Bali is one of those places everyone should visit at least once. There are bazillions of opportunities to immerse yourself in culture, cuisine and adventure, and, from that point, we want to introduce you to our top reasons to vacation in Bali.
Balinese Food Is Un.Real.
Bali is an Indonesian island, known for its food, art and scenery, and their culture revolves around all of it. So concentrating on the one that makes our mouths water, here’s a quick teaser of their food. One of Indonesia’s favorite dishes (and ours) is Gado-gado, which no joke is one of the best salads you’ll ever have. Don’t like salads? How about sweets? Bali has those too—can someone say “Kolak!” And coffee lovers rejoice… Indonesia is one of the coffee capitals of the world. So, let’s just say you won’t go home hungry (or thirsty) after your adventures.
Bali’s Culture: Keyword ‘Joyful’
The Balinese people are unapologetically themselves when it comes to their religion of Hinduism. And because religion is so woven into daily life in Bali, it’s home to some of the most amazing temples and home-based rituals that have their own Balinese twist. Daily offerings, the canang sari, are an important piece of the waking hours and the meaning behind them is beautifully universal. Creating one of these floral offerings is a gratitude of exactly what is, and, a heartfelt wish for peace and abundance in the wider world. Setting aside time and energy each day to honor this tradition is a self-sacrificing, self-loving and community building; a spirit of thankfulness and supreme attention to detail that connects each individual to their faith, culture and country. Imagine those small moments of quiet and peaceful intention, done each day (as you will while on adventure with us), and you may start to understand how the Balinese are perceived as so joyful and welcoming.
Diversity of Choice
Bali is an island that truly caters to every need, want and whim. Whether you’re journeying to rest and reset, adventure high and low or a solid mix of both (our personal preference), Bali is there for you. From a spiritual yoga asana to surfing to a guided bike tour, Bali will help you put your wellness focus first. Of course we prefer the adrenaline/chillaxation mix model and love to immerse each day in a Balinese speciality and disconnect sunrise and sunset by wrapping up with a peaceful namaste. Whether you travel alone or with a crew, it’s a wonderful idea to go to Bali with a personal focus while leaving enough wiggle room in your itinerary to allow Bali to work its magic.
Our yoga trip in Bali is one of our favorites because of the balance. We will keep you blissfully immersed as we journey around the island but we’ve built in quiet spaces, joyful offerings, amazing yoga and Balinese hugs galore to healthfully addict you.
Adventure travel and the wellness industry have collided in a big way over the past decade. The intersection of these two worlds has created a growing niche of adventures that are oh-so-fun and vastly different than a standard holiday. Joining a wellness adventure trip means you’re not willing to surrender your workout endorphins for cultural immersion and adventure adrenaline, and why should you? Experiencing something new will spark new passions and get you out of your comfort zone, and keeping yourself wrung out and grounded offer familiarity and openness. Honestly it’s a mystery why this amazing blend was so long in the coming! So, let’s get into why wellness adventure travel is good for you and why it should seriously top your travel wishlist.
Balance On The Road: Zen Out to Tune In
We’re all guilty of taking on too much throughout our day, whether that be at work or in our personal lives. Yep, that means you (and us too!). Yoga and adventure retreats grant you sweat and serenity; a wringing out to open up. There’s nothing better than being a stranger in a strange land who has a cheat sheet to peace of mind and tranquility.
We’re all at our best when we feel balanced, so hit the mat and then the streets to open yourself up to the new sounds, smells, tastes, and experiences you have waiting for you. Practicing balance and mindfulness, in all aspects of life, promotes mental clarity and capacity, so why wouldn’t you take it on the road? Nothing says ‘open to new adventures’ like those first few moments coming out of savansana. Mixing your wellness and adventure travel simply makes the adventure post-yoga a very real reality.
