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Getting to Know Where You’re Going: Galapagos Yoga Retreat

The Galapagos Island Magic:

There’s a place you can go where 97% of the land is protected National Park, the journey there is definitely part of the adventure, and your yoga practice will often include views of a giant tortoise or two roaming the land or resting in the tortoise pond in front of the studio. Where is this magical place, you ask? The Galapagos Islands.

Our first trip to scout our retreat in the Galapagos was love at first sight. From the retreat location itself as it rests nestled in the highlands and close to the town of Puerto Ayora to the array of adventures that were in store for us, we knew we’d be back – and often. Galapagos has become a favorite spot for many of our travel yogis as the magic of the islands draws them back for more than one retreat.

What do the islands hold for you?

A Few of Our Favorite Things About Galapagos:

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The Giant Tortoises tend to get a lot of press during Galapagos yoga retreats as they can be found roaming freely around the property and are quite the sight to behold. The most photographed of all of our island retreats though? The Sea Lions! New wildlife is found everywhere you turn, so between the Galapagos Penguins, Marine Iguanas, Blue-Footed Boobies, and Great Frigate Birds, you are sure to see many of nature’s finest as you explore.

Even better? Head to the Galapagos during baby season and you’ll see the freshly born, miniature versions of all of these adorable animals. Baby Sea Lions, baby Blue-Footed Boobies (as seen to the right)…you’ll definitely want to be sure to have your camera ready every time you head out to explore!

Adventures

The adventures in the Galapagos are endless. Santa Cruz Island is your home base for the trip, but our itineraries for this yoga adventure include “must-see” locations on many of the other islands that make up the Galapagos. You’ll sea kayak, practice yoga on the beach, hike to the top of the volcanic cone on Bartolomé Island, snorkel with marine wildlife, explore Puerto Ayora, see the Cloud Forest…

We could keep going, but in short, there’s lot to see and do on this retreat. It’s the perfect balance of adventure and rest and you’ll have plenty of stories (and photos!) to share when you return home.

Food

Ahhh, the food. When you arrive at Monte Mar, you’ll be shown to your room and then truly welcomed with a traditional lunch. The deliciousness continues for the rest of the week as many of your meals will be hosted by Monte Mar. In addition to yoga retreats, they also happen to host 12 acres of biodynamic coffee producing trees. Coffee lovers rejoice, your morning (or afternoon, or evening…) cup of coffee will definitely leave you with a smile on your face. And you may need to take a little home with you as well!

1510648_10153203886171940_7683936290328777606_nYoga Studio

We weren’t joking when we mentioned the view of giant tortoises while you practice yoga. As you can see to the left, this view is exactly what you see while practicing your sun salutations.

The yoga studio in Galapagos is a beautiful building with a full wall of windows overlooking the property, which allow for beautiful sunrise/sunset yoga practice.

The studio itself has bamboo floors, ventilation (it gets steamy in the Galapagos!), sound system, and is fully stocked with Manduka yoga mats and props, so you don’t even need to travel with yours for this yoga retreat.

 

So, if you’re ready to check the Galapagos off your bucket list, we’ve definitely got a retreat to get you there! Where will yoga take you?

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Why We Love Beach Yoga Retreats

The only thing better than watching the sunrise or sunset from the beach is…well, nothing.

beach yoga retreat

 

Seriously, starting the day while watching the sunrise over the vast expanse of the ocean is the perfect reminder of exactly how small we are. The peaceful sound of the waves at sunset has the same effect calming effect on the body as breath work on the yoga mat.

We have thousands of photos of our yogis as they soak up the sun and savor the peace during their beach yoga retreats. A few of our favorites are:

– Kayaking at Tortuga Bay in Galapagos

– Beach yoga platform in the Mexican Riviera

– Meditating on the beach in Baja

– Floating in Panama

 

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Getting to Know Where You’re Going: Aruba Yoga Retreat

One word describes Aruba perfectly: paradise.

aruba yoga retreat stand up paddle board yoga

When you can practice yoga on the beach, in a pavilion with ocean views, and on a stand up paddle board in the ocean we think that perhaps the more accurate description for Aruba is yoga paradise. Our travel yogi Maria Santoferraro loves this yoga paradise so much that she is getting ready for her 3rd annual Aruba yoga retreat this spring.

There’s much to love about this yoga retreat in paradise, and we wanted to be sure you know all about where you’re going and what to expect!

1. Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa

The name says it all. Well, almost all anyway. This beach resort is all about wellness and ensuring that each guests leaves feeling better than when they arrived. How do they do that, you ask? With a focus on fitness, a beautiful spa that offers a variety of treatments, and restaurants that offer food made from local, organic ingredients. The yoga pavilion and the beach yoga deck (seriously, yoga paradise!) host ocean views, so you can rest a little deeper in savasana while listening to the waves crash and feeling ocean air on your skin.

2. Stand Up Paddle Board Yoga

One of the highlights of every Aruba yoga retreat is stand up paddle board yoga. As you can see in the photo above, the stand up paddle boards are tethered together, so you can practice without worrying about keeping track of your paddle or drifting off in to the ocean.

If you’ve never practiced stand up paddle board yoga before, you’ll quickly find that it’s an excellent way to gain some extra core strength and balance. Savasana on the beach is amazing, but savasana on a stand up paddle board with the gentle rocking of waves and all the ocean sounds is possibly the best experience you will ever have.

aruba yoga retreat sunset cruise3. Adventures

Each yoga retreat location we scout is completely unique. Part of why we love our Aruba yoga retreat so much is the full slate of adventures the week has to offer. From the sunset sail to Snuba (yes, that’s right, snorkeling and scuba all in one) – a week in Aruba combines the perfect balance of relaxation (spahhhhh!) and epic adventure.

Ready to pack your bag, book your flight, and spend a week playing on retreat?

Join us this year for a sun-drenched island yoga adventure! Where will yoga take you?

 

6 Reasons to Go on an Aruba Yoga Retreat

Third Times a Charm:

What Keeps Maria Santoferraro Going Back to Manchebo?

 

They say you can never get enough of a good thing, and when it comes to Aruba – particularly hosting a yoga retreat there at the lovely Manchebo Beach Resort and Spa – that statement is absolutely true. I’m getting ready to pack up my yoga mat for my third (of what I hope will become annual) Beach Yoga Bliss retreat in Aruba this April 11–18, 2015.

When you work with The Travel Yogi (we love you Maria!), there are so many great travel destinations to choose from, but I fell in love with my Aruba yoga retreat. Here are six reasons why I keep going back (and why you should consider going) on one of the Travel Yogi’s retreats to Aruba:

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1. The Best Beach Yoga

One of the primary reasons I first picked Manchebo Beach Resort and Spa for my first Aruba yoga retreat was for its unique beach yoga setting. I saw the pictures and dreamed for months about how lovely it would be to teach under the yoga pavilion or on the wooden yoga deck overlooking the white sand beaches and clear blue Caribbean waters. And when I arrived at the resort, I was not disappointed.

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As soon as I stepped into the Manchebo Yoga Pavilion, I was overwhelmed with emotion and started to cry tears of joy. I couldn’t believe that I would get to teach yoga in such a beautiful space. Every time I come to Manchebo, I get that same exuberant feeling when I set foot in the yoga pavilion.

beachfront deck

From the pavilion you can see the incredible aqua blue waters of the Caribbean, feel the ocean breeze, and be protected from the sun. It is pure bliss for me to teach there, and I’m told it is divine to put down your mat and practice there as well.

the-view

 

2. A Beach Resort for Yogis

A stay at Manchebo starts with a friendly welcome and complimentary mojito at check-in, and the thoughtful amenities just keep coming – healthy smoothies for breakfast, refrigerator and microwaves in the room, waterfall shower. And the garden-view rooms really do have an actual Zen garden to hang out in!

 

I can’t say enough good things about Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa. The staff are so friendly and helpful, the grounds are gorgeous, and you don’t get a packed-in, claustrophobic feeling like at other resorts I’ve been to. The staff took really good care of us, and they have all the yoga props (bolsters, straps, blocks, and extra yoga mats) so you don’t have to pack extra gear. This is a beach resort that truly caters to yogis!

staff

Every morning after our beach yoga and meditation session, the staff set up a table for all the retreat participants to gather for breakfast. It is nice to have this time to be together, share stories, and regroup after the yoga sessions. Did I mention that our breakfast table has a view of the pool and the Caribbean?!

3. The Food

It’s not just the breakfast that’s amazing. One of the nights, the resort put together our very own private beachfront dinner with Tiki torches, table decorations, and fancy decorated chairs to accompany our three-course meal. I felt like a princess! Whether you are seeking healthy food, vegetarian options, or have food allergies, the staff at Manchebo will cater to your dining needs with plenty of menu choices!

Beachfront dinner

 4. Adventure!

Some days, you just want to lay on the beach and chillax, but if you want a little island adventure, it is on the agenda in some form almost every day. Hiking, swimming in a natural pool, stand-up paddle boarding, and snorkeling are all part of the outdoor fun that you can experience on the island.

