AWAKENING ANANDA II.....STILL
CHIANG MAI, THAILAND
Last year was such a special time and place for the two of us that we are building on last years retreat and adding another retreat week for the 2018 calendar.
In yoga philosophy it is said that God is “sat chit ananda” (existence consciousness bliss). Paramhansa Yogananda adds that Ananda is different from temporary joy that comes from sense pleasures such as eating, listening to music, and seeing beautiful things. It is also not a monotonous joy that is always the same. Ananda refers to a joy that “changes and dances itself in many ways to enthrall your mind and keep your attention occupied and interested forever”. Let’s practice blissing out in Thailand.
This adventure retreat is meant to be a retreat from the daily grind. A retreat away from whatever it is that is keeping you from fully expressing yourself as the light that you are.
This is a time for conscious individuals to come together on a journey of truth, of compassion, of self inquiry and of selfless service.
We will spend much of our time together in commUNITY enjoying sunrise meditations, morning and evening asana practices, Thai Massage training, dharma talks, and various creative workshops.. Aside from our daily yoga schedules we will step outside our comfort zones, and take adventures into the beauty of Northern Thailand during the days.
We want more than anything, for our students to leave this retreat with open eyes, open hearts, and open minds. Life is much too short to spend any time in the dark.
We must awaken to all that is around us.
And it is up to us to choose what path we take.
We can either fear change, challenge, and risk or we can embrace them fully.... and at the same time fundamentally change our perspective of the world around us as well as our participation with and in it.
Let’s play friends.
Eight years ago, I took my very first yoga class at a drug and alcohol treatment center. I was painfully broken. But this crack allowed the sweetness of the yoga practice a sliver of an opening to seep through. Though I wasn't ready to change my life at that point, a seed had been planted that there may, just possibly, be another way to live. Eventually, through several more years of crazy and chaos, I realized the mat, the practice, was my only way to freedom and I've held on ever since. What a ride! Yoga has supported me to reclaim my inner power, peel back the armor and layers I had been suffocating under, and begin the fascinating process of coming back to wholeness.
While our stories may look different on the outside, we are much more similar than we may appear, as everyone is recovering from something. The common human thread is a disconnection from self; an isolation from who we are and the world around us. Yoga means to yoke, to connect, to create union. It supports us to balance and harmonize our lives in an ever changing and challenging world. We can ALL move closer to wholeness. That thing that is holding you down can also be your ticket to breaking through to something amazing.
Whether through a vigorous asana, the stillness of meditation, or diving deep into the beautiful philosophy of yoga, I hope to support you to find your own unique dance towards freedom.
As well as teaching yoga, I'm also an instructor in the beautiful practice of Thai Yoga Massage. I'm so thrilled to also be sharing this bodywork with you in the land where it has flourished!
I urge you to stay curious about you, always ask why, and never stop exploring the world around and the world inside. Which is exactly why I'm so excited to create this journey for you! This retreat allows the important space for play, adventure, as well as quiet and introspection. All the things wrapped up in the stunning setting of Northern Thailand!
Please join the magnificent Echo and I on a sojourn to awaken Ananda! To awaken to BLISS! See you in Thailand loves!
ECHO GIESEL WIDMER
I started yoga about 12 years ago. I took my first class because I thought I needed something to calm my mind. I have always been a thrill seeker and sports enthusiast, and at the time I felt like I needed a shift of energy. Yoga at first was very difficult for me. Slow movements, and a focus on breath at the time did not sit well with me. I felt very unsettled on my mat in a room full of strangers, and the pace of the practice did not organically flow with me. Although I truly enjoyed powerful asana, it was very difficult for me to find peace with it because I was constantly looking for more challenge in my practice. I became a very power loving yogi, and was constantly looking to strengthen my practice physically.
Over the years my yang nature grew exponentially until I decided that I wanted to teach yoga. For many of those previous years, yoga was purely physical to me. I of course began to really connect to my breath practice because it helped me stay focused and strong in my asana practice....but meditation was always a struggle. The calmer ,more yin side of yoga, had not yet reached me. It was not until I was teaching for a couple of years that I found a softer more intimate side to yoga. I began to truly balance my yin and yang sides. I began to really appreciate stillness in my mind, breath and body. I began to notice the small subtleties in my practice, and I began to truly fall in love with the practice. I have spent the last couple of years sharing my practice around the world with students of all pedigrees and intentions. I think that there is a practice for all types of people, all types of learners, all types of energies. That is how I got to where I am today. My hope with leading YOGA+ADVENTURE Retreats, is to teach what I have learned along the way, and help to create a more open and playful community of conscious individuals and practitioners.
