TRAVEL

The Evolution of Yoga: From East to West

As a graduate student of Intercultural Relations who has traveled the world extensively, I wanted to look deeper into the emergence, evolution, and diffusion of yoga from a cultural standpoint. The following is a result of research from a variety of sources that touches on the sheer divergence of opinion, experience, and beliefs about yoga.

“Nearly 20 million people in the United States gather together routinely, fold their hands and utter the Hindu greeting of Namaste — the Divine in me bows to the same Divine in you” at the end of their yoga practice. These words linked to the popularity of yoga in America and it’s disconnect with its Hindu origins sparked a debate with the Indian-American guru and holistic health practitioner, Deepak Chopra. But why?

Yoga in the western world is a far cry from the yogic roots established thousands of years ago in India. Matter of fact, an agreed upon definition of the practice of yoga is not likely something you will find based on yoga’s diffusion across and within cultures. The shift in meanings over the last several thousand years has only aided in complicating matters and stirring up debate. The popularization of yoga in the United States is actually a very recent thing, and has turned what some call a traditional meditative practice into a commercialized business--the yoga industry generates more than $27 billion a year! However, from Buddhism to Christianity, Hinduism to Islam, and Jainism, cultures have practiced elements of yoga (breathwork, meditation, or guided movement) for centuries.

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Misconceptions

According to social issues commentator S.E. Smith:

“For a lot of people in the US, ‘yoga’ is a series of pretzel-like physical exertions done to get fit, usually with some token Sanskrit thrown in here and there to keep things exotic and spicy...The problem is, that’s not yoga. What people in the US are referring to as ‘yoga’ is actually one aspect of a larger spiritual practice...The romanticization of both ‘yoga’--by which people generally mean asanas sprinkled with a bit of breathwork and meditation--and India has created a heady mixture of appropriation and imperialism.”

However, the popularity of yoga in the West has also been credited to the physiological, psychological and biochemical healing qualities of the practice. Yoga isn’t just stretching, but rather a forging together of mind and body to work towards spiritual enlightenment. Practicing yoga consistently can lead to increased strength and flexibility, improved posture, coordination, and balance, as well as a reduction in stress. While not all western yogis take their practice beyond the physical stretching and fitness trend, there are many who do.

The Debate

The debate about yoga as an inherently religious practice has been put on trial, literally. In fact, San Diego Superior Court Judge John Meyer recently ruled that yoga does have religious roots, but that they are as far diluted in American culture much like Christmas. This type of cultural appropriation has generated heated debates and discussions about the emergence of yoga as a purely physical practice.

In fact, about 4 years ago the Hindu American Foundation started a campaign called “Take Yoga Back,” which aimed to address these issues of cultural appropriation. They focused on helping people understand and consider the roots of the practice. This video about taking back yoga will give you a look further inside some of their concerns.

The Evolution of Yoga

Yoga in the United States and yoga in India are very different things. The reasons for practicing, along with the actual practice, can many times stand at opposite ends of the spectrum.

Based on everything I’ve read (which is a ton!), here’s one very basic and abbreviated history of modern yoga:

While yoga is very old, it almost died (so sad!). Luckily, in the early 1900’s an Indian man named Krishnamacharya came along and saved it. He is known by many as the father of modern yoga. He started his yoga practice as a child with his father and eventually traveled all over India studying yoga philosophy. He went on to teach others, including some of the most well known practitioners: B.K.S. Iyengar, T.K.V. Desikachar, Pattabi Jois, and Indra Devi. He revived many of the lost teachings of yoga and also set a precedent by accepting women as his students. He lived to be a 100…(I’m attributing his long life to yoga, naturally!)

Around the time India gained its independence from Great Britain (1947), Indians weren’t taking classes at institutes. Instead they preferred small classes and private tutorials geared to meet their individual needs. Practicing yoga in studios was a western fad, and many Indians didn’t appreciate the way Americans popularized group yoga classes. In fact, “The concept of yoga as a large social trend is foreign to most Indians, as is the American fixation on a particular school or lineage.”

Yoga continued to gain even greater momentum in the U.S. in the 60’s, along with the flower children and The Beatles, who made a trip to an ashram in India for meditation. This contributed to the surge of foreigners traveling to India to practice at ashrams and bring teachings back to the United States. Today, millions of people all over the world practice yoga.

