Bali Retreat Recap

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Wow! We just wrapped up our amazing Heal Yourself yoga and meditation retreat with the lovely Bee Bosnak in Ubud, Bali. This retreat was nothing short of transformational and we are so grateful for everyone who helped us put bring it to life—and to our guests who listened to their intuition and made the journey to Bali. There is something deep and powerful that happens when a large group of people come together to heal and deepen their practice. We tap into the collective consciousness and create something that is so much greater than ourselves.

As many of you know—or have heard—Bali is a very magical place. It was in Bali 3 years ago, when I first saw the potential for yoga to become a career path. After this first visit, I signed up for a yoga teacher training. And it was in Bali, last summer, when I turned the idea of Alta Retreats into a business. This is an island where dreams really do come true and where you can manifest whatever you desire. I had breakfast this morning with a major teacher in the meditation space who called Bali a “Karma accelerator.” Whatever karma you have coming to you in life, good or bad, will show up 20 times faster in Bali. This definition really encapsulates the process that I go through every time I come to Bali.

This time around, I enjoyed watching Bali work its “magic” on our 25 guests from all around the world. I finally understood the power of this place and I look forward to bringing groups here for years to come. We’re already set to come back in October for a soul masterclass with life coach and meditation instructor Ryan Weiss!

This was our first retreat with Bee Bosnak and she really blew our minds. If you live in NYC and have the opportunity to take her class at Equinox, go do it! Bee’s passion for yoga is contagious and comes across so clearly in her teaching. I would describe her style as elegant, with deep reverence for the practice. The gorgeous open-air yoga shala at Naya was the perfect home-base for our practices and workshops. I’d find myself in downward dog, looking out into the jungle, hearing the light patter of rain and feeling an immense sense of gratitude for this practice, for Bali and for getting to spend time with gifted teachers like Bee.

Bali is such an important healing place and I really enjoyed bringing some local healers in to share their gifts. On Sunday we had an Agni Hotra Fire ceremony with Balinese priests. This is a traditional Hindu practice used to transmute negative energy and set powerful intentions. We also enjoyed an amazing breath work meditation, an ecstatic dance session and a tibetan bowl sound healing—all led by some talented local healers. Finally, on Thursday we had a private ceremony with the High Priestess Ida, who is an important Balinese healer and oracle. She poured holy water over us and gave us blessings. This was indeed an enormous healing journey for all of us and I know that this is just the beginning. I look forward to seeing the transformations in the weeks and months to come.

Now I’m just enjoying the sunshine here at the beach in Canggu. I’m still buzzing from that retreat and eagerly awaiting the next one! Bee and I look forward to hosting 2 more Heal Yourself retreats this year. One in Andalucia, Spain Aug 13-19 and one in Tulum, Mexico Nov 11-17! Be sure to sign up before the early bird registration deadlines end!

Love you all. Namaste.

Kauai and Huna Magic

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Aloha! I’ve been hanging out in Kauai for the past couple weeks and it has been nothing short of blissful. This sleepy island paradise is one of the most beautiful, lush and untouched places I’ve ever been and is so rich with culture and spiritual depth. There is a magnetic force that draws people here and I happily got sucked in! Being here and experiencing the way people live their lives and take their time has truly inspired me. Is everyone here doing yoga and meditation full time or is there something about the “aloha spirit” that allows people to be more present. I always considered LA to be a pretty laid-back place to live, but Kauai is on a whole other level! I’m letting my mind and my body take it all in—and I’m starting to fully grasp what it means to “go with the flow.”

The house that I’m staying in is built on sacred land that was used by the Hawaiian royals as a birthing site. I’ve become fascinated by Hawaiian spirituality, known as Huna. I have developed a new daily practice that helps me to integrate with the spirit of this land and is so powerful! Ho’oponopono is an ancient Hawaiian prayer of forgiveness that is used to essentially make things right. You can apply it to any situation or person, and it is really easy to use! It goes like this:

“I Love You, I’m Sorry, Please Forgive Me, Thank You.” 

