By May Zhee Lim, Markets Media Life Correspondent
EAT.PRAY.MOVE, brainchild of Erin Lewis, offers all-inclusive, week-long retreats that incorporate yoga practice, healthy cuisine, and rejuvenating excursions into your holiday routine. Open to all levels of yogis, the retreats take place in exotic locales around the world, often in rustic settings that perfectly complement EPM’s wellness philosophy. We chat with Lewis about her love for yoga, the popularity of her retreats, and what’s in store for EPM.
Markets Media Life: Tell us a little about EAT.PRAY.MOVE and what retreats you have available this year.
Erin Lewis: We’re excited this year to continue our classic retreats which we’ve done for years—including retreats in Tuscany, Provence, Croatia and Marrakesh – while bringing back a new luxury version of our retreat in Ischia, Italy and a few collaboration retreats. We’ll be meeting in Florence, Italy for the second year for our Five Senses retreat where we’ll explore one of the five senses each day with wine tastings, bike rides, music events, and spa days. Then we’re continuing our “Form+Focus” yoga and art retreats in Iceland, Goa, and Marrakesh. These have turned out to be some of our most popular retreats this year. Later in the spring we hope to add a few more locations and dates for 2015 as over half of the retreats are already sold out.
MML: What were you doing before you started EPM and what inspired you to go with the idea?
EL: Before starting EPM, I worked in a few different fields including graphic design and fashion. I lived in Florence, Italy from 2007 to 2008 for a change of pace and to really dive deep into the language and culture of my favorite country. After moving back to the States I became increasingly dedicated to finding my true passions and creating a way to incorporate these into something I could do and share. Travel and yoga came together quite easily and I decided to put together a travel package that I feel would be something I would love to attend myself—including the sites and tastes of Italy with a daily practice to go along with it. This is how EPM began during the first year in Italy and quickly expanded to other unique and exciting locations. Now the final part of my passions, humanitarian work, is finding a place in the mix as well—with our Give Back retreats which I mention later…
MML: How would you describe your client base?
EL: Our average guest is a solo woman traveler – although men, couples, mothers/daughters, and families all join us as well. The age range is broad and changes with each retreat but has always led to fun connections and learning experiences between the younger and older crowds. Probably the majority are from the U.S., but not by much, as many guests come from all around the world. Now many of our retreats are repeat clients who join us on a retreat (or sometimes a couple retreats) each year and it’s been so wonderful to see many relationships made throughout the years that it’s a joy to watch mini-reunions happen on trips with past guests.
MML: What do you think people get most out of going to these retreats? Any memorable testimonies from your clients?
EL: I’ve consistently heard feedback about the balance that the guests have felt on the retreats—from the yoga to day trips, from the still to the active, and the mix of health and fun! The amount of repeat guests we receive is a testimony in itself and feel honored each time someone chooses to join us at EAT.PRAY.MOVE. We have begun to highlight a few of our guests on our blog series, “Traveler Testimony” and other testimonials can be found on our site.
MML: Of all the exercise trends that have come and go over the years, yoga still seems to enjoy the same (maybe even growing) popularity. Why do you think that is?
EL: I believe that yoga will continue to grow as it’s such a holistic practice. There are definitely trends within yoga as well and there will always be people who come and go, but for those who really dig in and find a true personal practice, it’s something that one can’t help but incorporate in their lives. I’ve found that yoga keeps expanding in definition, in personal meaning, and in overall depth for me as I’ve continued a practice for almost 17 years. Finding that the asanas (physical postures) are just one branch of the “8 limbs of yoga,” leaves 7 other main principles to study, and dive into—which is more than a lifetime of practice. Yoga is a practice for the body, the mind, and the spirit…and it’s just that, a practice, so that means it’s never finished.
MML: How much can people expect to pay for these retreats?
EL: Depending on the location and type of retreat (classic, luxury, “Form+Focus”), we offer a range from low $2000 to low $3000 for an inclusive retreat (includes lodging, meals, day trips, classes, spa days, tours, etc).
MML: What’s next for EAT.PRAY.MOVE? Any exciting plans for the future?
EL: In 2014 we added our “Give Back Initiative” where we started to work with non-profits in the areas where our retreats are held. We’re expanding this to more locations this year and hope to include a “service retreat” option in the future where all profits will go to our charity partner and along with the yoga/daytrips/spas, etc that we have on each retreat, this service trip will also include time for the guests to work on a project throughout the week directly benefiting our partner, such as a clean-up project for a village in Marrakesh, or a kids education program in India.
Besides our Give Back plans, we are also in the works of scouting a few new locations for later this year—including another warm, summer locale, and even a cozy, winter retreat!
Photos via EAT.PRAY.MOVE
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