So, what IS yoga?

Yoga isn’t religion. Yoga isn’t flexibility. Yoga isn’t poses.

Yoga is body, mind, and spirit.

Depending on who you ask, the word yoga itself stems from the Sanskrit word, yuj, meaning “union,” “to join,” “bind” or “yoke” (as in oxen). Yoga is said to embody a combination (or yoking together) of the physical, mental, and spiritual practices directed at attaining peace, with the ultimate goal being moksha, or liberation from suffering and ignorance.

A part of this union of practices is outlined in the 8 limbs of yoga (ashtanga) organized in India by Pantanjali over 2,000 years ago: the yamas, niyamas, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyani, and samadhi. Each of these limbs contains a unique part of yoga--from ethical standards to self discipline, postures to breath control, sensory transcendance to concentration, and meditation to ecstasy. When one is able to reach the 8th limb of samadhi, they are in a state of liberation and have reached the end of their yogic path, peace. In The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (an ancient yoga guidebook), yoga is defined as "the stilling of the changing states of the mind"

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What do we think?

Yoga is for everyone.

We agree with the folks over at MindBodyGreen, you don’t have to be flexible, slim, or decked out in full lululemon to practice yoga! Even respected gurus and long time yogis understand that yoga is a path (whether it’s an eightfold path or four paths). There are different stages on that path, and incorporating the physical asana practice may be a start on that path for some.

 Yoga is whatever is right for you.

While the origins of its practice in India might be interwoven with Hindu and Buddhist tradition, a yogi doesn’t need to study or practice those religions to make yoga a part of their life.

Yoga can be used with a variety of goals in mind: fitness, increased flexibility, greater spiritual connection, cultivation of peace & calm, meditation/focus, or whatever you find it providing you.

Here’s our thing: we know the history, but we also like to travel and experience different aspects of the yoga practice as they are made ready to us. We understand the drive of yogis to travel overseas to find their yoga in its birthplace, or at least a beautiful location that offers no distractions. We hope practitioners are mindful and seek to educate themselves about the history of yoga, whatever they believe.

Yoga will continue to evolve. It is, and will always be, a different practice for everyone. And that goes for each time you practice.

When you practice yoga regularly you start to see the world differently. You start to see yourself differently...and more clearly. And sometimes that is the greatest version of peace there is. Namaste.

Shalom Bikram Yoga: Finding Home Away from Home

A couple of weeks ago, I bid a temporary farewell to my regular Vinyasa practice. It was a bittersweet departure as I reminisced over the growth, sweat, ups, downs, and upside-downs of my practice in the last six years. For the first time I thought about the actual time I clocked in various studios. I figured I practiced an average of five classes a week for six years… That’s 1,560 hours spent on my mat, the equivalent of 65 days spent doing yoga around the clock.

“We are what we repeatedly do.” – Aristotle

When we practice at a studio, we form innocent attachments without realizing it: to teachers, the space, the energy, the rituals. Without knowing it, we begin to long for a particular fragrance of incense; we find comfort in the sounds of the heater kicking on; we take delight in the quiet serenity of a studio away from the chaos of home.

When I taught my Vinyasa classes, I often closed class reminding students that their practice is something they create; it’s something that is always inside of them, waiting for them, always there with unconditional support. They say you teach what you most need to learn.

I moved to Tel Aviv, Israel with no specific direction or plan and I was okay with that. But in the absence of a studio or a yoga community, I was feeling a little naked. The practice that once kept me planted and warm felt lost and rootless. Of course I had done the research and I knew where the studios were in Tel Aviv, but there were not any studios offering the type of Vinyasa I was habituated to.

But when people are uncomfortable they find quick ways to adapt, and my discomfort slowly evolved into excitement at the brand new direction my yoga would take; I felt at once the exhilaration of untapped potential. I was a curious and anxious beginner again.

Which is exactly how I found myself in the oven of a Bikram studio one evening, melting on my mat, trying to decipher cues spoken in Hebrew (which I do not speak), watching my face grower pinker with every asana, and absolutely loving it.

I had done Bikram-style classes before, but they were few and far in between and I was typically seeking them out just to detoxify in the heat. The discipline of the sequence was alien to me, and the lengthy time holding the asanas was genuinely challenging in its novelty. Yet, it still felt like yoga – it was still the same breath. It was beautifully exotic and innate at the same time.

