This awesome yoga and hiking retreat between the fjords of Norway is a real adventure and mental detox, that will nourish your body, soul, and spirit.

The yoga retreat days will start with walking or driving to the local yoga studio for morning yoga and pranayama. The walk is around 7 minutes from Thon Hotel or 10-20 minutes from your accommodation. If your accommodation is not so close, you will be together with other people and have a car to drive to the yoga studio. Don't worry if you don't drive, you will be accommodated together with someone who does. We use rental cars that have insurance included. The rental car fee is included in the price.

Molde is a city and municipality in Møre and Romsdal county, Norway. It is a small town by the Moldefjord with a population of 26822. Molde is a very calm and relaxing city, famous for its amazing views. It is surrounded by fjords and is close to several remarkable hiking trails and viewpoints. Book your flight to Molde, Årø airport.

We will pick you up from the Molde airport on the day of arrival, but it is best to arrive on the 16.45 or 17.00 flight from Oslo.  It is not a problem when you arrive earlier on that day or by bus. Transfer from the airport or bus station is included in the price only on that day. On the first day, we have a welcome dinner all together at 18.00.

You can choose your 7 days retreat date and make your booking by clicking here.

5 days retreat by clicking here.

Weekend retreat here.

Yoga retreat program: 

Day 1, Friday

Arrival day. Pick up from the airport, settle into accommodation, introduce the program, meet other guests, dinner.

Day 2 

Energizing morning yoga session, breakfast, pack lunch.

Hiking Tusenårsvarden 523 m.a.s.l. or Varden viewpoint 407 m.a.s.l. 6-10 km.

After the hike, we return to the yoga studio for an afternoon yin yoga session and dinner.

Day 3 

Strengthening morning yoga session, followed by breakfast, pack lunch, and snacks.

Troll Church 484 m.a.s.l., consists of three exciting limestone and marble grottos with underground streams and a beautiful waterfall. On the surface, to the west of the uppermost cave, there is a lake with white marble "jetties". Braver hikers can swim in the mountain lake.

The mountain behind the Trolls' church is very distinctive, with jagged points and spires. Sometimes we hike only to the caves and lake, 8 km, but with real adventurers, we will hike further over the mountain ridge (832 m.a.s.l.) and make a loop back to the cave. Guests can choose how long of a hike they want this day. After the hike, we return for a restorative yoga session and a delicious meal.

Day 4 

Morning yoga, followed by breakfast and pack lunch.

Jendemsfjellet 633 m.a.s.l. is a mountain near Molde with a breathtaking 360-degree view over the fjords and mountains. We can choose between the shorter or longer trail, 4-6 km. Afternoon yoga session followed by a delicious meal in the accommodation.

Day 5 

Morning yoga, breakfast, and packed lunch, followed by a ferry trip and driving to Trollstiegen.

Trollstiegen or the Troll ladder/road is a famous mountain road with narrow curves and sharp hairpin bends. The road has 11 hairpin curves and an elevation of 850 m. Every bend has its name. The road is narrow with a gradient of 9 % but passing pockets have been incorporated and traffic normally flows without a problem. An impressive bridge of natural stone carries it across the Stigfossen waterfall, one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Norway. Stigfossen is an unregulated and powerful waterfall with a total height of 240 m, from which 180 m is almost a single drop.

Guests can choose if they want to drive up or hike. Kløvstien hike - the path is preserved as a cultural heritage, and a lot of effort has been put into maintaining the path. Stone steps and chains are making challenging parts more accessible and safer.

Day 6 

After morning yoga, breakfast, and packed lunch, we take off on a road trip to the Atlantic Road.

The Atlantic Road has National Tourist Route status, and the entire stretch between Bud and Kristiansund is one continuous experience packed with coastal scenery, culture, and history. The road that crosses this “infamous stretch of the ocean” was hailed as the world’s best road trip by the British newspaper The Guardian. In 2006. The 8.3 km (5 miles) road, with 8 bridges of a total length of 891 meters, is built on several small islands and skerries and is spanned by eight bridges and several landfills.

Sjurvarden, 667 m.a.s.l. is the mountain that stretches out to the sea, giving a powerful view of Hustadvika, the Atlantic Ocean, and the coastal landscape from Sunnmøre in the west and Smøla on Nordmøre in the north.

Day 7 

We will enjoy a final morning yoga session and breakfast before guests depart.

Depending on participants' comfort level and the weather, this itinerary is subject to change.

Other options for hiking are:

Litlefjellet

Romsdalseggen

Misundtrappene

Mardalsfossen

Yoga retreat accommodation: 

You can choose between a hotel room or a single or double bedroom in an apartment together with other retreat participants. The hotel is located in the city center and the comfortable but simple rooms include a private bathroom, shower, toiletries, and free wireless internet. You can choose between a single or a double room. The hotel's name is Thon Hotel Moldefjord, address is Storgata 40, Molde. If you want more privacy and time alone we strongly recommend you choose to stay at the hotel. If you prefer a more luxurious room, please let us know.

Accommodation in an apartment is a local home, guest house, or camping place. You will share the bathroom with 4 other participants. Those accommodations are located in different parts of the city.

What is included: 

  • 6 nights accommodation
  • 2 meals a day, water, tea, coffee (vegan, gluten-free options)
  • 5 guided hikes
  • Yoga and meditation classes
  • Yoga mats and props
  • Transport (rental car fee)
  • Pick up and drop off at Molde airport or ferry terminal
  • Personal attention, motivation, care, and enthusiasm

What is not included: 

  • Airfare
  • Dinners (dinners for extra cost 900 NOK made by our chef)
  • Insurance
  • Transport from and to the airport if you arrive before the start of the retreat or wish to stay longer

Additional Information: 

If you are looking for an eventful holiday with lots of yoga, fun, and mountain air, Norway is the place for you. Expect relaxed group dynamics and the opportunity to integrate more balance and health into your life.

A Youtube video about yoga and hiking Trolltindene is here.

Guided tours take you into the heart of world-renowned wilderness destinations like countless number of waterfalls, Troll Church, Atlantic Road, Romsdalseggen, or some smaller mountaintops with amazing views over the fjords.  Sometimes we will have yoga, pranayama, and meditation outdoors, on the top of the mountain.

