March 24, 2008

Yogacation: A Via Yoga Retreat in Sayulita, Mexico

You all may remember me from back in the day when this (formerly) little ‘ol mag was called Yoga in the Rockies. After birthing Y.R.-now five years ago-I’ve watched this magazine mature into what is now a mighty elephant. While it’s been sad at times to see our baby grow up without parental influence, I have been able to play ambassador over the years, spreading the love Waylon and I had envisioned in the beginning.

One of the few perks of sinking a chunk of savings and a year of my life into Y.R. has been a retreat or conference every year, with a report back. Four years ago I was at the Yoga Journal Conference in Estes Park when I came across a table promoting yoga retreats. An engaging yogini, Michelle King, explained how her Via Yoga hosted yoga retreats at various high-end resorts that had retreat-style facilities.

I’ve attended some of the premier yoga retreat hot spots: Mexico’s Maya Tulum; Costa Rica’s Pura Vida; Santa Barbara’s White Lotus. But while I’ve enjoyed my yoga retreats over the years, the style and service never registered more than a couple of stars on the Robin Leach (Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous, remember?) ratings chart. Still, I left Estes Park (at 9,000 feet, with winter fast approaching) with a strong inclination to go on a Via Yoga Mexico retreat-and as soon as possible.

Timing, however, is everything-and my wife and I had our first child that March. The ensuing two years were a big blur (other new parents may relate). But I’m nothing if not persistent. And so, last fall, I googled Via Yoga. Praise God Michelle remembered me, greeting me on the phone with as much enthusiasm as she had in Estes Park. Her partner, Kelly Kemp, then helped me decide which retreat would be most appropriate. Kelly was passionate and professional, educating me on Via Yoga’s various offerings in a flurry of emails and phone calls. I learned that Via Yoga hosted retreats at two resorts in Mexico-one at Villa Amor in Sayulita, and one at Las Alamandas­-both about an hour from Puerto Vallarta, just a three-hour flight on Frontier Airlines. Each week features a different instructor, so you can choose the yogin who fits your experience level. Styles range from Ashtanga to vinyasa flow and Anusara yoga. Since most of my yoga the last two years involved focused breathwork while changing diapers, this worked for me (no hardcore yoga for five hours a day right now, please). Lastly, many weeks offer a mix of yoga and surfing with instruction. So, for four days during my retreat (after the two hour morning meditation and yoga class, and a gourmet breakfast), I got to surf with an instructor, leaving time for R&R before another yoga class before dinner (Kelly and Michelle have hand-picked restaurants with local flavors and foods that are clean, and often organic).

So how was my week in Sayulita? The resort was five star, with unbelievable ocean views and my own private dipping pool. The price is on the higher end of retreats that I’ve gone on (prices are flexible based on one’s accommodations). The service and amenities were unparalleled in the yoga retreat world. From the gift bags and care packages upon arrival to the three hosted dinners and farewell party with slideshow on the final night, every participant left with a deepened practice, opened heart and a tear in the eye.  I was crying like a baby-mostly because I was going back to winter in Colorado.

Travis Robinson was the “pre-founder” of elephant with Waylon, when it was little ol’Yoga in the Rockies. He abandoned ship to start a family (start-up mags don’t pay so well) and follow his lifelong passion for emerging technologies in renewable energy. He’s now a principal in a cleantech company that converts plastic into low sulfur diesel fuel.

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