Posts

Retreat Here Now: Six Destinations The Masses Haven’t Discovered

“One’s destination is never a place, but always a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller

Bali and Costa Rica are amazing spots for retreats, but they’re not exactly the world’s best kept secrets. For a destination that will satisfy your wanderlust tendencies and need to heal, consider checking out these less-visited locales. Whether it’s health, adventure, cuisine, or culture that’s calling, here are six spots sure to inspire transformation.

Widest Variety of Accommodations: Southern Italy

Southern Italy offers up some truly unique group accommodation options, from monasteries in Sicily, to trulli in Puglia, to caves in Matera. Points south of Rome offer good value for money; check out the mainland provinces of Abruzzo, Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Molise, and Puglia plus islands Sardinia and Sicily. In many of these areas, visitors are more likely to encounter Italian tourists than throngs of foreigners. Nationwide, the Italian government supports a thriving program of state-sponsored agriturismos, or independently owned farms that open their doors to independent travelers or groups. While not generally equipped with amenities like yoga props or meditation cushions, they can make great retreat venues as they offer plenty of space for movement and mindfulness practices. Food is generally excellent, making generous use of hyper-local ingredients as a rule. Though agriturismos span the budget-to-luxury spectrum, rates are overall very reasonable and usually include breakfast and dinner.

Most Exciting Food Scene: Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s cuisine is flavored by the influences of its native Buddhist, Hindu, and Muslim traditions as well as those of its Portuguese, Dutch, and British colonists. The country has only been open to tourists since the civil war ended in 2009, so tourism hasn’t yet totally diluted the cultural picture; with the exception of a few beach towns, you aren’t likely to find yourself in a sea of tourists. Like many Southeast Asian countries, Sri Lanka has a thriving street food scene. There’s a culture of “short eats,” or snacks available by the dozen in both restaurants and shops. Especially in a group setting, these are a great way to try small portions of different foods. Between meal times, feed your soul with a visit to one of the country’s stunning temple complexes. “Can’t miss” sites are the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, the Dambulla Cave Temple, and the Koneswaram Temple.

Best Island Destination: Iceland

Many retreat-goers first look toward the tropics when thinking about island destinations. However, what Iceland lacks in palm trees and sun-drenched beaches, it makes up for in glaciers, waterfalls, and rugged mountains. It’s easily accessible from both North America and Europe; there are direct flights from 25 US cities by carriers IcelandAir, Wow, Delta, and United. High season is June to August, but you can save significantly on airfare and accommodations by visiting during the colder months. Time your low season visit right and you may be lucky enough to see the Northern Lights, generally visible September to April. Whether you visit in summer or winter, consider complimenting your daily retreat practices with time in nature. Iceland offers cold water diving, whale watching, glacier hiking, snowshoeing, horseback riding, and much more. Even close to the capital, Reykjavik, you can enjoy its famous geothermal pools; two good choices are Nauthólsvík geothermal beach and the complex at Laugardalslaug.

Greatest Healing Power: Ikaria, Greece

The residents of the world’s five Blue Zones enjoy unparalleled longevity, which has been linked to lifestyle factors such as a plant-based diet, strong social and familial bonds, spiritual engagement, and moderate physical activity. Ikarians eat a variation of the Mediterranean diet, with lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, potatoes, and olive oil. They drink antioxidant-rich tea and wine, as well as goat’s milk, which is lactose-free but provides nutrients like potassium and tryptophan. Some speculate that Ikarians’ regular afternoon naps also contribute to longevity by ensuring they get enough sleep and helping keep stress at bay. The climate, with warm, sunny summers and mild, rainy winters supports outdoor tourism as well as thriving agriculture on the island. Locals grow and harvest the food they eat year round, enabling true farm-to-table living. Ikaria is well-known among Greeks for its “Panagiria,” celebrations of saints’ feast days and other religious holidays, which take place all year long, but especially during the summer. Don’t miss these unique opportunities to mix with locals while trying traditional food and wine, live music, and non-stop dancing.

Easiest Logistics: British Columbia, Canada

British Columbia invested heavily in sporting and transportation infrastructure as host of the Vancouver Winter Olympics back in 2010. Visitors today should breeze through their travels in, out, and around the province. Vancouver is both a foodie’s paradise (worth a visit even if it isn’t your final destination) and home to a major international airport. Travelers also have the option of flying to Seattle and driving north; it’s about a three hour drive from Seattle to Vancouver. British Columbia is a great spot to retreat year-round, drawing visitors to its striking coastline during summer (don’t miss Tofino) and to its alpine areas in winter (notably, ski and snowboard destination Whistler. B.C. beaches are amazing for lounging, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding while the mountains have world class skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and ice skating. It’s tempting to think of the coast as the place to be during summer months and likewise the mountains in winter. However, look for shoulder season deals on the coast and don’t underestimate mountain areas’ summer potential. Mother nature offers plenty of opportunities for multi-season activities, including hiking, climbing, cycling, horseback riding, and ziplining.

Most Culturally Immersive: Morocco

While Morocco’s coastal resort towns and Marrakesh (one of the country’s four imperial cities  are heavily touristed, there are many inland areas and smaller towns largely untouched by outside influences. The strong culture of hospitality in Morocco means you’re likely to be well fed and cared-for throughout your stay. The country doesn’t have many traditional retreat centers, but tented desert camps and riads, or traditional houses offering bed and breakfast-type accommodations, often cater to retreat groups. Morocco is a complete visual pleasure in that it isn’t just major tourist sites where you’ll experience breathtaking architecture. The craftsmanship that goes into the tile, plaster, metal, and woodwork of basic buildings like riads or hammams, not to mention that of mosques, palaces, and city gates, is simply stunning. Though meat-based dishes are often showcased in restaurants, most Moroccans eat meat sparingly. Fresh, raw salads and long-simmered, produced-based dips, soups, and stews often kick off meals, with vegan- and/or vegetarian-friendly couscous and tajine dishes to follow.

 

 

 

Jen Corley (CYT-500) heads the wellness travel division at WeTravel.com, the operator of an online booking and payment platform for retreat travel. When she’s not traveling, she enjoys spending time with her husband, Evan, and French bulldog, Taco.

Learn to Handstand. Learn to Love.

I am currently midway through the final week of the online course 6 Weeks to Handstand with Kyle Weiger. During the past few weeks I have felt new areas of my body ‘wake up’ and strengthen. I am slowly but surely seeing progress in my handstand form and shape. But the biggest take-away thus far is that although these drills and exercises are making me physically stronger, this course is really about learning to love. We all have the ability to change our ‘state’ anytime and we can begin to see results in any area of our lives in as little as 6 weeks. This series is about much more than nailing a handstand, it is about diving deep into; curiosity, doing the work, dedication, self-care, integrity, and keeping the flame alive! These are great teachings that can be applied to all areas of life. I reached out to Kyle to learn more about his story, and he was kind enough to share some wonderful insights. Big thanks Kyle for the inspiration. May we all keep loving the journey!

Tell us a little bit about your yoga background?