At the end of my first Bikram class in Tel Aviv, I closed my practice the way I always do: thumbs at third-eye, bowed forward, eyes closed. And I couldn’t help but smile at the sensations whirling through my body and mind, as they were identical to those I felt closing my practice at home.

It didn’t matter that the studio smelled different or that the teaching style felt foreign in multiple ways. It was unimportant that I didn’t know anyone in the studio and that they didn’t know me back. I had everything I needed: body, breath, and mat.

As humans we will face the urge to attach to our environments time and time again in the search for grounding, but yoga teaches us that the real stability resides in the Self. Wherever we go, the Self will follow. That is dependable and unchanging.

Now my practice is trekking an unpaved road, constantly reminding me that yoga is an inward journey. But so long as I do my practice, I know that all is coming.

 

Feature image via: Robert Brauneis

Stay Loose: 4 Stretches to do During a Long Flight

We all know that sitting still for too long is terrible for our bodies and when we add air pressure and different time zones, it’s no wonder we start our holiday or business trip foggy headed, tight and sore backs, and fatigued. We want to arrive refreshed and limber. The only way to do this is to always remember to keep hydrated and to keep the blood flowing through the body. Even if you are not prone to Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), it’s always a good idea to move your body during a long haul flight. With Qantas and Singapore Airlines offering 19 hour flights, you could do with some help!

I’m going to give you some airplane exercises to help prevent DVT and to keep the blood flowing to your body and your mind, allowing you to arrive alert, loose-limbed and ready to roll. Please listen to your own body and only do an exercise that feels good.

 

1. Reach forward and place your hands on the chair in front of you. Inhale and bring your chest forward, exhale and curl your belly in. Repeat for 5 slow breaths.

2. Place your hands either side of your chair. Inhale, lift your shoulders slowly, exhale and lower slowly. Repeat 10 times. Add in some shoulder rolls if you're still tight.

3. Balance your body on the chair with a straight spine. Raise one knee and place your hands underneath. Roll your ankle both ways x 10. Swap sides.

4. Sit straight in your chair. Cross your left ankle over the right knee. Gently press just above the left knee. Hold and breathe for 5 slow breaths. Swap sides.

 

I hope you have a wonderful flight and arrive safe and refreshed.


 

 

Victoria is a Yoga/Mindfulness and Meditation Teacher. She is passionate about bringing Yoga to every body, every where, no matter their circumstances. Victoria is an Author and designer of the Yoga Card Deck series, including a plane yoga card deck.

 

 

Image via: Sara Adkins

 

 

 

 

 

What Bikram Yoga is like in Nairobi, Kenya

Yoga At Bikram, Nairobi

This is the place to be when you want to do Yoga in Kenya. It is such a superb environment that will attract even those who are faint at heart when it comes to practicing yoga. At Bikram, the place is normally heated at 40 degrees C in order to enable the participants to have an enabling environment when it comes to practicing the 26 postures which are practiced there. This has made it to be nicknamed

“The Hot Yoga” joint.

Bikram yoga is the brain child of a Mr.Bikram Choudbury, who started practicing yoga at age 4 years. Apart from Nairobi, Bikram Yoga studios are found globally. In total, there are over 2000 Bikram yoga studios globally. In Africa, there are 4 studios found in, Casablanca in Morocco, 2 in South Africa, and the Nairobi one.

What made this Bikram studio spread so fast? Mr. Bikram introduced it to the West through actress Shirley Maclaine, a Hollywood actress, and President Richard Nixon. The president granted Bikram a green card in the USA after he healed his knee with Yoga. From there, Bikram Yoga became popular in the USA and Europe.

Celebrities who have enjoyed Bikram yoga include Lady Gaga, David Beckham, and George Clooney.

Who Started Bikram In Nairobi

This is a center which was opened by a Mr. Karim and Emma Day at a cost of $100,000. It stands on a 1,400 square room.

How does it operate?

The Bikram Yoga class can accommodate up to 70 students, but it is restricted to 30 students a session. The experienced students are placed at the front row while the learners or new comers occupy the back rows so that they can copy the professionals.

What Happens Before The Yoga Classes?

Before you dream of going to a Bikram Yoga class, make sure to:

 To bring a bottle of water;

 Wear something that is close fitting. One made from lycra is ideal in order to avoid it sticking onto your body when you are all sweaty.

