As I was scrolling through our photo albums for media photos last week, I got curious. I started counting and realized--
we hit the 50 retreat mark! (Well, technically, we're at 51.) But I thought it was momentous and worth celebrating.
When Erin started EAT.PRAY.MOVE, it was 2011, and it was just her planning and leading the retreats. She did 4 that first year: two in Italy, two in Marrakesh. When I first met her, it was early 2012, and she was somehow balancing 4 retreats a year with several yoga teaching and yoga related positions in NYC. I remember being boggled at how she was juggling all of these things, but she was so determined, and it was clear her passion project of EPM was something special.
I was curious and in need of crossing some items off my bucket list, so I attended one of her retreats in Italy in the fall of 2013. What I witnessed would astound me. Erin Lewis is a force of nature. I have never known anyone who could be grounded and intuitive enough to lead meditative yoga classes, then focused enough to lead a group through activities in an unknown country, and then fun enough to jump into evening dance parties. I knew two things: this retreat company was special because its creator is one of a kind, and it was going to grow fast. After that retreat, I told Erin this company was life changing, and I wanted to be a part of it. I said when she was hiring a team, I wanted to apply. She laughed. But soon enough, she was leaving her part time jobs to run EPM full time. I joined the team to help to take a little extra weight off her shoulders and become an official EPM cheerleader!
Since then, I've been privileged enough to witness a lot of changes and growth that Erin had envisioned, planned and executed. Nearly all of the retreats are now GIVE BACK initiatives, donating a percentage of profits to local charities. The number of retreats jumped every year due to higher demand and new locations--at the end of 2016, EPM will have done 15 retreats in just this year alone. Part of creating the space for this to happen was hiring on more teachers and leaders. She now does art retreats with Julian Hyzler of EASEL&LENS, and this year, she had yoga teachers Jen Carter and Michelle Lee take on their own retreats as leaders. She also brought on Eugenia Esquivel to handle the charitable portion of the company.
The best part of all of this has been the extended family of EAT.PRAY.MOVE: our guests! We have met so many incredible people from many countries, many walks of life, ages and experience levels with yoga and travel. Even better, many of them have been repeat guests, so we have gotten the chance to create deep, lasting friendships with them. Many guests have gone home and maintained relationships with their other retreat mates, so there's an incredible network of EPM-ers all over the world! I myself have caught several retreat friends in my own travels, and it brings me such joy. It's unreal to think of the connection you can have to someone you only knew for a week, but that's the deep bond formed by these adventures.
And people have noticed the unique magic that's happening over here. The company has been featured in Time, O (The Oprah Magazine), Huffington Post, Well+Good, Marie Claire, and many other publications and blogs.
We are so grateful to do work that can bring adventure, joy, transformation, peace and possibility to others. If you have been a guest on our retreats, we offer you our immense gratitude for joining us and being on one of our 50 retreats. It gives us such a strong sense of purpose and community. If we haven't yet met you on a retreat, we look forward to it!
Here's to bigger and better things to come. From new locations to bigger initiatives, we intend to set the bar higher and keep striving to bring mindfulness and the joy of wanderlust to as many people as we can.