I got into yoga after literally 6 years of a friend nagging me because he said I spent too much time in the gym and I needed to work on my flexibility too. Little did I know that his persistence would change the entire trajectory of my life. Well played, Sir.

Can you share with us about your initial curiosities with handstand and your handstand journey thus far?

It definitely started with yoga. I had an obsession for learning all the arm balances and Handstand was one that I played with often. However, it wasn’t until I got into Gymnastics training, and Circus after that, where I realized just how differently each modality approaches the pose.

Gymnastics was the first time the idea of “the line” was drilled into me, and watching and training with Circus hand balancers was where I first realized it’s so much more than just a single pose. Handstanding is its own art form, and my current journey has me exploring it from this angle.

Do you see your approach to learning to handstand as a metaphor and a way to approach life in general?

Oooh! My favorite question!! Yes yes yes! This is one the BIGGEST things I talk about in my workshops.

SPOILER ALERT: BEING ABLE TO DO A HANDSTAND DOES NOT MAKE YOU A BETTER PERSON…

Rather, I use it as a teaching tool to reflect on how I handle tough situations. When things get challenging, do you get frustrated and quit? Or do you learn to laugh at yourself, be willing to put in the work, and approach things with a light-hearted attitude.

Check out a video I did on this very topic: 

What is your favorite verbal cue to say to someone learning to handstand?

“GET TALLER”…..It’s the simplest cue, but it will immediately fix a lot of inflection points in the body. When you get taller, you press through the heel of your hand which will activate your traps and straighten out through the shoulder.

Meditation and journaling is a huge part of your practice. Tell us more…

Journaling is a daily activity for me, particularly the act of gratitude journaling. I like to give my attention and focus to all the things I am grateful for in this life. Whether it’s a deep conversation I recently had with my BFF, or if my Handstand felt significantly strong during a certain day, or if I pull my winter jacket out of the closet and find a $5 bill in it. I seriously write so much in there, so i go through journals like crazy.

As far as meditation, some yoga practitioners may disagree with me when I say that Handstand can be meditative. It requires your attention to direct to a single point of focus, a single task, and you have to be fully present or else you come out of balance.

Thus, seated meditations using visualization exercises are huge for me! So when I get upside down I can re-access that state of presence and purpose.

You are an entrepreneur and and have created a successful online business. Can you share some of your daily practices for finding the balance between wellness, community, work, and play?

This is also one of my favorite things to talk about. I’m actually in the midst of writing a course just for yoga professionals on how to do exactly what I did by using bare-bones resources.

At first, it wasn’t balanced…at all. It was a huge grind 12 months ago to get the product up. With launching a business, there’s no way around it but through it. That’s just how these things go.

Then over time, I found myself working on my website less and traveling to do workshops more.

I think it’s a lofty goal to have every individual day be perfectly balanced. Rather, I look at it in phases or waves. When I first launched 6 Weeks To Handstand with a $200 marketing budget and no clue if it was going to sell, it was a very stress-heavy & work-heavy phase of my life. Now I’m in more of a play-more-laugh-more kind of phase.

Those two balance each other out in the big picture, so I’m ok with sprints or bursts of hard work to have access to more abundance later.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I’m moving more and more into the role of business consulting in the fitness industry. My business background is in Sales & Marketing, Paid Ad Campaigns, and Email Funnels. I want to share what I know with other people in our space. And of course I’ll never stop teaching Handstand!!!

Who or what are some of your biggest inspirations?

My biggest inspirations are my friends: I have a few pretty special people in my life that I draw inspiration from every single day: Clayton, Del, Katy, Ali, Madison, Bobby…you know who you are:)

As far as Handstanding, there are sooooo many talented people out there, but the coaches I’ve learned the most from are Miguel Santana, Yuri Marmerstein, Andrey Moraru, and Janchivdorj Sainbayar.

Anything else you’d like to share…

“Whatever you are, be a good one.” – Abe Lincoln

 

 

Kyle Weiger is on a mission to show you that you are far stronger than you think you are. And not just in a rainbows-and-unicorns-motivational-speaker kind of stronger….more like a belief-shattering breakthrough “Holy Sh*t! I can’t believe I just did that!” kind of stronger. Kyle teaches Handstand course workshops around the world at Yoga Studios, Festivals, CrossFits, and Fitness Facilities alike. Regardless of the setting, his methodology and approach to learning Handstand just flat out works for students of all shapes and sizes.

kyleweiger.com

Connect on IG:  @kyleweiger

 

Our Thirst for Experiential Travel

The very essence of travel has always been about seeking unique and memorable experiences. However, in recent years, we have become ever so dissatisfied with the same old well-trodden tourist trails. More than ever before, we are actively seeking to expand our horizons and dive deeper beyond the worn pages of a guidebook. We have developed a near-insatiable thirst to wander unique pathways and to connect with local cultures and real people. Rather than merely sightseeing or ticking off popular bucket-list itineraries, our travel plans are made with the desire to authentically immerse ourselves within a destination.

It is no surprise that experiential travel is the most significant, systemic trend in worldwide tourism today. The term ‘experiential travel’ typically refers to the idea of having a more immersive, local, authentic and/or active travel experience. While travel is inherently experiential by definition, how we travel and what we want from our bursts of nomadic living has seen a dramatic shift over the last decade.  

For many of us, experiences now far outweigh material possessions, and alongside this thirst for seeing the world is a global demand for travel that resonates on a deeper emotional level, more than a mere physical level. More than mere consumers, we seek to navigate our own journey and emerge at the other end transformed in a significant and memorable way.

This exciting shift is driving the travel industry to become more adventurous, more personalized, and more attuned to what makes each destination unique as they strive to convey a meaningful experience to travellers in a short period of time.  

The notion of the pre-packaged travel brochure has long seen its heyday. The hunt is now on for an experience that is unique, enriching and as far from the beaten path as possible. The one-size-fits-all package is now no longer appealing or relevant to the modern savvy consumer. Rather than sit by a pool with cocktail in hand, we want to have life-fulfilling journeys that closely align with our own personal values. Where travellers once talked about what they saw or did on a vacation, we now focus more intently on whom we met on the road and how a journey offered us a new worldview from which to ponder our own life and existence.

Earlier this year, Airbnb launched ‘experiences’ which are offered alongside the overwhelming amount of popular holiday rentals. This addition to the platform allows you to not only select your vacation property from any far-flung destination around the world, but to also choose from a diverse range of activities in that region, all offered by the local community. These can range from making crepes in Paris, to a graffiti tour of Barcelona, to a fabric workshop in Mexico, to a DIY tattoo session in Shanghai, to photography cycling tours through Prague and anything and everything in between.

Holiday companies around the world are following suit, expanding their offerings to meet this new demand. Travellers can try chocolate making in St. Lucia, sunrise yoga on a sandbank in the Maldives and street food safaris in Vietnam. Across the board, companies are creating fresh appeal for modern travellers by opening up opportunities where they can connect with local people. Whereas traditionally hotels have always devised ways to tempt their guests to stay within the hotel grounds to maximize revenue, the boom in experiential travel has encouraged hotels to act more like community portals, introducing guests to popular local experiences outside the realm of the hotel boundaries.

