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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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Aruba Yoga Retreat with Rebecca Butler

 

Standup paddle board, yoga, delicious food…and more! Watch above to learn more about our travel yogi Rebecca Butler and why she’s so excited to lead her “Choose Joy” retreat in Aruba in February! Ready to learn more and get to registration? Click here for all the details about this adventure and to reserve your spot!

Skianasa: Finding Your Bliss Skiing and Yogaing

Our travel yogi Maria Santoferraro is getting ready for her “Skiasana” skiing and yoga retreat in Stowe, Vermont in January! Here are her 6 reasons why she’s excited to share Skiasana with you this winter! You can also find full retreat details and registration here and read her thoughts below…

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Yoga, travel, and skiing are my greatest passions, and when I get to combine all three it is pure bliss! I took a skiing trip to Colorado this year with my husband where we practiced SKIASANA: a combination of yoga, Rocky Mountain meditations, fresh air, sunshine, and awesome skiing. I love taking my yoga off the mat and onto the ski slopes, and this trip provided a lot of slopeside yogic inspiration:

1)     Live the dream. While waiting in line to ride the ski lift up the mountain, we were greeted by a spirited young lift operator from Michigan. When I asked how he was, he answered, “Great! I’m living the dream.” Despite the cold, he was doing just that because he was doing what he adored in an incredible place. What a perfect reminder to live with gratitude, do what you love every day, and live your dream.

2)     Smile and enjoy the ride. One day as I rode the lift back up the mountain, a heavy wind was blowing what felt like sharp mini pellets of ice into my face, and if you have ever skied out west, you know the lifts are long. I made a comment that the ice was stinging my face, and the gentleman on the lift next to me said, “Just put a smile on your face and power through it. When you’re having fun, it just doesn’t matter.” That was just the kick in the butt I needed to turn my attitude around. He gave me the exact same advice I give my students when they are in a difficult pose like utkatasana – SMILE and enjoy the ride!

3)     Go with the flow. These signs were everywhere we skied. Going with the flow is IMG_1069something we all need to do a little more of – both on and off the slopes. Instead of fighting against the current of what life throws you, just go with it. I’m here to tell you it is a helluva lot more enjoyable and peaceful way to live.

4)     Style and grace. Thankfully the ski gods blessed skiers with hot tubs. After a long day on the slopes, one of my favorite après-ski activities is a long, hot soak in the company of other skiers. One night my husband and I sat near a woman who was in her 80s and a bunch of men who were bragging about their speed going down the mountain that day. The lady looked at me and said, “I prefer style and grace over speed.” Amen, sister! There’s plenty of fast out there. In my book beauty, style, and grace are always the way to go both on the yoga mat and off.

5)     Listen to your inner guru. I always tell my students that they are their own best teachers, and I listened to that advice when I was on the slopes. When your legs start to plead with you in the afternoon, listen to them shouting your name and get your ski buns off the slopes and to après-ski.

6)     Be present. On the morning of the last day of our vacation, I started to get that last-day-of-vacation angst – you know, where you start dreading having to go back home to all the responsibilities waiting for you. But I’m proud to say that the feeling was fleeting. I took my yoga practice off the mat by allowing myself to be fully present in the moment and enjoyed every last morsel of that vacation.

Living  with gratitude, smiling through adversity, going with the flow, taking time to rest, and being present – that my yogi friends is the way to ski through your yoga practice and life with style and grace!

I cant wait to see what slopeside inspiration comes in January at my SKIASANA yoga retreat in Stowe, Vermont. Come join me for a long weekend of yoga, meditation, knitting, great eats, awesome community, and the chance to practice yoga off the mat and on the slopes!


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Maria Santoferraro is first and foremost a student of yoga and hails from the beautiful shores of Lake Erie, Ohio. A former marketing executive with a ‘Crackberry’ addiction, she now enjoys spending her time teaching yoga on the beach, building yoga brands, and creating meditation videos for HangTen Meditation. Go from stressed out to blissed out by following her blog The Daily Downward DogTwitter, and Facebook. Join Maria this coming January for SKIASANA, a yoga and meditation retreat in beautiful Stowe, Vermont.

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Where Will Your Yoga Take You?

