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.

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/

 

Gather Amongst the Joshua Trees

One of the things I cherish most about being a yoga teacher is the ability to be an eternal student. There is no endpoint to this path, we are constantly evolving, discovering, and soaking in all the lessons life gives us. Through years of traveling and soul-searching, the importance I find in community grows more and more. Community encourages personal growth and fosters the eternal student within us all.

In two weeks, amongst the magical Joshua trees, surrounded by the expansive desert, like-minded individuals from around the globe will gather as community at Shakti Fest. At this yoga and sacred music festival, we will honor the divine feminine in all of us. This world renowned festival offers countless opportunities for attendees to push their boundaries and discover their potential.

There will be yoga classes taught by world class yoga teachers including Shiva Rea, Mark Whitwell, and Kia Miller. Festival goers will be able to practice devotional chanting with enchanting Kirtan artists such as Jai Uttal, MC Yogi, and Govind Das & Radha. There will be workshops covering diverse topics such as Vedic astrology, women’s sexuality, and tantric energy. Participants will also be able to experience the healing effect of sound baths and discover the Eco Artisan Village with abundant vegetarian and vegan food vendors, eclectic yoga gear, and artisan jewelry.

An opportunity for transformational growth, Shakti Fest encourages attendees to connect and learn from each other. If you feel called to take on a more active roll and give back, Shakti Fest also offers Seva positions, where your service grants you a festival pass in exchange!

Connect with community, connect with nature, and connect with your Self. Join us at Shakti Fest this May 10 – 14 in Joshua Tree, California.

See you there!

 

 

 

Audrey Billups is a filmmaker, international yoga teacher, and Yoga Trade’s videographer. Her passion for yoga, travel, and film has brought her to many corners of the world. Follow along with her travels and work:

thenomadicfilmmaker.com

IG: @thenomadicfilmmaker

Paramahansa Yogananda: Focusing The Power Of Attention For Success

I bought Paramahansa Yogananda’s book, “Autobiography of a Yogi” earlier on in my yoga journey, but didn’t actually get around to reading it for a couple of years. I had developed a consistent yoga practice from the second I hit the mat. I’ll never forget the first thought that entered my mind when I picked my head off the mat that first time in the studio, “I am going to do this practice everyday, for the rest of my life.” I have been averaging 5x per week, every week, since I started 4+ years ago. I started during a rough patch in my life, like many who find yoga, and it changed everything in the best possible way.

When I first started, I didn’t know who Paramahansa Yogananda was. I didn’t know this great teacher, who sailed thousands of miles away from his home, crossing a massive ocean, to bring the science of yoga to the west – all because his teacher, Swami Sri Yuketswar, asked him to.

I started reading “Autobiography of a Yogi,” after a couple of years of practice on a whim. Right after I was about to finish the book, one of my favorite teachers asked me if I wanted to meet a Kriya Master at the Self-Realization Fellowship in Oceanside, CA – Yogiraj Satgurunath Siddhanath. After reading that book, I jumped at the opportunity.

Ever since then, I finish every book I read by Paramahansa Yogananda within a couple of days. Especially this book, “Focusing the Power of Attention for Success.” In this book, he talks about some of the spiritual loads behind our thoughts, and how we can focus them for success through meditation (available on Amazon for $1.)

“These informal talks and essays offer inspiring and practical guidance for living our lives in a spiritually harmonious way—with grace and simplicity, with an inner equanimity in the face of life’s seeming contradictions, and above all with joy, secure in the knowledge that we are at every moment in the embrace of a loving Divine Power.”

Here are 7 quotes from the book below, that I found to be very helpful and interesting for focusing the power of my attention for success.

1. Sharing Your Success

Success has a relation to the satisfaction of the soul in the context of the environment in which one lives; it is a result of actions based on the ideals of truth, and includes the happiness and well-being of others as part of one’s own fulfillment. Apply this law to your material, mental, moral, and spiritual life and you will find it a complete, comprehensive definition of success.

Our success must not hurt others. Another qualification of success is that we not only bring harmonious and beneficial results to ourselves, but also share those benefits with others.

Likewise, the attainment of material success means more than that we are individually entitled to enjoy our prosperity; it means that we are morally obligated to help others to create a better life as well. Anyone who has the brains can make money. But if he has love in his heart, he will never be able to use that money selfishly; he will always share with others. Money becomes a curse to the miserly, but to those who have heart it is a blessing.

Henry Ford, for example, makes a lot of money, but at the same time he doesn’t believe in charity that simply encourages people to be lazy. Rather, he provides work and livelihood for many. If Henry Ford makes money by giving others prosperity too, he is successful in the right way. He has greatly helped the masses; American civilization owes much to him.

Even the greatest saints are not fully redeemed until they have shared their success, their ultimate experiences of God-realization, by helping others toward divine realization. This is why those who have that attainment are dedicated to giving understanding to those who don’t understand.

2. Meditation Removes Mental Limitations #1

Reading worthwhile books is much better than spending time on foolishness. But better than reading books is meditation. Focus your attention within. You will feel a new power, a new strength, a new peace – in body, mind, and spirit. Your trouble in meditation is that you don’t persevere long enough to get results. That is why you never know the power of a focused mind. If you let muddy water stand still for a long time, the mud will settle at the bottom and the water will become clear. In meditation, when the mud of your restless thoughts begins to settle, the power of God begins to reflect in the clear waters of your consciousness.

Do you know why some people are never able to acquire health or make money, no matter how hard they seem to try? First of all, most people do everything half-heartedly. They use only about one-tenth of their attention. That is why they haven’t the power to succeed. In addition, it may be their karma, the effects of their past wrong actions, that has created in them a chronic condition of failure. Never accept karmic limitations. Don’t believe you are incapable of anything. Often when you can’t succeed at something it is because you have made up your mind that you cannot do it. But when you convince your mind of its accomplishing power, you can do anything! By communing with God you change your status from a mortal being to an immortal being. When you do this, all bonds that limit you will be broken. This is a very great law to remember. As soon as your attention is focused, the Power of all powers will come, and with that you can achieve spiritual, mental, and material success.