 3 hours before classes, make sure to eat a light meal to avoid going to the class on a full stomach;

Prior to going to the class, make sure you have taken enough water to make sure you remain hydrated during the Bikram yoga session;

 Arrive on time in order to get yourself set by the instructor. They are very strict and they don’t allow latecomers in.

When you walk into the room, you will feel welcomed. The wooden paneled floor will feel cool on your feet as you walk into the steamy Bikram yoga studio. There are 4 mirrors which will give you a reflection of yourself and other participants.

You have to roll your mat, and set your towel just beside yourself. The next step is the breathing exercises. When you breath in, moist, cool air is sent deep into your lungs. From there, a warm up session starts.

Why Do Bikram Yoga?

This is a type of yoga that will help you in eliminating that excessive weight you are carrying around. During a session, you can burn between 600 -1000 calories depending on your hard work. The postures, which are referred to as asanas and the heat, are a fantastic combination to trim and tone the body.

With Bikram Yoga, your muscles, ligaments, tendons, organs and glands in the body will be worked out thus improving the body system and helping to prevent diseases. In short, Bikram Yoga gives participants a whole health lifestyle.

Rest assured that, when you go to the Bikram yoga studio classes, it de-stresses. This happens during the deep breathing in which, your mind is controlled, making you relaxed and having a deep calmness that you will carry with you even outside the yoga class.

Enroll for the nearest Bikram Yoga class in your area.


 

Bio: this post is brought to you by Lisa from Auvisa.org. Auvisa.org was founded in 2011 by migration lawyers and it provides consular service to Australia. Lisa is a food nutritionist who has 6 years practicing food and nutrition to her credit before joining Auvisa.org.

Featured Image: Ninara

Top 10 beaches in India for Yoga Enthusiasts

I’m sure like me, when you think of a yoga retreat India comes to your mind, which is quite natural because that’s where it all began… I’d often wondered what the word ‘yoga’ meant.  Yoga has its origins in India from the ‘Yuj’ in Sanskrit, which means to unite. Yoga is your path to unite with the spirit of the Universe and its practice brings rejuvenation to the mind, body & soul.

Yoga on a beach? Sounds promising indeed…

The beach setting is idyllic with the sound of the ocean waves gently crashing against the stones, the salt sea air invigorating your lungs, and the soft breeze keeping you cool throughout your Yoga session.

Now it’s time to go for a Yoga holiday in the famed beaches of India…

Cherai Beach, Kerala

cherai-beach

The golden beach of Kerala where the golden rays of Sun play with the blue waters of the ocean. The beach, located near Cochin is lined with luscious green coconut groves and paddy fields. The sandy beach is a unique combination of the sea and the backwaters.  The peaceful, rustic setting is  ideal for spiritual practice of Yoga. Go in for total rejuvenation at the Cherai Beach Resorts & Ayurmana Spa, two prominent Yoga retreats to look out for at the Cherai beach.

Image by  s_smile4ever via Flickr

Anjuna Beach

Anjuna-BeachAnjuna Beach is popular with foreign tourists. The beach is marked by an unusual rocky formation overlying a cove of white sand and black rock that juts out into the Sea. The stunning natural beauty of the beach with swaying palms trees and soft white sands overwhelms you. Pamper yourself at the Satsanga Retreat, Yoga Magic Eco Resort & the Purple Valley Yoga Resort here at the Anjuna beach.

Image by David Jones via Flickr

Sernabatim Beach

Sernabatim-BeachDiscover the sugar ‘n sand beach of Sernabatim in Colva coastline and its glistening waters. The incessant waves create a calming effect which is ideal for the practice of Yoga. For those interested in yoga practice, the Baywatch Resort & the Beach House offers a range of innovative and all-inclusive wellness programmes.

Image by  Ryan Brown via Flickr

Varkala Beach

varkkala-beachStunning cliffs form a perfect backdrop for the Varkala beach lying on the outskirts of Thiruvnanthapuram, the capital city of Kerala. A dip in its waters is believed to purge the body of all impurities & the beach is believed to have medicinal and curative properties. Apart from all this Varkala is renowned for its Yoga retreats. Kadaltheeram Beach Resort, Palm Tree Heritage Resort, Sharanagati Yogahaus etc. to name a few...

