The Yoga Trade Podcast

We are so excited to share with you our latest project: The Yoga Trade Podcast! Follow along as we travel around the world exploring spirituality, wellness, sustainability and more.

Our host, Audrey Billups, Yoga Trade’s vagabond filmmaker, will be capturing the inspiring stories of wellness practitioners, yoga teachers and change makers she meets along her travels. From Tibet to Bali to Los Angeles, every two weeks, we will share with you interviews and stories from all different corners of this Earth.

Listen to Episode 1 by clicking HERE

1: So the Adventure Begins

In this first episode, our host will tell you a bit about her spiritual journey and how she began her traveling lifestyle. From living in a tent on an organic farm in Hawaii to winning Yoga Trade’s photo competition and starting to work as their videographer, it has been quite a journey!

Theme Music, Sound Editing & Mixing:

Thomàs Young, Fine Crafted Sound

 

 

Want to take part? Please send us your Yoga Trade story and we may feature it on the podcast! It’s easy, just record yourself, snap a photo, and shoot us an email. Want us to advertise your retreat, training, or product on the podcast? Reach out to us! Email: audrey@yogatrade.com 

IG: @thenomadicfilmmaker

5 Ways My Yoga Trade Experience Made Me a Better Yoga Teacher

One of the most rewarding, fulfilling, and altering experiences I have had in my journey as a yoga teacher has been the time I spent teaching abroad. For years I dreamed of the opportunity to combine my two favorite things: travel and yoga. This past year I made my dreams into a reality, thanks to a platform called Yoga Trade. In reflection, my time spent teaching abroad was one of the most influential and expanding experiences. It was a catalyst for me to become the teacher I am today. Here are 5 ways my Yoga Trade experience offered me the space to flourish and grow.

Practicing with Yoga Teachers from Different Backgrounds

There are many travel destinations all over the world that offer a strong yoga community. These communities are filled with yoga teachers and practitioners from all different countries, lineages, languages, etc. Each teacher came from a different training or framework. This allowed me to look at yoga from new angles, to hear different backgrounds of connection to this practice, and to open me up to other dogmas.

I live and teach in an average American city. I feel there is little diversity within the yoga community. Most people have been trained between the same few studios, under the same teachers, and practice within the same circles. Being able to get out of my bubble expanded my relationship and understanding of yoga.

Freedom to Try New Things

Teaching yoga in a tourist location made for an influx of students everyday. There were only a few people in the area that came regularly to my classes. Most of the students were on holiday, therefore they were only in that location for a few days. This gave me the chance to constantly try something new. I found when teaching in a hometown studio you seem to get the same clientele. It can sometimes feel like they have more rigid expectations and ideas of what your teaching style offers. Tourists that come to class are looking for an experience and probably do not have any preconceived ideas of what you offer. You can try out different breathing techniques, cueing, meditation styles that you may not normally have the confidence to try in your home teaching spot. I think we grow the most from those times when we feel uncomfortable and go for something new. If you fall flat on your face chances are those students may be moving onto the new destination the next day anyway. Learn from your mistakes, recalibrate, and keep going.

More Time to Work on Your Craft

Many yoga teachers can relate on the desire to want to have more time to spend in our own sadhana or improving our teaching techniques. In Western culture, it can be challenging to financially support ourselves while only teaching yoga. We juggle many different jobs or roles to make it all work, and the energy left over can go into our personal growth and practice. My Yoga Trade gig allowed me to financially support myself while abroad so I could shift all my attention to yoga.

In my experience I was receiving accommodation for free and a little money per class. This money was enough to feed me and indulge every once in awhile. I was actually able to slow down and focus on just teaching yoga. My list of responsibilities abroad greatly diminished. I wasn’t constantly pulled in so many places, so I had extensive time to spend becoming a better student and teacher.

Exposure to New Styles of Yoga and Modalities Healing

Living in a diverse yoga community creates a wide range of spirituality offerings, workshops, lineages of yoga, modalities of healing, etc. People from all over the world sharing their personal knowledge, truth, and practice. There is ample opportunity to try something you have never even heard of before. From these experiences you will gain a more open heart and mind. You may even find your new calling.

Teaching People from Different Cultures

As a yoga teacher, you probably can relate what works for you at one studio, may not work for you in another. We are constantly working to give our best offerings, but even in your hometown it can be different based on age, demographics, locations, etc. Teaching people from different cultures can be another learning curve. Will your cueing make sense to someone who’s second language is English? How can you get really clear and intentional with your message so a wide range of people can receive it? Being able to work through these types of questions and scenarios only sharpens your teaching skills and makes you more accessible to a wider range of people.

 

 

 

Colleen is a 500RYT, lifestyle blogger, wellness warrior, jetsetter, bohemian fashionista and soul searcher. She has traveled to 37 different countries and has studied or taught yoga in 8 of them. She is always looking for a new adventure, a challenge for personal growth, and a hip outfit. You can find her at www.mindbodycolleen.com or IG: @mindbodycolleen

Work Trade, Travel and Yoga

Work Trade is an incredible way to experience the world. Whether you head off to an exotic destination, or simply make a new connection in place closer to home, you are opening up to growth. It can be a chance to get a little (or a lot) out of your comfort zone and explore your edges both externally and internally, especially through the lens of a yoga practitioner.