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One of my favorite days on the retreat is when we take a sailing cruise out to snorkel and then get to relax on the boat with refreshing drinks and catch the sunset.

snorkeling

And, I really love the day we hike the south side of the island along stunning rocky coastlines and beautiful beaches to the natural pool for an exhilarating dip in the waters.

island adventure

 

5. SUP Yoga

One afternoon of the retreat, we headed off for an afternoon of stand-up paddle boarding PLUS a yoga class atop the boards, floating out on the water. After learning the basics of maneuvering on the boards, we paddled down the shore to our yoga studio on water, anchored our boards, and busted out some downward dogs and sun salutations. The instructor’s only rule was that if we fell off the board we had to laugh, and she guaranteed that everyone falls off. Suffice it to say there were lots of smiles and giggles.

 

The best part of the SUP yoga class was lying in peace on the board in the middle of the Caribbean in savasana with the sun shining down on us. I’ve always loved savasana, but doing it while floating on the ocean is absolutely sublime.

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6. The Gift of Peace and Solitude

With great venues to practice, a beachfront spa, and healthy food options, Manchebo really is the perfect place to give yourself a special gift: peace, restoration, and honoring your body with the practice of yoga. One of my class themes was about taking the time to give yourself the gift of solitude, to unwind, let go, and recharge. A walk alone on these beautiful beaches to breathe and meditate was my gift to myself each day, and I brought home some seashells to remind me to keep giving myself that gift even when I’m back in Ohio.

beach-meditation

 

When you have the opportunity to practice yoga and meditate twice a day for a week, your practice is going to blossom. During my Beach Yoga Bliss yoga retreat, you will be surrounded by a group of fantastic yogis, experience new adventures, eat fantastic food, and enjoy all that the beautiful island of Aruba has to offer.

A Dozen Great Reasons to Take Your Yoga Practice Outdoors

Our navel avel yogi Maria Santoferraro on the many reasons why outdoor yoga is the best kind of yoga… 🙂

Outdoor Yoga Summer Yoga Daily Downward Dog The Travel Yogi
Photo Credit: Angela Wilhelm

Have you had a chance to take your yoga mat outside this summer for some outdoor yoga? I have been practicing and teaching yoga on the beach all summer, and to be honest, I’m getting a little spoiled by all the benefits and beauty that practicing yoga outside brings. It gets harder and harder to go inside to the studio, and this is one of the reasons why I love to teach Beach Yoga Bliss retreats in the colder months of the year.

If you are wavering about whether outdoor yoga is for you either at home or on a yoga retreat, here are a few incentives to get you motivated:

1. Get out there

If you live north of the Mason-Dixon Line like I do, you have got to take advantage of the opportunity to get outside and blow the stink off. Seriously, any chance you can get outside for sun-soaked activity between May and the first freeze has got to be taken advantage of. ’Nuff said.

2. A yoga mat with a view

Aruba Yoga Retreat Maria Santoferraro The Travel Yogi

 

How cool is it to do downward facing dog and when you look between your legs you see a beautiful blue sky or the green leaves of a tree flapping in the wind? Here is what the view looks like while practicing at Manchebo Beach Resort and Spa during my last Beach Yoga Bliss Retreat.

 

 

Greece Yoga Retreat Daily Downward Dog The Travel Yogi

The view for my I Am Love Santorini yoga retreat is not going to be too shabby either!  (ha!)

 

 

3. The challenge

Anyone can practice inside, but not everyone can practice with their feet in the sand or grass. The ground might be uneven, an ant might crawl across your mat or the sun may be shining in your eyes, but that is what makes outdoor practice so rewarding. You get to go outside your normal routine, feel the earth beneath your feet, and make playful adjustments to your asanas.

4. Best yoga playlist ever!

The music comes courtesy of chirping birds, flowing wind, and the waves lapping up on the beach. I couldn’t put together a better playlist if I tried. Close your eyes, and the sounds are sublime.

5. Special effects

You may get the unexpected delight of seeing a fish jump out of the water, a sailboat float by, or an eagle soar through the sky.  Eyes and hearts open.

IMG_21806. Grow your practice

Said special effects can also provide extra challenges in staying mindful and present. Yesterday, while practicing on the beach, I kept spying sea glass around my yoga mat. I had to resist the urge to bend over and start collecting up all the sea glass and really focus on remaining present. Surely, setting those nagging thoughts aside has to be good for building mental strength and clarity in my practice.

7. Sunshine Salutations

There’s just something special about doing a sun salutation when you can reach your arms up and truly salute the sun, not the ceiling. If you love practicing yoga in the sunshine, practicing while you watch the sunset (especially over the water) is not to be missed.

