Today’s interview is with Marisa Wolfe, Yoga Teacher and Retreat Leader at Santosha Yoga and Meditation Retreats, Yoga and Massage Instructor at New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, and Owner, Massage Therapist, and Yoga Teacher at Yoga del Sol Studio in Lemitar, New Mexico.
Tell me about the Santosha Yoga and Meditation retreats.
Halli Bourne and I created Santosha Yoga and Meditation Retreats about seven years ago. We were struck by how powerful it was for us personally to have a time of intensive practice outside of our daily lives and wanted to make that experience possible for others. Halli and I have very similar philosophies regarding yoga: that it doesn’t have to be physically challenging to be powerful, that detail and breath can transform the ordinary into something extraordinary, and our love for the reflective practices of yoga like pranayama and meditation. These priorities come through in how we structure our retreats (plenty of free time, and pampering encouraged!) and how we teach together (we co-teach, trading off and feeding off the other’s instruction).
What first inspired you to start this “destination yoga” concept?
I love to travel and always have. When I started practicing yoga, I noticed how it changed and enhanced my perception of the world around me. Being in a completely foreign environment with a twice+ daily yoga practice makes it easier to slow down and really see what the location has to offer you. Colours are more vibrant, experiences are more powerful, people are more engaging. Practicing yoga helps to integrate all these new experiences as well, making the trip more holistic. Removing yourself from your everyday life and immersing yourself in a new place and a new culture also helps to deepen your yoga practice. It takes away the “normal” practice and encourages you to try new things or try old things with a new mindset. And when you return home, this always seems to filter back into your practice and your life in the most positive ways.
Where are all the locations you have been for the retreats?
Our first retreat was in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, and we’ve hosted that retreat annually ever since. We’ve also held retreats in San Patricio (New Mexico), Belize (twice!), and the Big Island of Hawai’i.
Could you tell the readers all the details for the upcoming retreat in Maui?
We will be in Maui from March 14 to March 20. The retreat is held at an intimate resort called Lumeria Maui, just five minutes up the hill from the beach. We will be practicing yoga and meditation twice daily. As a group, we will be spending time on the water, whale-watching and sailing into the sunset. We also plan on some beach time, snorkeling and playing in the waves, and some hiking time… but we have also left a lot of unstructured time during this retreat.
Our theme is Ocean’s Breath: Riding the Waves of Bliss. We hope people will be able to take a step back from their busy lives to find their own rhythm; to see the rise and fall of bliss in their day; and to really connect their breath and their inner bliss. That inner bliss is always there but sometimes life is chaotic and we forget about it. Our breath is a tool to always help us locate it, and we will work on that in this retreat.
The retreat costs include breakfast and dinner, all classes, two guided excursions and lodging. We always try to make our retreats as inclusive as possible without inhibiting people’s freedom of choice. We want people to feel cared for and unstressed.
What do you think are some of the benefits of participating in the retreats?
I think the benefits are huge! How often do you practice twice a day, much less go to two classes a day?! This kind of detailed attention (from TWO teachers) really helps you to identify your physical imbalances, and with this sort of intensive training, you can even begin to take measure to correct those imbalances. People usually come away physically stronger and more flexible. Mentally, the focused breathing, movement, and intentional relaxation helps people to come away more focused and less stressed. A retreat is a time to break the “go, go, go” cycle and really focus on ourselves.
Are there any memorable stories or experiences you could share with us from your time away on these retreats?
Every retreat is filled with wonderful memories; students discovering their own abilities and gaining insights. That’s one of the most exciting things about retreats for me: watching the evolution of a person’s practice over the retreat – it can completely transform! We have also developed a fun little theme on our retreats that head outside New Mexico: we’ve been learning new dances that become a part of our yoga – we learned the Punta in Belize and the hula in Hawai’i!
You have also released a CD with yoga and relaxation/meditation. Tell me more about this.
The CD is called Breathe New Life Into Your Life, which is also the name and theme of the new year retreat we host every year in Truth or Consequences. The idea of using your breath to transform your practice, your mood, and your life is near and dear to our hearts and the central theme to most of what we do. For the CD, we took some of the most effective practices we have led in Truth or Consequences each year to create a “greatest hits” practice. It is deeply relaxaing and gives you a little mini-retreat whenever you need it. We see a lot of folks trying to push their lives forward (including ourselves); this practice is about letting go of the push and relaxing into life. Yoga always reminds us of what’s important in life and how to enjoy it. We hope the CD will help with that.
Thank you so much for sharing this information about the retreats with our readers today.
Final word from Marisa and Halli about “Santosha” – Santosha is the sanskrit word for contentment. It reflects our firm belief that we have all we need inside to live a happy, fulfilled life. Our retreats, whether our adventures take us inward or outward, help you to unearth that joyful capacity deep within you and learn to excavate it in any circumstance. Take a break, give yourself some space, breathe deeply, move freely, and explore with us!
Have a wonderful week,
Bridget @ Hot Tea, Travel, and Thyme x
~ Connect With Me ~