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Booking a Yoga Retreat

Sunday, September 22, 2013
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Booking a Yoga Retreat

Yoga (Sanskrit: योग ) is a term for the physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines which originated in ancient India with a view to attain a state of permanent peace. Yoga is a Sanskrit word meaning “union” and is defined as “union with the divine”.

Yogadventure is pure spiritually fulfilling with new friends, new place, new laughter, new memories.

Being a Yoga addict, it is always difficult to find the perfect retreat. An escape. A haven. There is whirlpool of places and getaways, so we spoke to 5 of our favorite Yogis in the region and they shared their favorite retreats!


{Kimberley Stokes}

“Koh Samui, Thailand. Samahita retreat where I studied with Paul Dallaghan. Paul, a student of both Pattabhi Jois and O.P Tiwari, offers an amazing combination of experience in both Ashtanga Vinyasa and Pranayama. The incredible learning experience I have studying yoga with him, coupled with the connection to nature I feel when living on this quiet beach on the non-touristy side of the beautiful island is what keeps me returning to Samahita each year. Daily life consists of morning yoga, pranayama, connecting with other guests, walks through the forest, enjoying the beach with a good book & a coconut cut from the tree. The also have a wellness center offering massages and de-toxing/de-stressing support for those that want a focused program. They have the most delicious but simple food – the really good-for-you food that is both tasty and fulfilling made from fresh & mostly local ingredients. There’s always an fantastic mix of people from all walks of life and I find myself having interesting conversations with new friends over dinner. The grass and the foliage are really green and lush – you really feel like the whole island is alive. I always come home feeling relaxed and mentally de-cluttered. It’s truly a great place.”

KimberleyStokes9Kimberley is an adventurous and passionate Yogini living in Dubai since 2010. She began her career with 8 years in the hectic world of big business. There was a part of her that loved this high-octane life – but after health crisis and a period of self-reflection, she decided to change the course her life was on. Listening to the voice in her head urging her to follow her heart, she started Urban Yoga – a yoga studio focused on providing descriptive & intelligent instruction in time-tested but modern yoga practices. Kimberley’s philosophy is not to take life (or yoga) too seriously. Life is there to be lived and fully experienced – the ups and downs are all part of the package.



{Laura Weston}

Santorini, Greece to Flow with friends and open up to life… guided by my teacher Shiva Rea.  It was a magical and amazing yoga retreat! There were about 30 of us as and everyone was so nice and full of life. The climate, the energy of the volcano, the colors, the breath ~air and space … the entire feeling of Santorini is really just magnificent.  You leave there transformed, full of love and light.
The food is fresh, healthy and so delicious. People are also very friendly and helpful. It is cool, quite chilly in the evening, so it’s good to take a jacket and warm clothes for the night. It is warm, sunny and hot in the afternoon.  Wonderful weather and perfect to go out on the Sea in the Caldera.  The water is cold but feels refreshing!

Laura Weston Headshot 2Laura has been an International teacher since 2004; where she spent three amazing years teaching in Nagoya, Japan.
She now lives and teaches in Dubai, UAE, and has been there since August, 2007. She is a certified yoga teacher through the Yoga Alliance as an E-RYT 200 as well as a certified Pilates teacher through the Pilates Method Alliance. She is also a Balanced Body Pilates faculty teacher trainer. She is very happy to add Booty Barre classes and trainings to her class offerings, as she feels all of her passions for dance, yoga and Pilates are combined into a challenging and rewarding practice. She loves helping her students enjoy and be in the moment, all while growing inward and out with a fun, light-hearted flowing and vibrant energy!  Laura expresses a creative feeling of mind, body and spirit awareness. She feels blessed to share her knowledge and grow with her students in strength, grace and love.


{Laura Farrier}

“Goa, India to delve deeper into my Ashtanga practice and heal my body… Guided by Kino Macgregor and her husband Tim Feldman, both students of Shri K Pattabhi Jois. Moving to Dubai and teaching Yoga full time allowed me to grow as a teacher but I felt my practice suffered. After sometimes 6 classes in a day I had no will to get on my mat daily. Moving back to India gave me sometime to fall in love with Ashtanga again and attending a 2 week retreat with Kino and Tim was the icing on the yoga cake!

I was already living in South Goa so it was only a short taxi ride up to the Purple Valley Resort in Assagao. An Ashtanga retreat haven, everything there is geared for your comfort and wellbeing. We were a rather large group of 47 from all over the world; China, Ireland, Argentina, and Norway to name just a few! With varying levels of practice we were all catered for and made to feel valued. The daily schedule included a very early morning practice, getting up in the dark, but thankfully with hot water showers this was bearable! Following this was a beautiful breakfast and a fresh coconut. Most days we were free to laze by the pool and order a fresh juice, take a trip to a local beach or market, have a massage with one of the therapists or perhaps even attend on of the amazing chefs Raw food workshops. After a delicious lunch was a workshop allowing us to consider different aspects of the practice and look closer at helpful techniques. I found this very useful not only as a student but also as a teacher. Finally an early dinner and an occasional yoga documentary rounded off a beautiful day. Having attended a number of Yoga retreats as well as teaching them myself I can not place enough value on the ability to live and breathe Yoga on a daily basis. It gives you space to improve and creates the momentum needed to continue a regular practice once you leave. Lastly you meet like-minded people and form true friendships over your shared passions and pursuits.”