The Millennial demographic, perhaps more than any other, are driven by exotic locales and hands-on, adventure activities that push their boundaries and offer both transformational and also ‘insta-worthy’ moments. While there is a great deal of focus on Millennial travel trends, older generations are also driving significant demand for more experiential and adventurous travel options. The modern traveller, regardless of age, wants to forge deeper connections to the people, traditions and customs of the places they are visiting, adding a more meaningful and memorable component to their vacation. Travel companies are witnessing rising trends for new and more remote destinations within Asia, South America and Africa. This older generation of travellers are also inspired by personal interests; it’s not about seeing the Leaning Tower of Pisa or the Colosseum, it’s about learning how to make homemade tiramisu or stomping grapes during harvest season.

In the luxury segment, travel has become more focused on total curation and customization. Guests are encouraged to craft their own itineraries and high-end hotels and luxury travel companies are letting go of strict timetables and pre-determined plans to allow travellers to set their own agendas. If money is no issue, savvy travellers can create the most exclusive journey tailored to their wildest dreams; from Porsche ice-rally driving in Sweden, to luxury sea-kayaking trips around Indonesia in search of legendary komodo dragons, or a designer glamping safari tour along the Congo River from Kisangani to Kinshasa. Wealthy vacationers have often been the pioneers of adventurous travel into emerging destinations, proving again that adventure and experiential travel is not only for hearty youth, willing to risk life and limb for heart-stopping thrills.

The concept of experiential travel has also dramatically reshaped the wellness industry. The days of massage and wheatgrass shots have been surpassed by life-changing wellness journeys, meticulously crafted and seamlessly executed. Health and yoga retreats have dramatically multiplied in recent years as the demand for combining an exotic vacation with a healthy holiday has skyrocketed. At the click of a button we can browse a plethora of five star Ayurvedic resorts in India, exotic health spas in Thailand, guided luxury treks through Nepal or yoga sailing expeditions through the Greek islands. Popular health resort Six Senses, has recently introduced new multi-lodge wellness circuits that offers roaming wellness journeys that are set to redefine the wellness travel experience like never before.

So, what’s driving this new era of experiential travel? Chances are you have already guessed correctly. The dramatic interest in experiential travel can be primarily accredited to the predominance of social media in our modern lives. More than ever before, we are connected. We are acutely aware of what is going on around the world, we communicate daily with people in various time zones, we are bombarded with tens of thousands of images every single day; our horizons have dramatically expanded, primarily through the screens we are attached to and subjected to 24/7.

The frenetic nature of modern society induces a sense of urgency and desire. The rise of FOMO – the popular acronym for ‘fear of missing out’ – has driven us to want more, need more, and experience more, now. Driven and steered by social media, we are constantly searching for inspiration, gratification and happiness in unique ways. With our horizons broadened, experiential travel has stepped in, luring us to faraway lands. We are not only influenced by the happy travel snap shots offered by close friends and family. We are powerfully swayed and coerced through our infatuation with social media celebrities. Images of distant lands, people and cultures infiltrate our news feeds and inadvertently, our minds. Cliché vacations to Bali or Mexico no longer hold our interest when we are presented with glamping tents in Morocco, underwater hotels in the Maldives, clifftop cabins in Patagonia or luxury treehouses in the desert plains of Kenya. Digital nomads, millennials, Gen X’ers and Baby Boomers alike are all dialed into these latest travel trends which inspire cultural immersion far beyond the traditional UNESCO World Heritage Site lines.

When presented with these incredible global image hooks we have the means to search, click and book in moments. Platforms such as Bookings.com, Tripadvisor, Airbnb, and Sky Scanner have taken the power out of the travel agents hands, and delivered it directly to us, the consumer. But even as we roam further off the grid, we still want to stay connected. We want to update our status through our real-time experiences. With live Instagram stories, location pins, shared hashtags, and ‘checking in’ on Facebook, social media has become our publicly accessible travel diary and is an integral part of the modern travel experience.

The influence of experiential travel has also come to infiltrate our regular daily lives. No longer are we content with grabbing a coffee from Starbucks; we want to visit our local roaster, perch on handmade crate furniture and know which village the organic coffee beans have been ethically sourced from. No longer do we enjoy a glass of wine at home with our girlfriends; we want to visit the winery, do a tasting course, pick the grapes and understand the fermentation process. No longer do we eat out at the restaurant down the road; we take a Sunday drive to a free range farm where we pick our own greens from the garden, smell the bread baking and watch the chooks peck seed meters from our communal table. As we become tourists in our own cities, there are limitless ways to engage in experiential travel, whether it’s for a month, a week, a weekend or an hour.

If this trend is anything, it is optimistic. It proves that as a society, we want to connect, explore and broaden our knowledge and understanding of ourselves and one another. It proves that we want to push our boundaries and that we want more than the 9-5 with the annual family camping trip. It proves that we are drawn towards new horizons and that we are inherently programed to transform. It proves we want to be more than mere consumers on a predetermined path and we want to create our own journeys that we can filter and hashtag accordingly. It proves that we want more than mere stamps in our passport. It proves that we want to look back on our life, and be deeply moved by the people, places and journeys that we experienced.

 

 

Kelly Alexander is a passionate yoga teacher, plant-based chef and writer who has traveled and worked extensively across the world in health resorts, detox centers, raw food restaurants and wellness retreats. Kelly completed her 200hr yoga teacher training in Byron Bay, Australia in 2008 with Rachel Zinnman. She has a Raw Chef certification, is a qualified Holistic Health Coach, a published author and has a degree in Media & Creative Writing. A nomadic traveler and lover of nature, you are most likely to find Kelly upside down on her yoga mat, chasing a sunrise, or wandering through a local farmers market on the hunt for new culinary inspiration.

www.raw-by-nature.com

IG:  @_rawbynature_

 

Join the Yoga Trade family April 9-14, 2019 in Costa Rica for an immersive travel experience!!!

DEEP ECOLOGY of WELLNESS: Weaving the love of yoga and travel with regenerative lifestyle design.

https://yogatrade.com/deep-ecology-of-wellness-2019/

 

Finding Salvation in the Storm

The following is the story of my journey from a life plagued by burnout, addiction, depression and anxiety into a life of self-healing and finding salvation through yoga and a plant based diet.

I moved to Oakland to attend a graduate school program that would prepare me to be a public school teacher in urban communities. I was very intentional about the route I took into teaching. I choose a program that would provide me with a year of supervised student teaching and one that explicitly included courses on the profession of teaching and how issues of race and inequality impacted teaching and learning. I was a bright eyed young teacher and believed that with the proper training I would be prepared to work in some of the harshest conditions in the country. I wanted to teach because I wanted to create a narrative in my classroom that countered the narrative the larger society had about the students I worked with. I believed deeply in the importance of the work I was doing and I was committed to doing all I could to best serve my students. All the training in the world never be enough to prepare me for the conditions I would encounter as a teacher. Because I was young and didn’t yet know myself, I did not have the tools to deal with the emotional stress and trauma of the job.