There are really practical reasons to explore volunteering, work trade and paid positions to extend the length of a trip as well as open access to a variety of destinations. Plus work trade is also an incredible opportunity to delve deep into your yoga practice, to gain new lessons and reflections through selfless service, karma yoga and mindfulness. It’s one thing to visit a place as a traveler, tourist, an outsider of some sort; and it is very different to actually slow down, spend time and actually “be” in a place.

Expand your horizons

Meet people from different parts of the world, different countries, and a variety of cultures. This exposure leads to improving your social skills, and the ability to speak and connect with strangers. You’ll grow as an individual, learn many new things as well as form some very genuine bonds with these new friends.

Acquire experience in the field

Taking advantage of opportunities to do work trade can really boost your confidence and ease the performance pressure if you’re newer, or brand new, to your field. Learning and growing while actually doing the work is incredibly valuable, it equates to on-the-job-training. This adds a great deal to your career and life path with expertise and a great set of skills.

Get out of your bubble

Make new contacts. See what else is out there, network and mingle with new faces and places. It is a wonderful thing to feel supported and connected in a community, and it is equally fantastic to go out into the world and discover community everywhere. You will be inspired by the people you meet, and that stimulates genuine energy and creativity in your life. You might find yourself surprised at the new interests, skill sets and influences that are discovered along the way, and you will no doubt meet people that will become part of your lifelong story.

Better sense of accomplishment

One thing about volunteering is you often find yourself liberated to do the best that you can, and not to overthink, or add anxiety to your work. There is a great sense of contributing, and that is one of the greatest motivators. It leads to job satisfaction and pride in your work in a way that allows the work to flow through you, unencumbered.

Only way to do it is in person

When you stay somewhere long enough to get to know your surroundings, and can tap into a sense of actually living there, your perspective changes. You begin to see some of the same people daily and form relationships, as well as have the opportunity to get to know the local food, culture and landscapes. It feels more intimate to be a part of a place rather than to only pass through. And you’ll often find yourself having actual free time to live life, rather than feeling caught in the intensity of busy-ness and daily grind of your normal routines and stressors.

As you take advantage of evolving, growing and receiving wisdom from opening up it shapes your yoga practice. Being immersed in the present moment, fostering the ability to pay attention, concentrate and develop more awareness all add incredible fuel for igniting your yoga fires! This can manifest in witnessing both the challenge, and liberation, of shedding old layers of thought, habits, and patterns – which is priceless. What an incredible call to practice yoga on the daily? Plus you get to give back a little piece of your heart and soul in the exchange, and receive direct experience in the art of karma yoga. Karma yoga is living your life as your path. Open up to your life as a spiritual being having a human experience – ALL OVER THE WORLD!

Photography by: Lanny Headrick

 

 

Aimee Joy Nitzberg has been an avid lover of yoga since her first classes back in Boulder, CO in 2000. She knew she had a problem when she was skipping out of work to go to yoga class. She decided to plunge in, quit her job and set off on an incredible adventure which has included daily practice and working full-time in the yoga field for almost 20 years.  This opened up great opportunities to study with extraordinary, masterful teachers and to travel around the world.  She loves sharing yoga as a way of serving and honoring the grace of all the gifts that she has received, and as one of her favorite ways to connect and share with others. Currently, she resides in South Lake Tahoe with her mountain man and spends as much time outdoors as possible with their yogi doggie.

10 Insights From the One Who Thought They’d Never Teach Yoga

I remember very vividly, standing on the beach with a couple of my girlfriends about to go surf. It was one of those complete cloud-free sunny mornings. Far off, the waves broke over the reef.

“It looks okay, but I’m so tired and sore,” one friend complained. “I still have noodle arms from surfing twice yesterday.”  Two-a-day sessions were the norm for these girls, and yesterday having been dragged around by their enthusiasm, I shrugged and half-agreed. My arms were pretty much toast too.

“We should probably stretch before we paddle out,” the other suggested. “Hey you do yoga, lets do that.” “Yeah, you teach us.”

“Ha .. . no way! I don’t teach yoga,” I blurted out. “Are you crazy, I would never be a yoga teacher.”

In the moment, what I said felt to be complete and utter truth.

Sure, I liked yoga. And sure, I practiced. But was I the beginnings of a teacher? Err, doubt it. Did I even like yoga that much? Uhh well . . .Let alone the talking? To groups of people? To tell them what to do? For at least an hour? Agrhh, no thank you!

Hmm. We stood there, staring at our toes buried in the sand, still hesitant to paddle out.

“Fine, we can do a few things,”  I said as I probably rolled my eyes. Then for the next few minutes I stumbled awkwardly  through leading a few stretches that, at times, resembled yoga asana. Soon after, we paddled out into the icy Pacific . . .