. . .

Meditation Removes Mental Limitations #2

When a problem thwarts you – when you can find no solution and no one to help you – go into meditation. Meditate until you find the solution. It will come. I have tested this hundreds of times, and I know the focusing power of attention never fails. It is the secret of success. Concentrate, and don’t stop until your concentration is perfect. Then go after what you want. As a mortal being you are limited, but as a child of God you are unlimited. Connect your concentration with God. Concentration is everything. First go within; learn to focus your mind and to feel the power of God. Then go after material success. If you want health, first go to God and connect yourself with the Life behind all life; then apply laws of health.

Commune with God and then go after health or money or seeking a partner in life.

To get response from God, you must meditate deeply. Each day’s meditation must be deeper than the previous day’s. Then you will find that as soon as your attention becomes focused, it burns out all deficiency from your mind, and you feel the power of God come over you. That power can destroy all seeds of failure.

3. A Universal Religion of Love is the Real Answer

“He who watcheth Me always, him do I watch; he never loses sight of Me, nor do I lose sight of him.” In every nook of nature, hidden in the flowers and peeking through the sparkling windows of the moon, my Beloved plays hide-and-seek with me. He watches me always through the screen of nature, the veil of delusion.

Never ignore the Lover behind all lovers. Let not your heart beat with the emotion of the world, but with the thrill of divine love. That love is unsurpassable. The moment divine lose possesses your heart, your entire body becomes blissfully still: “When the Master of the Universe came into my body temple, my heart forgot to beat, the cells of my body forgot their duties. They were transfixed, listening to the voice of Life Immortal – the Lover of all life, the Life of all lives. My heart, my brain, all the cells of my being were electrified, Immortalized with His Presence.” Such is the love of the Lord.

A universal religion of love is the real answer. Love makes you victorious; it makes you a conqueror. Jesus was one of the greatest conquerors of all, wasn’t he? A conqueror of hearts.

Photos from:  http://www.paramhansayogananda.com

4. The Power Behind All Power

First and foremost, be successful with the Master of the Universe. You become so engrossed in material duties, you say you have no time for God. But supposed God says He has no time to beat in your heart, to think in your brain. Where will you be? He is the Love behind all loves. He is the Reason behind all reason. He is the Will behind all wills, the Success behind all success, the Power behind all powers; the blood in your veins; the breath behind your words. If He takes His power away, my voice will be silent and I shall speak no more. If His power doesn’t express through our hearts and brains, we will lie dumb forever. So remember, your most important duty in life is your duty to God.

5. The Practicality of Seeking God First

Faith is intuitive conviction, a knowing from the soul, that cannot be shaken even by contradictions.

The practical purpose behind the scriptural injunction to see God first is that once you have found Him, you can use His power to acquire the things your common sense tells you are right for you to have. Have faith in this law. In attunement with God you will find the way to true success, which is a balance of spiritual, mental, moral, and material attainment.

6. Let No One Take Your Happiness Away From You

“Your happiness is your success, so let no one take your happiness away from you. Protect yourself from those who try to make you unhappy. . . . Conscience is intuitive reasoning, reporting the truth about yourself and your motives. When your conscience is clear, when you know you are doing right, you are not afraid of anything. A clear conscience mirrors a certificate of merit from God. Be immaculate before the tribunal of your conscience and you shall be happy and have the blessing of God.

If you don’t make money, it is because you don’t really concentrate on it; similarly, if you aren’t happy, it is because you don’t concentrate on being happy. The mule that carries a bag of gold on its back doesn’t know the value of that load. Likewise, man is so absorbed in toting the burden of life, hoping for some happiness at the end of the trail, that he does not realize he carries within him the supreme and everlasting bliss of the soul. Because he looks for happiness in “things,” he doesn’t know he already possesses a wealth of happiness within himself.”

7. Keep Your Attention Concentrated

Watch your time. Don’t waste it. You decide to make a quick trip to town to get something you need, but how easily other things distract you. Before you know it you have been gone for hours. At the end of the day, you see how your attention was scattered. It lost all its accomplishing power. The mind is like a bag of muster seed. If you spill those seeds on the floor it is hard to pick them up again. Your concentration must be like a vacuum cleaner, drawing those scattered seed-thoughts together again.

When you have finished your duties at the end of the day, sit quietly alone. Take a good book and read it with attention. Then meditate long and deeply. You will find much more peace and happiness in this than in restless activities in which your mind runs a riot in all directions. If you think you are meditating, when all the while your mind is scattered, you delude yourself. But once you learn to concentrate on God, there is nothing like it. Test yourself. Go on a picnic, go into town, socialize with friends; at the end of the day you will be nervous and restless. But if you cultivate the habit of spending time alone at home in meditation, a great power and peace will come over you. And it will remain with you in your activities as well as in meditation. Seclusion is the price of greatness.

 

 

Yogi, teacher, DJ, writer. Fascinated with experiential study of yoga, meditation, neuroscience, & spirituality.

Connect:

http://shamsandtabrizi.com 
https://www.instagram.com/shamsandtabrizi/
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_YLP2Q3dk4iMjI4IlfKHsQ/vide

Co Living and Working for Wellness Professionals

My journey as a traveling yoga teacher has brought me to numerous yoga and wellness ‘communities’ around the world. I appreciate well run communal environments and have learned so much about ‘living yoga’, wellness, healthy cooking, permaculture, and sustainability from many of these places. I have also made many wonderful connections this way. Although nature and yoga are at my core, one of my current interests includes growing and evolving on a ‘professional’ level and as a business artist. Another interest is to connect and create relationships with humans outside the ‘yoga bubble.’