Image by Gunnar Geir Petursson via Flickr

Kovalam, Kerala

kovalam-beachWith incredible sunrises and the play of colours of the water, sand and greenery, this long stretch of white sandy beach running alongside the Malabar Coast—Kovalam beach has been Kerala’s most popular destination for years. The beach is a union of three coves, namely the Hawa Beach, the Lighthouse beach and the Samudra Beach. Heal your body & soul doing Yoga at the retreats like Beach & Lake Ayurvedic Resort, Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Manaltheeram Ayurveda Beach Resort.

Image by Yogendra Joshi via Flickr

Marina Beach, Chennai

marina-beachMarina Beach is arguably one of the best beach destinations in South India. The mornings here are full of people doing yoga. Do your suryanamaskar to the actual sun at the Marina beach. It’s really inspiring to watch so many people practice their yoga here. Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre at the Marina Beach is one of the best destination spas and yoga retreats in India.

Image by Gokulnath via Flickr

Juhu Beach, Mumbai

Juhu-Beach-MumbaiKnown to be the one of the most-visited beaches of India Juhu Beach has a peaceful atmosphere and scenic beauty as its unique features.  The sunset is a dream-like vision for anyone who visits the beach. Yoga Sessions at Juhu Beach are conducted by different groups.Try out the Nityam Yoga Centre & Yoga Shala for some awesome Yoga…

Image by Praveen Raj via Flickr

RK Beach, Visakapatnam

rk-beachThe Rama Krishna Mission Beach is one of the most popular beach parks in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. The cool ocean breeze, the blue skies & the golden sands weave their magic on you as you walk on the beach sands. The beach is a perfect setting for doing Yoga. Just lie down and de-stress your mind and feel the calmness seep in. Bay Leaf - Ayurveda Spa & Resort is one Yoga destination not to be missed here.

Image by Surendra via Flickr

Palolem Beach, Goa

 

Palolem-Beach-GoaPalolem Beach is the most idyllic beach in Goa surrounded by a thick forest of coconut palms.  This is a unique opportunity to experience Yoga in untouched and idyllic surroundings far away from city lights. Bhakti Kutir, Trimurti Yoga Goa Retreat, Lotus Yoga Retreat , Bamboo Yoga Retreat etc. are the reputed Yoga centres in Palolem  Beach.

Image by Isaac via Flickr

Fort Kochi

fort-kochiCome and practice yoga at a silent beach in the countryside of Kerala. Nestled amidst coconut trees, green bushes and softly lashing seawaters, the Fort Kochi beach happens to be the favorite haunt of one and all. Veda Wellness Ayurveda Spa and Yoga Center, Elephant Pass Ayurveda & Yoga Retreat, Sanatana Yoga Vidyapeetam, Sree Yoga Darshan etc. are few of the Yoga retreats you can check out…

Image by Aleksandr Zykov via Flickr

Now that you have a run-down on the beaches for Yoga which helps you to re-establish contact with your true-self and nature just start planning your Yoga holiday…

Author Bio:

Sunu Phililp is the Inbound Marketing and Creative Head for Paradise Holidays, Cochin - a Kerala based tour operator. She loves reading, exploring new places and trying out new cuisines!

 

Featured image: Jesús Pérez Pacheco

How to Make Travel as Rejuvenating as Possible

As an international yoga teacher most of my travel is for work, but I’ve found a few key things that help me stay stress free while traveling for work or for pleasure.

Food

Irene13This is a big one on my list, because when I eat well I have more energy and find it easier to demonstrate poses while teaching. This can mean staying at a resort that cooks healthy and organic meals, or finding a hotel near a marketplace where you can shop for yourself and stock up on healthy buys. When choosing vacation spots or places to host yoga retreats healthy food is definitely a priority.
 

Exercise

Since we all enjoy different forms of exercise, it is important to find a place that suits your needs. Whether this means choosing a hotel with a pool or gym, or a resort near a beach or that offers yoga classes. Even if you don’t normally exercise, taking time to walk and sight see can be a great way to tire yourself out, making sure you rest well even with a time change.

Rest

Irene8When it comes to traveling for vacation many of us try to pack in as much as possible, but remember to leave time and space to relax so that you can really enjoy yourself. I need time alone in order to clear my mind. Sometimes I read or write, other times I just nap, but it’s important for me to book my time wisely, leaving time for me.

