Traveling and yoga is one of the best combinations. Four bloggers revealed their best yoga retreats in 2015 and can hopefully inspire you for your next retreat this year.
Yoga is playing a more and more important role in my life. In October, I committed myself to a yoga teacher training in Canggu, Bali. Traveling for more than ten months now, I couldn't imagine my life without yoga anymore.
If you're not so familiar with yoga yet, it has lots of benefits for all of us. First, it improves flexibility. Having very tight hamstrings, I had strong back pain back home when I was still working in my office job. Only through yoga, I was able to get rid of it. Yoga builds muscles strength, helps to focus, relaxes, helps against insomnia, you'll breath better, and helps your body to heal. Another advantage is, that it helps you to protect your spine. Our spinal disks work as shock absorbers between the vertebrae. If you practice enough asanas like backbends, forward bends, and twists, you'll keep your spine in a good shape.
Sometimes in our daily life, it can be quite difficult to keep up with our yoga practice. That's why yoga retreats become more and more popular. I asked four bloggers to share their favorite yoga retreat experience last year.
Yoga Teacher Training in Bali
I did the High Vibe yoga teacher training with Emily Kuser at The Yoga Barn in Ubud last summer. It was quite a challenge to find the right training to fit in with my budget and my travel plans. But when this training started I knew right away that I made the right decision. It showed me that sometimes things do happen for a reason. My biggest issue with subscribing for a yoga teacher training was always the feeling that I wouldn't feel confident enough to teach yoga. So it was a funny coincidence that the main focus of the High Vibe yoga training was finding your own voice. Trusting in myself is the biggest thing I have learned in the training. We attended some Balinese ceremonies and the whole vibe in Ubud was just a good match with the whole training. Overall, I felt like my yoga teacher training was more like a life training, because it teaches you some great skills you need in life!
Iris is the head behind the travel and natural lifestyle blog The sea is my cup of tea. She writes for oceanminded girls that like to travel, be creative, eat plants and be close to the sea. She posts twice a week about travel stories, plant based recipes, creative projects, yoga tips and how to make your own natural cosmetics.
Yin Yoga & mindfulness retreat in Greece
My very best yoga retreat in 2015 was a Yin Yoga and mindfulness retreat with the well-known spiritual teacher Sarah Powers in Paros - one of the most beautiful greek islands, I've seen so far. It wasn't a retreat just for fun, it was an 80 hours Yoga Alliance teacher training with 80 people from all around the world. We've spent 10 days at the beautiful Tao's Center. Our hosts were lovely and they served amazing food every day. I remember my silent walk each morning during sunrise from my traditional greek B&B up to the retreat center. There was absolutely no sound except the roosters and my flip-flops. We always had breakfast after meditation, sitting outside in silence while enjoying the stunning view. I really loved the absence of small talk during our retreat. We also had 24 hours of complete silence. I was surprised how easy I managed not to talk. After 10 retreat days and another 3 relaxing days on the island, it was quite a shock when I came back to Mykonos with the ferry. I was completely overwhelmed by the party people and music everywhere. My taxi driver was right: Paros is paradise between the two monsters Santorini and Mykonos!
Jeanette is an Austrian journalist, blogger and yoga instructor who loves to travel. Her favourites are inspiring power places at the ocean. She started her blog 2008 during her trip around the world with a trolley. She writes about yoga, the search for meaning and sustainability. She wants to inspire others to travel in order to take time for oneself, to have space to become calm, to rediscover individuality and privacy. She enjoys the beautiful things in life and goes without budget hostels or backpacks.
Meditation through 'The Paris Method'
As an Irishman who stopped drinking, I found myself outside of the social loop. Alcohol abstinence can be more socially challenging than other addictions. How many social invitations promise treats such as: 'Meet for gambling at 6', 'pre-dinner snorts at 7' or 'heroin reception arrival'?
I needed to think outside the box in terms of hobbies and entertainment. I embraced the outdoors, especially the rugged Atlantic coastline of my home county, Donegal.
On one such trip to the coast, while recuperating from a biking accident, I was feeling a little down, and finding it hard to switch off. Then I had an epiphany; and stumbled upon a technique which guarantees that my mind can let go of all thoughts so that I can meditate. This technique is The Paris Method. Perspective, Attitude, Reflection, Inspiration and Spirituality.