At the age of slightly older than 30, I learned how to drive a stick shift in a crash course earlier this week. I had less than an hour to learn, an excellent teacher and it turned out I got a delicious brownie as a reward when it was over. I quickly found that yoga and driving a car with a manual transmission are basically the same thing – it’s all about timing breath with movements and practicing patience. When you Google the phrase “how to drive a stick shift,” one of the top results that appears is a blog entitled “The Art of Manliness.” Hmm. Given that I’m a girl (and therefore society tells me this is something I don’t really need to know), and for a variety of other reasons I’d created in my own mind, learning this skill had never been a priority for me – and I had never considered it a possibility. Until suddenly it was….

This was the second time I’d been in a situation in less than a week (the other was a transition on my yoga mat I’d been telling myself was never possible – until Friday afternoon when, without thinking about it, suddenly it happened) where I was suddenly doing something that I had previously thought impossible, or had altogether dismissed.

As I was attempting to quiet my mind and coax myself to sleep last night, I started to think about the vast differences between the stories I create for myself and the possibility that exists in the world. Stories are suffocating. Limiting. Heavy. Basically, our stories are shrill little (loud!) voices in our minds that limit us from living life at maximum potential.

So maybe standing up to chair pose from boat pose without using my hands (yes, that’s the transition I’ve been telling myself I couldn’t do for years) is not exactly living life at my maximum potential, but what it symbolizes in possibility is something I can take off the mat and in to the rest of my life. After I rolled back and stood up without hands the first time, I did it over and over (and over again), meanwhile laughing, celebrating and feeling awe for what my body is capable of when my mind is quiet. Each time, I took a breath, cleared my mind and made what I had previously assumed to be impossible possible. The same was true while learning how to drive this week. Sure, I was left in the middle of a few intersections with unhappy drivers behind me while I put the car back in neutral, restarted it and attempted to master the transition between clutch and gas to get the car moving again. Each time I pushed in the clutch I took a deep breath, cleared my mind and moved forward in to possibility.

As I think about the motto of #wherewillyogatakeyou that is infused in what we live, breathe and do here,  I wonder how many of you have had similar experiences on or off your yoga mats? Perhaps when making the decision to explore a new location that had otherwise been left unconsidered? Or embarking on solo travel for the first time? Maybe you’ve experienced the opening of possibility while on your mat at a retreat…or when engaging with one of our teachers or a fellow yogi? Maybe you’re dreaming of a retreat and taking the steps to get yourself there right now?

Whatever it is, notice when your story is holding you back and do what it takes to figure out #wherewillyogatakeyou. Move from the heaviness and suffocation of your story to the light, playful freedom of adventure and possibility. I know they say it doesn’t happen, but in this case, the grass might actually be a little bit greener on the other side.  

What to Pack List | Prana Del Mar | Baja | Mexico

Did you know we have a retreat location on our map that generates electricity from solar panels installed throughout property? Or that if you purchase a carbon offset for your plane flight they’ll credit you $50 toward massage, spa, surfing or any other excursion? If sustainability and eco-friendly travel are high on your priority list, get the scoop on Prana Del Mar, our green yoga retreat & wellness center destination!

If you’ve already booked your trip to play in Baja this fall (or December with Kathryn Budigor next March with JL), then read on to learn more about this destination, including what to pack to maximize your time at this destination! If you’re hooked but haven’t booked, take a look at our upcoming October retreats: ‘Baja Bhakti Bliss’ with Jennifer Jarrett or ‘Practice Hard and Live Easy’ with Patrick + Carling Yoga!

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Prana Del Mar

You know (most of!) their story of sustainability, so let’s talk yoga for a moment! One of the things we love most about yoga at this destination is that there are options and the yoga room(s) (yes, you read that correctly, it’s plural…see what we mean by options) are fully stocked. The studio floors are made from warm, golden, stand-woven bamboo (I don’t know about you, but I think I just heard my mat give a little cry of joy when it heard this…) and they have mats and all the props you can dream of! So, save room and lighten your load as you pack and leave your mat, strap, bolster, blocks, etc. behind – unless you prefer to use your own – as Prana Del Mar has everything you need for your practice!

Baja Adventures…

So, what exactly will you do while you’re in Baja? The area surrounding Prana Del Mar boasts over 300 degrees of sunshine each year, so when you’re not in the yoga studio, there are plenty of options to be outside!

If the water is calling, there is a gorgeous pool on property that is always ready for you. Community_Pool_NightThe retreat center itself sits on beach-front property, with a mile-and-a-half of beautiful sand perfect for walking and relaxing! The current on the Pacific side of the ocean is strong, so ocean swimming isn’t advised. There are gentler beaches – and year-round surfing options – and transportation can be arranged to other beaches once you’re on property.