The Culture Shock: How To Immerse In The New
Signing up for an adventure means you’re ready to open your mind to immersing in, say Bhutanese culture. By default and design, you’ll be stepping out of your comfort zone and learning something new. A little freak-out is all part travel, especially when serious immersion is in the itinerary. Here’s where we’re going to sound like a broken record, but the key to moving through the ‘omg’s is balance. Whether you’re going solo or with a group, take the time to breath, flow through an asana, and center yourself. If a five-minute meditation works when your boss just upped your deadline, it’ll work when foreign is your new normal.
Once you’ve found a little zen, you’ll be ready to dive in and make the most of your adventure. Here’s the cool part about travel in general and Bhutan specifically, it’s a very welcoming culture! You’ll find most people are curious and happy to meet you in most spots around the world and your openness only enhances that. Oh, and by the way, Bhutanese food is seriously uh-mazing; you want to be so open and ready for that! So, trust us, wig-out, breathe, balance; it’s all part and parcel, and yoga adventures have your back here. Step out of your comfort zone—you’ll be so happy you did.
Getting Outside: Forest Bathing For Dummies
We all know that getting outside is good for us but who has the time? Booking a vacation that gets you outside makes you your own doctor. Forest bathing (or just getting away from the electronics for most of us) can reduce stress, improve feelings of happiness, and free up creativity, among many other benefits. Get this: studies have even found that being outside can help you age better (can you say “goodbye wrinkle cream?”) and sunshine can reduce seasonal depression. So, word to the wise, make sure your adventure trip is full of, yup, adventure! Look for hiking, biking, kayaking, yoga, running, snorkeling, and etc. in the description of the itinerary, and make sure it’s all relevant to your destination. You want to make sure you’re snorkeling in Gálapagos and mountain biking in Patagonia, not the other way around. Make sure you’re building in time to explore Mother Earth as she helps heal you. You’ll find forest bathing for dummies (ie just getting out of doors) on holiday is healthy, fun, and cool.
Now you’ve got the skinny on why a wellness adventure is cooler than say a booze cruise. There’s a time and a place for everything, for sure, but you’re here, reading, so we’ve probably already got one or two things in common. Head out with us for the balance, the exploration, and the adventure. We promise our adventure retreats are unlike anything else and prove it every day on the road as you immerse in a new culture, sample the local delicacies, make new friends, and stay healthy and balanced in the process! You’ll have at least one new favorite food and a gajillion new memories before you return home.
The holidays are here! Which brings happy celebrations along with a lot of hustle and bustle. While we love embracing all the chaos and excitement, we’re also big (obviously) advocates of carving out time to take care of yourself. After all, if you’re not showing yourself love and compassion, how are you supposed to be able to pass it on? So, without further ado, here are our tips and poses to transform the holidays from alarmingly hectic to joyfully busy.
Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
Your foundation and your rock. This is your quick anytime/anywhere pose for improving calm, groundedness, balance, posture, and focus. There’s no such thing as ‘just’ with yoga and Tadasana is not ‘just’ standing there. Keeping your body active and aligned is hard work. It looks simple so you may be tempted to rush through it or disregard its importance, but don’t. Close your eyes, breathe and make sure you’re attentive. It’s a great way to check in with your body and build some positive muscle memory for all of your standing poses. It can also be that momentary breath of calm in the stores, at the airport or just about any festively-hectic spot you can imagine…
Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana)
This instantly calming pose is our air travel hero. If you don’t want to bust out a full double pigeon in your airplane seat (not that they’re big enough anyway), a sitting or standing forward fold will hook you up with stress relief while energizing the body. Positioning your head below your heart allows for blood to rush to your head (wheeeee), which gives your cells a rejuvenating boost of oxygen and, in turn, calms the brain. It also lengthens the hamstrings and activates the inner legs and knees and is uber easy to do in the airplane’s aisle while waiting for the loo.