After becoming interested in yoga at university Laura sought a deeper awareness by traveling and living all over India. Completing her first training with Sivananda in 2008 and later her Ashtanga Vinyasa in Mysore with teacher Ajay Kumar in 2011, she has also taught at the Sivananda ashram for 8 months as staff, as well as in Goa, & Kolkata. Laura also runs regular retreats around the world and has attended workshops with senior Ashtanga teachers like Kino Macgregor, John Scott and Mark Darby.



{Noora El Imam}

” This empowering 8 day Surf and Yoga female-only retreat in Bali, Surf Goddess Retreats, was an outstanding experience. The morning starts off with an invigorating yoga practice at the villa in Seminyak, followed by a well deserved mouthwatering, outstanding breakfast (food is definitely the highlight at Surf Goddess!). After cramming in breakfast, Rip Curl School of Surf picked us up from our villa to the learn how to surf for 2 hours straight. This was definitely a rush and standing up on the board is such an adrenaline buzz, you simply do not want to leave the ocean. I loved the pampering/spa day on day 4…it came as much needed after the intense surf lessons! There was also a day-off from surfing to explore Ubud by bike into the stunning lush rice paddies that led to Padang Padang – one of the most favorite surfing beaches in Bali with the biggest waves I have seen. Rip Curl Cup were hosting a surf competition at that time which was a cool highlight to watch. This entire retreat revolving around healthy delicious meals, plenty of surf lessons and daily yoga with the spa treatment and exploring Ubud was well worth every penny. I’ll never forget the locals and how they would constantly give out offerings which is noticeable across on the streets, homes, cafes, you name it. The place has a beautiful calming spiritual aspect to it, you have to go to really understand. This retreat gave me the opportunity to slow down, disconnect and revisit my priorities and passion in life and career. I came back to Dubai completely refreshed and started up my own Yoga and Pilates company.”

Noura Compressed 7 Noura El-Imam, is a registered Yoga Teacher on the 200hour level (RYT-200), with a background in Vinyasa Yoga, Stott Mat Pilates as well as being an outdoor enthusiast, a passionate foodie and baker, an extreme sports adventurist, a travel-addict and an entrepreneur at heart, constantly dreaming, visualizing and planning big for the UAE’s Yoga and Pilates community! She is the founder of Yogalates Bliss in Dubai




{Jeffrey Sargent}

Anamaya Yoga Resort  in Costa Rica. The reviews, photos, and everything about the place grabbed my attention. Their focus on details, friendly staff, choices of  healthy and sustainable food, and really making guests feel like they are part of a family is what has since made this one of my favorite places on earth.   My retreat was a vinyasa yoga, acro yoga, and Thai massage retreat led by two amazing yogis, Sarita Lou Moore and Gracy Obuchowicz.  These lovely ladies shared their sweet spirits with the group and made everyone feel so good!  It was a magical experience.  They alternated teaching our 8am 2-hour vinyasa practices that always left us feeling energized, and starving hungry!  After an amazing breakfast we were ready for a day full of activities ranging from surf lessons, acro yoga and Thai massage lessons, waterfall hikes, butterfly garden tours, relaxing in a hammock with a book, horseback riding on the beach, bonfires, aerial silk performances, fire knife dancing, salsa lessons, impromptu yoga deck dance parties, you name it!  I took advantage of the opportunity to get a massage from the wonderful in-house therapist, a must as part of your week.  I probably had the busiest schedule of the group, go figure, as I was signed up for both the Thai Massage/Acro Yoga classes, as well as the surf lessons. My hammock time was limited, but I did make sure to squeeze in my share.  if you have ever thought about, or are currently thinking about heading to Costa Rica for a retreat I’d highly recommend starting your research with a look at the opportunities at Anamaya Yoga Resort.  It’s such a great place I’ve booked myself for their holiday retreats this December over Christmas. I cannot wait!

JeffA couple years ago a very dear friend of mine sent me an article from Elephant Journal about reasons men should practice yoga. It intrigued me enough that I decided to give it a try at my local gym in the Virginia back in November 2011.  It was great!  After that first class I went home and purchased a ten class package for a Hot Yoga Studio in Virginia Beach. It was in these classes, and greatly due to some wonderful teachers, I knew I was going to be practicing for the rest of my life. I had luckily discovered exactly what I needed in my life.  During the following months I practiced at Hot House Yoga in Norfolk Virginia under some amazing teachers.  Two of these teachers, brothers John and Christopher Yas co-founded the studio, as well as their teaching program Yax Yoga Concepts.  It’s been almost two years since I first stepped foot on a yoga mat, and my love for it continues to grow.  I have practiced primarily Vinyasa and Hatha yoga. Here in Abu Dhabi I am a regular at at Bikram studio as well as spending a great deal on my mat in the open air on my balcony. My goals are to become a yoga teacher, training under the Yax’s in order to further my own practice and help others find some of the endless benefits yoga avails us.



“Crying is one of the highest devotional songs. One who knows crying, knows spiritual practice. If you can cry with a pure heart, nothing else compares to such a prayer. Crying includes all the principles of Yoga.”

“When you catch yourself slipping into a pool of negativity, notice how it derives from nothing other than resistance to the current situation.”
Donna Quesada, Buddha in the Classroom: Zen Wisdom to Inspire Teachers

“Inhale, and God approaches you. Hold the inhalation, and God remains with you. Exhale, and you approach God. Hold the exhalation, and surrender to God.“ Krishnamacharya.

“Nobody can hurt me without my permission.”
Mahatma Gandhi

“When you listen to yourself, everything comes naturally. It comes from inside, like a kind of will to do something. Try to be sensitive. That is yoga.”
Petri Räisänen



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