In some respects, I had a lot of success as a teacher. I took on extra roles outside the classroom. I was creative with my curriculum, and I had strong relationships with my students. I was often described as passionate, dedicated and caring. Early in my career I had a colleague pull me aside to tell me that I needed to protect my passion because it would lead to my burn out. I remember feeling resentment at that statement as I felt like my passion set me apart from other more experienced teachers who appeared to me as more withdrawn from their work and therefore not as effective.

In my first year teaching one of my advisees was shot and killed. My room became the place where students came to mourn. I was tasked with holding space for her friends who were grieving her loss. The classroom does not exist in isolation from the community it serves. I became immersed in the constant trauma, violence and loss experienced by the students who graced my classroom. I continued to take on extra roles outside the classroom and seek ways to ease the pain of my students, all the while ignoring my own. I felt like the harder I worked the more I could do to help my students. I could not have been more wrong.

Numbing my emotions with work, alcohol and unhealthy relationships became my way of coping. I also developed an Adderall addiction, as I was fueled by the idea that the more productive I was the more valuable I was as a teacher. I was taking high doses of Adderall every day and using alcohol and marijuana to fall asleep at night. I was completely neglecting my physical, emotional and spiritual needs all under the façade that my work was more important than me.

I was on a one-way track to a breakdown, which thankfully came. I landed in a psychologist’s office reading me the results of my psychological evaluation. I was suffering from severe burnout, depression and anxiety as well as a substance abuse issue. The psychologist was ready to prescribe psych meds on the spot. At this point I had moved home and began practicing yoga twice a day. I had also begun to change my diet, and stopped taking Adderall all together. After my experience with Adderall the last thing I wanted was more pills. I told the doctor that I wanted to see if I could use yoga and diet to manage my mental and emotional health.

Two years later I am free of all substances and am more happy and connected to my passions and purpose than ever. I have been able to create a life for myself where my health and happiness are at the forefront. I traveled to Costa Rica to become a certified yoga instructor and currently teach regular yoga classes at a local studio here in Baltimore, Maryland. I am currently enrolled in a holistic health-coaching program at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and am excited about expanding my capacity to support other peoples wellness journey through coaching. I have also been trained to teach yoga to people in recovery through Y12SR’s training. I have established a strong support group of people supporting me on this new journey. I am proud to say I am currently managing my addiction, depression and anxiety with yoga and a holistic lifestyle.

There was a moment of darkness when I could not imagine how I would ever move forward. My entire identity was wrapped up in my teaching career and my students. I had completely run myself into the ground. But I am here to tell you that there is another way to live, and that sometimes our biggest obstacles are actually here to direct us towards a life beyond our wildest imagination. You can find salvation in the storm. Yoga, a plant based diet and holistic self-care practices have saved me from a life of addiction, burn out, depression and anxiety. I am proud of my transformation.

At the end of each yoga class I teach, after savasana, I invite students to roll onto one side into a fetal position. I remind students that fetal position is a posture that symbolizes renewal and rebirth and is a reminder to us that every day, every practice, every breath is a chance to begin again. What will you do with yours?

 

Maya Semans is a former inner city high school English teacher turned yoga instructor and holistic health coach on a mission to share the power of yoga and wellness with women and communities impacted by burn out, addiction, and trauma. Located in Baltimore, Maryland.

Connect with Maya on IG: @ana_may_a

 

Maya participated in our Mentorship Program with Mary Tilson. Receive a consultation with Mary when you sign up for the Yoga Trade PLUS membership.

LEARN MORE:

Yoga Trade PLUS

5 Reasons to Practice Yoga While You Travel

Versed travelers know well how difficult it can be to stick to your regular daily preferences when you go away for a few days, or even weeks. You fill those hours with as much sightseeing as possible, trying to see, taste, and feel the energy of this new destination you’re visiting. Is it, then, realistic to find the time and the patience you normally have for staying true to your yoga practice and healthy eating choices?

Surprisingly for many, it actually is quite possible and doable. In fact, if you need further convincing to continue with your yoga morning flows even when there’s an exciting tour for early birds, keep reading to inspire yourself and stay healthy and fit on the go.

Immersing yourself in the moment

Unlike many other forms of exercise, yoga combines incorporating your natural breathing pace with the movements and asanas you perform. As an essential ingredient to a healthy yoga practice, breathing represents an opportunity for increased, deepened mindfulness. When you let yourself enjoy the present moment, while soothing your body and mind through controlled breathing, you can truly experience your adventure on a new level. Take some time in the morning to start your day with yoga, and it will help you retain that awareness of your surroundings and the joy of new experiences. With better awareness, you can do your best not only to rejoice in the beauty of those new localities you visit, but also to stay mindful of your carbon footprint, in an effort to become a more sustainable yoga traveler.

Connecting with the local culture

Although Asia is known as the birthplace of many notable philosophies that focus on peace and serenity, many of its local hotspots are now very fast-paced and bustling with visitors. However, when you take a trip to some of its most renowned destinations, you’ll see that Asia strives to retain its Zen essence. What’s even more relevant is that you, as a traveler, are more than welcome to become a temporary part of that community. For instance, practicing yoga in Hong Kong is still a staple of modern life, and it has become simplified with the use of apps that let you join a class you desire, no matter where you come from. That way, you can taste the true life of Hong Kong beyond the typical highlights, and experience its innate, life-loving rhythm that you’d otherwise miss in its urban eco-system.

Inspiring reflection

How many times have you caught yourself overwhelmed by the sheer beauty and authenticity of your travel destination? A yoga routine lets your mind process these events and emotions, and in fact become much more grateful for the opportunity. In the haste to see the world, we often take it for granted. Yoga helps you stay rooted in your ability to appreciate the present moment and the gift of travel, which we tend to leave behind as soon as we hit the road.

Experiencing relaxation amidst stress

As beautiful as it is, travel also often comes with a hefty dose of stress. It may be caused by anticipation, waiting for your next flight, or by the mere change of perspective. We tend to get used to a certain way of life, and leaving it all behind for a limited amount of time can be a challenge for those who like their routines. Whatever the underlying cause may be, practicing yoga can help you soothe your stress reactions and be more resilient to any other potential triggers. This is especially relevant when you visit hectic spots such as Baghdad or Cairo, where the tension is practically palpable. Yoga is a simple, yet powerful way to stay calm in such environments and see the world through a new lens.

Staying healthy and vibrant

Not every journey is a luxurious one, nor it should be. However, when you do put your body through a lot by taking exceptionally long bus rides, spending hours in sweltering heat, or trekking for hours, yoga can help alleviate the pain. Even daily sightseeing can cause sore muscles, and add to that dehydration if you don’t drink enough water, and your body will start craving a soothing yoga session.

Even though yoga in its essence is so much more than a simple stretching, devoting a fraction of your time just to unwind in comfortable stretching positions will help your muscles heal. That way, you can renew your energy for the next day’s adventure and keep the pain at bay.

 

Sophia Smith is beauty blogger, an eco-lifestyle lover and a food enthusiast. She is very passionate about natural skincare, yoga and mindful living. Sophia has contributed to a number of publications including Mother Earth Living and How to Simplify.