Downward Facing Dog (Audo Mukha Svanasana in Sanskrit)
If the hustle of the holidays is leaving you feeling a little ruff (haha, get it?), this pose is a yogi’s go-to for calming, energizing, strengthening, and all-around feel-good stretching. And it’s no surprise as to why – some benefits include (*inhale*) a deep stretch to your hamstrings, shoulders, calves, arches, hands, and spine and building strength in your arms, shoulders, and legs. And on top of that it’s considered a mild inversion, and inversions can potentially relieve headaches, fatigue, and insomnia long term. But even more importantly, it’ll leave you feeling ready to chase allll the squirrels.
Extended Puppy Pose (Uttana Shishosana)
What do you get when you cross Child’s Pose with Downward Facing Dog?… Extended Puppy Pose! (Or Child’s Downward Pose Facing Dog, but that doesn’t roll off the tongue as nicely). This hybrid pose combines the extension of Downward Facing Dog with the Melting Heart posture of Child’s Pose for all-around tension release, both physical and emotional. Holiday challenges? Bring.It.On… your in-laws have nothing on this holiday tension buster.
Happy Baby (Ananda Balasana)
If there’s one pose that’s going to bring a smile to your face during a stressful day, it’s happy baby because, well, it’s a funny pose. It’s also awesome at calming the mind and de-stressing the body, in large part due to all of its fantastic physical benefits. It stretches the spine and inner groin, opens the hips, strengthens the arms and biceps, releases lower back tension, and reduces your heart rate. Plus, wiggling your tosey-woseys is fun.
Seated Forward Fold (Paschimottana)
Whether it’s baking, shopping or wrapping, if you’re on your feet all day, chances are your hamstrings are screaming for some attention (“stretch me!”). Try giving them what they crave – a seated forward fold. This is one of the most effective poses for an entire body stretch because it stretches the whole back side of the body from the heels up through to your neck. When you stretch your spinal cord, a space is created between the vertebrae that improves blood circulation to all your nerves, which soothes the nerves and helps your mind relax. That’s why this spine stretcher has your back this holiday season (ha).
Now don’t get us wrong we love presents (obviously, who doesn’t?), but we think being present is a much better way to find peace during the holiday season. Practicing meditation is about training your awareness to get a healthy sense of perspective. It’s not going to turn off thoughts or feelings like a light switch, but observing those thoughts and feelings without judgement will help you gain a better perspective. In other words, it gives you a better mindset so you don’t need to sweat the small stuff.
Extended Triangle Pose (Utthita Trikonasana)
Think way back to when you were in elementary school (not that it was that long ago…) and learning about shapes – do you remember being taught that the triangle is the strongest shape? (No, neither did we, but we looked it up). Extended Triangle Pose is a foundation pose across almost every different style of yoga. Not only does it strengthen the legs, feet and ankles, but it also stretches the legs, groin, hips, shoulders, chest and spine. And because it’s such a strong pose, it improves both physical and mental balance and stability.
Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
It’s really no wonder why tree pose is so poplar (haha…that tree pun was pretty sappy). Practicing balance poses like this one will help you gain both physical and mental steadiness and poise. It’s super similar to the seated meditation posture because of its calming and meditative benefits, only it’s a standing variation which gives it the extra benefit of balance practice. When the holidays throw you curveballs, tree pose will help you handle them with grace. We could go on and on about why this pose is treemendous… (ok seriously, someone stop us).
Eagle Pose (Garudasana)
Strength, balance, coordination, and harmony? Twist our arms. Or rather, twist our bodies. By crossing your legs and arms and squeezing them to balance (basically a graceful pee dance), blood flow throughout the body is constricted, which stimulates the release of fresh blood. All that fresh blood flow is what helps build calm focus and concentration, and as an added bonus, benefits the immune system. So not only will you feel more calm, you don’t have to worry about getting sick at the most inconvenient time to feel under the weather (phewf!)