And while my words that morning, “I will never be a teacher”, left an impression deeply etched into my psyche, flash-forward a few years later, something else deeper within would beg very differently of me. Just after the New Year, I broke the news to my same surfer friends.

“Ladies, I’m out. . .I can’t do this anymore.  I’m quitting my job. . . ” I hesitated and then told them my plans, “I’m off to yoga teacher training in Mexico. I already turned in my notice, I leave next month!”  

With large eyes and disbelief, “you’re doing what?!” they asked. Sure they were open-minded, but they weren’t exactly the type to forgo the stability of a salary and leap completely into the unknown.  I wasn’t sure I was that type either, but here I was about to do it.

Eight years later and here I am, a yoga teacher. Mine isn’t a story of overnight success, but more of a bumpy road, ups and downs, twists and turns, periods of teaching, periods of hibernation, periods of discovery and re-inspiration. It hasn’t been clear cut or logically defined, but still, I lean into this journey of becoming a guide for our yoga practice.

So for the ones who thought they’d never teach yoga, but then listened to a different calling deep in their heart. . .

And for those who started this journey, but are now questioning why. . .  

Here are a few insights that I will tell my younger self when time travel becomes a reality. Until then, perhaps they will help you as you forge your unique path.

1. Begin

Start here, where you are. Start now. You don’t have to teach yoga everyday, but you must begin.

At this point, consider yourself a guide as you lead class. And let yourself think out of the box to find a comfortable space to teach in and gain experience.

Try getting out of the studio and teach in less intimidating locations for less intimidating audiences. Hold a class in nature – at a park or at the beach. Offer some lunchtime yoga at your work. Host an informal class during a weekend getaway with friends. Not all classes have to be 90 or 60 minutes. Maybe 30 minute practices are the perfect place for you to start.  

So begin, and little by little, you will become more comfortable with your voice, your instructions, your sequences, your knowing and your not knowing.

2. Get on the schedule

After you log those initial hours and sub some classes at your local studio, step up and get on the regular schedule. Teach.

But also know that sometimes plans, ideas, and goals change. And this is okay.

For example, during my early yoga years, I loved fast vinyasa classes. My favorite classes were led by talented teachers who moved us quickly through inspiring flows. They guided us effortlessly (it appeared) through well thought out sequences, each unique day in and day out.  

That’s the kind of yoga I knew.  That’s the kind of yoga I liked. That’s the kind of yoga I expected to flow out of me as I taught. But, reality check, that kind of yoga didn’t.

I kept at it for awhile, stumbling, refining, improving little by little. But eventually I decided to stop trying.

. . . for awhile (like more than a year awhile).

But guess what?

3. Interruptions and pauses are OKAY

Stepping away from what you were trying to be or trying to achieve is fine. These breaks can turn into periods of learning, refinement, re-dedication and growth. These breaks are a hibernation of sorts, where if you give yourself time and support, your inspiration to walk the teachers path will come back in the right way and in the right time.

For me it was while rediscovering yin yoga. During one such hiatus, a few years after my original yoga teacher ambitions, I last-minute enrolled in a yin yoga training and it shifted everything.

4. Be yourself. Find an aspect that you believe in, something that draws you in and be with that

In yin, I found a great balance of being able to teach slow and to talk less – a way of teaching that was very fitting for my natural introvert personality. In addition, I was able to more solidly grasp the main teachings and less complicated practice. So when I taught yin I kept it simple and my critical, perfectionist self was much more able to tolerate my teaching ability.

Additionally, in the yin practice, I admired how it gave students space. Lots and lots of space to feel your body, to observe your mind, and to go within slowly to be with what was. The practice pretty much forces you to slow down, and then naturally invites you to move deeper into the inner space.

Sometimes I feel this aspect of yoga is lost in western vinyasa flows, but is so needed in our fast-paced modern culture. So in my rediscovery of the yin approach, I was lured back into wanting to share this type of experience of yoga with others.

So when you’re re-inspired and reconnected to why you want to teach . . .

5. Get on the schedule (again)

That’s right, when the time feels right, get on the regular schedule again. Then, give yourself time to teach and evolve your craft. Teaching over time is how you gain experience.

6. Evolve

When you are ready, immerse yourself into your next level of teaching. Sometimes this takes initiative on your part. Sometimes it happens with a gentle push from those you work with.

For me, the next phase in my teaching came while living in Costa Rica.

Teaching abroad can be magic for a few reasons.

If you are not teaching frequently then these short term opportunities are a great way to immerse yourself and teach more consistently, perhaps even daily.

In addition, many of these opportunities are for teaching travelers. This means you will get to teach a wide variety of people, at many levels in their practice. And sure sometimes you will be thrown waaayyyy out of your comfort zone, but luckily you will figure out how to handle this. In fact, as you step into it, I bet you will surprise yourself.

Teaching abroad allows you to get out of your normal surroundings and step into teaching yoga in a whole new way. So yes, hello yoga trade opportunities!  

But that reminds me . . .

7. Don’t quit your day job (in the beginning)

If you are fresh out of a YTT, do yourself a favor and don’t create more stress than is necessary. Having multiple streams of income while you are gaining experience and refining your craft is key.  