I have been intrigued by the Co Living/Co Working Community, Outsite for sometime, and  finally booked a stay at the Santa Cruz location in November. Upon walking into the ‘Greenhouse’ (Outsite Santa Cruz has two locations), I felt a warm and friendly vibe. The house has an open layout, high ceilings, redwood beams, and magnificent lighting. The location couldn’t be better and offers fantastic walkability options. The house is set two blocks from the ocean and the much loved West Cliff bluffs. It is the perfect recreation spot for walking, biking and surfing, and the beach can be accessed directly from the house via the magical Bethany Curve trail. Also, within walking distance are heaps of dreamy spots for wellness enthusiasts including; New Leaf Community Market, Santa Cruz Yoga, and Bantam Restaurant (Don’t Panic, It’s Organic!). The property boasts a lovely kitchen, beautiful communal space, a hot tub, bikes, surfboards, chickens, a plethora of books, board games, and a piano!

In community living situations it’s really all about the people. I was fortunate to meet a couple standout souls during my short stay here who inspired me with their stories and spirit (this included meeting a former Olympic Windsurfer who is now getting his MBA at UC Berkeley!).

If you are a yoga teacher or wellness entrepreneur looking to bring fresh perspectives and professional concepts into you life, here are some reasons why you may want to book a stay at a Co Living/Co Working space such as Outsite:

Diversity and Community

I love being part of the global yoga community, but it is also refreshing to meet people outside the world of yoga. A space like this brings all sorts of people together. It is much more than sharing a work space; these types of environments are special in that we can cook with, adventure with, and be challenged by the people we meet. It is a breeding ground for innovative ideas and different ways of thinking.

Collaboration and Networking

You never know who you will meet when booking a stay, and this is all part of the fun! Guests at Outsite can be Entrepreneurs, Developers, Designers, Artists, and Academics. Most people that stay here tend to have a great balance of work and play. As a yoga teacher and/or wellness professional this can be a great place to meet others that have valuable and different skills from ourselves to learn from.

Practice Openness and Be Part of a Social Movement

It can be challenging to share physical space. We know from the practice of yoga, that it is beneficial to be open and live from our hearts. Also, we know from asana that much of a yoga practice is about how to be more receptive when put in uncomfortable positions. If the idea of sharing house space with strangers sounds ‘uncomfortable’ to you, it may be a perfect way to practice some yoga and get out of your comfort zone. With housing costs on the rise, this way of living may become more of the ‘norm’ in the near future, and it can be exciting to be a part of it.

Location Independence and Flexibility

The reality is, more and more people are working from their laptops which means a lot of people have the opportunity to live anywhere they can get online. A perfect example of this are our friends Brandon and Anne aka The Yoga Nomads, who have created a successful online business. What an extraordinary time to live! Co Living/Co Working communities such as Outsite provide ‘flexible stability’. Have certainty that you always have a place to stay and a community, but choose when and where you will stay.

(After a morning of work, a housemate and I adventured up the coast)

Balance of Productivity and Fun

Often my most productive work is done in these kinds of collaborative environments. There is something about the sparks of energy that can be cultivated when a group of creatives come together. Many ‘digital nomads’ often spend much of their work time alone zoning out into cyber space. I find that many people (including myself) that work solo can sway easily to the extremes of imbalances, either by working too much and not finding self care or becoming lazy with a lack of motivation. Working in a community we can hold each other accountable. We can have time for focused work and then have fun and get out and play by surfing, hiking, biking, exploring, practicing yoga, making group dinners, or having dance parties!

Sustainability and Opportunities to Share Your Trade

With rental and home prices being quite high (especially in California), this a great way of living in amazing spaces while keeping our costs down. The concept of co living is nothing new, just they way we are doing it is. Many of us are realizing that living in isolated boxes (such as track homes in suburban neighborhoods) is not a sustainable way to live. As a society we are shifting toward wanting to live closer to the land and our food and water sources, or when in urban environments leaving smaller footprints. While staying at a co living community, we also have the opportunity to ‘share our trade’ with housemates. Most members of Yoga Trade are yoga teachers or have some kind of wellness trade. Offer to teach a yoga class, cook a healthy breakfast, or give someone a massage. Be of service, have meaningful experiences, and share the practice.

We will conclude with some inspiring words from Britt, the Operations Manager at Outsite. He is also the Community House Manager in Santa Cruz, and I was privileged to meet him and ask him a few questions:

Yoga Trade:  How would you describe the Outsite experience in a few sentences?

Britt:  Outsite is your new home if you’re traveling. It’s a community of traveling professionals looking for connection and a consistent experience. You’ll find comfort, new friends, and new hobbies as you explore our variety of locations around the world. Our locations are smaller than a hotel and more familiar. Our team, members, and guests are eclectic and friendly.

Yoga Trade:  What new Outsite location are you looking forward to most and why?

Britt:  I’m most excited about our upcoming location in Bali, Indonesia. I’ve never been there, and it seems like an adventurous paradise. We’ll be opening in Canggu, so it’s a prime spot. We’ll have authentic Bali architecture and furniture, yet modern fixtures and a pool!

Yoga Trade:  Where do you see yourself and Outsite five years from now?

Britt:  I hope we have more locations and more members, and it continues to thrive as a wonderful network. I see us having more locations in Europe, Asia, and Latin America. I see us as a more recognized option for accommodation and community. I see myself still based in California, developing more partnerships and creating more events to bring together the Outsite Community.

Outsite currently provides several desirable locations (especially alluring for surfing yogis): Santa Cruz, Lake Tahoe, Venice Beach, San Diego, New York City, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Costa Rica. New locations on the way include; Bali, Lisbon, and Baja!

