January is a time for fresh starts and new adventures. 2023 is ripe with possibility. Travel is back. Community is back. And good health is always trending. There is no better way than getting a yoga retreat on the calendar to dedicate time to explore a new place and spend some quality time with yourself.
GYPSET Yoga Retreats co-founders Laurel Van Matre and Melissa Schoeller have been leading yoga retreats since 2018 after being yoga instructors for many years prior. Both seasoned travelers, their first guided yoga retreat was to the municipality of Tulum in sunny Mexico. Following that trip, the destinations and interest kept expanding and now include both domestic and international destinations. They guide travelers on about a dozen unique retreats each year with yogis ranging in age from 22-82. Laurel says, “There is a wide mix of ages and yoga experience. Some have years of experience, and others are new to the practice. Some are solo travelers. Some come with a friend, a partner, or family member. Some meet new friends and travel together afterward. We accommodate a wide variety of travel and fitness needs, and there is a very strong community piece to what we do.”
They recently returned from one of their favorite destinations: Portugal. The Portugal retreat took place in a pristine seaside location a few hours south of Lisbon. The retreat goers spent a glorious week on a lush 275-acre private ranch where they dined on chef-crafted food, had daily yoga instruction, and opportunities for excursions like horseback riding or hiking the famed coastal Fisherman’s Trail. Yoga practice punctuated by fabulous food and endless ocean views sounds hard to beat. Laurel says the food is a vital part of the experience. “To have food that nurtures you is as important as the yoga.” While this is the second time GYPSET has visited Portugal, it is already on the calendar again for 2024. The photos are surreal but be assured the experience is quite real.
Melissa enjoys seeing how these trips change people. “I love watching people soften as each day goes by. You can literally see a retreat transformation right in front of your eyes.”
Participants are invited to do as much or as little as they desire. There are opportunities for local activities and socializing but also time to curl up with a book if the mood strikes.
Laurel says they hear all the time, “It’s the perfect mix of wellness and adventure. And people always mention how much they laugh. They can’t remember the last time they laughed so much and had so much fun.”
Upcoming destinations include stays at Whitefish, Montana, Joshua Tree in California, the Allegheny mountains in Pennsylvania, and global adventures in Bali, Morocco, Belize, Italy, Croatia, and Costa Rica. “We are going to go all over the world,” says Laurel.
GYPSET draws travelers from Minnesota but also from around the country and the world. “We are getting people from all over the country. We’re starting to get international travelers. Bringing people together enhances the experience, meeting people from all over the world. And many are repeat travelers. Some book their next one while on a retreat!” Laurel says.
And do these yogi globetrotters ever tire of the planning, the teaching, the coordinating? Their answer is a flat-out no. “Many people comment on how much time we spend with our retreaters. We both attend every trip and are with the group every step of the way. We are as excited about it as they are,” Laurel says.
I asked Melissa what she would say to a first-time retreat traveler prior to the trip. “Savor the experience. Expect to walk away feeling nourished, well rested, and connected to a whole new group of friends.” It’s hard to imagine a more ideal start to 2023 and beyond.
Join the GYPSET community on one of their dreamy retreats to quench your wanderlust and perhaps discover a new part of yourself. But please, don’t take my spot.