What to bring/wear:

  • Backpack 25-35 L
  • Waterbottle
  • Wind and waterproof jacket
  • Warm cardigan
  • Comfortable outdoor shoes or boots
  • Socks
  • Sunglasses and sunscreen
  • Hiking pants
  • Gloves and hat

On this exciting yoga retreat, you will re-center yourself with yoga sessions that will guide you through various skills and practices to support your unique lifestyle. Adventure, food, and wildlife like no other await you in the varied landscapes of South Africa!

It is a perfect opportunity to take time for self-care in order to maintain a healthy mind, body, and soul.

Am I excited to visit South Africa in February 2023? Hell, yeah!

You definitely don't want to miss the yoga retreat in the world's most exotic countries with us on February 06-14, 2023.

And here is why:

  • South Africa is a truly fascinating and magnificent country packed with incredible wildlife, the most breathtaking landscapes, and complex history.
  • Known for its beaches, mountains, and savannas, it's a trendy place for tourists. South Africa has been called “A world in one country”. It offers cosmopolitan cities, a rainbow nation of richly diverse cultures, spectacular scenery, and of course the Big Five safari experience. It is the only country in the world to contain an entire floral kingdom. It is home to more kinds of mammals than North and South America combined; or Europe and Asia together. South African grasslands have approximately 30 species per square kilometer, greater than the biodiversity of rainforests.
  • The fact is that you can actually swim with colonies of Jackass penguins there! They are located at Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town near Cape Town, as well as further down the coast in Betty’s Bay. And we will be there!
  • The Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet at Cape Agulhas, the southernmost point of South Africa.
  • The iconic Table Mountain in Cape Town is believed to be one of the oldest mountains in the world, at 260 million years old. Not only that, it is one of the world’s 7 New Natural Wonders, and is also one of the planet’s 12 main energy centers, radiating magnetic, electric, and spiritual energy. And we will have a yoga session on the top of that mountain! I am also looking forward to paragliding over/close to Table Mountain.
  • You can do the world’s highest bungee jump in South Africa! Those brave enough can take the 216-meter leap off Bloukrans Bridge and plunge towards the Bloukrans River below. An absolute must for thrill-seekers and adrenaline junkies! I am not going to jump I think, but we will see the bridge.
  • And then all those vineyards and wine tasting! I usually can't drink more than two glasses of wine, but for me, quality is more important than quantity.

You can book your spot by clicking here

Our yoga retreat starts in Cape Town International Airport in South Africa.

Cape Town is one of three capital cities in South Africa. This seaside city is beautiful and picturesque with a great backdrop of the famous Table Mountain National Park. South Africa’s top tourist destination has lots of beautiful coastlines and beaches nearby, many whales watching tours, amazing scenery, and it has a walkable waterfront area with tons of great restaurants and shopping, and more.

Cape Town, the “Mother City”, or the world’s most fabulous city, is the oldest city in South Africa and has a cultural heritage spanning more than 300 years.

There are few countries where you can go to the beach and expect to see penguins - South Africa is one of them. There is a colony of 3,000 penguins that live in and around Boulders Beach in Cape Town, South Africa. If you want to see more, you can visit a sea bird rehabilitation center SANCCOB where the majority of the residents are penguins.

South Africa is famous for its wines with the majority of the vineyards being located just outside of Cape Town. There are many vineyards and wineries that you can visit for lunch, enjoy tasting menus, take tours, and purchase some fabulous wines.

The Garden Route is a stretch of the southeastern coast of South Africa that extends from Witsand in the Western Cape to the border of Tsitsikamma Storms River in the Eastern Cape. The name comes from the verdant and ecologically diverse vegetation encountered here and the numerous estuaries and lakes dotted along the coast.

Yoga retreat program: 

February 06 - Arriving day and transfer from the airport. First night in Cape Town.

February 07 - Day 1: Cape Town, Table Mountain, Botanical Garden, and wine tasting.

We will begin our South Africa adventure by hiking up to Table Mountain and having a magical first yoga session on top of Table Mountain.

This is followed by a visit to the first botanical garden in the world to be established (in 1913) to protect local flora, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in the UNESCO-listed Cape Floral Kingdom follows. Visiting Groot Constantia Wine farm, we taste their export quality wines and have dinner. Overnight at African Soul Surfer, the location for our studio-based class with sweeping views of Muizenberg and where surf lessons are offered.

February 08 - Day 2: African penguins, relaxing, and beach yoga

We journey along the False Bay coastline to Boulders Beach near Simon’s Town, home to one of the few land-based penguin colonies in the world. Boulders Beach in False Bay offers something extra special – a colony of African Penguins in all their smart dresses, waddling glory, right under your nose. In fact, it’s the only place in the world where you can get close to African Penguins. We will choose one of the popular restaurants in the area for dinner. Overnight at African Soul Surfer. 

February 09 - Day 3: driving to Caledon 2-hour. Wine and chocolate tasting, spa, yoga

Visit Cape Point, part of the Table Mountain National Park and home to an abundance of flora and fauna. We hike a light downward trail to the stunning Dias beach to enjoy your morning yoga session next to the ocean. You also visit the viewpoint with the Flying Dutchman Funicular.

Driving in the direction of Stellenbosch, we go to the Spier Wine Farm for chocolate and wine tasting on the banks of the Spier dam. Overnight at The Caledon Hotel and Spa which has an impressive view of the Klein Swartberg Mountains and the continuing wheat fields.

The hotel is situated around an hour’s drive away from Cape Town and offers guests mineral-rich hot springs and a spa with three restaurants, a gym, and children’s activities offered to all guests. The wellness center is equipped with comfortable seating, natural hot springs, a lap pool, a steam room, a sauna, a frigidarium (The distinctive brown color of the water is due to the rich mineral content known as chalybeate.), a Swiss shower, elegant Victorian Bath House (erected 1897 and outdoor Jacuzzi, as well as a great Zen Garden. A full range of spa treatments including massages, body wraps, facials, and beauty therapies are on offer as an option. Click here to see the Caledon Spa menu. Book your treatment after 6 pm and at least 3 days in advance. We do not have a yoga class that evening.

February 10 - Day 4:  Caledon to Knysna via the Cango Caves: 5-hour drive

Starting with the Garden Route, we move on to the town of Oudtshoorn with Route 62. This route delivers an unforgettable South African traveling experience, making life-long memories. After visiting the Cango Caves for a Heritage Tour, we head down the scenic Outeniqua Pass and onto the green forests and beaches of the Garden Route.