Check out their affordable memberships and rates and connect here:

https://outsite.co/flex-membership/

FB: outsiteco

IG: outsiteco

Hope to practice the balancing act of work and play and share creative house space with you soon!

 

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!

 

Morning Altars: A Daily Living Practice

I first became aware of Day Schildkret and his work at Wanderlust Festival in Lake Tahoe. Day is known internationally for Morning Altars and has encouraged thousands of people of all ages from all over the world to forage, build and be awed with Earth Art. Day is igniting an international movement by sharing the art, teachings and spirit of Morning Altars as a tangible spiritual practice that renews and redeems our relationship to wonder, creativity, nature connection, generosity, and impermanence. He taps into the roots and foundations of yoga with a unique perspective and inspires us that a daily practice does not have to be done on the mat. Here we catch up with Day to learn from and be moved by his creative soul. Much gratitude Day!

What are your earliest memories of making altars?

I was five years old and making the tiniest of altars. I would run outside after every rainstorm and witness the driveway covered in displaced and homeless worms, wiggling around trying to find their way back into the ground. I felt so much sympathy for the pathetic worms that I would literally dig small holes in the earth and escort the worms back into their proper place. But I wouldn’t stop there. Apparently, I wanted their little homecomings to be met with beauty. So I would adorn each hole, creating miniature art installations with flower petals, tiny sticks, and fallen berries, until there was a constellation of worm-hole mandalas scattered throughout the front yard. While my parents probably thought it was cute, to me it was everything. I was helping these helpless creatures find their way home — and marking that journey in beauty, with an altar. I didn’t know it at the time, but our capacity to mark moments with beauty is entirely human.

Can you talk a bit about your love for nature and connection…

That’s like asking me to speak about my love of life. It’s almost indescribable.

I think it’s best to start off by speaking a bit about my disconnection from nature and my journey of discovering it again. After college, I found myself working on Broadway and living in Times Square on a street that had about a thousand people walking by my front door every hour. There was barely a tree in site. Everything was pavement. The billboards lit the city so brightly at night that it looked like daytime. My days were rushed and stressful and, as you can imagine, there were consequences to living that way.

Yet right down the block there was an oasis: A community garden lush with green grass, a winding path and an old magnolia tree. That garden brought me back to life and reminded me how crucial being connected to the natural world is.

My love of nature is my love of the interconnection, diversity and unexpected magic of life. This love requires me having a beginner’s mind and being able to be awed by what I see. This love reminds me that to truly connect with nature, I must slow down and open my eyes and heart to what I’m connected to. Nature is alive and always communicating.

Any words of wisdom you can give someone that is wanting to start this kind of daily practice? Would you say that making altars is a yoga practice for you?

The word of wisdom is simple: Begin. Take a step outside and just wander for a bit, looking around for leaves or bark or anything that inspires you. Sit on the earth and just begin to arrange these pieces. You’ll be surprised how easy it is when you choose to begin.

I started this as a daily practice years ago because I had a relationship breakup that totally broke my heart. I couldn’t do yoga, couldn’t meditate. All I could do was take my dog on a walk in the hills here. It was a huge act of courage at the time to just walk out my front door. But what I discovered and remembered was how connected I feel when I’m creative and in nature.

The word yoga in Sanskrit means “to join,” “to unite” “to bring together” – it’s the practice of connecting oneself to something greater. My Morning Altars practice is yoga practice for me as it’s all about connecting ourselves in the moment: to nature, to creativity, to the present moment.

Who and what are some of your biggest inspirations?

Perhaps I can answer this question by describing my smallest inspirations. The magic I make when engaged in my craft is given to me by what lives and grows on the land. There have been little leaves I have found that are splattered with all the colors of the seasons on its surface. Or a perfectly rounded river rock that looks like it was shaped on the potter’s wheel. Or the flowering puff of a thistle plant that desires any opportunity to ride the wind. When I sit down to create, these gifts of the land are my inspiration and give my imagination the endless ideas of shapes and patterns. Every single Morning Altar that I have made has been inspired by the place I am at and the objects of that place.

How do you maintain your amazing curiosity, creativity and beginner’s mind?

Maintenance is a practice of keeping something you love alive and well. And this practice, like any practice, exercises a muscle and a skill. Like playing the guitar or learning a language, to become skillful at something requires a commitment to take time to tend to it everyday — to be willing to meet it everyday. I believe in yoga this is called “finding your mat.”

Curiosity, creativity and beginner’s mind are skills that we must exercise daily to not lose them. As children we are born into these kind of skills — we begin with 100% and are asked to maintain them. However, the dominant industrial culture we live in requires us to trade in these enormously valuable skills for the promise of certainty, knowledge, productivity and competence. And, like any muscle that isn’t exercised, it atrophies when underused.

So maintenance is a practice of keeping something alive. I keep my curiosity, creativity and beginner’s mind alive by committing to my Morning Altars practice everyday. I get to behold the wild turkeys that parade by the creek or the squirrels chasing each other up a redwood tree. I get to practice making something new everyday using my own hands and being awed by what I made. It’s a practice so I mess up all the time — but my commitment has never been stronger.

Any tips on how to turn passions into a sustainable way of making a living?

The etymology of the word “sustain” means to “hold up” like you would with the foundation of a home. Anything that is sustainable and endurable requires a willingness to be flexible, adaptable, innovative and persistent. For passions to become a living, it really requires a shift in mindset that includes uncertainty and not knowing. It asks you to tell your passion that no matter what, you’ll be there for it. No matter how uncertain things are, you won’t abandon it. What happens when you alter your mind in this way is that you learn a certain kind of grace and courage that is needed when making your passions into livelihood.