Lion’s Breath (Pranayama)
Lion’s Breath will help you find your Hakuna Matata… no worries for the rest of your (holi)days. For all the time that we spend stretching our bodies and working on mindfulness, it’s super uncommon to work on the face. Which is mind-boggling, considering all the stress and tension held in our faces. Lion’s breath’s breathing technique with a forceful exhalation stretches the entire face, which improves circulation and awakens your mind. We won’t lie, you’ll feel pretty silly doing it, but that’s part of what makes it great for relieving stress.
Corpse Pose (Shavasana)
All that grounding and recentering is hard work, time to take a snooze! Just kidding. Corpse pose looks like a nap, but it’s a fully conscious pose aimed at being awake while completely relaxed. We know, we know, when you’re stressed and tired during the holidays a nap can sound preeetty tempting, but hear us out – softening completely allows yourself to settle and gives your nervous system time to reset. This will calm your mind, relax your whole body, and release stress, fatigue, and tension (let it go, let it go…).
For the Ultimate Mind, Body, Spirit Rejuvenation…
Happy holidays everyone! When the holiday dust settles remember to find time to recenter and rejuvenate. We know it isn’t always easy (and we work in the industry, for crying out loud!), but an escape from the mundane keeps us young and laughing. As the first company to blend yoga and adventure travel, every day on a journey with us is an opportunity for yoga to ground you while we open up a world of adventure.
Join us on a yoga retreat adventure in some of the world’s most breathtaking destinations. Your 2020 self will thank you…
First things first: we believe almost everyone, athlete or otherwise, can benefit from yoga. That said, yoga is still an under-appreciated component of a competitive training program… but all of that has been changing. No less an athlete than LeBron James, often name-checked as the greatest basketball player of all time, has gone on record advocating for yoga as way to sharpen mental and physical performance. He’s one of a growing many and we’re giving a shout out to high-performance and beer league athletes alike to give yoga a shake — here are a few reasons it could be just the thing to take your game to the next level.
Obvious and important: yoga is excellent for improving fluidity and range of motion. This has clear applications for every sport, from football to golf. Strength training in isolation tends to have the opposite effect of shortening the resting length of muscles and can lead to muscular imbalances (boo). Even the most impressive muscles can’t reach their peak potential if they’re too tight. All of which means yoga has a place in the routine of even the most strength-oriented athlete. Strong and flexible is the new sexy.
As a holistic practice targeting the whole body, yoga is an excellent means of working on smaller supportive muscles. Unlike a weight machine, yoga encourages motion through a complex natural arc. Holding challenging poses is good for building endurance in body and mind (as in reminding yourself that you can, you really can, hold this pose for just onnne moooore breath). Yoga strengthens the core which translates to better balance and stability when you practice another sport. It also helps prevent lower back pain, scourge of athletes and desk workers alike. It’s a snowball effect of good stuff.
A less obvious but important benefit of improved strength and flexibility is injury prevention. Professional athletes and weekend warriors need to be proactive to prevent strains and protect joints. A few sun salutations in the morning might save a few weeks aches and pains. Every athlete knows they should warm up and cool down, but it might be wise to go full vinyasa.
Athletes are often highly specialized. A specific regimen might be the best way to deliver certain results but it can lead to burnout and muscle overuse. For athletes who’ve never given yoga a try… try it! The practice can unlock whole new ways to work out (promise). Staying curious is a fun way to meet your fitness goals and beat the burnout.
The Cool Down….
To fully obtain the benefits of a yoga practice, of course, it’s best to pair it with a yoga retreat adventure in an international destination… Kidding! Though we’re big advocates of getting expert advice from an instructor and always thrilled to welcome new yogis to the fold. If you’re an athlete looking to step up your performance, by all means give it a go. Being stronger, more flexible, and mentally centered – what’s not to love?