We go to Buffalo Bay for a rejuvenating beach walk. Buffalo Bay beach is a blue flag beach located in Goukamma Nature Reserve, between the coastal towns of Knysna and Sedgefield, along the Western Cape Garden Route. The beach is characterized by dune fields, coastal fynbos, and a forest that flanks the long white sands. Overnight is at the Peace of Eden Nature Lodge and Vegan Retreat. This is “rustic, eco and natural, our accommodation is earthy and creative, our shower water is golden brown, our drinking water is straight from the heavens, and know that here in the country, ‘things’ with 4 legs rule! We are here to chat with the monkeys, clap when the baboons come visiting, give you clean sheets and generally ensure you have a peaceful carefree time with little bits of spice thrown in the mix with peace, and where guided forest walks, massages, vegetarian cooking classes, yoga, and meditation outdoors.

February 11 - Day 5:  Knysna return: 3-hour drive

Breakfast follows a drive through Knysna and to the town of Plettenberg Bay, where you can take a boat ride for a “Dolphin Encounters” excursion of 1,5 to 2 hours at Ocean Blue Adventures. (highly weather-dependable) You can go to the world’s highest bungee jump at Bloukrans Bridge. Standing 709 feet (216 meters) above the Bloukrans River, the arch bridge is ideal for bungee jumping. This is an optional activity (own expense), and you are free to watch the bungee jumpers take the plunge.

Alternative to the “Dolphin Encounters” boat ride you can make one of the activities at Stormsriver Adventures: a Tsitsikamma Woodcutters Journey or a Tsitsikamma Canopy Tour. Overnight is at the Peace of Eden Nature Lodge and Vegan Retreat.

February 12 - Day 6:  Knysna to Cape Town: 6-hour drive

After you did some activities of your choice at the Peace of Eden Nature Lodge we head back to Cape Town and visit some of the amusing farm stalls on the way. Overnight is at the Zebra Crossing Backpacker. It is a 2,5 km walking distance from the beach. Evening and morning yoga is on the beach.

February 13 - Day 7:  The Big 5 Safari in the Aquila Private Game Reserve: 2-hour drive 

The “Big Five” is a term that is used to refer to the 5 African animals that early big game hunters considered the most difficult and dangerous animals to hunt on foot in Africa. These animals include the African elephant, lion, leopard, Cape buffalo, and rhinoceros.

  • 09.45 - Depart Cape Town 
  • 12.00 - Arrival at Aquila and welcome drinks
  • 12.15 - Buffet lunch
  • 13.15  - 2-3 hour game drive.  A game drive is an excursion through wild areas to find some of Africa’s most iconic and elusive wildlife.
  • 16.30 - Depart for Cape Town

February 14 - Day 8: Transfer to the airport

Accommodation: 

Accommodation during the retreat is described in the program section. You can choose a private room or a shared room.

What is included: 

  • 8 nights accommodation
  • 1 or 2 yoga classes per day
  • Yoga mats
  • Breakfasts
  • Hiking tour to the Table Mountain
  • Wine tasting
  • Safari
  • Entrance fees
  • National park fees
  • Airport transfer
  • All transportation for included activities

What is not included: 

Additional Information: 

South African currency is the rand (ZAR).

There are 52 nationalities who can enter for up to 90 days visa-free. Read more by clicking here.

Remember to bring:

  • Passport with at least 30 days remaining from the intended date of departure. Passports must have two blank pages for entry stamps.
  • Hat and sun protection
  • Mosquito repellant
  • Wear comfortable shoes and bring along a jersey or jacket

The itinerary is subjected to slight changes according to weather conditions and unforeseen circumstances. 

In the summer of 2022, the first yoga and pilates teacher training will take place in Molde, Norway.

This Yoga and Pilates teacher training welcomes students who want to deepen their understanding of these two practices. Anyone who loves movement can learn and grow through this intensive 250-hour teacher training. Students may attend any of the three modules; both yoga teacher trainings are required to be eligible for registration with Yoga Alliance. Personal trainers, yoga practitioners, teachers, Pilates instructors, physiotherapists, and group fitness trainers, especially Les Mills Bodybalance and Bodyflow instructors will be able to enhance their personal practice and incorporate techniques they learn so they can teach a variety of classes without injury. The entire 250-hour teacher training is appropriate for beginners as well as intermediate and advanced students.

The 200-hour yoga teacher training will give a basic overview of different styles of yoga; as well as introducing the philosophy, and history of different styles. It will also prepare students to teach basic yoga poses and design around basic themes.

The Pilates module will teach the 50 preparation Pilates exercise and 34 original Pilates mat exercises in the correct order. 

What is Yoga? And what is Pilates?

Yoga uses the body to connect with the mind and the inner self, while pilates uses mindfulness to connect to the inner workings of the body. 

Yoga

Yoga was created in India thousands of years ago to connect the individual consciousness with the universal consciousness through physical activity. In short, it aims to not only improve your physical health but your emotional and spiritual health as well. Through repetitive movement, the act of yoga can be extremely therapeutic. In addition to being therapeutic, these movements focus on building flexibility and strength. Many types of yoga involve meditation at some point during the exercise. The meditative portion of yoga tends to attract people who are seeking to unwind from stressful situations.

Yoga is an integrated health management system using breath, movement, and meditation to unite the mind, body, and spirit. It also incorporates elements of philosophy, science, and an ethical way of living.

Pilates

Pilates was created in 1920 by German, Joseph Pilates for physical rehabilitation. Pilates aims to increase flexibility, strength, and body awareness. It is considered a resistance exercise, even though, as a beginner, you may experience an increased heart rate. Pilates has a full mat routine, in addition to exercises that can only be performed on specific Pilates machines, such as the reformer and the Cadillac.

The main goal of Pilates is to strengthen the core, improve posture, stabilize and elongate the spine and develop balance and overall strength.

Pilates works from the center of your body outward. It increases body awareness and core strength resulting in a more resilient body. Pilates is excellent for injury management. The gentle supportive movements are particularly useful for an aging population.