You are also a Purpose Coach and created Legacy of Livelihood. Please tell us more!

I’m passionate about people remembering that they are needed during this time. There are too many people in the world living a life that is purposeless, needy and disconnected and there’s enormous negative impact on their health, relationships and on the planet itself.

We need as many people as possible attempting to live creative and regenerative lives. We need as many people as possible remembering that everything they benefit from has been given to them from generations before and that their purpose directly impacts generations to come. We as a human species are at a crossroads: Do we continue to take from this planet with an incessant, insatiable appetite or do we show up with purpose, meaning, generosity and responsibility for a world greater than ourselves?

I’ve worked with hundreds of clients as a Creative Purpose mentor because I want to see other people living their passions and purpose everyday. I want to see people taking risk and living creatively without any guarantees that its going to work out. Living with purpose right now requires us to proceed with our life’s calling in the midst of uncertainty.

I absolutely LOVE witnessing my clients get strong and devoted to living their passions.

What is one way we can all bring more beauty into our lives?

The more beautiful everything around you is, the more beauty is in your life. So, I think the question should be: What does it look like to make everything that surrounds me as beautiful as possible? What does it mean to bring beauty to your partner or your neighbors or your office co-workers? What does it mean to make your home or working space more beautiful? How can your greetings to strangers be more beautiful?

The more beauty you give, the more spills all over you. That’s what is needed in this world.

 

To view the mesmerizing magic of Morning Altars, visit: www.morningaltars.com

Instagram:  @morningaltars

Facebook:  facebook.com/morningaltars  

Sign up for the Morning Altars newsletter! The first 10 sign-ups will receive a package of Morning Altars postcards (when say you heard about this via Yoga Trade)

The Power of Sound: Simrit Kaur

I definitely remember when I first heard Simrit’s music. It was in a yoga class a few years ago at Wild Mountain Yoga in my hometown of Nevada City, California. After class, I asked the teacher who the artist was that was gracing our asana, and then I immeditately went home and purchased the album. Her sound is timeless and refreshing at the same time. When you hear her sing you know she is fully connected and in the flow. Her magestic world music sound has a way of bringing back the ‘remembering’ as well as inpsiring optimism for the future, all while being present. Her devotion appears effortless. All yoga teachers, music aficianados, and lovers of the mystery will appreciate this music. Thank YOU Simrit, for allowing us to catch up with you and learn a bit more about your story…

Can you share with us your first memories of exploring your own voice thru singing?

The first time I explored my voice was in my home in first grade.  I explored and sang with my voice since even younger…My mom said I sang when I was a baby/toddler, but the first time I remember actually sitting and listening back and singing interesting scales and notes was when I was in first grade.  I would sit in the corner of our living room and record myself on a tape player while singing and making up songs and lyrics.  Then I would play the recording back and figure out where I wanted to change the song or add things. 

When did you know that sound and music was your calling and what helped you believe in your path?

Interestingly enough, I was born to a lineage of Beloved Greek singers in Greece, so music has always been my path, and I was always playing music and taking lessons in piano and voice and drums since the time I was in grade school.  However, I didn’t realize I was going to do this as a life path until about 3-4 years ago.  I created two albums and never marketed them or did anything about them.  I just created them out of sheer joy and love of music.  People had been telling me I should tour more, etc, etc…but I didn’t.  They told me that the music was changing their lives and touching them deeply.  They told me that hearing me live was very powerful.  I played some concerts here and there….but never full-on toured like I do today.  One day, I just woke up and saw that I needed to do this thing myself and not rely on something to “just happen”.  That’s when I realized it was my calling…..when I felt a shift in perspective on a visceral level and also when I felt the drive to do this no matter how much work it takes, because it takes an immense amount of work.  However, when you love something so much, you’ll do any amount of work it takes to nourish it.   
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All photography by: Ingrid Nelson

Why is the power of sound so important in yoga and life?

Yoga is all about sound, audible or inaudible.  Being one with the sound is yoga..hearing and feeling sound internally and externally and merging your internal with that external sound.  Yoga isn’t some practice we do on mats or in yoga studios.  That’s simply practice so we can experience yoga.  Yoga is a state of being.  I’m not sure when it became some thing that people do in studios.  Yoga is what life is all about.  

What are your insights on how to create a better relationship with the voice and how to use the human voice to heal?

Stop trying to sound like someone else and start working with your natural sound, uncontrived.  Once we start trying to sound like someone else, we cut the soul out of our experience.  The real healing happens when we embrace our own, unique sound and refine from there. 

What is the main message you would like people to receive from your new album, ‘Songs of Resilience’?

That no matter what we go through, we are as resilient as we want to be.
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Who or what has inspired you the most along the way?

My Mamma, my Pappa, and my Brother.  They all have immense hearts.  My husband….he’s so incredibly intelligent and wise…way beyond his years, but most of all…..so dedicated, kind and SO generous.  He truly walks his talk.  My son, for being unapologetically his own.  Life….It has taught me so much about myself and others.  Music….a constant teacher and inspiration. I’ve been blessed to meet many teachers in my life along the way that have helped me to see life for what it is and see myself for who I am. 

Can you share a simple mantra to include in a daily practice?

Sat Nam.  Sat means truth and Nam means name.  It is the easiest way to direct the mind to tune into what we really are….Truth…which is beyond the mind’s conception.