Mastering the Business of Yoga

So much gratitude for the human connections made possible through the path of yoga! Here with catch up with Amanda Kingsmith, the founder of M.B.Om. Amanda has created a functional wonderland for business minded yogis including; a podcast, a blog, a community group, a yoga business bootcamp, and more. Learn more about her story, insights, and the good and important work she is up to!

Can you tell us a bit about your yoga background?

I started practicing yoga with my mom in my second year of university. Having come from a competitive dance background, I enjoyed the body-mind connection, but I didn’t feel overly challenged in the classes that we were going to. So, I started going to hot yoga. I practiced hot yoga for a number of years until I started working in corporate and began going to a studio that was close to my office. My once a week classes quickly turned into daily classes and it wasn’t long before I was hooked.

Fast forward about 2 years, I had traveled to South America for 6 months and relocated to a small mountain town in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. I started working for lululemon and was working as a part-time studio manager for a local yoga studio, and practicing almost everyday. It was at that point that I decided that I wanted to take my yoga teacher training.

Nearly a year later, I traveled to Canggu, Bali to do my 200-hour YTT and haven’t looked back since!

What is M.B.Om and how did this idea come about?

M.B.Om stands for Mastering the Business of Yoga, and it’s a play on “M.B.A or Masters of Business Administration”. It’s a podcast and blog that focuses on teaching yoga teachers the business side of the yoga industry, and helping them to learn more business skills and recognize that it is possible to create a sustainable living in the industry.

The idea came about soon after I returned from my yoga teacher training. I came back excited to teach, but I didn’t really know where to start. Luckily, I was well connected in the town I lived in and was able to get teaching gigs fairly easily. However, about 5 months later, my boyfriend and I relocated to the southern U.S. and I had to start over again. I found myself pulling a lot of what I knew from my business degree and my life working in marketing in the corporate world into my yoga career, but I was still struggling. I also felt that I couldn’t be alone in my struggles, so I decided to start an interview based podcast to talk with successful yoga teachers on how they created successful careers as a way to teach yoga teachers (and myself) how to be successful in the yoga world.

As an entrepreneur, how do you set healthy boundaries for yourself as well as keep motivated and creative?

Creating boundaries for myself has been one of the hardest parts of entrepreneurship and remote work. Some of the boundaries that I set for myself are:

  • At least one day off a week, usually Sundays, to spend with my boyfriend and go out and explore wherever I am based.
  • No calls in the mornings – my mornings are my time for meditation, yoga, journaling, making a big, healthy breakfast, checking emails, and getting my day started. If I need to, I will work around this, but in general I find that having my mornings for myself is really important for my productivity and organization.
  • My daytimer – I would be lost without my Passion Planner. It has all my calls, to-do lists, tasks that need to get done, etc., and I’ve found having a solid calendar system has been really key for my success as an entrepreneur.
  • Power Hour on Sundays, where I spend an hour getting my week organized and getting clear on what I need to get done, when I have calls, etc. This hour really sets me up for success.
  • Regular bedtime and wake up time (which is always a work in progress).
  • Once I “shutdown” and stop working for the night, I don’t check emails again.
  • I respond to emails within 24-48 hours.

In terms of staying motivated and creative, I turn to podcasts, books, yoga classes with other teachers, blog posts from some of my favorite health and wellness bloggers, and time in nature for inspiration. Some of my favorite podcasts right now are Being Boss, From the Heart – Conversations with Yoga Girl, Biz Chix and the occasional episode of the Tim Ferris show. I love following Lee from America and Alison Wu for health and wellness inspiration, and the Bulletproof weekly newsletter is one of my favorites for healthy recipes.

She Means Business by Carrie Green is one of my favorite business books, and The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem by Nathaniel Branden is easily one of the most impactful books I’ve ever read. If I’m ever super low on motivation and creativity, I read Harry Potter or Winnie the Pooh! 

The Digital Nomad/Location Independent scene is SO hot right now;) Do you think it is a sustainable long term way to live and healthy for local community? What are your thoughts of the future of digital nomad life?

Good question! I think that digital nomad life appears much more glamorous than it actually is. There are photos popping up on Facebook and Instagram of people working beachside with a drink in their hands or lounging by an infinity pool, and the reality is that computers are not waterproof, they will die and overheat, and you always need a good wifi connection (which the beach rarely has!).  

Don’t get me wrong, I love being able to live wherever I want, but I think that it’s important to note that digital nomad life doesn’t look so different from life at home – it just means you work from another country. I pretty much always work from my house, a coffee shop or a co working space though, never the beach! For me, this is the perfect balance of building a business and growing my career, while still being able to feed my love of travel and experiencing new countries.

I think that everyone is a bit different when it comes to lifestyle preferences. There are a lot of people who prefer to have a home and take vacations, while others prefer to roam. For me, I have always loved to travel and I don’t ever foresee myself living a life that doesn’t involve travel. However, travel will probably always look different depending what life stage I’m in. Right now, I’m loving spending winters somewhere warm and summers home in Canada, and taking some smaller trips throughout the year. At some point, I might want to have a place I call home for most of the year, but we’ll see.

I think that as humans we crave connection and we also crave community. Working remotely and having a location independent lifestyle means that you have to work a little bit more for your community because your community isn’t always right there in front of you. My boyfriend and travel partner, Ryan and I find that we feel most connected to a place when we can dive into the local community and become a part of it, and I think that as long as people are diving into and supporting their communities, local communities will continue to thrive.

I don’t think that the location independent lifestyle will ever die out, especially as it becomes easier and easier to do with technology, but I think we’ll see a lot of people trying it and finding that it’s not for them. For me personally, I’m excited to see what happens with the world as people move, travel and explore more. I think that exploring and learning about different cultures is one of the greatest ways to remember that we are all humans, regardless of language, race, gender, etc.

Your podcast is super successful! Congrats! What does it take to start and operate a functional podcast?

Thank you!

First off, starting a podcast is not as hard as most people imagine! All you need is an idea, a properly sized logo, a decent microphone and some recording / editing software.

Once you’ve got your podcast going, the most challenging part is staying on top of it. A successful podcast needs to have content released on a regular schedule and this can be one of the hardest parts when you have a busy schedule and lots of other things going on in your business. Now that podcasts are picking up more traction, there are a ton of editing companies, and I think that if you are starting a podcast as just one part of your business, it’s worth it to pay someone to produce it for you (especially if learning to produce audio doesn’t excite you and you’re already really busy).

For me, one of the biggest challenges when I first started was finding guests. I interviewed nearly every yoga teacher I knew before I started to gain some traction. It’s important to know that podcasting can be a big learning curve without very much direct return off the get go, but if you stick with it, you will gain a community of listeners (your tribe!), and have the opportunity to have conversations with people you may never otherwise have had the chance to have.

Although I love that my podcast is making me money now, it was 100% worth it just from a networking standpoint before I ever made a cent.

Yoga and Entrepreneurship can be seen as a paradox, although so many yogis are creating their own business to sustain themselves. Thoughts on this?