Prana Del Mar is known for it’s location – where the mountains meet the desert. So, there are plenty of options if you’d like to get out and explore the surrounding area on foot – or on horseback!

If relaxing and restoration trumps adventure (even if for just a day), the wellness sanctuary on property is ready for you!  There are options for therapeutic massage, aromatherapy treatment and cleansing body wraps – as well as freshly prepared (and delicious!) meals that will help you restore from the inside out.

There are many other options at your fingertips at Prana Del Mar, but relax – you can plan additional activities once you’re on property.

What to Pack

With 300+ days of sunshine each year, and a climate that is fairly consistent throughout the year, you can definitely plan for sunshine!

If your trip is booked from fall to spring, it is typically hot during the day and cool in the evening. Mid-October retreats may see days in 90’s with humidity, so be prepared for hot, sweaty days!

Here are just a few of our packing suggestions:

  • Sunscreen
  • Walking sandals
  • Jacket for evening
  • Light cotton clothes
  • Sundresses
  • Long, light pants
  • Long sleeve, light shirts
  • Hats
  • Sunglasses
  • Swimsuit
  • Small backpack for day use

The layering system is always best, and we recommend packing items that will dry quickly.

Anything else?

There are a few things to know to lighten your load before you travel! Leave your toiletries – soap, shampoo, conditioner – behind! Since Prana Del Mar has an eco-friendly water treatment process they supply high-end products for you to use, and prefer to keep anything else out of their system. Hair dryers can also be left at home…there is plenty of sunshine to ensure your hair dries quickly and since everything is solar-powered, that energy is better used heating the important things on property – the pool, jacuzzi and sauna.

Prana Del Mar is its own oasis – it takes about 55 minutes to arrive from the airport and is approximately 40 minutes by shuttle from Todos Santos. So, this retreat can be a true “off the grid” retreat experience if you’d like it to be. There is Wifi available on property in the computer room, by the library and by the pool. You can work on your own computer there, but will not have wireless access in your room. Cellular phone service can be limited on property as well, depending on your provider, so alert your loved ones before leaving for your retreat. Maybe try leaving your computer at home too? It turns out the glow from the night sky in the middle of nowhere is much more interesting than the light from your screen anyway.

Lastly, you will need cash for some services on property as they do not run tabs. There is no need for currency exchange though as US dollars are accepted!

If you have any other questions about the Baja retreat, be sure to get in touch with us. We’ve been there and know the ins and outs, so can answer anything you send our way! See you on the mat – or on the road – soon!

 

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Find Stillness Within

Our travel yogi, Kim Sin, is excited to share the intention behind her ‘Travel Away, Find Stillness Within‘ retreat next October 13 – 20th (2014!) at Soulshine Bali. This San Francisco-based instructor is surrounded by the hustle and bustle of the city and is looking forward to this international travel that will ultimately lead you to a place of deeper stillness, heart opening and peace at Soulshine next fall. Read on for more…

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The yoga practice is a convenient way to step out of the hustle and bustle of our busy lives and to step into the stillness and beauty of the present.

Sometimes, especially as a yoga instructor, I feel like I have to slow down in order to speed up my life. Last week I was running late to a class I was teaching.  I struggled through traffic across town, felt like I had left my mind at my last destination, then essentially ran through the studio doors to meet my students patiently awaiting.

I was visibly flustered so instead of going directly into teaching I stopped for a moment and asked “Do you guys ever feel like you’ve completed a marathon just to get to a yoga class to relax?”

Heads nodded and one person spoke up “I just went through that.” It’s sad that today we live in an age that rarely allows us to take time to spend with ourselves.

Fortunately some people are willing to go to great lengths in order to get more in touch with themselves. This is the theme for my upcoming retreat in Bali, October 13-20, 2014.

Traveling to new destinations is very similar to my yoga practice in the sense that you are taking yourself away from your normal hustle and bustle so you can step into the present and find a refreshing and awaking stillness.

The retreat is located in Ubud, Bali which is known for it’s local Zeitgest: artful, creative and serene. We’ll be spending mornings and afternoons practicing in an open air studio, with delicious and healthy meals and eco-luxury accommodations.

I invite you to join me at Soulshine retreat center in Ubud where we’ll use Vinyasa yoga and Bali as the backdrop to tap into the present and rejuvenate.