SAT NAM

 

 

 

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Simrit Kaur’s energy and music have a way of deeply touching people, understanding them, and bringing them with her into the unapologetic realm of the soul. Hailed world-wide for her haunting voice, music and undeniable and rare ability to transmit deep humanity and pure love through her sound, Simrit is known for her revolutionary innovation in hypnotic world and chant music that heals and evokes the innate power within all. She is a Renaissance woman who is the CEO of her independent record label, SIMRIT KAUR MUSIC, LLC, and she has topped World Music Charts including iTunes at #1 for consecutive weeks at a time, many times over, and Billboard’s top 5 in the World and New Age Music category.  Her voice communicates with so much humanity. As an orphan child from the moment she was born in Greece, Simrit was the heir of a very distinct sound that she genetically inherited from a lineage of beloved Greek women singers going all the way from her mother (who was too young to take care of her) through her great grandmother. As a toddler, she was adopted by another Greek family from the American South, and she was raised in a rich Greek culture in South Carolina. Simrit records music and tours the world giving concerts and workshops with her band.  She is the creator of The Supreme Sound, a yogic voice cultivation online course that has been attended by thousands across the globe.  She is the co-creator of The Sweetest Love, an online course that she created with her husband that helps people deeply enjoy and succeed in their love relationships.

CONNECT:

SIMRITKAURMUSIC.COM

Facebook:  simritmusic

Instagram: @simritkaur

Healing with Iyengar Yoga

“Yoga lets us cure what need not be endured, and endure what cannot be cured,” said B.K.S. Iyengar. The great yogi, who lived to be nearly ninety-six, passed away in August of 2014. But his teachings continue to live and thrive within the Iyengar Yoga community, where teacher training is rigorous and the practice is specialized to accommodate everyone, including those with unique disabilities.


What sets Iyengar Yoga apart from most types of yoga widely practiced throughout the U.S. are timing (poses are held longer), focus on alignment (detailed instructions help the individual to move deeper within the structure of a pose), the use of props (wall ropes, blocks, straps, blankets and chairs), and specific sequencing (intelligent sequencing that can be tailored around various physical needs a practitioner may have).

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“B.K.S. Iyengar not only was a teacher for eighty years, but his practice was uninterrupted for that entire time. There aren’t many people in the world who could say that,” says Vanessa Bacher, an Iyengar Yoga instructor living in Santa Barbara, California. “He was a very sick boy—he had tuberculosis, typhoid and malaria just to name a few of the serious ailments he suffered from—and was not expected to live beyond his teenage years. He essentially cured himself from all of these various ailments through his dedication to the practice of yoga.”

Vanessa, a petite and charismatic woman with a mane of wavy blonde hair and bright, aquamarine eyes, first discovered Iyengar Yoga over ten years ago, while still in her early twenties. Hailing from Colorado, she had put herself through college and went on to live and work overseas on the Caribbean island of St. John. There was no knowledge or practice of yoga to speak of there at the time, but Vanessa had brought along a book of standard yoga poses and began to practice daily on the white sand amongst the palms; it became an integral part of her lifestyle. She experienced a jolt of culture shock upon her return to the states, though, leaving behind the relaxed island vibes for the stressful pace of life back in America. Seeking solace in nature, she went to stay with her aunt, who lived and taught Iyengar Yoga in the small mountain town of Crested Butte, Colorado.

Vanessa credits the experience of studying under her aunt as the pivotal chapter that, though she didn’t know it at the time, decided her life’s purpose.

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“The first class I took, I felt like I was reborn. I felt like I had been completely dissected and put back together again in a better way. From the moment I stepped into the classroom I felt transformed.”

During her two years in Crested Butte, Vanessa found an inspiring mentor in her aunt. Still, she felt that relying on a relative to guide her was keeping her in too tight of a comfort zone—she wanted to deepen her practice and carve out her own path. She set out on a six-month journey through Southeast Asia and India, studying at the base of the Himalayas in an intensive program with a couple of senior Iyengar Yoga instructors. It was the first of many pilgrimages that shaped the course of her professional and spiritual life.

“In the Iyengar system in India they have “Medical Classes” that I would assist and there would be people with MS so severe that they were essentially paralyzed,” Vanessa explains. “They didn’t have (the technology that we do)—they had rickety wooden chairs from the 1940s. Someone would carry them in and we would assist them and strap them to the wall, and place them over all of the brilliant props that B.K.S. Iyengar invented.”

In India, Vanessa was a firsthand witness to countless instances of the miraculous healing powers of Iyengar Yoga, but one story in particular has stuck with her over the years.

“A woman came to study with my teachers and she was a novice in the practice,” Vanessa recalls. “She came in with her feet bandaged—she had some sort of foot disorder where she couldn’t separate her toes. She had stability issues and trouble walking. When she came into the class the teacher said, “Take those bandages off your feet” and she said, “I can’t, I’ve worn them all my life. The doctor prescribed them to me; I have a disorder.” The teacher said, “Nonsense, if you’ve signed up for this intensive and want to participate, take those off.” He was quite strict with her and really put her through the paces. Within three weeks, she was able to separate her toes. Tears were streaming down her face; she could walk with ease and stability. This moment always stayed with me, proof that we have this incredible, innate ability to heal ourselves and that this practice teaches us to be more in tune and find the resources within rather than depending on any sort of crutch.”

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These experiences had a profound impact on Vanessa; they stirred something in her and planted the seeds for her own future as a healer.

“Mr. Iyengar taught me that happiness is to give more than you receive,” she says, continuing on to describe how the guru’s influence drove her to gain devotion to something greater than herself and lead a life of increased integrity. Her desire to help others benefit from the practice of Iyengar Yoga is palpable in the passionate tone in which she speaks of it.

“What moves me the most about it is that it’s absolutely made for any age, any body type, any ailment,” she says. “The practice is that diverse and has that much depth that it’s approachable for anybody. I always tell people that yoga has very little to do with just striking a beautiful pose. It is about the communication that you have to build with yourself to travel deeper towards that inner Self.”

“The path to bliss isn’t all rainbows and lotus flowers. I knew that it would take dedication.”