Yoga and eastern philosophy inspired much of Joseph Pilates’s technique. In his book Pilates’ Return to Life Through Contrology, he wrote that age is gauged not by years but by the suppleness of the spine. He also noted that full, deep breathing is a key component to efficient movement. And a stint on any Pilates mat reveals similarities between Pilates exercises and yoga asanas: Side Lift is much like Vasisthasana (Side Plank Pose), Roll Over is reminiscent of Halasana (Plow Pose), and Swimming could be mistaken for Salabhasana (Locust Pose).

Pilates’s focus on building and engaging a strong core can propel one’s yoga practice into new realms. This set of exercises can help yogis get stronger, avoid injury, and sometimes advance into poses that they hadn't previously thought possible.

Pilates Helps Yogis Engage Their Core!

This teacher training combines Pilates with yoga to transform your body and your daily routine.

Difference between Yoga and Pilates

Yoga uses the body to connect with the mind and the inner self, while pilates uses mindfulness to connect to the inner workings of the body.

While yogis are instructed to either hold poses or flow through them in vinyasas, Pilates is a rhythmic practice of precise movements repeated five to 10 times for each exercise.

By focusing on targeted movements that develop core strength, Pilates can help yogis build a stable center, lengthen the side body, and increase awareness of alignment. The majority of the focus in Pilates routines is on the body’s powerhouse – the core. Strengthening the core creates stability, which improves balance in yoga poses and allows a student to hold asanas for longer periods of time. Strengthening the core muscles also brings safe alignment into yoga poses. The alignment of the limbs originates in the core. Improving alignment allows us to avoid injury and experience postures more ease. This comfort allows for effective energy channeling making every asana more fulfilling.

Although Pilates brings an intense focus to particular parts of the body – especially the core and the breath – Yoga fosters a deeper connection with all layers of the Self, including the mind. Developing the mind in this way will improve your entire life, as well as their Pilates practice. Students who can connect with each movement are more aware of what occurs throughout their bodies.

Stronger muscles always try and take control, especially if your core is weak. Developing deeper core strength through Pilates brings greater control – control over the center of gravity, movements, and where the tension lives in the body. For example, arm and shoulder strength are commonly overused in Chaturanga Dandasana (Low Plank pose). A stronger core allows the power to originate in the core, improving the asana itself while reducing fatigue, strain, and injury in the upper body.

Where Yoga immerses a student entirely in a full-body routine, Pilates allows them to isolate the body’s specific movement patterns. Many people have trouble understanding what is going on in their bodies. Learning through highly focused methods during Pilates can help people become more knowledgeable about each body part in isolation. For example, gaining an intimate understanding of the shoulder girdle or how the various joints in the hips and lower spine interact will improve your body’s engagement throughout your Yoga classes.

One difference between pilates and yoga is the ultimate goal. Yoga provides a meditative environment for you to improve your overall quality of life. It focuses on stress relief while improving your body.

Yoga concentrates mostly on large, functional movement patterns increasing the overall strength and flexibility of the spine and limbs.

In Yoga, the primary goal is the connection to breathe, using various pranayama techniques. Pilates focuses on building deep core strength first and teaches correct muscle activation, which can help alleviate back pain. Pilates also focuses on breathwork, but unlike yoga, the goal in Pilates is to engage deep abdominal muscles, building core strength and stability. 

Pilates is known as a "workout," and yoga as a "practice". However, to improve at anything requires practice, and when practiced well both Pilates and yoga are exceptional workouts. 

Yoga and Pilates can work together to strengthen the core, lengthen the side body, and improve your alignment.

We hope, you can join us in Norway from 01-16 June and 01-10 August 2022 to learn how you can combine these techniques to strengthen your personal practice and begin your teaching journey.

Yoga and Pilates Teacher Training in Norway, Molde 2022. More info here.

Yoga retreats are temporary breaks from the daily routine that typically last from the weekend to a week or more. The purpose of a retreat is to allow yogis to deepen their practice without the distractions of life. A yoga retreat is an amazing opportunity to meet others who are passionate about yoga.

Yoga and hiking retreat is a combination of yoga and physical activity outdoors. A retreat starts and ends on a certain date, which means that you will be with the same group of people every day. You go to the same classes, have meals together, and spend a day outdoors hiking together. This gives you the opportunity to actually get to know them and develop a friendship. Yoga and hiking retreat is not just another vacation, it is a powerful experience.

A yoga retreat will help you:

  • disconnect and reflect,
  • deepen your yoga practice and knowledge,
  • step outside of your comfort zone,
  • improve your health.

If you are a beginner or not so passionate about yoga, a yoga and hiking retreat will offer you the opportunity to start with regular practice and find out how yoga can help you find balance in your everyday life.

Why hiking and yoga?

"Going back to nature is going back to the origin of life, to the origins of ourselves." This is what the philosopher Henry David Thoreau said about connecting to your inner self. There is plenty of time for self-reflection during the long hours of walking. We will encounter quite some obstacles, being far away from home and out of our comfort zone. But we might also realize what truly matters to us in our lives and what the purpose of our lives may be.

The question "Who am I?" is the ultimate question in yoga philosophy. This is exactly why connecting with nature and practicing yoga simultaneously form a perfect combination. Both will help you learn about your true self. The yoga and hiking retreat is a simple way to reconnect with your inner self and understand yourself better.

Read more about our yoga and hiking retreats in Norway and Alaska.

Hiking versus walking the Camino de Santiago

Walking the Camino de Santiago has been and still is on a bucket list for many people. Yoga and hiking retreat is like walking the Camino but it is a softer version of the Camino way. You know where you are going to sleep every night and you always have wi-fi when you need it. You will also prepare your body for a long day outdoors with morning yoga sessions, stretch and relax your tired muscles every evening and eat healthy and nutritious food during the journey.

However, yoga and hiking will give you many of the Camino walk benefits. Additionally, spending days in the fresh air will prevent you from becoming infected with viruses and will strengthen your immune system.

Top 3 reasons why people walk the Camino de Santiago

Camino de Santiago, known in English as the way of St. James, is a network of pilgrims' ways or pilgrimages leading to the shrine of the apostle Saint James the Great in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in Spain.

Spiritual reasons

Many pilgrims walk to connect and discover the deeper meaning of life, to spiritually connect with nature or themselves, or walk to find answers to deep questions.