This has been a major focus of mine in 2018, as I completely agree that yoga and entrepreneurship don’t naturally blend themselves well. One of the biggest things that I try to instill to yoga teachers is that they are already building businesses, whether they like it or not.

Your students are your customers, your classes are your products, your teaching style is your brand, and when you teach more classes, offer workshops or retreats, you are naturally putting people through a sales funnel and selling to them. People get quickly turned off by marketing, sales funnels, and selling, but I want people to remember that we can offer a service that is authentic to us, sell it in a way that sticks to our values and feels true to ourselves and yoga, and create a brand while still staying true to the practice and lineage that is yoga.

In 2018, money is our currency exchange, and teaching yoga is simply an exchange. We exchange our service for money. If we can remember that, I think that we are all a lot better off in terms of building sustainable businesses and being able to continue offering yoga to our students.

I also like to think of teaching yoga as a form of entrepreneurship. We are our own service and brand and we work under the umbrella of studios to offer our service to customers. At the end of the day, we are not employees, we are entrepreneurs building heart-centered businesses with the goal of helping people heal and feel better in their bodies.

Who are some humans that currently inspire you?

I am lucky to have a lot of humans in my life that inspire me.

My boyfriend, Ryan Ferguson, is a constant source of inspiration for me. He reminds me to always make decisions based on my values even when those decisions are the hardest ones, pushes me to follow my dreams constantly, and challenges me to look at life differently.

I feel really fortunate to work with T.K. Coleman, the Director of Education for Praxis. He has taught me so much about working with other people, value creation, and how to be a good coach. He’s literally one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met!

I am also really inspired by one of the studio owners I work for, Jeff Mah. He’s an incredible yoga teacher, human, and mentor and he’s been one of the biggest inspirations for my own yoga career and business.

I’ve never met Carrie Green, but I am continuously inspired by her work. “She Means Business” was a game-changer for my business and I am constantly in awe by the her ability to drop so much value in a just a few words or a really short video. Whenever I need business inspiration, I turn to Carrie Green.

I’ve also never met Rachel Brathen, but I love her brand, her business and her podcast. She has a way of being authentic and telling it like it is that I love and that reminds me to be honest in the way that I portray myself, especially online.

Ayn Rand’s work has always inspired me. Not only is she an incredible author, but she is able to write fiction with deep philosophical narratives weaved through it, like no other author that I’ve ever read before. People often hate on Ayn Rand, but I think that anytime you can create a ton of controversy through something like a novel, you’re doing something right.

Similarly, Harry Potter is my favorite series of books and something that I turn to for inspiration time and time again, so it would be unfair to leave J.K. Rowling off this list. If I can create something in my lifetime even half as powerful as the Harry Potter series, I will die happy.

Where do you see M.B.Om and yourself in 10 years?

In 10 years I hope to be financially sustainable with my online business, be teaching yoga regularly, and continue to be traveling regularly. I’m not quite sure where “home” will be yet, but I know that I will continue to venture back to the Canadian Rockies often.

I hope that in 10 years, discussing the business side of yoga will not be quite so taboo. I hope that every yoga teacher feels comfortable talking about money and business and that conversations around business are more prevalent in 200-hour YTTs. At the very least, I hope to be leading my own YTTs, where I can guarantee that there will be a business component (amongst the rest of it, because business is not the only important part!).

I hope that M.B.Om is at the top of the iTunes charts for “Careers” and that I have 10x as many listeners (assuming podcasts are still a thing – who knows, right?!). Either way, I hope that what I am doing is creating a wave in the yoga industry where I can help yoga teachers create sustainable long-term businesses so that they can teach yoga through until their 90’s and help heal the world. People need yoga and yoga teachers need to make money to keep teaching yoga, which is why learning about business is so, so important.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I also co-host a podcast called The World Wanderers with my boyfriend, Ryan. We have been doing the podcast for about 4 years and on top of sharing all of our travels around the world, we’ve had the opportunity to talk to a ton of amazing people who have created businesses related to travel, who travel full-time, who travel with their kids, who have become full-time travel bloggers, and much more. If you like travel, as well as yoga, please feel free to check it out!

CONNECT:

M.B.Om: Mastering the Business of Yoga

FB: @masteringthebusinessofyoga

IG: @masteringthebusinessofyoga

 

Yoga As a Mobile Career

Yoga teaches us about unity; not only of ourselves, but also of humankind. It teaches us to let go of attachments and appreciate impermanence. So does travel. My career in yoga has already taken me across North and Central America. Yoga can be a mobile career, and it’s one that has allowed me to move around, follow my own path and not have to be limited by staying in one place. What’s interesting is that the experiences I’ve gained keep bringing back the same lessons I go to the mat for.

Have you lived a nomadic lifestyle as a yoga teacher? Do you aspire to? Here I’ll share how yoga can help you connect with international communities and find new and exciting work opportunities.

When considering yoga as a mobile career, it’s important to note that some places will have more opportunities than others. When you visit a new area, it is beneficial to connect with the local community as they often have existing yoga teaching opportunities. Common places to find short-term yoga teaching opportunities include hostels and tourist destinations that have a “high season.” Meeting people who are vacationing and simply introducing your services can connect you to interested students. However, one of the easiest ways to connect with local communities before you even arrive is through social media, which brings us to the next tool that can help you grow a nomadic yoga business.

Online Presence

Traveling yoga teachers benefit from having a business card that clearly states their website, email and social media accounts. These tools become like a mobile yoga center, a place that students can be present, follow their teacher’s journey, and leave comments and reviews. These tools are helpful to showcase experience and professionalism for traveling teachers.

Teachers hoping to teach in any given location can use social media as an efficient way to advertise. On a recent trip to Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, I turned my one-week trip into a working vacation by simply connecting with the local community’s social media page. I taught classes at a hostel and a yoga center and advertised on the community’s social media page. Advertising this way has also been a successful practice for me when living in various communities in Mexico.

Online yoga work is another increasingly popular opportunity that is becoming more easily accessible to yoga teachers who have an existing online presence. Blog writing, live-streaming yoga classes, and pre-recorded videos all allow teachers to work from anywhere that has a reliable internet connection.

International Trainings and Trade Opportunities

Participating in international trainings and using online resources (like Yoga Trade!) allows teachers to connect to yoga communities all over the world. We never know who we are going to meet or where in the world relationships can take us. In my own experience, completing a yoga teacher training in Mexico led me to teach yoga throughout Mexico and to connect with yoga teachers living all over the world.

Work trade opportunities often open doors to many international opportunities to teach yoga online and in countries throughout the world. The positions can range from a few weeks to permanent teaching positions, many in beautiful tropical locations. Learning another language is also incredibly helpful, but it is common to find English yoga classes in many destinations. Getting out there and getting connected will often open many more doors, allowing you to continue your travels.

What kind of lifestyle are you seeking?