I have two 200 HR RYT training certifications with a total of 400 RYT training, and hundreds of hours of teaching under my belt. My background began with Hatha, vinyasa, and power yoga......evolving to yin, restorative, Sivananda and most recently training under Baron Baptiste mentors. Like progression my practice evolves as I do. But most of my teachings are quite fluid. I focus on alignment, breath and flow. I try my best to create organic movement in my individual practice as well as the practice I share with my community. I can only hope that is what my students experience.
7 DAYS in Northern THAILAND
November 18th, 2018 - November 25th, 2018
Meditation + Elephant Sanctuary + Floating Yoga Shala + YOGA+ Hiking + Thai Massage
Thai Yoga Massage has its roots in the ancient systems of Yoga, Buddhism, and Ayurveda. Called the “lazy man’s yoga”, this meditative flow weaves together energy, loving-kindness intention, and mindful techniques to dissolve blockages and alleviate stress. It combines assisted stretching, acupressure, and compression to improve flexibility and balance the body’s energy. A Thai treatment is fully clothed, uses no oil, and is done on a mat on the floor. This bodywork is easily accessible and will make you even more popular with your friends;)
It is important to note that Thailand is most easily accessible by moped, so it is in our plans to have students rent mopeds on the days we adventure into the beautiful Thai mountains. Please contact me if you are uncomfortable driving a moped, do not have an international driver's license, or want to learn to ride a moped but are nervous.
If you are interested in mopeding in Thailand make sure to go by your local AAA and pick up an International Driver's License for $25. It is simple and all you need is a current driver's license. If you want to ride on a moped but do not want to drive, there will be many of us that can be the drivers, so those not so comfortable driving can be passengers on the back. Make sure to contact me if you have any issues with this.
WHAT THE RETREAT INCLUDES
Accommodation for 2 nights at the amazing Om Waters Floating Shala in Northern Thailand
5 nights at Luxury Eco Resort Mala Dhara
Transportation to/from Chiang Mai, Thailand (we can help with flight arrangements and transport from Chiang Mai as well; just ask!)
3 vegan meals/day, prepared by and amazing local chef. (vegetarian options available). All food is sourced locally and most on premise as we are living on an organic farm!
Daily Yoga, Meditation, Thai Massage classes, and other workshops, as well as adventures guided by your hosts and local guides
A couple SURPRISES, not yet announced..
WI-FI access at public area
Yoga mats and props provided
What the retreat DOES NOT include:
Flight and transport to/from Chiang Mai, Thailand
Off-site food, souvenirs, bohemian clothes, massages, and water. You'll have to purchase your own water bottles, or even better, bring your own!
Any activities you choose to do on your own outside of the retreat schedule
Massages are available on premise for 400 baht an hour
Coconuts on premise
Moped rentals!!! You will want these!!!
Travel Insurance (highly recommended. No one plans on having to cancel an epic journey but life happens and insurance can help recoup cost for the retreat and your flight. Don’t always play it safe but in this case... do it.)
Most rooms are shared occupancy. If you are traveling with a friend please let us know and we’ll get you connected in the same accommodation or else we’ll match you up with a new friend. A few single occupancy rooms are available at additional prices, just ask! All packages are inclusive with food, activities, and all the other goodies listed above.
The Luxury Villas (Shared)
$1550 early bird/ $1650 after May 1st
Beautiful villas each have a unique earthen adobe design with high domed ceilings, smooth curves throughout. Villas have twin beds A/C, refrigerator, and wifi.
The Mala Villas (Shared)
$1400 USD early bird/ $1500 after May 31st
The Mala Villas are earthen structures mixed with brick work, large beds, cotton mosquito nets and tastefully chosen furniture. Each have their own air con, fridge, wifi and fans. There is a stunning spiral outdoor bathroom only steps away from the villa. While they are smaller than the luxury villas, they are no less amazing.