Disconnect to reconnect

In a world of busyness with too many obligations and long workdays, many of us have become disconnected and disillusioned. We all say we would like to disconnect a bit but typical vacations are anything but answering e-mails at the pool and watching or reading the news after dinner, we seem never to have the opportunity to truly "get away from it all". At first, it may seem strange to not constantly think about what is going on in your country or not check your phone every 15 minutes but soon you find peace and silence in the journey. It takes a few days to adjust but the reward is clarity and a feeling of peace.

Exercise and well-being

The majority of people have little to no experience in walking long distances over many days. A popular saying is "your Camino begins when you sign up". You begin to research what shoes to bring, how to train and prepare your body, and what you should pack. Many people start training, to become healthier and more fit for the trip.

Hiking in Estonia -visiting mysterious bogs

Estonian bogs have gone through a large-scale transformation from being seen as a horrific place to becoming one of the most loved landscapes. Our bogs are the top-of-the-list attraction for every tourist willing to discover the Estonian countryside and wildlife.

What is bog?

The bog is the oldest organic landscape in Estonia, reaching in some cases up to 10 000 years of age. The first bogs started to emerge here right after the last ice age. As the 1km, the thick glacier ice sheet was melting towards the North pole, the meltwater as a leftover was collected in depressions previously created by the glacier ice.

Over the next thousands of years, plants grew and died within those shallow and oxygen-deprived meltwater lakes. As a result, the dead plant material didn’t become decomposed but rather created ever-lasting peat/turf and turned the water acidic. Every year, one layer of partially decomposed organic material is accumulated underneath the mossy surface of the bog and this effect has taken place since the very beginning!

In Estonian bogs, the pace at which the peat accumulates is roughly 1mm annually. In most Estonian bogs, the peat layer is 5-7 meters on average, which equals about 5000-7000 years of age. Over the course of thousands of years, this landscape goes through a series of transformations. At the very beginning, this peat accumulation landscape does not have a significant effect on plants – the peat layer is just too thin and flora is able to reach the nutrient-rich groundwater. After millennia or two, the peat layer becomes thicker and filters out more demanding plants. The visual of the landscape is about to change. Birch trees will give up and pines will slowly start to take over. This middle stage is called transitional mire.

Later the peat layer gets just so thick that only the toughest plants will survive. The third stage is called bog or raised bog. Here you can see a lot of bog pools or lakes inside this huge organic sponge. The landscape is entirely independent, meaning that the plants don’t have access to nutrient-rich groundwater and all they have is rainwater stored in the ground. Bogs can be seen as huge sponges that can store huge amounts of water. Mainly because the sphagnum moss, also known as the “bog builder plant” is able to absorb almost 20x its body mass. So in some ways, bogs are also giant water reservoirs.

Bog operates as a carbon sink and therefore mitigates the effects of climate change. And as we know today, it’s a perfect place for aesthetic experiences.

Bog as a place to restore yourself mentally and physically

Since the Estonian bogs were “rebranded” decades ago, their popularity has skyrocketed. The State Forestry Agency has built a lot of boardwalks and forest trails to provide easier access to all the people interested in enjoying the silence and minimalistic landscapes.

Suddenly, bogs have become the symbols of our country. 100 years ago it was unheard of to say, think or write anything pleasant about our swamps or bogs. Today, people still have some sort of unconscious “itch” inside them when they get off the trails and feel this spongy ground. But walking on boardwalks has become so popular, that on the weekends you could encounter more people in bog than in a shopping mall. So if interested in peace and silence, you have to choose your destinations carefully.

The best time to visit the bog in Estonia

As you may guess, every season has its pros and cons. Although I see some benefits in visiting bogs in particular time periods, I still think everything depends on your goals. Is it to see wildlife? To swim in a bog lake? To pick berries? To skate on the frozen lakes?

Spring (March-May) is probably the best period to encounter birds and animals. For example, male black grouses are having battles in the bogs at the sunrise. Of course, it’s something that needs preparation and setting up a hide to witness those rare moments. The cranes are arriving from Africa and many birds are stopping by to continue their journey to polar regions. Many plants, including mystical labrador tea, bloom in May-June. I love spring because at that time we don’t have mosquitoes here.

 I don’t suggest going to the bog on the hot summer days (nights are ok) – because of the dark ground, it gets really hot and there is nowhere to hide from the direct sunlight +  you potentially have to deal with horseflies. In the summer, the best time to go to the bog is right before sunset or sunrise. You will then have the least problems with insects + the view is magical. Especially when the sky is clear. and you can enjoy the water that feels especially warm when the air temperature starts to drop.

August-September-October is perfect! Starry skies, misty mornings. Berries – blueberries, lingonberries, bilberries, cranberries, and cloudberries. Mushrooms! Chanterelles! In the autumn, the mosses covering the ground turn into colorful “carpet” + you’ll see the yellow-red colored trees on the horizon. Perfect time for camping and staying overnight as well.

With winter it can go both ways – you either have snow in Estonia or you don’t. When you do, you can go skating on bog lakes, hike with snowshoes over the frozen lakes, make a fire, camp either in a hammock or in a glamping tent. Catch fish on the ice. Fullmoon hike on glowing white snow? No mosquitoes, no crowded camping sites. Silence!

Sunrise in Kõnnu Suursoo

Read more about our Estonian retreat here.

"There is no bad weather, only bad clothing" - Swedish and Norwegian proverb

Here I will share some tips on how to choose good hiking clothes to keep you warm, dry, and happy during your adventures in Norway or Alaska. I will not recommend any specific brands because in different regions you can find similar products from different manufacturers.

Check out our yoga and hiking retreats in Norway and Alaska.

Hiking clothing - layers, zippers, and pockets

When I moved to Norway in 2013, I started hiking in my jeans, aerobic leggings and top, running shoes, and a light jacket. Although Norwegians thought it was strange (jeans are especially despised), I was not disturbed by it. My hikes were usually short and close to home. With time my hikes became longer and more complicated and I started to buy special hiking equipment. I discovered that the little improvements really made a difference! For example, my backpacks got bigger but lighter and I replaced all my pants and jackets with ones that have ventilation zippers.

