This Chopra Retreat Voyage Changed my Perspective on Life

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By Kristin Riegel | Images Courtesy Linn Hottgenroth

Last month I had the opportunity to join a first-of-its-kind experience between the partnership of Swan Hellenic and Chopra called the Explore and Restore Retreat.

This Chopra Retreat, unlike any other I have experienced, took personal transformation to the seas with a 7-day ocean voyage from Panama City to Acapulco, Mexico. Throughout this week, we experienced what could only be simplified as a self-discovery retreat mixed with luxury travel, cultural immersion, and adventure.  

About Swan Hellenic

Chopra Retreat Voyage aboard Swan Hellenic's SH Diana

Swan Hellenic has made a name for themselves by crafting unique itineraries for guests interested in a holistic form of travel through exploring new cultures, cuisines, and adventures around the world.

Many of their itineraries offer unique destinations and unrepeated voyages, which truly cultivate a once-in-a-lifetime travel experience for their guests. They’ve hosted and charted hundreds of cruises around the world, often partnering with companies in the wellness, science, and cuisine world to offer a synchronistic experience rather than just your typical vacation getaway.

About Chopra

Chopra, founded by Deepak Chopra, is an Ayurvedic company focused on empowering individuals to develop their personal transformation with the intention to increase the well-being of the greater population.

Chopra takes a holistic approach to well-being, blending both modern-day wellness practices with a historically-proven tradition of Ayurveda. They host a variety of Chopra Retreats around the world, offering their guests the opportunity to reconnect with themselves through healing methods which balance the mind, body, and spirit. 

My Chopra Retreat Experience

Joining the Chopra Retreat Voyage

When I first walked onto this cruise ship, I was blown away by the beauty of the SH Diana. The ship was pristine, and its crew was as warm and inviting as the ocean air in Panama City. The overall feeling I received when boarding the ship was an immense sense of relief and excitement for the journey ahead as if I was moving into a new home.

Taking in the big and small details of this ship and not too eager to grab my phone as a distraction, this moment was a testament to the remainder of the week and a reminder that beauty, magic, and experiences are all fleeting but can be fully appreciated when sitting with the present moment.  

To give you a brief outline of our daily schedule during the Chopra Retreat, our days at sea usually involved a morning yoga or meditation session, followed by Ayurvedic-inspired meals, introspective workshops and lectures, free time to observe the ocean and ship, spa opportunities and pool time, or, for myself, a healthy balance of work, relaxation, and play.

During these days, one of the most prominent experiences for me was participating in Chopra’s self-discovery workshops guided by Jennifer Johnson. Throughout the week, we’d ask ourselves Deepak Chopra’s four soul questions of, “Who am I, What do I want, What is my purpose, and What am I grateful for?”

Chopra’s self-discovery workshops guided by Jennifer Johnson

Between moments of quiet introspection on these topics, and sharing our vulnerable thoughts with each other, I found these moments of human connection to be the highlight of my entire trip. 

Days reserved for land involved the usual slow morning of coffee, contemplation, breakfast, and yoga led by Sarah Finger, followed by an adventurous zodiac transition from sea to land. For some, this excursion opportunity was a pleasant chance to stretch their sea legs and see a new culture, but for others, the idea of hopping on a zodiac to cross the sea was a challenge in itself.

yoga led by Sarah Finger

Some highlights of these Chopra Retreat days included embracing Central America’s rich coastline with yoga practices on the beach and much-needed dips in the ocean. Throughout this week we also had several opportunities to interact with locals from Costa Rica, Honduras, and Mexico while immersing ourselves in their culture in a variety of ways.

I deeply treasured the experience of learning the cowboy culture in Guanacaste, observing their traditional dance, making corn tortillas from scratch and enjoying freshly-made costa rican coffee and baked goods. 

As the week passed by, I passively observed transformations take form in both myself and the other passengers I shared this first Explore and Restore retreat with. Going into this experience, a deep-set fear of mine was eating alone. Little did I know by the end of the trip, I’d be reluctant to say goodbye to the strangers who effortlessly became close friends.

Connecting during the Chopra Retreat Voyage aboard Swan Hellenic's SH Diana

Other observations I made in my fellow shipmates included conquering the fear of riding in a zodiac, sharing vulnerable thoughts through a microphone in a room full of strangers, and releasing negative limited beliefs to allow the true self to shine brightly. 

The biggest takeaway I can share from this Explore and Restore Retreat is this simple statement: it’s never too late. It’s never too late to follow your dreams or passions, no matter your age or life experiences. It’s never too late to make lifelong friends as an adult. It’s never too late to travel and see the world. It’s never too late to show up for yourself. And most importantly, it’s never too late to make an impact on others. 

Over the last several weeks since returning from this trip, I’ve been reminded of the magical moments I experienced on this ship simply because of my willingness to leave behind my daily distractions.

Sights of dolphins playing alongside the ship, sound baths paired with the ocean waves and sunset colours, shooting stars falling from the crisp night sky, and bioluminescence lighting up the bow of the ship are some of the few magical moments I will cherish forever. 

The Explore and Restore retreat sounds like a dream, right? Well, with the partnership of Swan Hellenic and Chopra, together they have made this incredible dream a reality. I’m grateful to have experienced the first official launch of this retreat, which can only be described as life-changing for every individual on board, including guests and staff alike. 

Other upcoming voyages to look forward to in this partnership include New York City to Halifax, Italy to Greece, and an exploration of South Africa. As this partnership continues to evolve, I can only imagine that with each new voyage and experience, this wellness retreat will transform and enrich hundreds of lives to come. 

Schwabacher Landing with Kristin in Grand Teton National Park

Kristin Riegel is a travel writer, holistic health coach, and digital marketing specialist in the adventure and wellness travel industry. Her ikigai as a passionate professional in this industry is to seek out transformative global experiences combining adventure and wellness and sharing these discoveries with the world.

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