For me, having remote web design work has allowed me the funds to cover expenses and to continue to invest in my yoga education. I have also been able to find a nice balance between creativity on and off a computer, while escaping burnout from either side.

Plus, in the beginning, it was very helpful to not have to force myself to teach before I felt ready.

And who knows, maybe those at your current job are great students for your first teaching gigs. I have many times been surprised by who is curious and interested to see what this yoga thing is all about. Could it be you to introduce them to yoga? Could it be your experience and view of yoga that inspires them into the practice?

So again, it’s key to know what  aspect of yoga you really want to share. What messages are you passionate to teach?

8. Know what excites you

If you more consciously know what excites you about the practice, and more consciously weave those messages through your teachings, then you will effortlessly stay within your realm of inspiration. When you are connected to your inspiration, others will resonate and be inspired too.

In the beginning, since I am not a huge talker and speaking in front of groups is out of my comfort zone, I struggled with understanding why I actually wanted to teach.

But eventually, I realized I was excited and wanted to talk to students about the energy healing benefits of yoga and the related practices of sound healing and Reiki.  

Sure, I enjoy yoga asana, but what lights me up is sharing my understanding of certain benefits, for example, how movement and breathwork prepare you for meditation, how your subtle energy body has time to balance and heal itself, how you can use sound for reaching deep states of peace, how you can be fully with your experience to transform it. . .  

These are the conversations that I get excited about. And these are the sparks of joy, that as a teacher, are so important to feel.

Not every student will be sparked on your idea of this or that. But you will resonate with some. And if you make a difference in only one life, wouldn’t that still be success?

So what lights you up?

9. Know and then be. Experience, evolve and expand

There’s no need to be rigid in claiming what you believe in and what you have to share through your teachings. Keep immersing in the practices. Keep learning. Keep growing. Let your message and depth evolve.

And whether you’re sure or not sure if you have truly discovered what lights you up, stay open to your next level of growth, as a person, as a yogi, as a teacher.

You don’t have to figure it out in one day, you probably will be unraveling this your entire life. This is a life practice with bits and pieces of delicious goodness to taste and savor along the way. Give yourself time to experience. To practice. To learn. To grow. To connect with community, to connect with spirit, to connect with your deepest part of self, your soul essence.

This will lead you to the true magic of your soul. And upon touching into this, you will understand, this is your gift to share with the world, through your teachings.

10. Start here. Start now. Go on, take your next step . . .

Here are a few upcoming opportunities for learning, growth and connection within the YT community:

1 – Deep Ecology of Wellness  

2 – Yoga Trade + Membership 

3 – Learn Reiki energy healing & surfing on Retreat w/ Neomi 

Cover Photo:  Shaka Costa Rica 

About Neomi:

 

Neomi simply wishes to help make the world a more beautiful place by helping others to discover the love that rests deep within their heart. Sometimes this love is hidden, very far out of sight and under many layers. But, with the practices of surf and soul – especially the energy healing practices of sound and Reiki – she believes all people can access and experience their soul essence, their soul power, their soul light and love.

 

 

Join Neomi for a SurfSoul Retreat this August in Costa Rica. Throughout the week you will journey into your next level of wholeness – a vibrant expression of feeling deep happiness, love and joy for life through yoga and surf adventures.

In this small group retreat, you will dive into both inner and outer adventures. You will learn to surf, practice yoga and meditation, experience crystal singing bowl sound healing and learn the sacred art of Reiki energy healing.

Check out her website for more information about this: Surf and Soul Adventure 

 

Diving In: The Yoga Trade Journey

I am not certain who introduced me to Yoga Trade, although I wish I knew so I could write them a thank you letter. It was shortly after my first 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training in Montezuma, Costa Rica at Anamaya Resort. “OMG…a website filled with yoga teaching jobs all over the world, holy crap!” My mind was blown. Moving forward, I spent my evenings scrolling through hundreds of volunteer opportunities that awaited me.

I began my Yoga Trade journey in Ubud, Bali, without a plan. I was unhappy working back home and took the leap impulsively. I blame the Full Moon for my beginners luck since I literally got the first job I emailed. The job opportunity was at a retreat center in Bali, at one of the nicest resorts in Ubud. I spent the next two weeks living like a princess and getting paid to do it. It was one of the most magical two weeks of my life.

After the Bali retreat center gig, I was back on Yoga Trade. This is where my Yoga Trade journey gets interesting. The bar had been set for me with this first experience, so I had high standards to say the least. Future Yoga Traders: don’t be picky. There are pros and cons with every job opportunity and every opportunity will be much different from the one before. Considering I had my own private luxury room and bathroom, my standards were now at a certain level. Unfortunately, this held me back from potential opportunities. After the hundreds of dollars I spent on food and accommodation in Ubud while searching for my dream job, I finally realized, I needed to get a job asap and it didn’t matter if I had to share a room.

After a few weeks I finally found my next position theu Yoga Trade at H20 Yoga and Meditation on Gili Air, Lombok. It was such a relief to not pay for accommodation and was totally worth living in a dorm. The other yoga instructors and I would take turns taking photos of ourselves teaching our classes and I gained legit Instagram photos of me teaching. I used my free time to work on my website, projects, and social media.