The prayer can be used as a mantra during your meditation or can be applied as needed. Now, you may be wondering why you should apologize to and forgive a person or situation that hurt you. If they wronged you, isn’t it their responsibility to make things right again? If you follow the belief that we are all one, ‘you are in me and I am in you,’ the yogic union, then you are actually responsible for all hurt and grievances that you observe in the world. This may seem like a radical viewpoint, but from another perspective, why waste your precious time and energy holding a grudge? Why program your subconscious mind to keep attracting negative people and events? The past is the past, and you can’t change what happened but you can decide how you want to live your life from this point on.

Forgiveness is an important practice in every major religion and spiritual group. But there’s something about Ho’oponopono that goes a step further and into the realm of reality bending. Thirty years ago, Dr. Hew Len, a clinical psychologist and teacher of Ho’oponopono, took on the task of treating an entire ward of mentally ill criminals using the power of this simple prayer.

“No one wanted the job I did with the criminally insane. They were averaging about one psychologist a month. But I got asked. We had about 25-30 people. Half of them would be in shackles at the ankles or the wrists because they were dangerous. They could either kick you or slam you. Everyone would walk with their back toward the wall so that they wouldn’t get struck. They had no family visits. No one could leave the building. A year and a half later there was none of that. There were people going out on bus rides. Nobody in shackles. The level of medication dropped. What did I do?  I worked on myself. I took 100% responsibility.” – Dr. Hew Len, Shamanic Wisdomkeepers

Dr. Hew Len’s story is so inspiring and contains a lesson for each and every one of us. To change the outer world, we must first begin by working on ourselves.

“The Hawaiian tradition teaches that all life is connected.  Ho’oponopono is, therefore, not only a way of healing ourselves, but others and our world as well.” – Timothy Freke, Shamanic Wisdomkeepers

Imagine the possibilities that this practice contains for your own life and for the world at large. Using Ho’oponopono has really opened my eyes and has allowed me to let go of things much faster. I look forward to going deeper with this practice and exploring other facets of Huna during my stay in Kauai. Aloha for now, love and light.

“I Love You, I’m Sorry, Please Forgive Me, Thank You.” 

Writers’ Retreats and Living the “Dream”: Interview with Jen Grisanti

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We are pleased to feature a special one-on-one interview with Story Consultant Jen Grisanti. Jen is the host of our upcoming Change Your Story, Change Your Life Writing and Yoga retreat in Nicaragua in May.

Jen is a writing instructor for NBC’s Writers on the Verge, former studio executive, and author of Story Line: Finding Gold In Your Life Story, TV Writing Tool Kit: How To Write a Script That Sells, and her latest book, Change Your Story, Change Your Life.

Since launching her consulting firm, Jen Grisanti Consultancy, Inc., Jen has worked with over 800 writers specializing in television, features and novels. Under her guidance, seventy-five of her clients have been staffed as writers on television shows, forty have sold pilots, and five of those pilots have gone to series.

Alta Retreats: Can you tell us a little bit about Jen Grisanti Consultancy, Inc.?

Jen Grisanti: Yes! I started Jen Grisanti Consultancy, Inc. 9 years ago, and it is a writers’ consultancy where writers pay me a fee per project to basically have their own private studio executive. I am a 12 year studio executive and I’ve been a writing instructor for NBC for the last 9 years. My business is all about making the dream happen for writers. Taking a writer from non-working, to creating a writing portfolio and helping to elevate their writing so that they can staff, sell pilots, and prepare for being a working writer.

AR: Tell us more about NBC’s Writers on the Verge.

JG: So Writers on the Verge is a diversity writing program that has been in existence for 10 years. Every May we receive about 2000 submissions and narrow it down to 8 select writers who then go through a 12 week bootcamp program which is all planned around preparing them for staffing, selling their pilots, and creating a career as a working writer.

AR: Can you share a client success story?

JG: Well, I’ve had 43 clients sell pilots. There are so many stories I could go into! One of my early on success stories came to me as a writer in his mid-30’s—great writer with a career—but coming in at a very challenging time for writers. His best friend was a diversity writer that I began working with and eventually they brought me a couple of scripts they had been working on together. I worked with them together on three scripts and UTA loved two of the three scripts. So, we worked on creating a fourth script, they got into UTA, and then four days days later they were staffed on Lie To Me and everything just aligned. They were on Lie to Me, Army Wives, Narcos, Shooter, Animal Kingdom… and what is so fascinating about their story is everything that had happened was first created on a vision board. Which aligns with the whole spiritual aspect of all of my major client success stories. The number one ingredient is belief that it is going to happen. I work with writers almost equally on both craft and the emotional part of believing in their talent.