How to celebrate another trip around the sun? At a certain age the downtown blowouts and crowded bars start to blur together, but, New Year’s Eve in front of the TV doesn’t quite feel right either. Marking the occasion is a chance to leave routine behind and enter the new year with clarity and intention. Who can ask for more? As 2020 approaches we’ve got a couple of ideas for yoga retreats and wonderful adventures that’ll close out the year on a high note and send you into the next feeling refreshed and ready to rumble.
Winging away for the holiday means leaving the day to day behind. And, for many of us, a light at the end of the hectic holiday tunnel. We all do so much for others during the holidays, and it feels great! But if we begin the way we intend to end (the year), then a little self love, some laughter, adventure, yoga and friendship are all in order.
Our idea of a perfect New Year’s celebration is new friends, healthy cuisine, twice a day yoga sweating-it-out and, of course, a beautiful foreign destination. We’re off on a yoga retreat to Baja with Gioconda Parker, for sure. We chose to run this one specifically from December 28, 2019 – January 4, 2020 so there’s room for family time, personal rejuvenation and we’re all still able to make it back to work on time. It’s all happening for us this year at Prana del Mar, an oceanfront property at the southern edge of Baja, Mexico. The Pacific spreads out to your west and the Sierra de la Laguna mountains are your backdrop to the east. Get centered, stroll the zen-inspired labyrinth, walk the mile-and-a-half stretch of beach, explore Todos Santos, snorkel, kayak and and and…
It’s you time. It’s unplugged time. It’s celebration time. Whether you go here, there or anywhere. we’re sending out good holiday vibes and the happiest of happy 2020s to you all.
So, you’ve booked your yoga retreat (yay!), triple-checked your passport and have your favorite funky yoga pants, a swimsuit, and maybe even a fleece (hellooooo Iceland!) ready to roll. Our packing lists will make sure you’re prepared for every adventure…
BUT, we’d love to suggest 5 non-essential essentials that will help to make your yoga retreat travel experience truly unforgettable.
1. A Sense of Adventure
You’ve skipped town and it’s time to put the adventure in ‘adventure yoga’! Chilling in the cenotes? Immersing yourself in Bhutanese culture (and food…yum)? Visiting a local Balinese temple? We’ve found that the folks who have the most fun are also the most open to the new and different (or those who fake it ’til they make it…haha!).
Trying something new helps to open you up to a world of new perspectives that you may only ever have access to in this unique moment. So join us, being ready to breathe out any butterflies and soak up the culture you’ve carved out the time to experience. Your time on the mat will ground you while your experiences off the mat will amaze.
2. An Experimental Attitude
This is the time to break open some old boundaries and let yourself be led. Yoga retreats are immersive and often provide learning experiences that are far outside of our norm. New teachers, new countries, new friends and a new way to look at our big, beautiful world.
This is your time to experiment – dig deep, fall down, laugh out loud. In short, our teachers are there to take you on a journey – you’ll have more fun if you’re able to step outside your comfort zone and take it all in from start to finish.
3. An Open Mind (and heart!)
The first time your yoga retreat group gets together, take a look around … Instant new friends! An open mind and an open heart will let you embrace this new temporary family.
You may find yourself discovering new thoughts, new dreams and new depths on your yoga journey on this immersive adventure. Yoga can be an intimate and challenging experience and it can help facilitate your yoga journey to know your new family cluster is in the same boat!
Embrace this chance to be open, honest and surround yourself with the adventurous spirits who’ve joined you on this trip.
4. A Willingness To Disconnect
While wi-fi is available everywhere we go, we hope you’ll take this trip as an opportunity to really disconnect. It can be scary to put down your guard and the social “security” that comes from having a device in-hand.
But we promise you this: Once you unplug from your phone and into your adventure, nothing online can compare to what your yoga retreat adventure has to offer. Whether it’s the northern lights in Iceland, the gorgeous karsts in Vietnam, or going surfing with the locals in Bali, we promise it’s better than anything on Instagram 🙂
5. A Good Book
Trust us. How often do we carve time out of our day to relax and crack the spine of an amazing tale? It’s delicious to end your day blissed out in bed with a good book in hand, or take some time to relax during the day (on the beach maybe?) and have some quiet time all to yourself… Some of our favorite travel companions come in paperback (ha).