After my time at H20 Yoga and Meditation, I stumbled upon an ad on Yoga Trade for a Reiki + Yoga retreat with Jaclyn Keoh on Gili Air and made another connection! The fact that I was already familiar with the island and just a boat ride away put me ahead of the game. Apply to jobs closest to you and show up. Ads on Yoga Trade receive emails shortly after an opportunity is posted. Making yourself stand out and showing up is the best way.

After the retreat, I flew into Phnom Penh, Cambodia and took another opportunity I found on Yoga Trade at Bohemiaz Resort and Spa. While teaching at Bohemiaz, I was able to check out the The Vine Retreat near Kampot, Cambodia, which ended up being another job opportunity I found on Yoga Trade. Keep your options open! Upon meeting the owner of the retreat center, I was able to apply my ever growing business skills, make a good impression and shake on a deal. The owner is allowing me to use his space to host a retreat without a down payment since the center is so new. So basically my situation is that I am teaching at Bohemiaz in exchange for food and accommodation and working on my Semi Silent Self Love Yoga Retreat + Organic Farm Feast at the same time. It really is the perfect setup for achieving my goals.

Now that my Yoga Trade life story is out of the way, here is some advice if you are ready to take the plunge:

Save enough money before you head out. I took my Yoga Trade journey when I was not financially prepared due to my mental state. Money simply didn’t matter to me at the time, pursuing my passion and gaining happiness was all that mattered. I encourage anyone who feels they desperately need to get out of a western cubicle to do it immediately. The Universe will provide. Otherwise, save money before you go.

Be sure to consider what part of the world you want to be in a while and research visa requirements. I chose southeast Asia and intend to stay in southeast Asian countries the remainder of my time. However, I did not research and consider visa requirements before I left and my lack of knowledge definitely threw me off track. Be sure to plan jobs and timing the best you can. If you want to work in one place for longer than a few months, you will need to purchase a working visa and working visas are not always cheap.

Keep in mind, you are basically running your own business. Typically, resorts and yoga studios are flexible and normally need your help, so be sure to talk yourself up with business, as business skills are just as important as yoga experience. At the same time, don’t skip out on your yoga experience and be sure to create a yoga business CV. Once you get going do not focus on the cons. Remember, use the space for your business, have fun, and if things don’t work out…move on! There are infinite other opportunities out there thanks to Yoga Trade.

Thank you Yoga Trade for playing such a significant role in my life. I will continue to use this service and grow as a human. Yoga Trade not only enabled my business skills but held me while I healed. May the light in my Yoga Trade journey shine light on your Yoga Trade journey.

Namaste Yoga Traders.

 

Kelsey Kosmala’s journey began in Southern California, where she studied Social and Behavioral Sciences and had a lot of fun…She spent about 4 years heavily participating in drugs and an unhealthy lifestyle. Eventually, she got involved in fitness, which lead to her interest in yoga. After a few months of yoga classes at the gym, she was hooked and decided to get her 200 hour YTT certificate in Montezuma, Costa Rica. This is when she “woke up” and her love for yoga and travel began. She spent 5 years studying yoga, holistic living and spirituality in India, Thailand, Mexico and Austin, Texas. She has over 850+ hours training and has taught over 1000 classes and workshops. Her style consists of interlacing her studies with her own style. She incorporates Ayurveda, Trauma Therapy, Mindful Dance and Reiki Energy Healing into her work. She feels blessed as her turbulent background gave her the motivation to help others. Her specialty, given her past experiences, is holding space for people to transform, heal and be themselves.

Connect with Kelsey:

FB: @kelseyjaneyoga

Join Kelsey on retreat:

Yoga Trade in the Maldives: Finding Freedom at Sea

In May and June 2018, my partner and I went on a ‘Yoga Trade’ as a surf guide / yoga instructor duo to the island of Himmafushi in the Maldives. A dream-like place of wonder where the waves peel perfectly off a right-hand reef break above crystalline seas teeming with life, just steps from shore. Where guests travel across the world to dive with giant manta rays and black-tip sharks. And where Islamic tradition is shrouded in a thick cultural barrier, virtually inaccessible to a Western-bred feminist like me.

It was a world of paradox I found myself slipping serendipitously into. Where I’d begrudging cover my arms, chest and legs to brave the 200-meter walk – barefoot above soft, crushed-coral white sand – to the locally owned mini-mart for a sweet mid-afternoon snack. Only an hour or so before hopping off the boat in my teeny bikini, scoring some of the best waves of my 12-year surfing life, nearly naked to the sky; no qualms, no questions.

Where foreign visitors can shed their sarongs on a patch of sand designated ‘Bikini Beach’ and can only access alcohol aboard boats with liquor permits or resorts on other islands with special tourism licenses. Where most men would not shake my hand and young local girls would sneak over to our pool and dare a dip in their long pants and long sleeves, before their dad showed up, both timid and angry. Where the local surfer boys reminded one another not to hit on me because I was already someone else’s property.

