For Melissa Longfellow, owner of FLUX yoga in downtown Fairhaven, yoga retreats offer a chance for renewal, grounding, and deeper contemplation — perfect for restarting after a stressful event, like a global pandemic, for instance.
FLUX’s retreats are typically a week long, and take place in tropical destinations like Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Panama.
“The focus is not like a vacation, where you’re going to do cocktails and pool all day,” she says. “There’s some of that, but the focus is on restoring your connection with yourself, your community.”
Those Who Flow Together Grow Together
Longfellow, who has been practicing yoga for 27 years, began organizing retreats in 2018. The idea is to offer both new and seasoned yogis an opportunity to deepen their practice while gaining tools to take back into everyday life.
“You know you’ll come home feeling renewed…like you’re ready to take on whatever your life has waiting for you,” Longfellow says.
One of the most important aspects of the retreats is the bond that develops between participants. While some people attend with friends, family, or partners, many opt to travel alone, an experience that allows for new connections that can continue after yogis return to Washington.
“You walk away from one of these retreats like you have a whole new extended family,” Longfellow says.
Location, Location, Location
For Longfellow, the location creates the retreat.
“I’m mindful about the difference we make where we go…I’m always looking for places that pay a good wage, and are good to their communities,” she explains.
A retreat this November will take place on the coast of Nicaragua, at a boutique eco-lodge called Costa Dulce. The lodge incorporates the local community, employing locals for everything from construction to massage therapy and cooking. The lodge is also committed to sustainability; there’s no wasted plastic or paper, and all toiletries come in reusable clay jars.
The food is also key.
“It’s amazing, in a healthy way,” Longfellow says. “Everything is locally, carefully prepared, with exquisite vegetarian options.”
Sun, Sleep, and Surfing
In addition to daily yoga practice — held in an open-air studio overlooking the water — the retreat in Nicaragua involves good sleep and nourishing activities. For instance, all attendees take part in a baby turtle release organized by a local turtle sanctuary. There’s also walks on the beach, birdwatching, salsa dancing, horseback-riding, and stand-up paddle boarding.
A longtime surfing enthusiast, Longfellow seeks out places where surfing can be part of the experience. She admits the sport can look inaccessible, which is why she always includes a lesson in the retreat package, knowing people may or may not want it. On her last retreat, every student ended up surfing…and many fell in love.
“It’s one of those things that, you do it, and it opens up your mind and your heart in a new way. It makes you feel alive in the way you did when you were a child…it’s addictive.”
Other retreats are on the horizon, too. One planned for February 2022 will take place at Sansara Resort in Cambutal, Panama. In spring of 2022, Longfellow plans to host a retreat in Guatemala with her mom, who’s a Mayan shaman.
The retreats fill up fast, so be sure to start looking ahead of time. FLUX Power Yoga, 1140 10th St., Ste. 101, Bellingham, fluxpoweryoga.com