Ease of Travel

When traveling for work I don’t always have a lot of say in how or where I travel, but when I do I make sure to choose wisely. This means direct flights whenever possible, adding an extra day when the time change is more than 7 hours, picking cities that are easy to navigate, and researching the places I travel before I go. When I travel for pleasure, depending on the duration of my trip I try to limit overall travel time (to and from airport as well as time on the plane) whenever I can so that I can spend my time off on the beach instead of in the car or on the plane.

Location 

Irene3One of my favorite places that I have been to in the last year is Vista Celestial in Costa Rica. This boutique hotel is perfect for a luxurious retreat with an active lifestyle. The food is all locally sourced and organic, much of it being grown on site. Locally grown coffee is roasted and ground fresh every morning, which is a huge plus for me! With a pool, jungle trails, yoga platforms, and a private beach nearby, there are tons of activities to stay fit whether you like to surf or practice yoga.

The Great Outdoors

Nature has its special way infusing us with energy and instilling in us a sense of wellness and relaxation.  I live in a busy urban environment so when I travel I try to pick destinations that offer the chance to escape and explore the wilderness, hike, meditate, and of course, practice Yoga.

Fun

Irene7 Although it seems obvious, remember to enjoy yourself and have fun! Put your cell phone away and just be present and enjoy every moment. Use your time to try new experiences, meet new people and enjoy life to its fullest. Making memories that last a lifetime will leave you feeling like a new person and you will return feeling recharged and ready to take on life’s challenges.

Irene Pappas - As a lover of movement, Irene is passionate about her practice. She practices both Ashtanga and Rocket yoga, as she enjoys both a traditional practice as well as a spontaneous one. Not only does she practice yoga but she studies with hand balancers, circus performers, and contortionists to expand her own knowledge and explore the capabilities of her body.

Flexible Strength - Red Bank, NJ

Only a few spots left on our Bali Yoga Retreat!

AND only a few hours left to book at the Early Bird Discount price!

10 Day Adventure Style Yoga Retreat

Early Bird Discount Deadline: December 31st

February 28th-March 8th, 2016

Bali Header Image 2016

Life is supposed to be our greatest adventure, so why not start (or continue) that adventure with us in Bali this March! Our 10-day yoga retreat is like no one else's, complete with volunteer work, daily yoga in amazing scenic locations, temple and city visits with local guides, a hike up a mountain, and so much more!

What's the catch? There isn't one! BUT we do want you to get the best possible deal on this super cool experience, and for that you need to register by December 31st! Our Early Bird Pricing expires on January 1st, so now's the time to act!

 

What sets our Yoga Retreats apart from all the others?

Some really cool stuff....

 

TRAVEL

In addition to yoga every single day with super awesome amazing exciting teacher Alexis Novak, you'll get to see Bali like you wouldn't ever see it before. Unlike many other yoga retreats, we don't just post up in one scenic spot. Instead, we'll spend time in several locations around Bali so you can get the most out of that pricy airfare!  

bali

SEVA

Giving back to the communities that have given us amazing memories is a huge part of the Yoga Travel Tree mission. While in Bali, we'll volunteer with a local organization that lends a hand to low income and developmentally disabled children. You're sure to feel good about the impact you'll have!

Bali Volunteering Yoga Travel Tree

ADVENTURE

Hiking a mountain on a yoga retreat? Say WHAT?!

Yep, with us you'll hike Mt. Batur located in Northwest Bali. Fear not! We'll have a guide for you to depend on, and the hike is suitable for most yogis.

Bali Lake View

CULTURE

Rather than just visit a place, snap some Instagram pics, and then take off, we want our yogis to REALLY experience the culture of a location. While in Bali, we'll explore cities with local guides, check out some temples and their incredible architecture, attend a local cooking class and way more. You'll be able to take home amazing memories, new perspectives and once in a lifetime experiences along with your new profile pic.

Bali Cooking Lesson - Yoga Travel Tree

Want to know more about Bali?

Take a peek at our Yogi's Guide to Bali for everything you need to know before you travel, including cultural do's and don'ts, must see yoga destinations and how to travel safely!  

And remember, we build awesome adventures with YOU in mind.

Yoga Travel Tree was inspired by the simple idea of creating rich, meaningful yoga adventures around the world. We know from experience that both travel and yoga can be transformative experiences for the mind, body, and soul.

