Yoga and Surfing Vacations on Mexico’s Exotic Emerald Coast

Via Yoga Announces Fall/Spring Series: Nine Vacations November Through MayFeatured in the New York Times Travel section, July 24, 2005: “Everybody Calm? Let’s Surf!

Seattle, WA, July 2005 — Via Yoga is offering a series of yoga, meditation, and surfing vacations at Villa Amor, a beautiful resort 45 minutes from Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. Kelly Kemp and Michelle King of Seattle’s Via Yoga have organized nine yoga and surfing vacations from November 2005 through May 2006; more may be added.

Yoga is a journey of self-discovery that begins with stillness, an increasingly rare commodity in today’s fast-paced society. Only with stillness can we take stock of our lives and explore where we are and what we need to change. Seattle’s Kelly Kemp, an entrepreneur and passionate yoga practitioner, and Michelle King, a certified yoga instructor and licensed massage therapist, determined to take the popular and growing discipline of yoga to a new level of bliss.

The two met when Kemp took yoga classes taught by King; they formed Via Yoga in 2003. First they found a serene haven in Mexico—the beautiful Villa Amor in the town of Sayulita on the Emerald Coast. Next they put together a series of week-long restorative vacations where guests could seek their inner stillness and engage in a yoga and meditation practice that would have long-lasting benefits. And here’s where Kemp and King begin to diverge from other yoga entrepreneurs. They don’t just offer one or two trips, but rather an ongoing, annual series that runs from November through May.

Via Yoga vacations differ from other yoga retreats in several more ways. Groups are small, with the number of guests limited to a maximum of 20 each week. Kemp and King also specifically chose a location that offers a myriad of opportunities for adventure and outdoor fun—surfing, in particular. Since a Via Yoga week is a vacation, not a yoga immersion, there’s plenty of free time to relax or take part in other activities. Guests are encouraged to immerse themselves in the town of Sayulita, explore the area, and learn about the local culture. “This wasn’t the strict kind of yoga retreat where you get up and have to meditate, said one guest. “This was more like a yoga vacation. To experience a Via yoga vacation is to have an inward and outward adventure; one can restore and explore at the same time.

Each Via Yoga vacation has a different focus. Some focus on a specific type of yoga—jivamukti, for instance, or vinyasa. Some combine yoga with meditation, some combine yoga with surfing. Every day begins with lively yoga classes taught by knowledgeable instructors representing a variety of yoga disciplines. Guests can follow that up with their choice of outdoor activities, or simply relax on the beach and soak up the warm Mexican sun. Afternoon classes are usually less intensive, offering the chance to deepen poses and tune into the finer subtleties of body and mind. All levels of students, even beginners, are welcome. Classes are structured so that anyone can participate. Beginners, however, might feel more comfortable choosing a week that focuses on a gentler yoga style.

Surfing is one of the fastest growing recreational sports, and it’s another reason Kemp and King chose Villa Amor for their vacation series. The Pacific Coast of Mexico offers some of Mexico’s best surf, and surfers have enjoyed the area for more than 30 years. The Yoga & Surfing vacations are so popular, in fact, that they’re offered several times each year. Surfers enjoy light winds, sunny skies, temperatures in the 80s, water around 75-78 degrees, and surf 2′-10′ depending on swell conditions. According to GQ, “The beach manufactures a steady parade of fun little waves. Outside calls Sayulita “Surf City 1962, and marvels at its “uncrowded camaraderie.

Yoga and surfing, while seemingly very different disciplines, are surprisingly complementary. Many of the body positions in surfing aree reminiscent of yoga poses. Both require balance, flexibility, and strength. Breathing and focus are as important to each as the physical aspect. Both yoga and surfing are about being completely in the moment. “When I surf, I enter into a state of total presence. Mind, body, and spirit merge as one, says yoga instructor Erika Hattingh in Yoga Magazine. “Every surfer should discover yoga, says surfing pro Rochelle Ballard. “Yoga changed my surfing, says top surfer Taylor Knox, who adds, “Surfing is all about being flexible and loose, and nothing helps more than yoga.

Via Yoga guests stay at the lovely Villa Amor, listed in the June 2005 issue of GQ as one of the eight top choices in the world for a romantic getaway, with “spacious, opulent rooms. Villa Amor was also named by Travel + Leisure as one of the top 50 stylish beach getaways of 2004. Fodor’s describes the resort as “luxury palapa suites among the trees, with more outdoor than indoor living. The 35 private, open-air villas are tranquil, beautifully designed, tastefully decorated, and just steps from the beach. Each has a wide veranda that catches the breezes and offers a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean, nearby jungle, and distant mountains. Some have kitchenettes, outdoor dining, or plunge pools. No two are alike.

Villa Amor is in Sayulita, a picturesque fishing village on the Pacific Coast in the state of Nayarit, Mexico. The area has expansive black-and-white sand beaches and lush jungles set against a dramatic backdrop of volcanic mountains. While only 45 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta, Sayulita is off the beaten path and seems a half century away. With its tranquil town square, chickens roaming the streets, rodeos, Sunday night baseball games, and only 3,000 residents, it’s a glimpse into rural Mexico. Sayulita nevertheless has fine restaurants, shopping, and galleries to please urban guests.

Via Yoga guests are typically looking to get away from the stress of their demanding careers to unwind with daily yoga practice, but they want more than downtime. They’re also typically interested in personal growth and new adventures. Some come for ‘alone time,’ some bring a partner (often specifically for the fine surfing), and others come with friends for a group experience. Some guests are new to yoga or have practiced for only a few years. Many have never surfed but are eager to learn. All appreciate that some structure is provided in the form of the daily classes, but there’s plenty of time to explore and enjoy other activities. And the region has many: Aside from yoga and surfing, the Sayulita area offers snorkeling, fishing, kayaking, hiking, horseback riding, and zipline tours high above the jungle canopy.

Via Yoga vacations include six nights accommodations at Villa Amor, two 90-minute yoga classes each day, daily meditation sessions, breakfast on the beach, three group dinners, a one-hour massage, and a day trip to Punta Mita. Rates range from $1695 to $2395 for the week. Airfare is separate.

Guests find as they return to daily life that their Via Yoga vacation enriches their personal relationships, business interactions, and everyday experiences. They return home with a healthy balance of mind, body, and spirit.

Contact:

Guests, accommodations – Kelly Kemp, Director of Operations, kelly@viayoga.com

Programs, teachers – Michelle King, Director of Programming, michelle@viayoga.com

(800) 603-YOGA, www.viayoga.com