When Vanessa returned from India she made her home in Denver, beginning a cycle of intense practice abroad followed by intermittent lapses in practice back home and frequent disillusionment over the vastness of knowledge that she did not yet possess.

“I think it took me years to really cultivate the dedication that is necessary in the Iyengar practice,” says Vanessa. “Frankly I just wasn’t mature enough. But, over the years I chiseled away at the practice and became more devoted.”

She refers to her periods of not practicing as her “Dark Ages.”

“When I was not practicing I got very depressed. I felt like I had found this path that transformed me and then I let it go; I was not honoring my truth.”

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Photo: Chris Orwig

It was only through loss that she found her path again and determinedly set out on it for good. Vanessa had moved to Santa Barbara, California for a relationship and left everything behind in Denver—her home, her family, her job. When the relationship did not work out, she found herself alone in a new city.

“The only thing I really had that stayed with me was my practice,” she recalls of that time. “I clung to it, basically, because it was all that I had. I decided then that no matter what happened, I would never let it go again. I knew that without it I felt lost and started practicing more than I ever had.”

Her new instructor at the Santa Barbara Iyengar studio recognized Vanessa’s natural affinity in the classroom.

“He said, ‘you know this is what you’re meant to do, right? It’s in every fiber of your being.’ Then he asked me what I wanted to do about it.”

She expressed her hesitancy to the instructor. The Iyengar teacher-training would entail at least three years of schooling to become a certified instructor, which for Vanessa would mean frequent trips driving back and forth to the Iyengar Institute in Los Angeles. Once the first hurdle of certification is passed, the training is not over. There are many levels in the system; instructors continue to study, train and go up for subsequent certifications for many years to come.

But ultimately, Vanessa was not daunted.

“My instructor said that in his experience, sometimes the longer, more arduous route is the best route,” she reflects. It was advice that echoed the words of her father.

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Photo: Kayla McKenzie

“My father always said, ‘stay the course and it will pay off.’ I’ve definitely sacrificed quite a lot for the practice; the path towards enlightenment isn’t an easy one. The path to bliss isn’t all rainbows and lotus flowers. I knew that it would take dedication.”

Her instructor offered to mentor her, so Vanessa embarked on the three-year teacher training under his mentorship, traveling regularly to the Iyengar Institute in Los Angeles. After completion, it would take her two more years to become certified. She continued to work late nights as a restaurant server five nights a week, getting up early in the mornings to practice or teach.

“I felt half asleep in the mornings and dead on my feet at night. I continued until I was able to teach a little more and work in the restaurant a little less, but that is what yoga is all about. Yoga is the balance of two opposing actions. So in life I was balancing two complete polar opposites and that juggling act is yoga.”

Today, Vanessa’s mornings and evenings are filled with leading classes at two public yoga studios as well teaching various private lessons, a life in which she finds true fulfillment. When asked what words of advice she might have for someone interested in embarking on a similar journey with Iyengar Yoga, Vanessa says simply, “show up and don’t give up.”

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You can contact Vanessa Bacher by email at vanessabbacher@yahoo.com or Instagram @vbacher. If you live in Santa Barbara, or are visiting the area, consider taking an Iyengar class with her at one of the following locations:

Iyengar Yoga Studio of Santa Barbara

2718 De La Vina St.

Santa Barbara CA, 93105 USA

(805) 569-2584

 

The Santa Barbara Yoga Center

32 E. Micheltorena St.

Santa Barbara, CA 93101

(805) 965-6045

Author Bio:

Biopic

 

 

Lili Rauh aspires to find and create beauty and meaning in everyday life. Currently located in South Lake Tahoe, Lili loves to write, cook and entertain and ultimately hopes to combine all of her passions in one sustainable career. www.lilirauh.com

5 Soulful Yoga Studios Along the California Coast

I grew up in California. Not on the coast, but in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Maybe this is why I have been so obsessed with the ocean the past 8 years; because it is different, mysterious, alluring. Whatever the case, I have deep gratitude for having the opportunity to explore the ways of the ocean and all of her beauty. In fact, I believe the ocean has been and IS one of my greatest spiritual teachers. Fall is such a special time of year, especially on the California Coast, and inspiration for this article was sparked by my itch to get to the ocean after living at high elevation all summer. An ideal road trip for me includes; visiting friends, surf exploration, day hikes, and taking classes at new and different yoga studios. Some of these towns mentioned below I have lived in, while some I just pass through. All of these studios have touched my heart, have wonderful teachers, and are small studios that are full of SOUL. They are all wonderful places to stop and rejuvenate along or near the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway). I highly recommend that next time you are cruising the coast, slow down and make time to take a class at one of these gems.

CALIFORNIA COASTAL STUDIOS…From NORTH to SOUTH:

YOGA TOES, Point Reyes, CA

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This studio is nestled inside of Toby’s Feed Barn in the ridiculously adorable town of Point Reyes Station. It has a warm and welcoming vibe with a great mix of classes. It is the home studio of MC Yogi and his partner Amanda Giacomini. Point Reyes is a glorious town for nature lovers and hip foodies. It has an amazing Farmer’s Market on Saturdays where you can connect with local North Bay Farmers and passionate vendors such as Wild West Ferments. After class, head to the Point Reyes Seashore where you will find an abundance of diverse hikes, beaches, and wildlife.

ENSO, Half Moon Bay, CA

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Enso is a center for yoga and art. Enso is very dear to me as it is the studio that allowed me to really fall in love with yoga. For one year I lived in the area and consistently took classes with amazing teacher, Amy Outman. The studio is located on the coastal trail and has views of the sea. The wood burning stove is magnificent on foggy Half Moon Bay days. The wind and rain are amplified by the tin roof in this 100 year old warehouse structure. It is easy to feel a deep connection with nature while practicing here. They also host an array of community gatherings, art, and music events. Truly a jewel on the coast. After class, visit Raman’s Chai for a cup of goodness.