 

AR: Do you ever prescribe yoga and meditation to your clients?

JG: Oh yeah. I definitely believe that both practices—or any practice that forces you to have internal time to connect with self—are tremendous outlets for writing.

AR: Who would benefit the most from your upcoming writing and yoga retreat in Nicaragua?

JG: This retreat is definitely not just for screenwriters. It is a retreat for anyone who is interested in creating the type of life they want to be living—which goes in hand with yoga and mediation. So it is a wonderful experience for anyone who has an idea and is wondering what platform to go to with that idea, and how to take it from a seed to a real possibility. This experience is for anyone who wants to dive deeper into story and understand how to communicate their own story, as well as for the screenwriter wanting to complete their script or take it to the next level.

The whole reason I go to retreats is for transformation. And the community is a large part of what makes that transformation. Surrounding yourself with people who are working on their own transformation helps you find solidarity. Then doing the emotional exercises through the writing, through the yoga and through the self awareness, brings you into your purpose. I’ll never forget when I went on the Tulum retreat. I would ask myself every single day, “what do I want from this?” And that is a huge part of the writing process, defining what it is you want.

AR: How would this retreat benefit a writer?

JG: There is something magical and transformational that happens when you are away and are talking about your story, understanding your story and having the time to listen to the stories of others. This sheds light on what you have going on. The practice intertwines with the writing because during the practice you are processing all that you’re learning, just with yourself, moving through the practice of yoga. This really helps you to know what you have to say as a result of what you’ve gone through in your life and now you’ve been given this framework to move through that. So the practice of yoga and meditation allows you time to process what you’re learning and then it moves toward the outcome.

The yoga community attracts the type of person who really wants to move to the next level, both spiritual and physically. As we evolve in the practice, we evolve in life, and it’s the same with writing. But you have to be willing to really go inside. The gift of yoga is that it is going to take the wall down, which will elevate the writing process.

 

AR: What are some of the healing properties of writing?

JG: A large part of what I do is narrative therapy. The stories we tell ourselves about what is going on can get in the way of our success. A lot of what I do is helping writers do the emotional work with their healing by taking it to the page so that they can move past their own blocks that are getting in the way of their success. If you ask yourself, “why am I not a working writer?” therein lies your answers. Is it because you don’t have a writing routine? Do you not have a portfolio? Are you afraid to ask your contact to read your script? Do you believe in yourself? Because if you don’t believe in yourself, how is anyone else supposed to believe in you? So it’s really about identifying your wounds and how those blocks are getting in your way. Once you get a grasp on your wounds, you can begin healing. It is through healing that you begin to understand your narrative and find confidence in your story.

AR: What is the process that you use with clients?

JG: So I have a story system that I developed through the writing of my book Story Line: Finding Gold in Your Life Story. I recognized my strengths as an analyst and extracted a formula to pass on to my writers so that they can hit those pinnacles in their writing. Everything I do starts with my basic system, which is that every story starts with a powerful trigger incident that leads the central character into a dilemma. The dilemma leads to two choices: to fall victim to what happened to you or become an active hero in the pursuit of the dream. When the central character chooses to become active in the dilemma, that defines the external goal in that story arc. They define their pursuit by choosing which part of the dilemma to go with (the active part) and then every obstacle needs to connect back to that goal. It’s when the goal is not clear that the story doesn’t work. Adding to that, is how does the personal dilemma connect to the professional pursuit, and how do you make the professional pursuit one step toward healing the personal dilemma. So that is a little taste of the process…

AR: What is one piece of advice you’d give to a fresh unseasoned writer?

JG: You are exactly where you should be. And how you choose to respond to that is what defines your character. When I look at the writer who has an idea of becoming a working writer, I tell them that it’s not going to happen overnight. Writing is an internal journey as much as it is an external journey. You have to work on the education of the craft but also do the emotional work so that you can connect the technical part of writing with the internal part of writing. That is what gives you results. The internal and emotional truth is what is going to connect you to your audience.

