and overworked – yet we still try and inflict our idea of the “real world” on others. The real question we should be asking is “what can we learn from these people?”

What I’ve learned during this past year living in the Cambodian countryside, mary2experiencing over 50 consecutive yoga retreats and living in community with hundreds of people from all over the world is the power of connection. It’s human nature to make judgments about people when you first meet them – our brains are designed to help us make sense of things by comparing them to past memories. And despite my best efforts, I still find myself making judgments on Day 1 of a retreat before really getting to know someone. But the beauty of being in an environment where you don’t have the choice to pick up your phone instead of talking to the person who happens to sit next to you, is they will always surprise you. Seeking out this sense of oneness is part of the path of yoga. There is great wisdom in the Eternal Truth as presented by Swami Rama Tirtha;

“If you truly love everyone with all of your heart, you will find happiness everywhere”.

I am certain that this jungle life I have chosen is not for everyone, and I’m not suggesting that the answer for all of life’s problems is to quit your job and move to a third world country. The real training with Yoga is to learn to integrate these principles into our lives in order to experience a sense of oneness despite all that we’re up against with modern technology. As I often remind people on the first day of a retreat, there is no quick-fix, “get enlightened in 5-days” solution presented by yoga. Rather, by coming into tune with our own mind, body & breath, and opening ourselves up to the world around us, we are able to cultivate a deep sense of joy and lasting fulfillment in whatever real world we choose to live in.

 

image1-3Mary has been the head yoga teacher of Hariharalaya Retreat Center in Cambodia for over a year. After exploring a number of styles of teaching, she has found her true passion with yoga therapy – making the tools of yoga accessible to everyone.

www.marytilsonyoga.com

Facebook.com/marytilsonyoga

Lessons From the Jungle

This article is a repost by Laruen Lee, founder of RAISE YOUR BEAT. The original posting can be found HERE

A REFLECTION ON NATURE, CULTURE, & BEING

Arriving back into Mother India (after having spent a couple of years away) I have been instantly been brought back to ‘earth’. From the moment I landed, all was like a familiar dream – the chaos, the simplicity, the incredible sense of freedom and openness that jungle3permeates every cell in my body. There is something powerful about being in tropical weather and immersed deep in nature, something magical about weaving on a scooter through a family of carefree cows, and something deeply rejuvenating about walking barefoot and letting my curls soak up seawater and coconut oil.

I have spent 3 months at Lotus Yoga Retreat, nestled on a secluded eco farm Khaama Kethna, which lies in a lush valley of jungle and forest. I have felt myself get grounded, quite literally as I spent my time living in an open air hut, and my feet continuously covered in the fertile red earth. I have been spoiled with fresh foods – so fresh the chef collects it from the organic gardens and passes through the restaurant with bundles of color cradled under her bosom. I have indulged in some of the deepest sleeps of my life, falling and rising with the mysterious jungle sounds which somehow meld into one melodic rhythm. I have taught yoga to diverse and unique individuals from all over the world who leave their daily lives behind and arrive for the same universal sense of connection.

It has been an absolute retreat in all senses (for both myself and students) as modern luxuries and ‘comforts’ are stripped away, which can be a shock to the system at first, as we become more exposed, more raw and more genuine as we journey closer to freeing the mind from conditioning. As we begin this process of cleansing, it’s as if we throw away all the ‘junk’ (negative emotions, stress, ego) and layer by layer we uncover (or come back to) our true being.

This true being is our most authentic self…the part which lies within the heart center and is inherently connected to our unique purpose and life all around us.

Experiencing a foreign culture (such as India) and immersing yourself in nature both bring us closer to this place of authenticity, truth or being. 

In a country like India, life is more simple, and its accepted. The majority of the jungle2population still cook over a fire and take showers with cold water using a bucket. Many do not have a car, or use modern electronics such as toasters, refrigerators or washing machines. Most go to the vegetable market and local shops each morning to purchase their daily amount of milk and produce.