 

PLEASURE POINT YOGA, Santa Cruz, CA

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Photo: Sawdust Imagery

This is a vibrant, colorful studio on the east side of Santa Cruz. Great local vibes. They have an eclectic mix of classes for all levels. The first word that comes to mind when I think about this studio is: FUN! The studio is walking distance to Pleasure Point surf breaks and many restaurants and shops. Pleasure Point Yoga boasts an amazing lineup of intelligent and compassionate teachers and they frequently feature incredible workshops by international guest teachers. Studio owner, Aimee Joy Nitzberg is a true inspiration.

HARMONY HOUSE YOGA, Pismo Beach, CA

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A heartfelt and cozy studio in downtown Pismo Beach. They offer a variety of classes with a strong emphasis on community. Started by Kelly Metcalf, a traveler, ocean lover, and surfer with strong roots in the area. They also have a really nice boutique with unique yoga and wellness treasures. After class, get a smoothie at Honeymoon Cafe just next door or take a short stroll to the ocean.

YOGA BERGAMOT, Encinitas, CA

(Now GATHER Encinitas)

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Encinitas is known for being a yoga mecca and offers a large variety of yoga studios. This one is a little off the beaten path but well worth a visit! It is a tiny space with a huge heart. One thing that makes this studio so special is their commitment to making yoga accessible to everyone by way of a donation model. Take a class with studio founder Lauren Duke, who is known for her raw disposition and her love of sharing the spirit of yoga. Walking distance to many fun beach breaks, and always amazing weather in sunny San Diego:)

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THANK YOU, THANK YOU to all the committed students, teachers and yoga communities out there. Keep doing what you makes you feel alive and share the love!

NAMASTE.

 

 

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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!

Inspiring Change: Misadventures

The Yoga Trade community has been talking a lot lately about living yoga, taking action, and inspiring change. There is a lot of exciting stuff going on in the world today and we take pride in celebrating people who follow their purpose by leading something worth changing. I was fortunate enough to catch up with Zoe Balaconis, one of the trailblazing women who created Misadventures; an outdoor adventure magazine for women. They are igniting a print revival by sharing refreshing photography, illustrations, and stories by adventurous women. Movers and shakers they are, and here Zoe’s words inspirit us on how to follow our gut, share our passion, and be the change…

How was Misadventures Mag born?

Back in 2013 we realized that there was a real dearth of women being represented in outdoors, adventure, and travel media (or being misrepresented). Not only that, but there was a lack of women writers and photographers in outdoor magazine mastheads. At first, we thought maybe it was a fluke or an exaggeration on our parts, but after some research we found that there was a glaring gap in the publishing landscape between traditional women’s magazines and outdoors and adventure magazines. We thought we’d try and do something about that. We figured that if we’re feeling this way surely other people are, too.
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Why do you think so many adventurous women practice yoga?

I think part of it is that yoga goes everywhere with you. No matter where you are, or in what situation, you can find an opportunity to practice, even just by focusing on your breathing. Yoga also provides an opportunity to slow down and reflect, which is a rare thing — and all while engaging your body. It’s meditative in the way it challenges your whole self. That body-mind confluence is something I definitely aspire to.

How do you balance your time between exploring outdoors and creating inspiring stories indoors?

That’s a tough one. I try to be very strict about my hours. I get right to work in the morning and stop when it’s time for dinner. I also try to stay away from computers on the weekends. Away!

What makes a good story?

Good characters make good stories (but, of course, a landscape can be a kind of character). There has to be some sort of relationship and movement toward something. Humor is always good. It reveals an author’s sophistication and voice; it elevates the level of narrative in a way that introspection and gravity rarely can for me.
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How can we use our creativity for social change?

Any way we’re able to! Working on a creative project is, in itself, a kind of socio/political statement. And social change is a broad term. It can mean spreading awareness about something, telling a new kind of story, bringing people together, creating a bond that wasn’t there before, exciting a community, challenging a belief or image, asking a question, proposing a solution, protesting the status quo, and so many other things. I think creative thinking is absolutely necessary to inspire change, big and small. It’s all a matter of applying yourself, believing in yourself, starting small, and thinking bigger. Inequality is rampant in this country, and all over the world; some voices are heard so much more than others. The arts have the ability to amplify voices.

 

Why do you think community is important and how have you created community?

Community, in all its forms, provides support. It’s nice to know that you’re not alone, especially when it comes to taking risks. It can also be incredibly motivating to know that you’re a part of something bigger than yourself. You’ve got people to work for; you’ve got things to do. I think we’ve created community by carving out this space for women who have chosen a less well-trod path to share their stories, inspire others, and connect, wherever in the world they may be. So many stories of women pioneers get glossed over or left out — we’ve created a place for them to get their due.
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Any thoughts on the phrase, ‘follow your heart’?

For me it’s always been more ‘follow your stomach.’ I make a lot of decisions based on intuition, and I’m fairly certain that is located somewhere in my guts. At any rate, it’s served me well so far. But, whether you’re following your heart or your gut, I think it’s always good to plumb your feelings now and again. Being in-tune with what gives you malaise or bliss or contentment provides a kind of wisdom…and freedom.

What is your definition of adventure?

The word adventure, for me, recalls something of chance, fortune, happenstance, and a voyage. It means welcoming the unknown and the unexpected, come what may, by taking a risk, taking a journey (of any sort), keeping yourself open to feeling wonder, or just keeping your eyes open.

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Zoe Balaconis is one of the co-founders of Misadventures, the adventure magazine for women, online and in print. Visit their site here and subscribe to get print issues straight to your door here. Their Summer 2016 issue will be out in mid-June and available in Barnes&Noble stores all over the country starting mid-July. Find a copy near you