We were lucky to return to Bali for two retreats this year, and we were fortunate to go back to visit our Give Back partner for Indonesia, Threads of Life. Threads of Life is a fair trade business that works with culture and conservation to alleviate poverty in rural Indonesia. In addition to education us on the artists and foundations they work with, Our guests took a natural dye batik class, which offers a unique insight into the botany, dye processes and practice of Indonesia’s textile traditions.
We were so excited to get to revisit our beloved Project Soar while we were in Marrakesh and catch up on the amazing things they are doing. Plus we were able to work on some projects!
We have been working with Project Soar for years now, and it's an incredibly powerful organization, working to empower Moroccan girls, giving them an open space to study and be, as well as educational tools, health resources, empowering affirmations, the chance to play sports and take art classes, and so much more. They strive to give these young women a voice and a chance to complete their education.
Our retreats guests were able to visit the center and see firsthand the impact of this organization, watching videos of these young women shouting mantras of strength as loud as they could! It's moving beyond belief. The image above is of a photo board displayed in the headquarters...and yes, that is Michelle Obama in one of the pictures. She visited last year, and shows firsthand how important it is to support young women that will be our future.
During the first of our two spring Marrakesh retreats this year, we were also able to work on a hand-on project to beautify the space. Under the guidance of EPM "Form+Focus" collaborator, Julian, guests joined in painting in some of the study rooms to give the place more identity.
Thanks to all of our guests to help us continue to give back to such an amazing organization!
WANT TO JOIN US ON THE NEXT MARRAKESH RETREAT WHERE PART OF THE PROFITS GO TO HELPING PROJECT SOAR AND THE GIRLS OF MOROCCO? THERE ARE STILL SPOTS OPEN FOR SEPT 23-29, 2018!
Well, it's that time again. We have an anniversary to celebrate:
EAT.PRAY.MOVE has now held 75 RETREATS!
In the next round of our Traveler Testimony, I spoke to Catherine from New York City. Catherine was an actor in NYC and London before transitioning to writing and producing. She is a repeat guest, one of the people we lovingly refer to as our EPM family. She has already joined us in Marrakesh, Croatia, Goa, Tuscany and Iceland! We asked her to give us a little of her perspective on what it's like to travel with us on retreat.
What drew you EAT.PRAY.MOVE Yoga Retreats?
I had been wanting to travel for years but always put it off, either because I didn't have time or anyone to travel with. When I turned 40, I realized it was now or never and began to look for ways that I would be comfortable traveling as a single woman, on my own. When I found EPM online, I was instantly drawn to the Marrakech trip, as it was somewhere I've always wanted to explore, but never felt comfortable going on my own. Despite the fact that I had probably taken two yoga classes my whole life and was intimidated by the idea of having to take an art class, I signed up for the Form + Focus retreat with Erin and Julian.
I was nervous as I flew into Marrakech, never having been on a group trip before, where I wouldn't know anyone. I'm an introvert and I'm not always comfortable in groups. As soon as I entered Peacock Pavilions, I was greeted by Erin and Julian, who were so warm and friendly, they quickly put me at ease. The next week in Marrakech was unlike anything I have ever experienced. The trip was thoughtfully planned and paced, so I felt like I got to see and experience everything without feeling rushed. We always had time to relax and be on our own if we wanted to. Peacock Pavilions was just gorgeous--pictures don't do it justice. I didn't want to leave at the end of the trip!
After that first week, I was hooked. It is such a luxury to show up and have everything taken care of for you. I have since been to Croatia, Tuscany, Goa and Iceland with EPM and plan on going on many more!
What did you learn on your trips?
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the art classes! I had never been someone who was gifted in that area and I never had much interest in it. Julien spoke of using the classes as a kind of meditation, and with that in mind, I found it really relaxing to work on something and not worry about the outcome. Julien also gave us tips on how to improve taking pictures so we come home with photos that really capture a moment instead of a bunch of random shots. It's really wonderful to come home with an art journal, a unique way to remember all the things I saw and felt on the trips I've been on.
What was it like to have Erin, Julian and Jen as guides?
I have been on trips with Erin, Julian and Jen and they are all fantastic! I always know I'm in good hands with Erin, who takes great care in scouting and putting together all the trips. Julian is loads of fun and always has lots of interesting stories about wherever it is we are traveling, and Jen has such great, positive energy, I felt like a friend the minute I met her. Most importantly, they all have a great sense of humor, the most essential quality when you are traveling with someone!