You start to notice the importance of clothing when you hike for several days in a row, your hike lasts for the whole day, or the weather changes suddenly. When you hike uphill you always get hot and sweaty. The contrast becomes clear when you reach the top of the mountain which is usually windy and cool. If you want to sit down to eat, relax and enjoy the view, you instantly feel the cold creeping in. On the way down your legs are already tired so you must take extra care not to stumble and fall. That means hiking at a slow pace with sweaty clothes and rubbing shoes. Suddenly you may find that hiking is not so enjoyable anymore. Fortunately, all this is avoidable when you take advice from experienced hikers.

The most important thing about hiking clothes is layering. This tried-and-true strategy helps you to regulate temperature by slipping layers on and off as your activity level or the weather changes. You may not want to wear a lot of layers at the start of your hike but it’s a good idea to take them with you on every outing - you can peel off layers when you get hot but you can’t put on layers that you didn’t bring along.

The base layer should wick sweat off your skin

I am not going to talk about underwear which should be comfortable every day, not only when hiking. But I want to talk about T-shirts. Wool is very popular in Norway: summer wool, merino wool, smart wool, old fashion wool, etc. If I'm honest, I don't go along with fashion trends easily, but buying myself a light, summer merino wool T-shirt was a very good idea.

When hiking with a backpack, your shirt must have sleeves. It is very uncomfortable to feel the backpack strap under a sweaty armpit on a warm summer day. A cotton T-shirt is not the best choice because it dries slowly. I recommend light wool or synthetic T-shirt for warm weather or a long-sleeved shirt for cooler weather. Choose materials that insulate, wick moisture, and dry quickly.

The same goes for socks. A hiking sock is crucial to prevent blisters. A hiking sock, unlike a cotton sock, provides significant protection against rubbing that your boot might cause. Low-cut socks are not a good choice for hiking, choose crew socks instead.

Middle layer should insulate

Of course, it all depends on the weather but you should always have a long-sleeved sweater or a fleece in your bag. I love fleece hoodies because I always forget my hat at home and they help to keep my head warm. I prefer light hoodies that breathe well. Pullover hoodies might be difficult to put on, so I prefer ones that have zippers.

Down insulated jackets are my favorites because they are highly compressible and easy to pack in your bag, also down offers more warmth for its weight than any other insulating material.

Outer layer should shield you from rain and wind

The outer layer (or shell layer) protects you from wind, rain, and snow. Shells range from pricey mountaineering jackets to simple wind-resistant jackets. Most allow at least some perspiration to escape; virtually all are treated with a durable water repellent finish to make water bead up and roll off the fabric.

Your outer shell is an important piece in stormy weather because if wind and water are allowed to penetrate to inner layers, you can get really cold. Pit zips under the armpit are again important. The ideal would be lightweight, wind, and waterproof material but usually, if you want significant protection against the rain and wind then you might need to make a trade-off on weight.

Hiking pants

I think I would love hiking pants that can be turned into shorts by unzipping the long pant legs. Unfortunately, I do not have them yet. But I have several breathable, windproof hiking pants with ventilation zippers and I really love them. It is important for me that they also have pockets with zippers - the more the better. Otherwise, my keys, phone, and other things would disappear fast. The material of hiking pants is also crucial. Your pants should be lightweight, soft, stretchy, and windproof. I also have a pair for heavy rain. It is important that you do not have to take your boots off when you pull on your rain pants. That means a zipper on the side of the pants.

Hiking boots or shoes

One of the most important things you wear on the trail is shoes. Low-cut models with flexible midsoles are excellent for hiking on a warm summer day. I prefer lightweight, flexible, mid or high-cut hiking boots with a good grip. My boots are not 100% waterproof but they are water-resistant. Always wear your new shoes at home or on short hikes before going out on longer hikes. After hiking remove the insoles of the shoes and clean them properly. Remember to also reapply for a DWR treatment every once in a while.  

Will you be fully vaccinated soon? Or have you taken your COVID-19 vaccination and are looking to travel sometime in the near future?

As vaccines are being rolled out across the world, it brings the promise of a return to our pre-pandemic life, or, at the very least, something close to it.

That said, it’s important to keep in mind that while these shots do come with some protection against the virus, some regulations, such as lifting the mandated use of masks, may not be happening as soon as we’d hoped.

Should you choose to travel sometimes in the near future, it’s highly advisable to continue to take health & safety precautions, such as wearing a mask, washing your hands often, and maintaining the practice of physical distancing.

While it’s not mandatory, you should also consider getting tested 3 to 5 days after arrival and self-isolate for 7 days, even though you are fully vaccinated. We are still unsure as to how much protection the vaccines offer against the new variants of the virus (and the strains continue to emerge), so, it’s always better to be safe.

In short, being fully vaccinated does give you more ‘freedom’ and peace of mind when it comes to travel but it’s in you & your fellow travelers’ best interest to maintain precautions when traveling.

Not only is it crucial for us to ‘adhere’ to local rules but also to keep personal consideration and precaution for the sake of your and others’ health and safety.

Even if you are fully vaccinated, these days, the type of travel you choose to take matters more than ever.

Domestic travel has been returning slowly but steadily starting last summer. With the rollout of vaccines, countries that are likely to reach herd immunity faster, maybe a ‘safer’ choice for locals and non-locals alike.

Many travelers are now choosing destinations that are off-the-beaten paths, those that are away from condensed cities, and often, these places are immersed in nature.

A yoga retreat in nature is a great choice for any traveler. Some retreats are easy-going while others go above and beyond to offer a wealth of activities. But no matter where you choose to go, it is easy to combine other outdoor activities such as hiking, walking, cycling, or running with your yoga sessions.

To get to your travel destination, road trips are recommended as non-public transportation is safer than using public transportation. In fact, according to the CDC, fully vaccinated travelers who go on a road trip and are moderately careful at the destination, would have a relatively ‘safe trip’.   

Another way to lower risk is to choose to visit a country that is waiving restrictions for fully vaccinated travelers. At the time this article was written, only a handful of countries have gone this route, but, as summer approaches and the vaccine passports are likely to become a reality, more and more countries would consider this option to open for travel.

Lastly, should you choose to travel internationally, it’s better to focus on visiting one country, rather than opting for a multi-country itinerary. Now is the perfect time to focus on slowing down, taking longer to explore a country, immerse in its culture and traditions, and discover local gems.

It’s also important to keep in mind that while the entry requirements into a certain country might not include showing a negative test, the airline might require one to board the plane. Do your due diligence and check the requirements ahead of time so that you can plan accordingly.