Yoga as a mobile career can look different for everyone depending on preferences and mobility. Some people may love to take a year to travel, live and work in as many places as possible, accepting several short-term teaching opportunities along the way. Others may prefer to live a mobile lifestyle that is ongoing and slower paced. They may choose to stay in places longer, spending time building local connections and a client base, or accepting longer-term trade opportunities. Some people have a yoga career in their home city, but would love to have regular opportunities to leave their routine for travel, growth and learning.

Yoga teaches us about community and connections. It’s a beautiful lesson that many nomadic yogis are able to connect to on a deeper level. The opportunities are out there! You just have to be open to them.

 

Molly Rae is a Sivananda is a writer at Yogapedia.com. She is a yoga teacher, mental health professional, blogger, musician and nomad. 

IG: yogapedia_com

Factors to Consider Before Becoming a Yoga Teacher

So you have decided to become a yoga teacher and are considering enrolling in a yoga teacher training program. Great Vision! But amidst this excitement, have you done detailed research about being a yoga teacher or joining a yoga teacher training program? It is important to take some time contemplating your journey so you can be better prepared for it. Here are some crucial factors to consider before starting on the path.

Why Yoga Teacher Training?

Teacher training programs are open to all yoga aspirants. Yoga teacher training programs give you a deeper knowledge of yoga, both theoretical and practical. With a detailed knowledge of the practices, you will be best prepared for the real world of yoga teaching.

Consider The Place Of Origin

Yoga teacher training programs are available at various beautiful locations across the globe. But nothing is better than getting trained from the land of its origin. So considering India for a Yoga Teacher Training is highly recommended. Nothing is better than getting rejuvenated in the lap of nature and yogic enlightenment.

Setting the Goal Is The First Step

Before entering a teacher training program, it is important to know what you need. Teacher training programs are a great way to grow your practice, which you can use for the self or to become a yoga teacher. It is important to know what kind of training you want and set your goal accordingly. It is very important to have a vision which helps you to remain dedicated.

What Kind Of Yoga Style Do You Want To Master?

Ashtanga, Hatha, Vinyasa, Restorative, the list of yoga styles is very long. Follow your heart and practice the style you feel most connected with. This will also benefit your future students because the most wonderful experiences of yoga come from yoga teachers who love what they are teaching. Choosing a yoga style is important. Starting with a 200 hour yoga teacher training is best. If you have more time (two months), then you can directly opt for a 500 hour yoga teacher training.

Not A Regular Job If You Are Planning To Pursue It Professionally

Becoming a yoga teacher is not the regular, conventional job. Even though it is not the regular 9 to 5 thing, there is a demand for discipline and commitment. You can have versatile schedules, but when your teaching sessions come into form, you might have to extend your teaching hours. It can be difficult for those leaving their regular jobs to become full-time yoga teachers.

Travel, Teach, And Practice

Yoga and traveling is a perfect combination. As a yoga teacher, you can travel and teach students of different countries. It is not compulsory for all yoga teachers to travel and teach. You can also open up a yoga studio or teach private home sessions. You can teach and take classes in countries around the world including; India, Nepal, Bali, Thailand, etc. These locations provide the ideal escape for transformative experiences.

Consider the Investment

If you are planning to become a full-time yoga teacher, it would be great to get trained from a Yoga Alliance Certified School. But registered training programs can be costly, so it is important for you to set a budget and consider the investments. The cost also varies from certification duration – starting from 200 hour yoga teacher training, 300 and 500 hour yoga teacher trainings. Once you complete your training you can register yourself with a yoga governing organization, such as Yoga Alliance.

It is important to take time to research these various factors before taking up yoga teaching. Ask a lot of questions and make sure it feels right before becoming a yoga teacher .

As Rod Stryker said, “There is no doubt that the foundation of being a great yoga teacher is being a great yoga student.”

 

Manmohan Singh is a passionate Yogi, Yoga Teacher and a Traveler in India. He provides yoga teacher training in Rishikesh, India. He loves writing and reading books related to yoga, health, nature, and the Himalayas.

Power of Community: Shakti Fest 2018

In the middle of the Californian desert, I found myself at a heart-centered celebration:  Shakti Fest.

For three days, men and women from all corners of the world gathered to sing sacred music, grow their yoga practice, and honor the divine feminine in us all. My most significant take-away was the power of community for spiritual growth and support. Take a look at our video as we catch up with Shakti Fest’s executive director, Sridhar, and yoga teachers, Kia Miller and Govind Das to discuss the alchemy of gathering in community.

Video Music:  Jai Ma (Down to the Sea Mix) by Govind Das & Radha

Filmmaker:  Audrey Billups

Dive Deep With a Single Breath

Cover Photo: SzJanko Photography

The ocean is one of my greatest teachers. Over recent years, I have been fascinated by the concept of free diving and the mental strength and grace I observe in those who practice exploring depths beneath the surface on a single breath. This past March, I arrived in Bocas Del Toro, Panama after spending an adventurous week sailing from the San Blas islands. As I took a morning stroll from the humble place I was staying, I noticed a sign outside of the Bocas Dive Center that read, “Free Your Soul – Try Free Diving”. This sign immediately drew me in, so I walked closer to read the details. I found out there was a yoga class on the water front deck that evening at sunset and that the yoga teacher was also one of the free dive instructors. I went to yoga and it was just what I needed, a wonderful class! I stayed afterwards to chat and found out more about the free diving course details. This led me to extend my time in Bocas by 24 hours so that I could at least take a one day class in free diving. The course blew me away! The instructors Gabrielle and Ariel are amazing humans and incredible teachers. With their guidance, teachings, and support, I made it down to 13 meters in one day! I am super inspired by the passion that radiates from Gabrielle and Ariel and their creation of Blue Chitta. They offer courses, trainings, and retreats all over the world that create space to experience full body and mind potential. Free diving is a fantastic compliment to yoga and meditation and I look forward to training with these two more in the near future. Learn more about this aquatic duo and what they do in the interview below…Thanks for diving deep!

Super excited to join in for the Freediving and Yoga Retreat in Bali //November 11 to 17 2018!

“From birth, man carries the weight of gravity on his shoulders. He is bolted to the earth. But man has only to sink beneath the surface and he is free.” Jacques Yves Cousteau

Can you tell us a little about your yoga background and how you met?

We both have a pretty strong yoga background, we started practicing about 8 years ago when we were still in the  scuba-diving business. We found something very special in the yoga practice, a deep feeling of inner peace & an opportunity to make the impossible a possibility. Ariel did his first Ashtanga Yoga Teacher Training Course in 2011 in Rishikesh India and started to teach yoga in Eilat, Israel soon after completing the training. We met in Eilat in 2011 in the dive shop where Ariel was working. I was a dive master at the time and I went to dive the Red Sea on my way to Thailand. We met in the public shower after the dive, he offered me soap and later on tea, we straight away had a special connection. That weekend, I went to my first Ashtanga Yoga Class led by Ariel in Hebrew! I continued my trip and made it to Thailand where I started practicing yoga more regularly in the local studios. A year later, Ariel moved to the same island I was living on (Koh Tao), to become a freediving instructor and started teaching yoga at the local yoga studio. I went to India to do my first TTC with Sivananda and a couple months after I completed a second TTC in Ashtanga and started working full time as a yoga teacher. By the end I was head teacher at the studio, teaching most of the classes from Hatha to Yin with a special love for Vinyasa & inversions. Ari was teaching freediving full time and spending his free time teaching Ashtanga Yoga or giving Thai Massage. We also started to practice and teach AcroYoga, a community based practice that blends the wisdom of Yoga, fire of Acrobatics and love and kindness of Thai Massage. In 2014, we founded Yoga Shak Montreal, a peaceful oasis in the city center of Montreal, a yoga studio dedicated to sharing good vibes through Yoga & Meditation.

