We spoke with co-founder of Yogascapes, Ben Crosky about all things yoga and adventure!
RYB: Tell us about how Yogascapes began.
Yogascapes: I started my own yoga travel company, solyoga, as a lifestyle exploration with a desire to to work that connected me to the things that I was passionate about. After years of learning about what it meant to pursue operating a small business based on I realized that collaboration was my next step and so I came together with Yoganonymous founder Dan Wilf to relaunch my previous business on a platform rooted in partnership and infused with everything i had learned from all of my work on Solyoga. I had never anticipated that what I thought was simply surrounding myself with things that I loved was actually a pathway to a powerful, transformative, beautiful offering that is at the heart of a yoga retreat.
RYB: What is the mission of Yogascapes?
Yogascapes: Our mission is to create more access to transformative experiences that connect people to their most aligned version of themselves.
RYB: What are the core values for retreats led by Yogascapes?
Yogascapes: Values are something we are constantly talking about at Yogascapes. We are in a unique position because the values that we strive to act from in business are the exact same values that we yearn to learn and teach on retreat. In other words, the product we offer to the world teaches the same values that we infuse into it's creation. Therefor what takes center stage at Yogascapes is the word, the value and the act of integration. We are obsessed with the play between what we learn on retreat, how to take it back into our lives and how to, as the ones running these retreats, integrate every single value we embrace on retreat into our team. So what you find on retreat as a core value is what you find in our office - Curiosity, Playfulness, Safety, Alignment, Balance, Flexibility, Seasonality, Rest, Movement & More!
RYB: How large is your community at Yogascapes and do you have plans to expand?
Yogascapes: At the core of our company we are 5 employees that work from Oakland, Brooklyn, Colorado, Petaluma. All of us love working hard at creating a thriving business that supports our desire for collaboration as well as having time to pursue our own self development and interests like teaching yoga, massage, leading retreats and more. Because we look to hire people that both can handle the behind the scenes work and can guide retreats, our team is growing slowly and consciously which we know leads to long term sustainability. Our team of about 50 amazing teachers is extraordinary and our growing base of new and repeat customers constantly amazes us.
RYB: How do you select your teachers for retreats?
Yogascapes: Although we focus on all elements of the travel experience - incredible food, amazing local guides, inspiring locations, unique accommodations and everything in between - the teacher on retreat is the most important element of the retreat. We hire teachers that aren't just experienced, but that inspire us with the way they hold space and share their teachings with us. Quality teachers not only conduct incredible yoga classes, but continue to teach by how they interact with the world. We personally know our teachers really well and only hire those that we ourselves want to be on retreat with and having gone on/produced nearly 100 retreats, we are pretty picky!
Most importantly, the only mold that our teachers fit into is that they are each uniquely embodying their power in a palpable, beautiful and inspiring way. This can take the form of amazing vinyasa flow, deep delicious meditations, tantric philosophy, alignment based practice,
RYB: Yogascapes hosts retreats in diverse and stunning locations around the world, how do you select the locations?
Yogascapes: We select locations with similar criteria as we use for teachers. Unique, inspiring, outward expression of their own beauty. Nature is a huge element for all of our retreats so we often find ourselves in the most epic settings in the jungle, desert, beach, mountains and lakes. Food is another huge directing factor of choosing retreat centers and locations. We love good healthy, inspiring, heart warming food.
On the logistical side we try to offer multiple kinds of locations that can appeal to all budgets, all desires and people traveling from different places around the world.
RYB: What makes Yogascapes unique to other retreat networks?
Yogascapes: First of all we handcraft every single yoga retreat that you see on our website. Every single teacher is high quality, every itinerary is made with love and each experience is on that we are fighting over who gets to go on to guide! What's really unique about us is our diversity of offerings. You can travel with us at multiple price points, in multiple locations, every month of the year and connect with so many different styles of yoga and travel. What astonishes me the most is on every single trip the participants are absolutely incredible. I've spent time on other retreats and the open hearted way that people show up on our retreats and the diversity of wonderful people that continue to show up to make new friends or connect with old friends is just incredible.
RYB: What are the benefits going on a yoga retreat?
Yogascapes: This could be a really long answer, but if I had to pick one thing is that a yoga retreat creates a safe space to shift out of our deeply ingrained daily patterns to allow us to reconnect to who we really are through rest, through adventure, through movement, through connection to nature, through inspiring people and through our own generosity toward ourselves that it takes to simply show up on a yoga retreat.
RYB: How do you see the world of travel and yoga evolving in the coming years?
Yogascapes: Because it's such a growing industry it is already getting very watered down with businesses that are looking to take advantage of the market by capitalizing on people's desires to live a life more connected and yoga teachers who don't actually have the necessary experience to hold space in an intimate retreat setting. It will be harder and harder to sift through quality experiences which is why networks like ours and like Raise Your Beat will become even more important.
RYB: How does Yogascapes impact the world in a positive way?
Yogascapes: Bill Plotkin suggests that we are a world stuck in adolescence. That a lot of the systemic issues of society come from a population that doesn't have any rites of passage, that is disconnected from the teaching of our elders and far removed from the lessons of nature. Stuck in a state of power dynamic, greed and lack of identity. At its essence, we are helping people connect to themselves, to let go of adolescent patterns, to be more aligned in who they are and how they act in the world. The more people that we can support aligning with who they really are, the more we can help society shift our of the struggle with greed into harmony. This alignment, this reconnection is contagious and the work that is done on retreat ripples back out into the world over and over again.