*If you are interested in joining this retreat, please check out our Nicaragua retreat page. Space is extremely limited and will fill up soon!

Tulum NYE

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Happy New Years everyone! We’ve been waiting for 2017 for quite sometime. Did you know that in numerology, 2017 is considered as year 1? If you have been feeling stuck and are ready for BIG changes, then this is your year! And it’s not too late to set your New Year’s intentions—we’re not using the word “resolutions” anymore, too constricting. Every day, come back to your intention and feel your way into the life you want to live. Little by little, things will start to shift.

We recently got back from Tulum, Mexico and are just GLOWING from the inside out. I can still hear the music in my ears and feel the white sand between my toes…This vacation was the perfect way to bring in the new year and find inspiration for a 2017 filled with adventure, love and work.

From day one we could tell that the energy in Tulum was special. In the words of the gorgeous Australian Vedic meditation instructor we met during this trip:

“You have to be conscious of what you think about here in Tulum, because it will manifest in your life very quickly.”

Boom. So true! Tulum is an extremely spiritual place, now best known as a yoga mecca that attracts cool conscious people. However, Tulum’s magic and mystique are firmly rooted in Mayan culture. The ancient name of Tulum is “Zama,” or city of the dawning sun. The primary god worshipped here is the “descending God,” depicted as an upside down figure carved on doorways inside the ruins. The cavernous cenotes—or swimming holes—were believed to be portals into the underworld and the Mayans would swim in these waters to communicate with their gods. Everywhere you look, there is evidence of this majestic and very-advanced civilization. We had the pleasure of visiting the Tulum Ruins but didn’t make is as far as Chichen Iza—one of the seven wonders of the world.

Ancient history aside, there is an overall feeling of ease and grace in Tulum. One local told us that Tulum is built over a bed of crystals, energizing the land and water. Even though I came with a group of friends and was relatively busy, I could still tap into the “Source” just by closing my eyes. While lying on the beach or floating in the ocean, I would focus on my intention and I just knew that it would manifest. Like Bali, Tulum is a powerful earth energy vortex—and whatever energy you bring here becomes amplified. I listened to the Aussie’s words of wisdom and kept my thoughts as pure as possible during this trip. But it wasn’t all that hard to do because Tulum is a little slice of heaven!

If you’re looking for a vacation with bohemian vibes, a truly international conscious crowd, a vibrant yoga scene, amazing healthy food, and picture-perfect beaches, then Tulum is your spot.

Get your OM on: 

  • Sanara boasts a modern beachfront yoga shala with great instructors. They also host sound healings every Friday night. We’re still swooning over pictures of this place!
  • Holistika is a massive wellness space right in the center of town that offers yoga, tai chi, meditation, healings, and other fun events.

Eat:

  • The Real Coconut @ Sanara was by far our favorite restaurant in Tulum. This beachfront cafe offers a completely gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, sugar-free menu with plenty of vegan options. I could just lounge and eat here all day, looking out at all the beautiful people soaking up the sun… Go for breakfast and lunch and be sure to try the Real Coconut tacos and the Buyah coffee, their version of Bulletproof.
  • El Tabano is a little upscale taqueria on the jungle side of the beach strip. We dropped in for a snack and ended up having our NYE dinner here because the food was so good! Try the stuffed jalapeño peppers, coconut shrimp and the margaritas!
  • Casa Jaguar, aye aye aye! This trendy open-air restaurant is built into the jungle to allow for a more intimate dining experience. We came with a huge group and got to try most things on the menu—you can’t go wrong.
  • Del Cielo is tiny hipster cafe in town that has all our California favorites—smoothies, coffee, breakfast tacos and vegan/gluten free yummies. Try the Gitano iced coffee and the Huevos Motuleños.
  • Posada Margherita is an authentic family-owned Italian restaurant right on the beach! This place has the best homemade pasta outside of Italy. Everyone wants to get a table here, so come early and order pasta.