6:30am: Sunrise Meditation, and Yin/Yang Yoga Practice
7:30 am: Breakfast, tea, and community
9am: Thai Massage Partner Workshop
12:00 pm Lunch
1:00 pm: Activities off site.....adventure time
6:30 pm: We encourage everyone to take a 30 minute break before dinner to write and journal over the daily theme, or anything personal that they may want to reflect on.
7pm: Dinner at Mala Dhara
8:30: Restorative Yoga or Thai Massage/ sometimes both & Satsang
ABOUT CHIANG MAI
While we will be staying about 30 km outside of the hustle of the old city, we will journey into the cultural center of Thailand as well.
Nestled amongst forested foothills, Chiang Mai is much older than it first appears. During the city's medieval heyday, almost everything was made of teak hauled by elephant from the surrounding rainforest, with the notable exception of its towering wát. The monasteries still remain, centred on ancient brick chedi (stupas) in a remarkable range of shapes and styles, but the gaps between them have been filled in with modern Thai houses and traveller hotels. Despite this, the historic centre of Chiang Mai still feels overwhelmingly residential, more like a sleepy country town than a bustling capital.
THOUGHTS ON WHAT TO PACK, AND WHAT NOT TO PACK
Don't bring more than one bag. Trust me, you won't want to lug it around with you. Ideally you should bring a backpack, and a small purse or day bag.
DON'T PACK TOO MUCH! I repeat, DON'T DO IT! Pack the basics. If worse comes to worse, you can buy whatever you need at your destination. Just remember that.
Leave room for souvenirs in your bag! And that goes back to not packing too much...
2-3 pairs of leggings/comfortable pants for adventures and yoga of course.
5-7 pairs of underwear – Make sure they’re comfortable and easy to air-dry. It is hot in Thailand, and most clothes are washed and then hung out to dry. So bring ones you do not mind hanging out for the world to see, haha.
Thongs, or flip flops and bring one pair of tennis shoes for hiking
1 fleece/cover up - This is ideal for your flight, chilly evenings or for covering your arms and upper body on long sunny moped rides.
Ladies maybe bring a few sun dresses, or plan on purchasing some at the markets. I promise you will not regret this decision.
Please use natural products. We are staying at a eco resort that is very mindful of the effects of chemicals and we know you are too!
Sunscreen (it’s more expensive here)
Ladies: Pads/Tampons/ or Diva Cup (this last one is a game changer) - Female products aren’t as common in some areas.
OTHER IMPORTANT ITEMS
Very important....if you want to drive a moped in Indonesia head to your local AAA (US) AA ( outside the US) branch, and purchase a $25 International Drivers License. It will last you a year, and it is necessary for driving internationally although extremely easy to get.
A money belt or pouch to keep your important items such as passport, money and visa info in
A small shoulder purse, backpack or fanny pack is always nice to have, but can be purchased abroad for cheap!
1-2 empty plastic bags - for your dirty clothes and other unknown opportune times!
Bug spray - Don't risk getting covered in bug bites.
Camera (and maybe a memory stick)- An iPhone will do too.
A book or eReader - We will be doing a great deal of traveling, so bring something to read!
A journal and a pen - to track your journey!
Headphones and some sort of music to listen to during your travels
A couple of granola bars or snacks for when you're on the go or traveling
All essential medicines, and prescriptions you may need. But remember that medicine abroad is reliable and CHEAP, so don't bring your whole medicine cabinet. Just some essentials like allergy medicine, birth control, prescriptions, etc.
GETTING TO AND FROM MALA DHARA
You will fly into CHIANG MAI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT. Very probably you may be coming up from Bangkok. If you have extra time, it’s nice to stay a day or two in the capital and hop a cheap, short flight to CM. There are also cheap trains from Bangkok if you want to squeeze in another adventure.
We will have detailed instructions for where to meet in Chiang Mai and we shall all ride out to our paradise together!
Arrival date: November 18th......anytime before 11 AM.
Departure date: November 25th anytime after 2 PM.
We are both quite travel savvy so don’t hesitate to ask any and all questions!
Please note: Should you arrive or depart outside of these time slots, we are still happy to help but transport will not be included.