Sometimes you take a step towards a dream when you least expect it. In this case, it was a step taken in a place far away, on the bucket-list adventure of a lifetime. This small step has led to many good things since. Let’s step back and explain….
In the early summer of 2018, Danielle decided she needed a break from work. She reached out to her friend of over 20 years, Erika, and both felt like they needed to re-energize and refresh somewhere far away from the daily grind. Spontaneously, Danielle found a break in her schedule for two weeks in August and called Erika, “I have August 1st-15th free. Want to travel somewhere?” And like the adventurous traveler she is, Erika jumped at the opportunity.
Neither Erika or Danielle are strangers to travel – between them they have visited nearly 80 countries. For this trip, both felt compelled to find something active, adventurous, unique, and luxurious. They turned to ‘Google’ and stumbled upon Exotic Yoga Retreats and their annual adventure to Bhutan. They engaged Exotic Yoga Retreats’ owner, Gayle Olson, in many questions about this personally curated travel experience. A week later, they decided to sign up. Little did they know what an impactful decision that would turn out to be.
Landing in Bhutan was like traveling to an entirely new world. Nestled deep in the high Himalayas, amid lush forest, twisting rivers, and green valleys, this small Buddhist nation remains incredibly beautiful and unspoiled. Danielle and Erika were greeted with a warm local welcome and whisked away with their retreat group to the first of four unique guesthouses; a restored palace in the countryside. That afternoon they sank into traditional Bhutanese hot stone baths to soak away the jet lag and get their minds focused on the retreat ahead. Refreshed, the Bhutan group convened for a restorative yoga session overlooking the entire valley, followed by a wonderful dinner of fresh local ingredients. It was the perfect start to a magical trip.
Each day on retreat brought a new adventure, with lots of surprises along the way. From exploring many breathtaking temples and important cultural sites, shopping for local jewellery and handicrafts, hiking in the countryside, visiting the market with locals, to eating expertly prepared, local and fresh food (the ‘momos’ were a crowd favorite!), every day held something special. As they traveled around this magical country, Danielle and Erika enjoyed incredible hospitality in each and every location – from a local women-owned lodge in a small village, to a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World 5-star resort, where the royals stay on their travels. The Exotic Yoga Retreats’ Bhutanese local guide, Dorji, helped everyone immerse themselves in the culture.
For Danielle and Erika, yoga was the perfect way to stay balanced and energized on the trip. They formed part of a group comprised of all levels- from beginner to longtime practitioner. Nina Butler, Exotic Yoga Retreats tour leader and yoga instructor, expertly tailored each session to not only their ability, but also the group’s energy and daily itinerary. Most mornings, the group were encouraged to find their edge on their mats for an energizing flow session. Most evenings involved a meditation and restorative, or gentle class. All of this set the perfect stage for possibility.
So back to the dream…. Near the last day of the trip, Danielle and Erika made the iconic hike up to the Tiger’s Nest monastery. Perched at 10,240 feet on the side of a cliff, this stunning monastery, built in the 1600s, is an incredibly spiritual place. Getting there is not an easy feat. It is a few hours up, so you get time to dream and let your mind wander. En route, Erika and Danielle had a chance to reflect on their careers, their life goals and their longtime dream of running a travel and adventure business. As lifetime friends, they always thought this would be, “someday…..” which usually meant, years off, at a more “sensible and practical” time.
As they were daydreaming out loud, Nina happened to overhear and mentioned that perhaps, just perhaps, Gayle Olson would be interested in bringing on some new partners as she worked to grow Exotic Yoga Retreats. Danielle and Erika tucked this idea away for exploration as they reached the sacred monastery, and celebrated the breathtaking views from ancient vantage points.
This idea had taken root in their minds and spirits, and as they said farewell to Bhutan, to their new friends, and to their retreat, they vowed to explore the possibility when they arrived back in California. Fast forward a few weeks, and they found ourselves sitting down to lunch with Gayle. The three talented businesswomen brainstormed what a new partnership and a next chapter of Exotic Yoga Retreats could look like, together.
Six months down the line, Erika and Danielle are co-owners of Exotic Yoga Retreats alongside Gayle. They are all on a mission to build a thriving, sustainable business that makes a positive impact in people’s lives. They are committed to opening their Exotic Yoga Retreats family (meaning, clients, both new and returning) to worldly experiences in health, wellness, adventure, luxury, mindfulness and friendship.
The Exotic Yoga Retreats team is growing, with the addition of Lauren and Nina as their Client Relations and yoga Instructor leads. They support locally owned businesses around the world, and are actively scouting new adventures to add to their growing portfolio. All of this is possible because Danielle and Erika signed up for an adventure, said yes to a dream, and took the leap!
“Whether your travel and adventure dream is seeing a new country, trying out a yoga retreat for the first time, getting out of your comfort zone on a new travel experience, or deepening your practice in a focused way, we invite you to join us on retreat somewhere in the world soon. We’d be honoured to welcome you– or welcome you back– to our growing Exotic Yoga Retreats family.” – Danielle, Erika & Gayle.
Convinced this adventure to Bhutan is for you?
Enjoy $300 off this trip-of-a-lifetime! Use promo code EYRFAMILY to reserve your space and book before April 30th.
Want to meet Danielle and Erika, and ask them questions about their trip to Bhutan? Are you considering the 2019 Bhutan Cultural Immersion and Yoga Holiday? Exotic Yoga Retreats has set up an open Google Hangout session JUST FOR YOU! Ask Erika, Danielle, Nina and Lauren any questions you may have and start planning your trip to Bhutan!
Bhutan Google Hangout details:
Date: April 5th, at 7am PST (10amEST)
Or join by phone:
+1 208-696-2732 PIN: 881 035 870#