Choose something inspiring, gripping or just plain escapist. No matter what you choose there’s no better delight that a juicy new book and the time to dive on in.
You’re in a conversation about travel and gushing about some of the most beautiful places on Earth…. How long before a UNESCO World Heritage Site comes up? For plenty of destinations, it’s only a matter of time. They’re places that leave a lifelong impression — Machu Picchu, the Great Barrier Reef and Easter Island are three stunning examples etched into the collective imagination. UNESCO’s mission is to foster exactly that feeling. In their words, their job is to “encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity.” Important and pretty cool, right?
UNESCO stands for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. In order to qualify for World Heritage status, a selection must meet at least one of ten exacting criteria. That list includes a requirement “to represent a masterpiece of human creative genius” or to “contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance.” Once selected, whether the site is natural or cultural, measures are taken to preserve it against forces like pollution, urbanization, and war. Again, super important and uber cool.
Our yoga retreats and adventures take us to an amazing variety of UNESCO locations (hmmm… think we planned that?) and we can enthusiastically report that they’re all stunning. The Galápagos Islands are a prime example: UNESCO describes the Galápagos as “one of the richest marine ecosystems in the world.” Culturally the importance of the Islands is impossible to exaggerate, having inspired Darwin’s theory of evolution back in 1835. On ourGalápagos Yoga Retreat Adventure we do everything to bring you (responsibly) close to that inspirational wildlife. Think itineraries that include snorkeling, exploration of a cloud forest and the chance to watch wild giant tortoises amble by from the comfort of your yoga mat. With world-class attractions comes international attention, so we partner with responsible, sustainable operators to support UNESCO’s mission of preservation (see ourlast post on overtourism for more).
On the cultural swashbuckling end of the spectrum, Panama’s Casco Viejo (literally the ‘old quarter’) is a less-publicized but phenomenal World Heritage Site. In the evolution of buildings you can trace the impacts of technology and social change, but this isn’t just a place for history buffs and engineers to nerd out. Walking the streets of Casco Viejo you’ll find the red-blooded history of piracy, slave rebellion and natural disaster. And while it’s not part of the UNESCO status, the refurbished historical hotel we stay in inside the quarter is one that Abraham Lincoln spoke at back in the day… not too shabby! Panama’s tropical climate makes it a very lush place to ponder the passage of centuries and our Panama yoga retreat adventure gives you the best of the city and the islands on which to chill and think (and yoga and play…ha).
Those are two examples pulled from about a dozen sites that our yoga adventures visit. Others include Ha Long Bay in Vietnam’s Gulf of Tokin (dollars to donuts our Vietnam yoga retreat travelers aren’t the only ones who know Ha Long’s iconic limestone islands), and culture junkies will be skipping through the streets of ancient Hoi An and its unique melding of cultures from five hundred years as a trading port.
And there are more…. think a Bali yoga retreat visit to their unique rice irrigation system, a profound cultural innovation that made UNESCO’s list and, of course, the aforementioned Machu Picchu merits two visits on ourPeru yoga retreat adventure. Sri Lanka is home to no fewer than three World Heritage sites – info we covered before on our Sri Lanka yoga retreatadventure cultural must-dos. And, keep in mind, that countries also keep a running tally of “tentative” inclusions, so more sites may pop up as the years go on…. we absolutely hope so…
Bringing it back full circle, UNESCO’s important and beyond cool intention for these sites is that “World Heritage sites belong to all the peoples of the world, irrespective of the territory on which they are located.” Think about that for just a moment… one country’s unique natural or cultural contribution belongs to all of us, for all time. In a world of borders and controversy we think it’s amazing that there’s a global organization out there pulling together for connectivity and our shared and collective past, present and future.