Roger is an Irishman who talks openly about his experiences on The Paris Method and hopes it will help others live a happier life. He travels as much as he can and recount the peace and serenity he has found by practicing 'The Paris Method'. He fell in love with a Peruvian girl in a quiet café in Galway and will write more about his long-distance relationship in the future.
Kundalini yoga in Umbria, Italy
After a year of deprivation, avoidance and inner turmoil the “me last” behaviour had to stop. A year prior I had a challenging experience in my business life that spilled over to my personal life. As other entrepreneurs will know, there is little discrepancy between business and personal life so it really did impact everything. What were the ramifications? I stopped meditating and rarely did yoga. I let my thoughts steal my happiness and success. I was sedentary. I unconsciously ate food that I consciously knew was not good for me. I numbed myself with the social media and busied myself with my business and day-job. My feelings were very dependent on external experiences I was having; if my business was on the way up I could feel amazing, but if it wasn’t going so well, I would feel terrible. Slowly, but surely I lost my passion and drive and experienced feelings of anger, guilt, frustration, feeling unacceptable and unlovable. I knew what was happening and I also knew what would support me to feel better, but there was a whole lot of self-sabotage and a bucket full of terror barriers that stood in my way of making the changes I needed to make. I quit my day-job and went travelling with my wonderful online business filled with amazing souls, thinking this would support me to shake it off. As they say, wherever you go, there you are, so of course, while travelling could support me to feel excited and alive, within I was still screaming. I remained uninterested in facing myself and being still.
I am so thankful that the Kundalini Yoga Centre at the Yoga Borgo in Umbria, Italy, exists. Run by the incredible master teachers Sada Sat Singh and Sada Sat Kaur, it is certainly a haven. I am also so thankful that I have made a commitment to myself to be there every single year. I had planted the seed to go months prior and finally made the financial commitment a month before the Level 3 21 Stages of Meditation teacher training was due to begin. After 36 hours of meditation over 6 days with seven other beautiful souls from all over Europe, I felt like a new woman. Aside from the meditation this teacher training cum retreat involved delicious vegetarian wholefood, long walks in the Italian countryside to stretch out the legs between 31 minute to 2 and a half hour meditation sessions, beautiful new friends who gave love, laughter and fun. I was completely rung out (in the best possible way) and felt like I was the best version of myself; self-love was evident, passion and joy were back, my heart was more open than ever and life felt like it didn’t need to move as fast anymore. My cravings were for healthy, simpler food and smaller portions (I didn’t feel the need for daily Cadbury buttons), I felt it was easy to look strangers in the eye and smile, I could feel love radiating from my heart like a magnet. It was easier to default to ‘all is well’ and that ‘I am love’ than it had been in a long time. I found it easier to work smarter, instead of feeling like I needed to work harder and harder. I no longer felt the pressure to live in any particular way except a way that had me feeling happiness and excitement.
The most important thing was to feel at home in myself, to be dedicated to myself (and therefore my daily sadhana (spiritual practice), to love myself. The day has to start with us, connecting to ourselves, setting our intentions for the day, committing to our own personal journey and happiness, because it is only in this space that we are in the best possible place to love others, elevate others and look at others with compassion and understanding, knowing that we are all doing the best that we can with what we’ve got to make this world a better place.
Carmel has an online health and wellness business called Luscious Life Design that she runs from wherever she is in the world in that moment. Her passion is to empower men and women to design a lifestyle where they feel successful, fulfilled and time free. She creates ripples on a global level with her business currently spanning 7 countries. She is a Kundalini Yoga Teacher, an Institute of Integrative Nutrition Certified Holistic Health Coach and a business coach for new entrepreneurs, or those wanting to take it to the next level, who want to learn how to generate multiple streams of residual income through the incorporation of products into their business’.
Silent meditation in Myanmar
Our most profound 'yoga retreat' was a 10-day silent meditation called Vipassana. It was very challenging. Technology, speaking, reading, writing, and making eye contact were all forbidden. We experienced mind boggling states of consciousness and still feel positively impacted 16 months later. Our Vipassana was in Myanmar, but you can find them all over.
Anne and Brandon have been traveling and teaching yoga since 2014. Learn how you can do the same at The Yoga Nomads.
So, for 2016 I would love to participate in a yoga retreat, and if not possible, at least a silent retreat. I don't think I could handle 10 days but I might start with 2 days somewhere.
Over to you, are you planning to do a yoga retreat this year and where? Do you have any recommendations for me? I would love to hear them!