And where I’d lead the guests at our adopted surf and yoga villa in a guttural round of Sanskrit mantra, just as the sunset prayer began to bellow from the speakers of the mosque. When time stood still in an incommensurable reverence of difference, across cultural lines, spiritual constructs, sun-kissed skin and silken shroud. Despite the distinction in our choice of song, I loved those impeccable moments of simultaneous prayer, mingling among the seaward breeze, mantra colliding with Quran in an otherwise impossible skyspace where I imagined the spectrum of god(s) and goddess(es) smiling joyfully from the heavens, shaking their heads at the perfect conundrum that was my task as yoga teacher and US-born, Costa Rican-bred surfer girl stuck smack-dab in the middle of an Islamic island nation, standing somehow steadfast in her integrity at the heart of the Indian Ocean.

And I’ll be honest – I struggled, most days, with how to be woman in that magical island world.

I mean, look. I’m a Western-born Jewish white girl, freedom-loving feminist, practically sensitive to cultural nuance, yet unabashedly thin-skinned beneath the blazing sun of gender inequality, repression, and injustice – anytime, anywhere, and however veiled by the social dictates accepted by most, even when they’re socio-historically determined by only men and institutionalized in religion and other forms of under-the-radar patriarchy. Add in my 16 years of yoga practice and deep regard for the yogic traditions, and you’d think it was a miracle I didn’t collapse into a mid-life identity crisis right there on the beach, 11,000 miles from my home.

Most of the time, despite myself, when I walked the white-sandy streets of town, I chose to follow the rules, keep a low profile, hide my skin in earth-length skirts and long sleeves, out of respect for a people I knew nothing about in a place I was only passing through. That whole ‘when in Rome’ thing. And truly, I was glad, and even honored, to do it – like an (uninvited) guest in some else’s grandmother’s home.

In reflection, there are parts of that experience I find beautiful, and even empowering. I appreciated that men didn’t ogle or eye-fuck or cat-call at will. A far cry from the soul-crippling streets I frequent in Central America. And I liked that the women would say hi to me when I took their customs seriously. I acknowledge the purity in human interaction where booze and drugs and boobs and butts are not precursors for self-expression or casual conversation. And I liked that both men and women looked me in the eye without the underlying misogynistic pretext of competition, domination or sexual objectification.

But I’ll be real in admitting that wearing long sleeves and long skirts in that heat was a hassle, and I chose to stay inside the villa bubble in my booty shorts on more than one occasion, rather than suit up at noon and sweat my skin off just to feel a little bit free from too many chastising eyes on me. And that didn’t feel empowering at all. In fact, it felt a little like prison in my skin.

In the beautifully sticky, blessedly uncomfortable space I lived for two months in the Maldives between cultural respect and my personal brand of feminist freedom, I found an everyday sense of solace, and soul-felt gratitude, in my home-away-from-home, the sea. Where I could surf as naked to the sky as I wished to be. Not because I wanted to feel sexy, but because – like it or not – my skin against the breeze is my definition of free.

(Cover photo by Lila Koan. Story photos by Pedro Uribe.)

 


Tara Ruttenberg is a writer by trade, surfer by passion, yogini by maternal ancestry and scholar-activist in sustainable tourism, by dharma. Tara‘s work explores alternatives to development in coastal tourism destinations to promote human wellbeing in harmony with nature. She created Tarantula Surf as a platform for authentic story-sharing and engaging with new social paradigms for a more beautiful world. Tara’s work has been featured in books like the Critical Surf Studies Reader and the Routledge Handbook of Latin American Development, at gatherings including Envision Festival, ECHO, Surf + Social Good, Yoga Trade’s Sustainable Living Retreat, and the Institute for Women Surfers, as well as in print with Elephant Journal, The Huffington Post, The Inertia, Sunshine Surf Girls, Yoga Trade, 7 Mares, and Desert Jewels. A nomad by nature, Tara lives most of the time in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica, where she leads surfing, yoga and writing retreats for women.

Join Tara for Immersion 2019: Surf + Yoga + Writing Retreat for Women this March in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica, ideal for aspiring writers ready to share your stories with the world; and at Yoga Trade’s Deep Ecology of Wellness in April, where she will be offering workshops on sustainable yoga travel and journaling as a practice of personal transformation.
Immersion retreat link: www.tarantulasurf.com/surf-trips-retreats

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.