When you travel with us, you can rest assured that you're getting everything possible out of your trip. See you in Bali!

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ANNOUNCEMENT: Share Your Yoga Retreats & Teacher Trainings with the World!

The Yoga Travel Tree Directory is BACK!

We’re officially opening up the Yoga Travel Tree directory allowing you to share your amazing yoga retreats, yoga teacher trainings, and yoga venues with our travel-loving community!

We know first-hand how hard it is to get the word out about your yoga trips. And we also know how crazy expensive it can be to advertise on yoga portals and directories, buy Facebook and Google advertising, and get PR mentions.

This is why we’ve created three affordable listing packages for any yoga business at any stage of development to help promote your yoga experiences.

Seriously. Your local coffee shop likely gets more of your cash each month than the price of our listing packages. ;)

Here’s what we offer:

  • 1 Yoga Listing - $3/month (yep…3 bucks)
  • 3 Yoga Listing - $6/month
  • 6 Yoga Listings - $9/month

See I told you this was crazy affordable. We got you covered! However, these rates won’t last forever! Lock in these rates forever! 

But you might be wondering why we’re re-launching our directory if we offer a few retreats of our own.

 

Why re-launch our directory?

We love our yoga adventures. They are near and dear to our hearts created with an adventurous spirit. But we also know that our adventure-focused style of travel, our departure dates, and our chosen destinations aren’t for everyone. And that’s okay.

We started Yoga Travel Tree a little over two years ago with one singular mission:

Connect travel-loving yogis with meaningful yoga experiences around the world.

So that’s what we want to do. Thousands of yogis visit our site every day, but many of them are looking for the retreats and trainings that we just don’t or can’t offer.

[bctt tweet="Mission: Connect yogis with meaningful #yoga experiences around the world. Learn how:"]

We get emails every single day from yogis looking for a specific type of retreat or teacher training experience. Here’s what they ask:

  • Do you have any retreats in April? I have time off from work then.
  • I’ve always wanted to go on a retreat to Greece. Do you offer that?
  • I have unexpected vacation time coming up next week. Can you help me find a retreat to Hawaii for these dates?!
  • Do you know of any 300 hour yoga teacher trainings in Italy?
  • I’m looking to host my own retreat. Do you know any great venues in Bali that work with small yoga groups?

By opening up our site to you and sharing your awesome yoga experiences, we can serve our community even more and ultimately help more people travel the world and enjoy yoga. Win, win, win!

Our new yoga directory is pretty damn sexy (if you ask me! - I’m only a little biased ;)! Here are just a few of the awesome features...

Awesome Features

  • Vibrant, responsive design: Your listings become more engaging and eye-catching on any device.
  • Simple Search Function: Search by type of yoga experience, destination, and/or time of year. Let our search engine do the rest.
  • Direct Contact with Inquiring Yogis: Our community can contact you directly via email or by the contact form on each listing. We don’t hold them like some sites.
  • Affordable Monthly Pricing: Cancel any time and share all your yoga retreats and trainings.
  • Exclusive Business of Yoga Training: We’ve worked with hundreds of yogis and dozens of yoga businesses over the past 2 years (not to mention my decade of experience before starting Yoga Travel Tree). We’ve learned a lot and we want to help you have the most kick ass yoga business of your dreams.

 

Get Started!

2016 is going to be the year of travel for me and I hope it is for you too! Let’s work together to connect you with the yogis out there looking for exactly what you offer.

Click Here to select your preferred yoga package and start adding your yoga experiences today!

The process is simple. Here’s how it works:

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5 Under the Radar Gems of Eastern Europe

Much of Eastern Europe remains a lesser-known secret – with barely any tourist scene and little discussion of its merits. Despite this, it is a place of exquisite natural beauty and fascinating history, so why not devote some time to uncovering its mysteries? Here are our top five under the radar gems of Eastern Europe. [bctt tweet="Much of Eastern Europe remains a lesser-known secret."]

Skopje, Macedonia

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Skopje is the capital of the Republic of Macedonia, despite how tiny it is! It's an eclectic combination of modern quirky buildings and Ottoman-era architecture. Take some time to visit the Čaršija – an old Turkish bazaar, and the Tvrdina Kale Fortress which dates back to the fifth century, to get a feel for the history of the place. Then spend some time on the modern side of town, taking in things like the Warrior on a Horse statue in Ploštad Makedonija. This is a cities of opposites – of Vegas like extravagance, but tempered by a rich and ancient history.