What were the top moments from your travels with EPM?
Each trip is so unique and I have had so many great moments its hard to narrow them down. Walking through the night market in Marrakech and watching Casablanca under the stars at the outdoor theater at Peacock Pavilions; Going on a sunset boat ride off the coast of Croatia with the special group of women I met on that trip; Making an offering at a Hindu temple in Goa; Getting a tour of off-the-beaten-path artworks in Florence by Julien; Riding Icelandic horses and bathing in the Blue Lagoon in on New Year's Day in Iceland. These are memories that have really stayed with me.
What lasting impressions did you have?
I learn so much every time I travel. I learned that there are many wonderful people out there who love to experience different cultures and learn new things, and those are the kind of people who travel with EPM. I have made great friends on these trips and part of the excitement I feel when I'm on my way to a new retreat is wondering who I'm going to meet next!
What keeps you coming back to EPM?
I always feel renewed and full of energy when I come home from an EPM trip. There is something about going away and taking time for myself in a new environment that invigorates me. Knowing that all I have to do is show up at the airport and everything else will be taken care of, is a big reason I keep coming back. Erin always make sure that the accommodations are beautiful and the food is divine. I also know that I'm going to meet great people. I'm looking forward to many more journeys with EPM!
Thank you for sharing your experiences with us, Catherine! We will see you on retreat soon!
If you've been following our Give Back program, you may have seen that for our Croatia initiative, we partnered with the Croatian Scholarship Fund to donate to a student named Erika. She is studying at the Teacher's University in Zagreb, the largest city in Croatia. We get regular updates from Erika, so we thought we should share what she's been up to!
She recently went through her exams, which are much later in the year than in the US--theirs are late February. Studying is hard, but she says, "when there is a will, there is time, and you find a way to achieve your goals." She is enjoying studying to be a teacher. "After my exam session, I will have the practice to work with kids in school again, and I really can't wait for that period of time. It is a really good opportunity to see what we study for." In the midst of studying and working with kids, she also spends time playing volleyball and rowing, in addition to spending time with her brother and best friend and exploring the beautiful cities and countryside nearby.
Erika shared these photos with us, and we are so excited to see what an incredible role model she is at this stage, even before graduating. Nature, movement, exploration and connection to others are core priorities at EPM and essential components of a well lived life, so we are so happy to see her intuitively create a life that is so mindful and spirited. Thanks, Erika, for sharing your experiences with us!
For all of my life, it has seemed like there are two types of people in the world: adventurous or not. If my beginnings would have told me anything, it would be that I was not going to be much of a traveler. I was the kind of kid that would stress out and get homesick if I went to a friend’s house for a sleepover. (I even took my own food with me.)
We're happy to introduce you to two amazing women who joined us on our Tuscany "Form+Focus" retreat over the summer. Emily and Hannah are the creators of the London-based company, Twice the Health -where this team (consisting of a nutritionist and PT) are best-friends turned bloggers, turned health-maker-world-travelers. Their matching outfits and youtube workout videos take them around the world finding interesting new forms of workouts and health, as well as new landscapes in which to challenge themselves.
We want to introduce you to Bonnie, one of our most loyal EPM guests - she's been a friend for years and has attended 13 EPM retreats since we began and is already signed up on a few more on the upcoming calendar! She's an amazing adventurous soul who continues to inspire us with her free spirit. Thanks Bonnie for taking the time to write this post about your experience in Goa!
We wanted to share with you a guest post of our recent guest, Arlene, who attended one of the Tuscany retreats this summer. We were so happy to have her join us and thankful for her lovely post about the experience. Born in New York City, Arlene currently lives in Rome, Italy after working for fifteen years in Hollywood as a film executive and a screenwriter. Now she spends her time in 'il bel paese' continuing her writing and working as an interior decorator with clients from around the world.
Here's a snippet of her blog post below and be sure to click through to the full post below!
We just returned from an amazing retreat on the Amalfi Coast last week - it was our first retreat at this location as it was a special request from a private group. It was a group of friends - many who are past guests, and just a big celebration of life, activities enjoyed together, and a small reunion of sorts.