Asana (“A”) talked to Sue (“S”) about Yoga Holidays Worldwide, a new smartphone app for iPhones, iPads and Androids ($2.99).
A: How did the idea come about?
S: As a travel writer who is also a former Yoga teacher and Yoga teacher trainer, I’m constantly being asked by friends, and friends of friends to recommend Yoga retreats, Yoga teachers and advise people on entering the Yoga world. We travel, and do Yoga for different reasons, and there are so many options out there for both. It’s sometimes hard for people to know what’s the right choice for them. I decided a smartphone application would be a way to showcase the best options, give readers a sense of the “vibe” of a place and the experience, and enjoy gorgeous pictures enroute.
A: How did you compile the Yoga holidays?
S: I’ve travelled extensively on Yoga holidays, conferences and retreats for both work and play for over 10 years, including in my work as a travel writer and regular writer with Australian Yoga Journal. So I drew on my knowledge of what’s out there and then applied my journalistic eye to the task. I knew from my own travels that Costa Rica is a popular area for North Americas, Greece and Spain are hotspots for European yogis, and Australians love Bali and Thailand. But the North Amercians might not know where the Europeans go – so why not share this information?
A: Can you give us an overview of what is included in Yoga Holidays Worldwide?
S: The app is available for iPhones and iPads (from the App Store) as well as for Androids (from the Android Market)and I’m pleased to say it’s both visually stunning and immensely practical. My goal was that no beach, rainforest or mountain village was left unexplored in my quest to bring users the world’s best Yoga holidays.
They’ll find serious retreats focussed on health and healing; luxury resorts where Yoga is an optional (but welcome) addition to a restorative vacation; jungle lodges where one can do tree pose with the toucans; and Italian Villas where a drop of wine or two accompanies the home-cooked meals.
This means that whether you are after inner peace in Ibiza or a Yoga & surfing jaunt in Australia, Yoga Holidays Worldwide will show you where to go, what to expect and how to choose. As a bonus, there are comprehensive sections on teachers who travel, Yoga festivals and events, and great Yoga towns.
A: Do you rate the holidays? If so, on what basis do you evaluate them?
S: As a yogi, I feel that definitive ratings aren’t the best approach. I really believe there is something for everyone. Some people are looking for something very physical. Others want a spiritual experience, while still others just want a break from the everyday routine.
Rather than doing rankings, I culled from the global offerings to only include things my journalistic research, sources and own experience determined were top notch. I aimed for a cross section of styles, settings and budgets and for each I explain a bit about the location, the vibe and pick one special component about “why you’ll love it”. Readers can also filter by topics like cost or region, and choose for themselves.
Because I only wanted to recommend things I knew were really good I considered issues like – Where do the top teachers go? Which retreat centres are they using? Where can you volunteer to pay for your trip? How about luxury options? I want to make sure there are options for everyone. It was a lot of research, as well as tapping into my contacts of Yoga friends and studio owners across the globe.
A: How often do you take a Yoga holiday? What has been the most memorable one to date? S: I take a least four Yoga holidays a year, often many more as I’m often reviewing a retreat for a magazine or newspaper. My most memorable? Ooh, tricky! In the USA, I love the Omega Institute in New York state, and I had an incredible experience at Kalani Oceanside Retreat in Hawaii.
I’ve also created my own “budget” retreats in Costa Rica and Thailand, by doing the drop in classes at Anamaya Resort (Costa Rica) and The Sanctuary (Thailand), both were fabulous. Closer to home, I love Samudra’sretreats in Western Australia – simply superb, and if I just want to duck away for a quiet weekend away from Sydney I head two hours up the road to Mangrove Mountain, where there’s a Satyananda Yoga ashram. Listings for all of these made it into the application.
A: What is an ideal Yoga holiday for you?
S: For me, it comes down to “unplugging”. I value technology but when I’m on a Yoga holiday, I don’t want to anywhere near a phone or internet. If somewhere is internet-free (which is less and less common), I’m usually delighted! I also love doing the classes somewhere unique or gorgeous. I was in Fiji a month ago and we did Yoga on a grassy knoll overlooking the ocean, and I’ll never forget doing pranayama on a beach by the river Ganges in India. Both are memories that will last for years.
Free download of the application is given to 10 readers. Please note that you need either an iPhone or iPad to use the prize (although the app is also available via the Android Market).
1 What is the one thing you take on a Yoga holiday?
2 Where was your favourite Yoga holiday and why? (Answer in 25 words or less)
3 Send in a high resolution image of your Yoga holiday.
Please send your response to firstname.lastname@example.org now and win Yoga Holidays Worldwide.