Evolutionary & Educational Yoga Experiences 2019

At Yoga Trade, we love learning! We believe that one of the most important pillars for yoga teachers is to embrace the seat of the student as well as the teacher. Continuing Education enables us to learn, grow, and tends the inner fire! Check out these recommended educational yoga experiences in 2019. We wish we had superhuman powers and could attend all of them:)


Starting in January 2019, 300 HOUR ADVANCED YOGA STUDIES in the U.S.A.

with Vira Bhava Yoga

virabhavayoga.com

Have you been thinking about doing a 300 hour training but not sure of the right one or unable to take a month off to do so? Vira Bhava Yoga offers powerful and thorough trainings that are held over 5-6 weekends within one year’s time at cities across the states. Trainings starting in Sacramento, CA and Atlanta, GA this upcoming January! In this training you will learn practices and gain tools that you can: take with you for the rest of your life, implement in your day to day, and enhance your practice and purpose in the world.

https://www.virabhavayoga.com/300-hour-yoga-training/


January 27-February 7, 2019, SPANISH LANGUAGE COURSE FOR YOGA TEACHERS in COLOMBIA

with Yoga Internships

yogainternships.com

Comprising eight classes of 2.5 hours, plus free attendance to all our Spanish language asana classes, this language course will prepare you to communicate effectively in Spanish during a yoga class. It is estimated that over 400 million people in the world speak Spanish as a native language, putting it second behind Mandarin and ahead of English in the rankings. It can be a huge competitive advantage to be able to work bilingually. Not only can you cater to the Spanish speaking population in your own country, but you can travel and work in Latin America, where yoga is just beginning to explode, or in Spain – a wildly popular yoga-tourism destination, with many well-established studios. So join us for this fun, interactive and practical course to get you started with your career as a Spanish language Yoga teacher!

https://www.yogainternships.com/language-course/


February 18-28, 2019, KUNDALINI AND THE RADIANT BODY in INDIA

with Kia Miller

kiamiller.com

Step away from life as you know it and join Kia Miller for a special practice driven immersion in the foothills of the Himalayas, the birthplace of yoga. This is a unique opportunity to accelerate and stabilize your practice. Access deeper levels of connection and wisdom, facilitated by specific Kundalini kriyas, pranayama, and meditations.

https://www.kiamiller.com/product/kundalini-radiant-body/


February 21-March 2, 2019, SEVA SAFARI + Y12SR TRAINING in KENYA

with Mary Tilson

marytilsonyoga.com

“Look Forward, Give Back”. This 10-day journey to Kenya offers personal growth, opening the hearts and minds of participants while creating a sustainable impact on our local community in the process. Plus you will participate in and bring the powerful Y12SR (Yoga for 12 Step Recovery) training to 60 Africa Yoga Project teachers and experience this transformational program alongside them.

https://www.africayogaproject.org/blogs/service-trips/look-forward-give-back-seva-safari-feb-21st-mar-3rd-2019

Also, check out Mary’s MENTORSHIP program for yoga teachers by clicking HERE


February 23-March 11, 2019, PERMACULTURE DESIGN COURSE in COSTA RICA

with the Yoga Farm and Friends

yogafarmcostarica.org

Come as a student, leave as an ecological designer! A wonderful complimentary certification for all yoga teachers! We will be leading a small group of permaculture students on a whirlwind of experiential and lecture-based learning. You will take home a solid foundation in permaculture design, the building blocks of a regenerative lifestyle, and a deep appreciation for natural systems. Daily yoga classes. Upon completion of the course, all students will receive a Certificate of Permaculture Design.

https://www.yogafarmcostarica.org/permaculture-design-course-2019/


March 1-8, 2019, FREEDIVING LEVEL 1 COURSE + YOGA in BALI

with Blue Chitta and Come One Yoga

bluechitta.com // comeoneyoga.com

Freediving and Yoga! Discover your true potential in this unique 7 days all-inclusive Retreat by the Sea led by Gabrielle GQ & Natalie Rudman. 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/vegetarian food and learn how to explore the ocean on a single breath! Participants will receive their Level 1 Freediving certification thru Apnea Total.

https://www.bluechitta.com/bali-retreat-2019/


March 22-30, 2019, SACRED EARTH in PERU

with Sarah Kadel

sarahkadelyoga.com

Deep in the Sacred Valley… High up in the Andean Mountains… Journey to the Sacred Inca Valley in Peru. Open up to the magic of the mountains. Walk through the Ancient Forest, feel the vibrations moving through your feet. Open up to the mysterious stories of the Ancient people. Absorb the incredible beauty and healing power of Nature. Restore harmony within yourself and with Mother Earth. Discover a deeper Love for yourself, nature and the divine. Recognize the sound of your heart calling you home to greet your highest self! Remember that everything is Sacred.

https://www.sarahkadelyoga.com/sacredearthretreat/


March 23-30, 2019, SURF COACHING, YOGA and SUSTAINABLE LIVING in COSTA RICA

with Rochelle Ballard and Yoga Trade

yogafarmcostarica.org

Refine your wave riding skills with former WSL Professional Surfer, Rochelle Ballard (also the founder of Surf Into Yoga) as she takes you through a week of understanding the flow of riding waves, tuning into your body and the parallel life lessons that surfing and yoga can teach us. Co-hosted by the founders of Yoga Trade and the Yoga Farm! Surf playful beach breaks and long left hand point breaks. Practice daily yoga designed for surfers to create strength, flexibility, and restore and regenerate the body and mind. Eat healthy all week, make new friends, and learn about sustainable living as we share living space off the grid in beautiful Southern Costa Rica.

https://www.yogafarmcostarica.org/surf-with-rochelle-ballard-and-yoga-trade/


 

April 9-14, 2019, DEEP ECOLOGY of WELLNESS in COSTA RICA

with Yoga Trade and Friends

yogatrade.com

A unique and special retreat gathering! Join the Yoga Trade family for six days and five nights at Punta Mona, Costa Rica: an off-the-grid botanical center where the rainforest meets the Caribbean sea. A space for Yoga Teachers, Wellness Professionals, Permaculturists, and those with a desire to learn from around the world to come together in an intimate and natural conference setting. Enjoy Movement, Yoga, Nature Connection, Community Building, Continuing Education, Storytelling, Permaculture, Regenerative Design, and Joy. An incredible line up of passionate teachers and magic in this land. Let’s share our wisdom and grow together!

