That’s a picture from Esalen, amazing place in the Big Sur, California. At the time of writing (March 2017), storms and rain have created major land falls, and it is now closed to the public, with staff being airlifted out by helicopter. I spent a week there in noble silence with 180 people from around the world, but that’s another story.
From three day yoga surf board riding adventures, to 10 day disconnects from the world, yoga resorts have become the wholesome thing to do for those who need time out, and you don’t have to be a yogi.
Something is happening to yoga retreats – I call it the rise of the Maya Kosha Makers.
You’re probably very familiar with your physical body. Called the annamaya kosha in yoga, (maya means “made of” and anna means “food” or “physical matter”). In most yoga classes, the majority of the language spoken by the yoga instructor is about the physical. Thank you Iyengar. Place the feet hip width apart, draw in the belly, arms parallel to the shoulders, lift your head to the sky and now hinge from your hips and bring your head to the mat. You get the drift?
There is more to us than the physical, though. We are layers of bodies, physical, energetic, spiritual, mental, emotional. Yoga is about bringing together all these layers (or koshas), from which we will experience those moments of pure joy, happiness and perhaps even move towards samadhi.
Ask any regular ANZA WanderingYogi you next meet (at soccer, the wine tasting, ANZA ladies night) about what they experience at yoga, and they will describe pretty much the same thing – a combination of these koshas, when well worked, leads to much bliss.
One of our regular yogis says, “there is something about the happiness you get from yoga – you can get a similar feeling from harder physical activity, but this feels so much more and lasts longer.”
Another regular describes feeling like they are on top of the world, another says they have been floating on air since their practice. Others describe discovering deep emotional wells, hidden for so long, rising up and washing over them like a huge wave, leaving them exhausted but at peace.
And these are everyday yogis, not all long limbs and flexible spines, wearing recycled hemp t-shirts saying ‘I am a hot yogi’.
Today, your everyday yogi is more likely to be your doctor, the person who serves you in a restaurant, a couple of your workmates, someone in your family or a friend. They might practice 2 or 3 times a week, or they might only practice once every so often.
“Everyday yogis are changing what to expect in yoga retreats” WanderingYogi.
They know that yoga does more than work the physical. They want retreats that give them more than physical poses. They want to sustain that ‘feel’ they get in their at practice.
But not necessarily wanting to immerse in the whole alternative options, such as primal scream therapy, gestalt personal encounter and rebirth sessions. For the everyday yogi, the connection needs to be something …. well… everyday.
Yoga is about yoking or bringing together those things that give rise to benefits across all our koshas.
Not surprisingly, this idea of recreating the feel is impacting yoga retreats on offer.
And there is a second impetus – the market for all things globally is being gently reshaped with the renaissance of crafters and artisan. (I was in a shop in the US last week, and they had craft kumbucha!) And this market is local and online. As the world becomes more accessible, so to does the capacity to be unique. Our everyday yogi no longer relies on packaged getaways. They want to do (and can do) something unique, and something that is soulful. They may also want to stay at 5 star resorts in between their adventures, too!
“Everyday yogis want to create their own maya kosha symphony” WanderingYogi
One yogini I know has arranged a Tuscany retreat. In 10 days, the group will visit countryside, stay in two gorgeous Tuscan villas, practice yoga, visit organic vineyards, meet local opera singers. Opera singers singing your morning practice in? It is already booked out, and she has not advertised outside her own community.
I arranged a 3 day retreat into Angkor Wat – 4 of us practiced sunrise yoga in front of that majestic temple, visited a local community group who ran the circus in town, spent ½ day learning the trapeze. We practiced with local community yoga teachers, and drank fabulous French and German wines for the price of a pumpernickel (no sales tax in Cambodia). We stayed in an art deco hotel, also for the price of a pumpernickel.
This was advertised purely by word of mouth (or rather WhatsApp). We were oversubscribed, and I am being given loads of ideas for the next one.
In Singapore, we are close to some of the most amazing ancient cultures in the world. Not to mention nature – Japan, China, the Himalayas, the beach. Keep an eye out for interesting and different yoga retreats from the ANZA WanderingYogis in 2017.
What kind of yoga retreat would you design if you had the chance?