“If you are looking for leisure and healthy exercise this is the trip for you. Hot springs and a massage are about as leisurely as one can get juxtaposed against yoga, hikes and any other athletic endeavours a guest might want to engage in! Food was nourishing and plentiful, accommodations were comfortable and the other guests were interesting and pleasant. Our host Suzanne ensured everyone was reaching their potential.”
That is just one of many testimonials from a recent guest of Flow Yoga Adventures, a retreat company combining their passion for yoga with meeting like-minded people who want to see the world.
Owner Suzanne Hauserman, also a yoga instructor and founder of Flow Yoga Studios in Colorado, shares her story, what retreats look like for 2022, and thoughts on fostering connection through travel.
Wander: Can you share the background of your retreat company, how did things get started?
Suzanne: I started Flow Yoga Adventures back in 2008 as a way to combine my love of travel and yoga. I grew up travelling and continued exploration through college. I’ve circumnavigated the world on a boat, lived abroad for a few years with my kids, and have yet to stop seeing and experiencing new places. This coincides with my yoga practice as I have been practicing for over 21 years.
I believe yoga creates this beautiful sense of trusting oneself and knowing that fear can sometimes mask excitement. We all crave something new, to grow, to get out of our comfort zone, and what better way than to practice yoga to ground us so we can be in the moment experiencing these amazing cultures and countries!
Italy, Spain, Guatemala, Cuba…how do you choose the retreat destinations?
My first Flow Yoga retreat was a paddle boarding, yoga long weekend in Laguna Beach California. I realized quickly that it was going to take a lot more than just a love of yoga and travel to make a successful retreat happen.
Since then a started hosting in Colorado and decided to spread my wings and try international with a weeklong retreat in Italy. The destinations I pick really are ones that I think appeal to everyone, as well as I have been there and know that there is an amazing culture and environment there that could support a yoga adventure.
I look for a place that we can practice yoga daily, a place with a deep sense of history and culture as well as some type of outdoor activity like hiking, paddleboarding, or kayaking.
What are you seeing in terms of your guests’ needs and desires as we head into 2022? Have they changed since the pandemic began?
What I see heading into 2022 is a desire for intimate small groups, but a desire to get out and see the world. I feel like the desire to travel is higher than it ever has been, but yet there is more hesitation, worry and concern to leave. Travel used to be just so lighthearted, but now people are googling COVID cases and restrictions and getting scared away.
There are definitely more requests for clarity on refund policies, rescheduling, and how to protect their investment as well. I also added a domestic retreat to New Mexico in 2021 as a response to people not wanting to travel internationally and that was a successful trip.
One other thing that we have had to add to our itineraries is COVID testing before entering the US. People love knowing that this detail has been taken care of for them and that it will be done quickly so as not to interrupt our trip.
We love how you combine your retreats with immersion in the local culture. How do you find this adds to the experience?
One of my favourite parts of creating these yoga adventures is finding experiences and local experts that want to share their culture with us. Their knowledge and passion are always some of our attendees’ favourite parts. We’ve met shamans, sound healers, weavers, Chocolate experts, plant guides, astrologists, chefs, graffiti guides, olive oil makers, and more!
When I am researching a new trip or location, I like to visit there ahead if possible and find and meet firsthand some of the local experts. I think Airbnb has a lot of fun people to reach out to, and of course, I have done social media research to find a few more rare and unique guides.
For example, when researching New Mexico, I was having a hard time finding anybody with plant and healing expertise. When I did a hashtag of healing plants I found a woman there that not only took us on a Healing Plant walk but also had her clinical botanical treatments, salves, lotions for sale, as well as a school that she had begun for healers. It was a great find for our healing-themed Flow Yoga retreat!
Who is your typical Flow Yoga guest? What level of yoga experience do they tend to have?
My typical customer has usually travelled before, but I do get usually 1-2 people who have never left the United States and trust me to guide them on their first experience out of the country.
My attendees also are genuinely curious about the world, how other people live, and like the outdoors. I try to incorporate hiking, kayaking, paddle boarding or some type of optional outdoor activity in all retreats.
The level of yoga experience is really all over the place. Sometimes I get high-level experienced yogis that love to kick up and do handstands in their practice, as well as those that are new to yoga and want to explore what a daily practice feels like for them.
I love to meet all levels in class and feel I am able to meet people where ever they are on their mats.
How would you say Flow Yoga Adventures differs from other retreat offerings?
How I differ from other yoga retreats is my desire to make everyone feel comfortable and prepared for their trip, as well as unique experiences and cultural interactions that they may not have been able to find or feel comfortable doing on their own. I also see a lot of yoga retreats offered by people who don’t teach yoga anymore in person.
I personally find this a detriment since we as teachers also need to be learning from our students and continue to grow our own knowledge and expertise from what we see our students needing. I have taught yoga for over 14 years and have owned my own yoga studio for the last 6.
I believe this has really helped me to root and ground within a community, build trust with a lot of students who end up travelling with me on retreats, as well as build confidence in those who have not met me and are meeting me for the first time on a retreat.
One thing I would like to add, is I think that there is a way to travel responsibly, and safely. All of the trips that I research and plan are with 100% consideration for the safety of my attendees.
Right now is an amazing time to be travelling, as more popular tourist spots and destinations have lower numbers of visitors, and the attention and care we are given are even higher as our hosts are so grateful to see tourists return.
The world truly is dependent on tourism dollars, and this is one way that we can help our fellow humans out during such a stressful time.