Thanks to its status as up-and-coming, it remains one of the cheaper cities in Europe, so take advantage of this and try the local food. It can be tricky to access by train, but there are plenty of buses available. Plus, when you're done with city life, head out to the nearby nature reserve – Jasen – for a chance to encounter European Lynx, the Balkan Chamois and Golden Eagles. It's a great way to see the less built upon side of Macedonia, and perhaps even spend some time adventuring via kayak, paraglider and even spelunking too.

 

Sibiu, Romania

(Pictured Above)

Set in Transylvania, Sibiu was deemed the European Capital of Culture in 2007. Despite this, it remains on the quiet side, never quite reaching the heights of Prague or Budapest. The city itself dates back to at least the 12th century, being one of seven walled citadels built by the Transylvanian Saxons. This lengthy history means it’s a city packed with culture and stories – with medieval walls, 17th century buildings and quaint cobblestone streets. Of particular interest are the three 15th century towers, still standing tall amidst the buildings. Then there's Brukenthal Palace, built in the 1700s in baroque style and now home to an art museum. If religious history appeals to you, Sibiu has a lot to offer. From Orthodox churches to Jewish synagogues, there's a rich and varied history to explore here.

Heading out of the city and you can explore Marginimea Sibiului, eighteen villages that carefully preserve the traditional life of Romania. It's also within day trip distance of the magnificent Horezu Monastery, a UNESCO world heritage site renowned for its intricacy and impressive collections. So whether it's staying in the city, or exploring the area, Sibiu has something for everyone.

 

Mljet, Croatia

Image via Yacht Rent

Mljet is a small island in the Adriatic, and is home to the Mljet National Park. Said to be the island which transfixed Odysseus for seven years, it's easy to see why. The park itself is accessible via foot or bike, and is home to a small Benedictine monastery that dates back to the 12th century. Abandoned in 1869, it was subsequently turned into a hotel and is now a restaurant. There's also the town of Polače, which the remains of a 5th century church, a Roman palace and an early Christian basilica. Still, it's mostly nature which is the draw here, with the National Park being a beautiful, shaded forest with two lakes. You can experience these by circling the edges, or potentially even swimming in them! Home to fallow deer, wild boar and eagle owls, its an enticing place with rugged coastlines and olive groves.

Mjlet is also very close to the well known Dubrovnik, meaning it's great as part of a larger holiday too.

Image via www.Yacht-Rent.com

 

Olomouc, Czech Republic

Image via Mike Gabelmann

Less known than Prague, Olomouc boasts an equally thrilling history, with beautiful squares in its own right. Home to the country's second oldest university, it remains a thriving student town, meaning it has a good night-life and is a hive of activity – but often, not tourist activity.

With a huge Gothic cathedral, the Holy Trinity Column and the fantastic Archdiocesan Museum, Olomouc is bursting with culture and history. Unlike some cities however, this isn't all it has to it. Thanks to the young population and the university, there's fast train travel to it and great brew pubs. With local jazz clubs, hidden restaurants and home-made speciality beers, you'll delight in the modernity of such an old city.

 

Berat, Albania

Image via Jordan Pickett

Finally, there's Berat. Albania itself is one of the more overlooked Easten European countires, and Berat is a jewel in this gorgeous country's crown. It's on the UNESCO world heritage sites list, and is home to hordes of white Ottoman houses, giving it the nickname of the 'town of a thousand windows'. With minarets, the dome of the university and tiled roofs galore, it's a quaint mix of a variety of styles, from a modern university to the bridges built in the 1700s.

One of the must watch of the town is the Kala, a castle dating back to the 13th century – with some aspects that even go back to the 4th. It's a steep climb, but not only do you get beautiful views, but access to the Onufri Iconography Museum, featuring artefacts from many churches in the region. As well as this, there are many byzantine churches, Ottoman-era mosques and a beautiful waterfall for those craving nature.

 

So instead of heading on a place alongside everyone else this summer, why not scope out these hidden gems, and explore the side of Eastern Europe you never knew about before?

 

By Edward Francis and BalticTravelCompany.com!