Nothing supports our mind and soul to open up like a natural setting. The usual distractions are far away, and your attention and focus are directed towards what’s in front of you, quieting the mind and simplifying your thoughts.

Being in nature awakens your senses – touch, scent, sight – and you cannot help but become more aware of what’s around you and start to appreciate the little things you might usually take for granted.

The smell of morning dew and flowers, a simple bird song, a gentle breeze in your hair, touching the grass or sand, provide stimulation and make you more present. You become more in tune with yourself and the world around you.

On most retreats held in nature, you’ll have the opportunity to do some forest bathing. Also known as Shinrin-yoku, this is the practice of making contact with and taking in the forest atmosphere to receive mental and physical healing.

Read more about our yoga and hiking retreats in Norway, Alaska, and Estonia.

There are large variations in intensity between styles of yoga based on oxygen consumption and heart rate. Variation in intensity between yoga styles was due to the variability of what practitioners were doing over the whole arc of a yoga practice. Yoga practice could range from higher intensity sun salutations to lower intensity seated postures. A heated practice room, such as that in Bikram, and length of holding postures also contributed to differences in intensity ratings.

Students seek out a yoga class or practice for many different reasons. Additionally, what we mean by yoga varies considerably from one practice style to another. For these reasons, it can be helpful to identify some objective measures to describe individual yoga styles. This can help new practitioners make more informed choices about what yoga styles to begin with when they are starting out, based on what their intentions are with respect to starting a yoga practice.

Yoga is a versatile, variable tool that can have an impact on many different aspects of our well-being. We may seek out a yoga practice for many different reasons. So, it’s helpful to have a clearer picture of what individual styles of yoga offer. This article provides information about the physiological impacts of common styles of yoga practice. That can help us make choices about which style might be a good fit for us.

The intensity of yoga styles based on oxygen consumption:

  • Hatha, Gentle or Soft Flow = light
  • Yin = light
  • Bikram = light
  • Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Rocket = moderate

The intensity of yoga styles based on heart rate:

  • Yin = light
  • Bikram = vigorous
  • Gentle = light
  • Hatha = light/moderate
  • Iyengar = light/vigorous
  • Power = moderate
  • Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Rocket = moderate

Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, Rocket Yoga and Vinyasa Flow

Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga

is an ancient system of yoga. For each movement, there is one breath. Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is both a dynamically aerobic and meditative practice. It was primarily introduced to practitioners in the West by Shri K. Pattabhi Jois, a dedicated yogi, and Sanskrit scholar. As taught by Jois, Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is a form of Hatha Yoga that focuses on asana (posture), pranayama (breath control), and vinyasa (the linking of postures by breath and movement). An important part of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is a deep sort of breathing we call ujjayi or victorious breath, bandhas or energy locks, and Drishti or our eye gaze.

Rocket Yoga

also known as "the Rocket" is a style of yoga, developed by Larry Schultz in San Fransisco during the 1980s. Rocket yoga is rooted in the practice of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. It is composed of poses from the Primary and Intermediate series of Ashtanga. It was first called "Rocket" by Bob Weir because "it gets you there faster." Rocket Yoga is a dynamic and fast-paced flow of yoga. Students are encouraged to make their own interpretation of the traditional asana or can remove or modify binding postures that tend to cause students to get stuck in the traditional series. The Rocket is also divided into a three-part series: Rocket 1, Rocket 2, and Rocket 3. Each series focuses on targeted body strength and flexibility. Typically, Rocket 1 is practiced on Monday and Thursday, Rocket 2 on Tuesday and Wednesday, Rocket 3 on Friday, and Ashtanga Primary Series would be practiced on Sunday, and optionally on Thursday instead of Rocket 1. As in the tradition of Ashtanga Yoga, Saturday is the day to rest from physical forms of yoga. The Rocket 1 series is based on the Modified Primary Series. The Rocket 2 is based on the Intermediate series of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. Rocket 3 (aka "Happy Hour" because you get two classes for one) is a combination of Rocket 1 and Rocket 2, practiced at a brisk pace to cover 90 poses in 90 minutes.

Vinyasa Flow Yoga

is also a dynamic yoga style but it can vary from soft to vigorous depending on the level of the group or student. Vinyasa Yoga is a teacher's interpretation of traditional yoga practice, based on the purpose of the class. If we want to emphasize that the class is slow-paced then we can call it Soft or Slow Vinyasa Flow or Gentle Flow. In a typical Slow Flow class, you will practice about half the number of poses you might practice in a Vinyasa Flow class. The pace is meditative, emphasizing peace and calm in body and mind. We hold poses longer, taking several rounds of breath in each pose, instead of moving to each breath. In that class, the asanas are practiced with an internal softness. You will focus on working in the poses using your breath, movement, and internal strength rather than the outer muscles. That type of Yoga is of medium intensity and the best way to start with your yoga practice to find out your preferences.

Yin Yoga

is a part of the original Hatha Yoga tradition. It combines the influences of Indian Yoga with Chinese Daoist practices and Western science to improve our health on many levels. With its emphasis on long-held, passive stresses of the deeper connective tissues, Yin Yoga mobilizes and strengthens our joints, ligaments, and deep facial networks. Most poses are done lying or sitting on a yoga mat or soft carpet and held for 2-5 minutes. In Yin Yoga class we're not stretching the tissue but rather, stressing it, and then allowing time for rest and repair. We are using the physical postures to help us in getting to a unity of the mind and the body. It is a platform for meditation.

Restorative yoga

is a deeply relaxing style of yoga practice. It is a receptive practice, not an active practice. Unlike the more active styles of yoga where poses "flow" into one another, restorative yoga poses are held from five to as long as twenty minutes. During this time, you are held in "shapes" while being supported with blankets, blocks, or bolsters (pillows). The shapes emulate the forms of some more active poses found in Ashtanga, Vinyasa, or Iyengar such as backbend, forward bend, twist, or inversion. When you are in the poses you are completely supported in a particular shape, which helps achieve the desired benefit - it could open up your lungs, release tension in your lower back, or any of the other physical or psychological benefits. In any style of yoga, part of the practice is about letting go of the ego. Restorative yoga is no different. Yoga teaches patience, devotion, and faith. When you apply the teachings both on and beyond the mat, your mind is better able to adjust to the stresses of everyday life and is brought into harmony with your body.