You deserve it.

Join Kim on retreat in October 2014.

What to Pack List: Stowe, VT

Ivy League schools, land rich with the history of our country, Hershey chocolate, trips to the beach and the Red Sox. These are just a few of our favorite things when we think about the northeastern corner of the US – and if you’re not a Red Sox fan, please replace with your applicable team.

Tucked away amongst all of this is gorgeous Stowe, VT. The little town of Stowe has a history that dates back more than 200 years and is home to Mt. Mansfield, which at 4,393 ft is the tallest peak in Vermont. Within this charming town you can find something for everyone – whether your love is skiing in the winter, watching the spectacular nature show each fall as the leaves change, or mountain biking, hiking and farmer’s market browsing in the spring and summer.

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When we went to visit Stowe Mountain Ranch Yoga Retreats  last fall it was love at first sight! When you combine everything we’ve already mentioned with the variety of 4-season offerings at the retreat center (we’re talking archery, horseback riding, hay rides, jacuzzi dips, a gorgeous yoga space and food prepared by chefs from the New England Culinary Institute…and that’s just naming a few!) adding this location to the map for our traveling yogis and yoginis was an easy yes. We’ve got retreats coming up in Stowe this fall/winter season with our lovely travel yogis Kathryn Budig, Jennifer Pastiloff and Maria Santoferraro, so decided to make it this week’s feature in our “what to pack” series. Read on to learn more about Stowe and how to pack to maximize your trip and be sure to check out the upcoming retreats…if you’re wondering #wherewillyogatakeyou next, Stowe is definitely a spot to add to your list.

Stowe Mountain Ranch Yoga

The retreat center has a dedicated indoor yoga studio for teachers and students (phew, IMG_1557otherwise that would be cold in the winter!) with the option to let a little natural warmth in seasonally with a connecting outdoor studio. The studio hosts hardwood floors, gorgeous hardwood cathedral ceilings and plenty of space for a group as it can comfortably fit 23 – 28 mats in the indoor space alone. If you find it difficult to imagine going indoors while visiting such an outdoor playground, you can rest assured that there are views of mountains and the horses/barns from the studio.

Another plus? This is a fully stocked yoga studio, so unless you prefer your own mat you can leave all your yoga gear at home and make the travel portion of your trip a little easier. The studio includes props, so you can definitely leave blocks, bolsters and blankets behind.

What to Pack

Stowe is the ultimate 4-season destination, so your suitcase will vary depending on which season you plan to retreat in. A few items you’ll want to be sure to add to your suitcase:

  • walking shoes/boots
  • bathing suit (jacuzzi/sauna time even if you’re traveling in the colder months)
  • yoga clothing layers
  • long pants/jeans for horseback riding
  • casual/comfortable clothing for excursions + dinners

For specific seasons of travel you will need a few other items – if you are headed to Skiasana in the winter be ready to spend some time on the slopes or cross country/snowshoe trails. You will definitely want to include a hat, gloves, warm insulating layers, some water resistant or water proof outer layers and anything you wear in between for time outside. You’ll be warmer if cross country skiing or snowshoeing is your plan, but it’s always best to pack on the warm side and shed a few layers as you go.

If you don’t own your own skis or don’t want to bother with them at the airport, never fear, rentals are available at the mountain. If you’ve never skied before, also never fear, as lessons are available for both downhill/snowboard and for cross country skiers.

Summer season packing may be a little easier as you plan for summer in the northeast. Be sure to include a few light, warmer layers and a pair of jeans for riding, but otherwise versatile clothing for hiking, biking and other outdoor excursions and whatever you’re comfortable wearing for dinner and time in the house in the evenings.

Anything else?

You’re staying in the country on this one, so obviously no special convertors need to be packed for electronics. There is internet access on property, so you’ll be able to stay easily connected with friends and family while on retreat, unless you choose to unplug for a few days.

All excursions on the trip are optional, and there are a lot of options! Planning ahead is good, but we suggest you wait until you arrive in Stowe to make any set plans – unless there is an activity you’ve got your heart set on. As long as you’re prepared for plenty of time outside, you’ll be ready for any of the many activities possible during the week.

If you have any other questions about your Stowe retreat, be sure to send us an email. We’ve been to there and know the ins and outs, so can answer anything you send our way! See you soon on the mat, on the road or in the air…wherever your yoga takes you!