The future of international yoga retreats
What happened to all the international yoga retreats we loved to visit when travel was easy? They’re still there…and they can’t wait to welcome you back! By Gwendoline Ferreira
With many international borders closed and travel options limited, what impact has this had on overseas yoga retreats that depended on visitors from abroad?
Yoga practitioners have travelled to practice their yoga for decades; international travel is almost always part of our dream yoga retreat.
We choose to go away from our own country and join a retreat, or a training, to meet like-minded people, deepen our practice, maybe start our journey as a yoga teacher or simply to relax and disconnect.
The simple actions of packing our bags and going overseas help us to open our minds as we prepare ourselves to receive new information, change our perspectives, or create a new routine and fill up our brain with amazing new memories.
So with international travel limited we have all had to adapt our plans and dreams.
The declaration of a pandemic last year resulted in unprecedented restrictions in our daily lives and we all had to re-think our travel plans. Overseas holidays were cancelled for the most part — always disappointing on a personal level, but especially if you were aiming at getting a specific certification to maybe start a new job or career, or to finally relax after an arduous year.
On a broader level, we may also wonder what is happening to all these businesses that were ready to welcome you during your yoga holiday or training. How are they surviving? Are they being impacted by the limitation on travel?
The answer is yes they are.
Yoga retreat centres and studios have been challenged to completely rethink the way they facilitate classes, retreats and trainings.
Everybody had to find a way to adapt their business, while maintaining their core values and supporting their students. The most obvious solution to this travel limitation has been to follow what the vast majority of other industries have been doing — transition to the world of online offerings.
At Yoga Bliss Lembongan, we also needed to adapt our offerings as our students come from all over the world. We have been organising and hosting yoga retreats and courses since 2016 on the beautiful island of Nusa Lembongan (Bali), where our main focus has always been to make yoga accessible to everyone.
When the pandemic was first announced, and travel curtailed, our initial priority was to first help the local community and use our community project fund to support them.
Yoga Bliss is proud of being locally owned and of participating in local projects since its creation. For each teacher training student, some 6% of the price of the course is redirected to our community projects fund. This helps support the community, buying groceries for the people who need it the most, keeping the island clean, and supporting wildlife research.
Fortunately, studying online, especially for continuing education courses, is a beautiful alternative in times where travel is severely constrained.
In fact, we are glad that the practice and teaching of yoga has become more accessible to those who were not able to travel overseas.
Of course, there is a downside: travelling, and especially holistic travel, has always been about meeting people, living in a different culture, experiencing new things and perhaps changing our perspectives.
Although we do believe that a lot of information can be transmitted online, there are some aspects that can only be experienced in-person.
It’s true that we can ‘connect’ with people virtually through our screens, but we can all agree that it is different. All the feelings and emotions that emerge during a yoga retreat — the laughs, the hugs, the energy — are irreplaceable online.
Staying for a period of time away from your family, your environment, and your habits, to dive deep into the study of your own body and mind is so empowering.
On top of that, by travelling to a different country you are supporting different communities. The local businesses here in Nusa Lembongan and Bali seem to have hit the pause button, waiting for the tourists to return. A lot of Balinese people are waiting for the government to allow tourists back so they can start their business again.
It is in this idea of supporting our students and our community that we have tried to create something that provides the best of both worlds.
Our combined in-person and online approach to a 200-hour yoga teacher training offers the ability to learn and integrate all theory at your own pace, while still allowing the opportunity to connect and practice with others who are on a similar journey once travel is more possible.
The online portion of this blended training consists of anatomy, philosophy, Yin, and Restorative Yoga, and offers so much more than just introductory concepts and material.
The second part of this course will be held in our retreat centre in Nusa Lembongan, Bali. During this unique in-person immersion, students forge friendships for life, develop their understanding of their own body and of the practice of yoga, but most of all create their own community.
So if you wish to become a yoga teacher, don’t hold off on your dreams because of current restrictions. If you want to start learning today, and also support the local Balinese community and experience what it is to join an immersive training, then take a look at our 200-hour yoga teacher training. It’s the best of both worlds.