Visit:

  • The beach. Go to the beach, bring a good book, get a day bed and stay there all day. Numero uno recommendation. We tried to do so much during this trip and I seriously regret not spending more time at the beach. The waves are calm, the water is warm and the sand is so soft…I miss it already.
  • Cenote Dos Ojos is a beautiful swimming hole 30 minutes outside of town. Get there early, rent a snorkel and go for a nice dip.
  • Tulum Ruins features a cliffside temple overlooking the ocean. If you’ve googled Tulum, you’ve probably seen pictures of this place. It’s super close to town and a must see.

Stay: 

  • Be Tulum is a boutique beachfront hotel on the quiet south side of the beach, featuring unique boho-luxe rooms. This place really captures the vibe of Tulum and is “a happy marriage between nature and architecture.”
  • Sanara is an upscale beachfront wellness resort. From the yoga to the food to the design, this is the perfect place for a yogi getaway.
  • Casa Violeta is a quaint hotel right on the beach with 10 adorable bungalows. This was a great place to chill, with super-friendly staff and a platform yoga shala.

Nightlife: 

  • Gitano is our new favorite bar. This jungle wonder features lots of cool hangout areas, a dance floor and two bar lounges. We spent NYE here dancing under the disco ball and sipping mezcal.

There you have it! I’m sure I’m missing a lot of places and I look forward to exploring Tulum again and again. We will be coming BACK in November so pleased stay tuned for updates on our site. I can’t wait to share this place with you all.

Love and Prospero Año chicos!

 

 

What The Heck Are Adaptogens?

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I find myself having this conversation on a weekly basis…“You mean you’ve never tried an adaptogenic tonic?” Imagine a drink with all the benefits of green juice, and then some, in the form of a warm tea latte that makes you feel amazing, sparkly even. Since discovering the tonics a little over a year ago at Erewhon in LA, I have watched them steadily grow in popularity. Cutting-edge health food meccas like Moon Juice, Cafe Gratitude and Earthbar are opening the general public up to the magic of these powerful herbs, and it is so exciting! Still waiting for the rest of the country to catch on but soon enough…

So back to my point, what the heck are adaptogens? And what do they do?

Adaptogens are a group of herbal compounds, roots, barks, berries and mushrooms that help the body adapt to stressors—physical, mental and environmental. In an interview for GOOP, David Winston, clinical herbalist and ethnobotanist, describes adaptogens as “normalizers” that work on whatever needs balancing.  He explains “If the immune system is depressed, adaptogens enhance the immune response. If the immune system is overactive—for instance with allergies—adaptogens help re-regulate the immune response, decreasing overactivity.” These herbs go straight to the source to give your body what it really wants. Genius!

Adaptogens have been touted for doing everything from lowering stress, balancing hormones, boosting energy, strengthening the immune system and even inducing beauty. And unlike coffee, you won’t come crashing down a few hours later. The effects build up your natural energy reserves—or “Chi” as it’s called in Chinese medicine—so the more you take the better you’ll feel over time!

Adaptogens come in many different forms and include medicinal mushrooms, Chinese tonic herbs, Aryuvedic herbs and superfoods. Here are a few of the key players and their primary functions:

  • Ashwagandha: Aryuvedic herb that reduces stress, strengthens the immune system, balances hormones and improves brain function.
  • Reishi: Chinese medicine’s “mushroom of immortality” that detoxes the liver, reduces stress and promotes a peaceful state of mind.
  • Maca: Peruvian root that boosts libido, balances hormones, increases energy and supports mood.
  • Shilajit: Aryuvedic resin that increases energy and stamina, improves brain function and balances hormones.
  • Mucuna Pruriens: Aryuvedic “Dopamine bean” improves mood and increases energy.

I can attest to the power of these herbs, especially when combined in tonic form. My biggest indulgence these days is the legendary Jing City tonic at Erewhon, which boasts ingredients like deer antler, shilajit and reishi. I used to scoff at the $15 price tag when I first moved to LA, but after feeling the mind-altering (in a good way) effects of this drink, I am now a firm believer. This is my new Friday night fix and it is doing so much more for me than a cocktail ever did!

Recently, I have begun buying the herbs in bulk from Sun Potion Transformational Foods and Moon Juice and making my own concoctions at home. I found this Elevating Adaptogenic Latte recipe in the Moonjuice Cookbook. I love drinking this in the morning instead of my usual Bulletproof coffee (that’s another blog post) or late at night before my meditation for added bliss.