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


June 9-16, 2019, 75 HOUR ADVANCED TEACHER TRAINING in ITLAY

with Anton Brandt

thesacredfig.com

This 75 hour, 8 day module dives deep into The Katonah Method. Katonah incorporates classical Hatha yoga with Taoist theory, geometry, magic, mythology, metaphor, and imagination — in a practical framework designed to potentiate personal and communal well-being. Learning refined alignment + biomechanics is a given on our trainings, but we don’t stop there – be prepared to explore things like personal development, confidence, and speech. At the core of the The Sacred Fig philosophy is connection + community. Not only do our thoughts affect us in tangible ways, but we also have the extraordinary capacity to affect those around us, and the environment we live in. And so as yoga practitioners and teachers, we strive for the extraordinary, so that we may serve as a beacon of possibility for those around us. We see the divine in everything around us, but we also know that it lies within us. So before trying to shape & control everything outside of us, we first look deep within, and do the work ourselves.

https://www.thesacredfig.com/teacher_trainings/pantelleria/


September 7-28, 2019, FOUND EXPERIENCE in BALI

with Jake Paul White and Friends

letsbefound.com

It’s time to find a better way to live with more balance between work & your wellbeing. In this immersive 21 day experience we will guide you towards being the founder of your own life. If you have a vision for where you want to take your life, we can help you discover the right path. You can become the founder of your chosen life, by enrolling on this immersive 3-week experience, and learning by living the life you want rather than studying it in a book. Our mission is to help you take control of what your lifestyle looks like now, and for the future. We’ll guide you through setting the foundations of your own business, and building it around a lifestyle of wellbeing, community and travel, ultimately leaving you empowered to continue the journey alone.

https://www.letsbefound.com/


Do you know of additional evolutionary and educational experiences in 2019, you’d like to recommend to the Yoga Trade community!? Post about them in the comments below!

Deep Ecology of Wellness GIVEAWAY!

***UPDATE***

Today is December 18th, 2018 and we have picked the winner at random. Big CONGRATULATIONS to Yoga Trade member @bevinking !!! YOU WON! See you in the jungle! Big thanks to all who participated! A few more days to sign up with our earlybird pricing. Use the discount code AMIGOS at checkout to receive $200 off before December 20th!


Yoga Trade is excited to announce our Deep Ecology of Wellness GIVEAWAY!

One lucky member will receive free admission (5 nights shared glamping accommodation, three meals a day, all workshops and classes) to Deep Ecology of Wellness, April 9-14, 2019 at Punta Mona, Costa Rica. ($950 value)

Deep Ecology of Wellness is a unique and special retreat gathering (limited to 100 participants max). It is will be held at an off-the-grid botanical center where the rainforest meets the Caribbean sea. A space for Yoga Teachers, Wellness Professionals, Permaculturists, and those with a desire to learn from around the world to come together in an intimate and natural conference setting. Enjoy Movement, Yoga, Nature Connection, Community Building, Continuing Education, Storytelling, Permaculture, Regenerative Design, and Joy. Check out the incredible line up of passionate teachers HERE.

HOW TO ENTER:

(Please read directions carefully, it’s a 3 step process)

1. To enter, log into your Yoga Trade account and LEAVE A REPLY (post comment) below at the end of this BLOG post. In the comment, state why you are excited to attend the Deep Ecology of Wellness event! Within your comment, feel free to also share about your own experiences with Yoga Trade. You must be a Yoga Trade member to post a comment. (If you are not currently a member, you can sign up at yogatrade.com)

2. Visit the Facebook page for this event (https://www.facebook.com/events/329849784255275) and mark that you are either ‘GOING’ or ‘INTERESTED’.

3.  Finally, SHARE about this BLOG/EVENT GIVEAWAY post on at least one social media platform of your choice (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.). You must share this link:  https://yogatrade.com/deep-ecology-wellness-giveaway/

That’s it. You’re Entered!

Thank you for contributing to this flourishing community. We look forward to growing together!!!

The WINNER will be chosen at random (random.org) and will be announced on December 18th, 2018.

*Only ONE entry allowed per person. You must be a real human to enter. The giveaway is only valid for persons age 18 and above. The event ticket is not transferable to another person if winner is unable to use. The event ticket includes full admission (shared accommodation, food, and classes), and does NOT include transportation to the event or other travel costs. The event ticket is not redeemable for cash.