Tales of Traveling Yogis : Interview with Danae Robinett
You know when you talk with a friend after she gets back from a long trip and she has so many great stories to share and it makes you just want to TRAVEL so bad?!
We all know that's what you call the travel bug... and we got that feeling after talking with our friend Danae. And now we get to share her stories with you!
Danae Robinett is an amazing yoga teacher based in San Fransisco. We got to know Danae inside our free Facebook community for yoga teacher and retreat leaders - Travel, Teach and Thrive - where she's a active and inspiring member.
In her interview she shares about her recent travels to India and Guatemala. These are both very exotic and culturally-rich countries that provide a such a perfect setting for a dream yoga retreat experience.
Danae, who has led more than a dozen yoga retreats around the world, also talks about how she got started offering yoga and travel. And she shares useful retreat advice for teachers who want to take the leap to plan retreat their own retreats.
Let's dig in!!
Welcome back from your recent trip to India! Can you share a couple of highlights from your trip?
Ahhh India is a feast for the senses with all the colors, flavors, smells and sounds.
On this trip, I visited Rishikesh and Varanasi. Rishikesh is a yoga students playground and Varanasi is known as the City of Death.
Devotion is real in India. And the food is so delicious. India invites you to step toward your essential nature, where you are at peace with yourself and the world around you…I am already planning my return.
And a little birdie told us you’re planning on hosting a retreat in India 2017. Exciting! Can you share a sneak peek into what you’re envisioning?
Yes, I am so excited to bring a group to Rishikesh to celebrate Navaratri, which is the 9 Day Festival to the Mother Goddess, Durga from September 21 through October 1.
My vision for this retreat is Yoga + Ayurveda = Sacred Time & Space
Now more about YOU! We’d love to know about your and you yoga journey. Can you share a little about how you became a teacher and what you love most about teaching yoga & leading retreats?
My first introduction to yoga was through a co-worker that convinced me to attend “this class” which was Bikram (even though the co-worker failed to address what to wear and the need to be well-hydrated). As a dancer, I made my way through the class fairly easily even while coping with a visible ankle injury. I ended up modifying one pose and was scolded severely by the rather stern teacher. While I did not mind the sweating, the drill sergeant mentality did bode well with me, nor did the total disregard for my injury. AND yet resting in savasana, a bliss I had not yet known before washed over and it is that moment of bliss that inspired me to explore other forms and styles of yoga. Curiosity won that night back in 1999 and in 2005, I started teaching.
I truly feel blessed to share my passion for yoga with others. I am honored to witness when a student begins to really believe in themselves, to see and feel their potential is vast...
And of course you are multi-talented, multi-passionate person. Can you share with us a little more about what you bring into your teaching and what makes you unique as a teacher (other skills, passions, etc)?
In teaching, I want students to experience a joy with each practice as they discover how much stronger they are than perhaps what they may previously have thought. Yoga is not about struggling, rather it is all about expressing that vast potential that is within all of us just begging to be revealed. I want students to trust in this potential and radiate their light out into the world!
I LOVE leading yoga retreats. Creating the space for yoga students to step back, to re-treat from their patterns and routines and really examine what is serving them or not serving them is so rewarding.
As a facilitator, it is all about supporting the students on their yogic journey providing nurturing support, especially when outside the United States. In all my experience with either leading or attending retreats, I have been able to observe what works really well on retreat, as well as what can go wrong. Clarity in all communication is imperative for managing retreat expectations.
I am a dancer, a mother-less daughter, an auntie, a nurturer, and an essentialista! I am also rather funny, I use humor in my classes all of the time. Laughter is so healing! My greatest intention while teaching is that every single student joining a class realizes YOGA is for them, that yoga meets everyone and everyBODY exactly where they are. No matter what, I want the take away moment for all students to realize is that yoga is a gift!
I also weave in dōTERRA essential oils while teaching both public classes and in private practice and most definitely while on retreat.
Teaching yoga and educating others about essential oils has a real sweet synchronicity to it!
Moving on to retreats, we know a lot of teachers WANT to lead retreats, but have many fears and doubts about making it happen. Was there anything you had to “get over” or “transform” in order to lead your first retreat?
Hmm great question, mind-set is huge, right in all aspects of life. I would say no, not really, and here is why, I had already attended a retreat as a student, assisted another teacher on retreat as an Ayurvedic chef, was invited to join two retreats and merely teach some yoga sessions. So after all of those experiences, I decided the time was right and the time was now to offer a retreat on on my own, that was in 2012. I recently returned from Guatemala where I was leading my 13th yoga retreat.
Tell us about one of your most amazing retreat experiences.
One of the most amazing yoga retreat experiences was during my most recent retreat, Mayan Magic: A Yoga Adventure Retreat to Guatemala. A local shaman performed a traditional Mayan Fire Ceremony, this wonderful ritual involved movement, singing and making several offerings to the fire. We sat outside around an open fire pit facing the beautiful Lake Atitlán. We were lucky enough to have a translator to better understand when he spoke in Maya. All of the yoga students really enjoyed this sacred ceremony. Therein lies the magic of attending a yoga retreat, for when you attend a yoga retreat (at least an international one) you have numerous experiences that are simply not possible back home.
And we all know that things don’t always go as planned (for us or for our students). Tell us about 1 thing that happened on a retreat that was NOT in the plan, and how you handled it.
Yes, as much as I plan, sometimes there are things beyond my control, take for instance weather. Two of my students flying from the US to Guatemala were delayed due to a Hurricane. Thankfully, they had not even left the US at that point which I was grateful for since they did have a connection in El Salvador. So what I did I learn: verify flight statuses for all students and be ready to make last minute adjustments to shuttle pick-ups at the airport.
Thankfully, the shuttle service was very accommodating and re-scheduled the pick-up with total ease. Additionally, my group shared the retreat venue with another. The luggage for four people from the other retreat group never showed up, until one day before the group was to depart…ugh, you can imagine the frustration and anxiety. So the lesson there is to pack 2 sets of clothes in a carry-on bag, along with your everyday essentials that you absolutely must have, say for instance contact lens solution. While it is true in most countries these items can be purchased on the ground, you will most certainly never find your favorite brand which means the quality could be different, so why risk it. Pack what you need in your carry-on so you have access to it when you need it.
What’s your biggest advice for any yoga teacher wanting to lead a retreat?
Clarity is key. Get real clear about why you want to lead a retreat and who you want to serve. Be courageous and go for it.
Remember you are not on vacation, do not check out (I was a student on a retreat where the teacher basically taught yoga and then checked out for the day). She was not holding space for any of students.
Book time for yourself to experience the retreat venue/country post-retreat for retreat processing and integration.
Learn more about Danae
Danae Robinett is a San Francisco based yoga teacher with a degree in Dance from Arizona State University. Danae has joyfully been teaching yoga full time for 11 years now in San Francisco, Phoenix, Italy, Ecuador and Bali. She offers group classes, private sessions, workshops, presents at yoga festivals and leads retreats (domestically & internationally.)
Connect with Danae on social media: Instagram, Facebook and Twitter with handle @BellaYogini