You both started as scuba divers? Why did you make the crossover to free diving?

Getting more into yoga brought a change in our lifestyles. The scuba-diving business is very hard work, a lot of sophisticated equipment involved and the day usually ends at the bar at what they call ”Beer O’clock”. It was fun for a few years but after a while we started looking for something else. Evolution is an ongoing process. We would skip ”Beer O’clock” to practice yoga and meditation, we started to feel much more connected to our bodies and realized the power of the mind. When we came across freediving we felt like it was the perfect combination for us; mixing meditation, breath-control, our love for the ocean and offering a much more balanced life-style as well as a sense of freedom. Letting go of our heavy sophisticated equipment just made sense, it was part of our evolution, like a snake letting go of it’s old skin.

Photo: JF Gutierrez

Why do you feel yoga and freediving work so well together?

For us, yoga and freediving are two sides of the same thing, and at the same time are very complementary. The same principles apply in both yoga and freediving; using the breath to unlock the body and the mind to their full potential, creating space between the sensations and the reaction, and moving from fear to trust. They both bring us a deep sense of freedom, inner peace and Oneness. Practicing yoga and meditation is a part of most freedivers’ routine because it enhances their ability to stay calm under pressure, increase their lung capacity and keeps their body strong and healthy. Freediving is like taking the yoga practice into the ocean. The water is a very cleansing element, it brings up to the surface our deepest fears and gives us the opportunity to let them go, creating space for new beginnings and eventually bringing a great sense of empowerment. In both freediving and yoga, we get to let go of what is no longer serving us and to realize the limitless potential of our body & mind!

What kind of experience does one need to start free diving?

None. What we love about the way we teach our courses is that they are adapted to each student. We’ve had students who were terrified of the water…one woman could not even put her face in the water without panicking. With her, we worked on breaking mental blocks, creating new patterns of reaction and learning to trust the ocean. It took a little bit longer but after a few weeks she made it to 24 meters without any stress or fear and with a beautiful technique. Some people just want to learn the basics skills so they can go explore the reef safely and comfortably, others want to push their limit and dive as deep as they can…whatever it is, our general goal is to see some kind of improvement during the course and meet everyone’s individual needs and expectations. Knowing how to swim is a good start, but some people have even learned how to freedive before they could swim! Freediving is such a vast world, there is something for everyone and this is why we can allow ourselves to adapt the courses to each individual.

Can you recall one of your most memorable dives?

One of our best dives was in Mexico…we went freediving with a friend, we took a local boat to the reef and when Ariel did his first dive of the day to about 30 meters, he came back up with four dolphins spinning around him! I could not believe it! The dolphins were so curious, they were talking and singing and playing around with us for about an hour. They were copying our every move, if we would dive they would dive, if we would jump they would jump, spin they spin, it was spectacular! There is something magical with having a connection with dolphins; they establish a very strong eye contact and you instantly realize that they are much smarter than we can imagine. We can hear them communicating underwater with their whistle and it feels like we can understand what they are saying. In the end of the day they are mammals just like us, our bodies are very similar and react with the same adaptations when we dive into the sea on a single breath. I think this is why freediviers and dolphins have a special connection, they remind us that we are all the same, part of a whole, WE ARE ONE! <3
Another spectacular dive was Ariel’s first competition dive in Free2Be Comp. in Eilat. Competitions are very stressful for everyone; organizers, athletes and coaches. This was Ariel’s first competition and he announced a 60 meter dive. As his coach, I was at the surface waiting for him while he was diving down, not allowed to dive with him or else he would be disqualified. This would be an ”easy” dive for him regularly and he’d been going to this depth and deeper many times before, but to dive down alone on a single breath with all the adrenaline and the stress of everyone around was a whole new thing. He had about three minutes to breathe before he went down. The safety team was making sure he was hooked correctly to the line with his lanyard and counting the time down until it was his time to take a big breath and dive down. For the whole way down Ari was alone, leaving the stress and tension behind him, focusing only on his equalization, the present moments and letting go of any unnecessary stress or expectations. At the surface we were counting the time, after about 75 seconds we felt the turn, the safety team went down to meet him at about 30 meters on his way up. I still wasn’t sure if he had made it all the way down or not. Eventually I saw him coming up, as he winked, I knew. Once he surfaced he had 15 seconds to do three things in this specific order; 1- Clear his airway (take his noseclip off), 2- Give the OK hand signal to the judges, 3- Say the words ”I AM OK”. He did it perfectly without any signs of hypoxia or weakness. Following this, he had another 15 seconds to show the judges and the crowd the tag he had picked up at the bottom plate while keeping his airways above the wavy waters. He did all of this like a Boss! He looked so fresh and clean that the judges told him he should have gone for a deeper dive!

Where is your favorite place to dive?

Next to big animals!!! We were teaching in Mozambique, Africa for a while and on almost every dive we would see humpback whales and it was mind blowing every single time! Diving with Mantas in Bali is always EPIC and the dive with the dolphins in Mexico was definitely one of the best! But the ocean is unpredictable and the same spot can look completely different from one day to the another.

Anything else you’d like to share?

We have some amazing retreats and trainings coming up later this year! Discover your true potential in this unique 6 days all-inclusive Yoga and Freediving Retreat by the Sea led by Gabrielle GQ & Natalie Rudman  November 11 to 17 2018 in BALI. You will be breathing a lot; exploring various pranayama that can be applied both in the practice of Yoga and Freediving, connecting your mind and body through Yin Yoga and Vinyasa Flows, eating delicious local vegan food and learn how to explore the ocean on a single breath!

JOIN US!

Learn more about the November Bali Retreat HERE

 
Blue Chitta was founded in 2014 by Ariel Kedmi & Gabrielle GQ, two Nomad Ocean Lovers who want to share their passion for Freediving, Yoga & Thai Massage with the world! Blue represents the infinity of the sea and the sky and the love of the ocean. In India and in the Yogic Philosophy, Blue is a divine colour; the color of All-inclusiveness. Sadhguru says that anything that is vast and beyond our perception tends to be blue & this is why so many gods in India are shown as blue-skinned. Chitta is a sanskrit word that means consciousness or the connection between the Heart and the Mind.  Blue Chitta is about revealing the full potential of our mind, body and soul! Since 2014, Blue Chitta has been offering freediving and yoga trainings around the globe, from Africa to South East Asia passing through the Red Sea and all the way to the Caribbean!  Always looking to create life-changing experiences whether it’s through workshops, retreats, courses or trainings! 
IG/FB / @BlueChitta