Without the need to ‘consume’, life becomes more sacred and more free. Most work to provide shelter, food and support their families. There is time for prayer, play, cooking and community –  and this is honored as a culture.

Experiencing a world and lifestyle unknown (or unnatural) is key in expanding our perspectives, appreciating our own circumstances or maybe even aid us in observation of unnecessary aspects of our own lives.

When we find ourselves in nature, we are reminded of the power of ‘prana’ or natural intelligence which surrounds us each and every moment. This prana is what moves life and it instantly connects us with this place of authenticity. 

It is why turtles return to nest their eggs in the same spot. 

It is why whales migrate thousands of miles.

It is why ants can carry up to 5,000 times their weight.

It is a seedling sprouting from the earth to follow the light.

It can be seen in a cascading waterfall.

It is the sun and moon rising.

It is the tides of the ocean.

It is the climate and seasons.

It is life and death.

It is the flow of communities and societies. 

It is the life that moves us, guides us and supports us.

It is within and around us.

 

Living in harmony with nature, washing my clothing by hand, enjoying daily morning chai before the sun rises, sweeping the leaves from the yoga shalas, lighting sandalwood incense and reciting a simple mantra of ‘love, trust, surrender’ have become my daily jungle4rituals which are simple and sweet. They have helped me to find more gratitude, devotion and love.

Of course living simply in nature and in a foreign context has its challenges, some days more than others, and when things don’t go ‘as planned’ I have found laughter to be a powerful practice.

I am working to extract the positives from living in a foreign culture (which at times feels very unnatural) and becoming aware to life’s lessons, big and small, which are found in every moment when you open your eyes.

I am grateful for this space to retreat and reconnect. To live without internet and without walls. To experience new people and places. To let go of any plans and definitions of who or what I am ‘supposed’ to be, instead urged to slow down and let go. Through this surrender I have become more clear in who I am and what my purpose is…and more awake to the pranic flow of life and beauty that is around us each and every day. I am leaving the jungle feeling blissed and blessed for this experience, and look forward (without attachment and identity) for whatever life brings.

lauren_bancoLAUREN LEE is passionate about holistic health, exploring the world and empowering others to live vibrant and happy lives. Founder of Raise Your Beat, dedicated yogini and sun seeker, she lives for creating connection and enjoying simple pleasures.

Events

Endless Summer – Yoga Retreat

“Let the salt lift you and the waves guide you”

Our Endless Summer – Yoga Retreat is taking place this September in Capbreton, France. With the wind in your hair, sand at your feet and a variety of yoga classes and soulful food… we welcome you to come and enjoy 4 magical days with us !

You will have the opportunity to dedicate time focusing on your posture and breath as well as relax and meditate.

Including:

  • 3 nights accommodation
  • 5 yoga classes including : Hatha / Vinyasa / Yin / Partner Yoga
  • 1 yoga workshop
  • 2 guided meditation sessions
  • 1 guided pranayama
  • Vegetarian meals: 3 boosting breakfasts / 2 energy lunches / 3 tasty dinners
  • Tea & snacks

Early Bird Price : 400€ (valid until Sep 10th)
Regular Price : 450€

Optional extra activies :
Surf and SUP lessons / Bike rental / Massage…


Terms :

  • Rates on our Yoga Retreat Package are in euros (€) per person and do not include : flights, transportaion, travel insurance, extra activities or any personal expenses. Airport transfer can be arranged on demand at an extra cost.
  • Accommodation provided includes shared rooms only.
  • Availability is not guaranteed without a courtesy hold confirmation. After a confirmation has been emailed to you, a courtesy hold requires 50% deposit payment by bank transfer within 3 days to secure the reservation. Deposit is non-refundable and may not be tranfered. Remaining payment is requested to be paid in cash on arrival.

For further information please email us to : contact@namastraveler.com (France) and/or hello@soulstudioyoga.com (UK)