8. Wind

Sometimes an outdoor yoga class can feel like a toasty hot yoga class. But when that cool wind brushes across your face, it is pure bliss. I don’t know what we would do without those cool tropical winds which were the perfect air conditioning for our Aruba yoga retreat.

9. Incredible inversions small-inversion

Getting into a handstand always feels pretty damn good, but when you get to do one and see a view like the one to the right, the pose takes on a whole new dimension.

10. High on nature

Yep, yoga can get you high when you practice inside, but I’m here to tell you the buzz you get from an outdoor practice is simply yogalicious, and you’ll experience even more gratitude for Mother Nature.

11. Postpractice curriculum

Once your practice is complete, the postgame activity choices are awesome. My favorite is a little beach-walk meditation. Or, just sitting with eyes closed while in meditation, letting the sounds of nature envelop you can provide an excellent way to seal in your practice.

12. Ommmm

Joining in an om in any yoga class is a special experience, but when you get to do it and the birds chirp along with you, and the sound of the wind and the waves collectively join into the vibration, the chant becomes pure magic.

Yoga is all about the union of the body and the mind, and when you add the extra element of the outdoors, you can also make it about becoming one with nature. Just a note of caution: Use sunscreen and maybe a dash of organic bug spray before you venture onto your mat!

The Travel Yogi offers so many retreats that provide the opportunity to practice in incredible outdoor venues so what are you waiting for.. Get outside, yogis, to breathe it all in and love it all out!

 

 

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Getting to Know: Ashley Cebulka

We introduced you to Elli Boland, one half of the Agents of Change team last week, so this week our blog post completes the team with an introduction to Ashley Cebulka!

Read on for her thoughts on inspiration, intention for the “Courageous Leap” retreat in Turks & Caicos this May and her love for spontaneous dance parties!

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What is your inspiration as a yoga teacher/travel yogi? 
My inspiration comes from a blend of courageous leaders, dancing, witnessing people get out of their comfort zone while speaking their truth,  travel and my incredible family and friends.
Where has yoga taken you?
Getting on the mat encouraged me and inspired me to drop the mask and tune in to my inner voice. It was the first form of movement I had ever done in my life that encouraged listening to my breath, slowing down and going at my own pace. As a former athlete, this was life changing.
I also adored going to the Yoga Journal Conference in NYC, being inspired by so many talented teachers, sharing their unique gifts was extraordinary.
What is your current favorite travel destination? Why?
Italy for the gorgeous, inviting culture. It’s my favorite cuisine on the planet and their overall lifestyle is filled with everything I love, relaxation, quality time with loved ones, epic meals, beautiful wines, and laughter.
What is your dream travel destination? Why?
Bora Bora. I’m a beach girl at heart. So I love the idea of staying in a little hut, with my husband and having nothing to do, but gaze at the gorgeous water, explore, read, fish and play.
What is your intention for your upcoming retreat? 
My intention is to inspire people to create a life they love. By sharing tools to help them listen to their intuition and allow that to be their guide. I will encourage small daily actions, based on feeling good, to help them create the changes and transformations they are desiring in life. I’m all about getting out of your comfort zone and adapting to a new level of uncertainty in order to grow and expand; and live your life to the fullest.
What are you most excited about in Turks & Caicos? 
The opportunity to experience adventure, inspiration and growth with people from all over the world. Dance parties and the connections that will come from people opening up, while being authentic and vulnerable along with a strong dose of playfulness.
Anything else we should know? 
I like to have dance parties, everyday.

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Where Yoga Has Taken Us in 2013

Where has yoga taken us in 2013? It might be easier to ask where we haven’t been!

We kicked the new year off with our Travel Yogi Kathryn Budig in Tulum and then moved full speed ahead with yoga retreats everywhere from the Galapagos to Santorini, Bali and Stowe, VT. Our travel yogis captured themselves in lizard pose with iguanas on the beach and got cozy in Kurmasana in empty turtle shells in the Galapagos (see Annie Carpenter below!). They practiced in open air with beautiful views in Santorini, experienced the healing waters in Bali and took their yoga to horseback in Stowe. From retreats by the beach in Maui and Aruba to our scouting trips in Costa Rica, Roatan and Turks & Caicos it was a big year for all of us here at The Travel Yogi!

Check out our photo collage below for a review of all of our teachers and retreat locations this year. You can also check out individual retreats in our photo gallery or head over to Instagram and search #wherewillyogatakeyou to see everything our Travel Yogi community has been up to!

Big thanks to all who were part of making our 2013 so much fun…here’s to 2014 and many, many adventures ahead!

Yoga Year In Review

 

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