Read more about yoga history, philosophy, and styles by clicking here.

As the end of the year 2021 is approaching let's be grateful for all the good that happened and celebrate our victories!

The end of the year is always a good time to look back and reflect. 2021 has been a difficult year for many, but there is always something good to be thankful for. In order to set new goals, we must first identify where we are now and how we got there. Is your life in balance? What needs more attention? What can you give up?

The best way to reap the benefits of gratitude is to notice the new things you're grateful for every day. Gratitude journaling works because it slowly changes the way we perceive situations by adjusting what we focus on. While you might always be thankful for your great family, just writing “I’m grateful for my family” week after week doesn't keep your brain on alert for fresh grateful moments. Get specific by writing “Today my husband gave me a shoulder rub when he knew I was really stressed” or "My sister invited me over for dinner so I didn't have to cook after a long day." And be sure to stretch yourself beyond the great stuff right in front of you. Opening your eyes to more of the world around you can deeply enhance your gratitude practice. Make a game out of noticing new things each day.

A New Year's Resolution is a list of goals you'd like to accomplish in the upcoming year. This tradition is followed by millions of people every year, and it's a great way to start the year with a positive mind and clear goals!

New Year resolutions

Sometimes figuring out how and what to write on your list can be overwhelming and confusing. But as long as you keep these five tips in mind, you'll have the perfect New Year's Resolution.

  • Focus on self-improvement
  • Be specific
  • Set a timeframe
  • Keep it short and realistic
  • Get out of your comfort zone and have fun

It is important to have goals that will help you become a better person. Doing more sports, eating healthier, donating to charity, and learning a new language or instrument are the kind of things that people tend to write in their New Year's Resolution. Also, focus on yourself and not the people around you.

Remember to write down specific goals, such as “eating one piece of fruit every day” instead of “eating healthier,” so you can measure your success!

It's better to have realistic goals that you know you can accomplish than to have goals you might never reach. Stay focused on a few realistic goals instead of having a long list of impossibilities.

Don't forget what New Year's Resolutions are all about: trying new things you haven't done before and having fun while doing so! Don't feel disappointed or pressured if you don't accomplish your goals by the end of the year. Remember to just have a great time and learn from every experience!

New Year's resolutions are meaningless without the habits to help you stick to them. Don't rely on willpower when it comes to your New Year's resolutions. All you need is to create small, new habits. When the change is small, it is easier to implement and be sustainable.

Do your New Year's resolutions include a healthier lifestyle? More exercise, yoga, meditation, healthy food, growth, and development?

I think it is important to start each day with the right foot, even if it means needing to push past any feelings of grogginess or tiredness to do so. New Year's promises are easily forgotten. Therefore, you should update and renew your goal every morning. Create your morning ritual. Find a substitute for the habits you want to change. This makes the transition easier.

Set an intention for every day. It can be done on your yoga mat, in the bathroom, or while drinking your morning coffee. Be aware of your choices and mindful of your actions. Our intentions create our reality.

There are certain steps you can take each morning that could help improve your physical mobility, mental clarity, and focus while eliminating any stiffness, grogginess, or tiredness that often accompanies mornings. In the mornings our bodies are stiff and sore and the older we get the worse.

A short yoga-meditation routine every morning helps you to:

  • set an intention for every single day, week, and month
  • remember your New Year's resolution and move in the right direction
  • loose up your muscles, removing stiffness
  • increase energy in the body
  • decrease stress and anxiety
  • stay calm and focused during the whole day
  • be present and balanced
  • improve mental clarity
  • be the best version of yourself
You will find my 10 min Grounding Yoga youtube video by clicking here.

Becoming grounded - is one of the most desired results of practicing yoga. Grounding connects us to the present moment. It pulls us into our physical experience of right now, and in the process, creates a sense of ease in the mind and stability in the body. Grounding creates calm, destroys stress, and reminds us of who we are by diverting our attention from thinking and making us feel at home in our own bodies. The process of grounding is an invitation to trust that we are and will be supported. It's a reminder of our deep connection to the earth beneath us, and the power it has to affect the way we think, feel, and express ourselves.

new year, new habits

The new solar year is upon us as the Earth begins to tilt back toward the Sun, signifying the completion of another life cycle before the emergence of spring. For thousands of years the Winter Solstice has been celebrated around the world—acknowledging the shortest day of the year as a return to light, a return to innocence; a rebirth along the wheel of life as the great world continues to spin.

During this cycle, we are invited to realign with our goals and ideals as we look toward the new year ahead—despite the chaos of the holiday season as the calendar turns.

Winter Solstice has been a time of celebration, rest, and emotional and physical nourishment for thousands of years.

Setting intentions at the winter solstic practice

As we lay out the framework for our plans, we are building a path that lights the way through the darkness of winter and guides us toward our brightest future. Through continued refinement of our goals, a willingness to understand that mistakes will be made and that we may need to change course along the way, intentions are little stepping stones that lead us like a compass toward our highest potential. An intention is the starting point of a dream; what makes the unconscious conscious. It is the creative power that fulfills our heart’s desires, be it career or relationships, money or material things, personal or spiritual ascension.

Solstice practice

Winter Solstice in the Northern hemisphere coincides with the sun’s ingress into earth-sign Capricorn, the sign traditionally aligned with the knees. Kneel in gratitude for your body, your practice, your life. Let saying the word knees be a kind of yogic mnemonic for thinking about your needs. Which ones really could use some attention now? While you are working on the answer to that question, please your knees in these poses, which connect you to Mother Earth.

Much like our yoga practices, our intentions are always in flow—and are changing from moment to moment. Through the ritual of practice, the intentions we set in motion will automatically become second nature, as old layers, habits, and selves begin to fall away in this great unraveling toward the Self; our truest nature. And like a seed, an intention must be planted, nourished, and given patience. But an intention cannot grow if we cling to it—it must be released outwardly to make itself known to the universe.

Activate your intentions for the new year by turning inward and awakening your inner fire; by learning to see in the dark. Think of the Winter Solstice as the fourth and final movement of your 2020 life-symphony. Synchronize your breath to movement that’s strong and intuitive. Go slowly, and let go of what no longer serves you so that you may clear the slate for all that is coming your way.

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