Elevating Adaptogenic Latte Recipe:

  • 12 ounces almond or coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon organic cacao
  • 3 drops stevia
  • 1/4 teaspoon mucuna pruriens
  • 1/2 teaspoon ashwagandha
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pea sized amount of ahilajit resin
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil or ghee

Warm almond milk in a small saucepan. Combine with other ingredients in a blender for about 30 seconds. Enjoy!

Update: we are excited to be offering special adaptogenic tonics at all of our upcoming retreats!

The views expressed in this post intend to share information and induce conversation. This post is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.

There’s Something about Bali…

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Loved seeing our post about Ubud’s top hangout spots on Yoga Magazine’s blog!

If you’ve spent enough time in the yoga world—or seen the movie Eat, Pray, Love—you have probably heard about the magical island of Bali. This sacred spot is a well known energy vortex and has even been referred as the world’s Purification Center. Bali’s artistic and cultural capital, Ubud, has become a particularly coveted destination for yoga and wellness holidays. This jungle paradise serves as a sanctuary for health conscious jet-setters, featuring an abundance of raw vegan restaurants, yoga studios, eco-friendly hangouts and healing centers. As one of Indonesia’s only Hindu islands, Bali has its own distinct flavor and shares many similarities with India. With good vibes, friendly locals and beautiful sights, there’s something about Bali.

Bali—and Ubud in particular—is without a doubt one of our favorite places on the planet. We want to make sure that everyone gets the chance to experience the “best of the best.” So here is our official list of fave spots.

Get your OM on: 

  • Yoga Barn boasts some of the best yoga and meditation classes on the island. Sound healings with Shervin Boloorian and ecstatic dance on Sunday mornings are musts!
  • Radiantly Alive offers a wide variety of yoga classes and workshops. Take Daniel Aaron’s Sunday morning class for a solid “sweat with soul” experience.
  • Ubud Yoga Centre is the MOST BEAUTIFUL Bikram studio in the world, hands down. Come here if you’re looking for a real sweat.

 

Eat:

  • Seeds of Life is completely raw vegan cafe and tonic bar. Try their delicious tonics, made with adaptogens and herbal blends, for a mind, body and spirit lift.
  • Alchemy for the best raw desserts and dairy-free lattes on the planet! Seriously. While you’re at it, you can also pick up a B-12 shot at the clinic upstairs.
  • Sari Organik for local, organic, farm-fresh cuisine. This restaurant is set amidst the rice paddies, tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Ubud.

Visit:

  • Hike up Mount Agung. Wake up at 2 am to catch the sunrise from the top of this volcano. Carpe Diem!
  • Bathe in holy water at the Tirta Empul Water Temple. The Balinese host special ceremonies here during the new and full moons. Remember to bring a sarong.
  • Play with adorable monkeys at the sacred Monkey Forest. These little guys are quite gregarious and always up for a photo op.

 

Stay: 

  • COMO Shambhala is the island’s premiere spa resort. Stay here for the ultimate luxury wellness vacation.
  • Hanging Gardens of Bali is an exclusive jungle resort just north of Ubud. Perfect for a romantic getaway or honeymoon.
  • Roam is the new hot destination for digital nomads. This co-living space caters to entrepreneurs who want to work while traveling the world. Stay here for a week, a month or a whole year!

Party (when you’ve had your fill of Ubud): 

  • Single Fin is an apres-surf cliffside bar in Uluwatu. Don’t miss Sunday night festivities at this local hangout.

 

There is truly something for everyone in Bali… If you’ve visited, you already know. If you haven’t, it’s time to pack your bags!

If you’re ready to get a taste of the “real Bali” while deepening your practice, join us for our Heal Yourself retreat from April 1st-7th. World renowned yoga and meditation instructor Bee Bosnak will lead you through her comprehensive yoga system designed to enhance the capacity of the emotional body while exploring the strength of the physical body. All experience levels of yoga are welcome and will be appropriately challenged. This retreat takes place at Naya in Ubud. Space is extremely limited and we are selling out, so be sure to reserve your spot soon if you’d like to join!

We look forward to seeing you on the Island of the Gods. Namaste!