Located in picturesque San Marcos, a small mellow village on the banks of stunning Lake Atitlan, Guatemala sits a perfect escape from the stresses of everyday life. The Yoga forest rests atop the hills of this quaint village with sweeping views of smoking volcanoes and the glistening lake below, offering a spiritual and eco holiday to anyone who desires it.
Imagine starting your days as the sun begins to rise with meditation and invigorating yoga to a backdrop of trickling water and the sounds of nature. Get your mind and body working in harmony with delicious vegetarian meals using organic fresh produce, much of it picked from the very gardens surrounding the retreat. Spend your days hiking the nearby hills, reading in a hammock, or learning about permaculture and how you can implement it into your everyday lives. Surround yourself with the positive energy that seems to flow through everyone who works and visits the grounds. And finally wind down your afternoon with a stress releasing yoga flow that will send you into a relaxed oblivion before your final meal of the day.
This is the daily schedule of any attendee of the Yoga Forest, where you can attend a single day retreat or fully immerse yourself by staying in one of the shared or private cabins where a minimum 3 nights is required. The eco lodge runs on solar power, has compost toilets, the best open air shower you may ever have the chance of experiencing and no internet access, all of which make it a perfect spot to switch off, reset and get yourself back to the simple way of life even if it’s just for a short vacation.
You can also find Yoga teacher training, permaculture workshops, and yoga retreats being offered throughout the year. For more information and pricing details head to www.theyogaforest.com. and further details about the lovely village of San Marcos here.
American Greed – Don’t ever pay in advance!
The Yoga classes are great and I really enjoyed the weekly pizza night. Yes the view is stunning and I love the idea of the YF but the reality doesn’t even come close. The employees have two faces: One when the owner is around and the other one when she’s not. Complaining about colleagues happens publicly and the visitors are able to hear their dissatisfaction. It is not about peace, love and yoga but all about money. If you wish to drink a tee or coffe you have to pay Q10. If you wish to have a cookie, bliss ball or a Kombucha you pay Q10 as well.
In order to confirm your booking you don’t have a choice but to pay in advance. When I decided leaving two days earlier (after 5 instead of 7) I addressed it to the manager who wasn’t able to assist me instead said that I must speak to the owner about it. The owner was there only two days later and when I spoke to her she replied this had to be addressed to the manager. Really? Eventually a refund was agreed (but no amount) and out of $89 that I spent for two nights (Cabaña, 4 beds) I only received $29 back because the ‘fees and taxes are not reimbursed’. It was treated as if I only paid $14.50 per night which would be a fair price considering there is barley any cost for the owner other then the yoga classes. There was only ONE shower when I was there and around 14 people total. The meals were kept simple. Rice every day for lunch and dinner; little variety except for the pizza night. There the greed came again; a ‘Nutella Fund’ was created because one little jar of Nutella (Q30; US$ 3.90) was purchased for 8 guests and 6 employees. Really? Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea of sharing everything and normally wouldn’t mind IF things were kept fair! It just doesnt match with the promise of the YF. The place has a lot of potential and something awesome could be created but sadly it’s rather far away from it. (i.e maintenance: Bee hives at accomodation and eating area which are growing and causing about 20-30 bees flying around and in the honey jar and food every morning) If you are just there to relax, minding your own business and do Yoga, you will be in a good place. If you care about the atmosphere and mindset and of people don’t go. Some employees seem to escape their lives in the USA and don’t do much more; one seemed frustrated and unhappy with everyone and everything around them. Example of mindset: I brought my own yoga mat (clean, especially in comparison to the ones that are provided) and once before class a ‘Yoga teacher’ was stepping on it with his dirty, nacked feet whiping them on my mat and leaving them with brown strokes ‘for fun’! During the very same class he was saying how important it is to ask to ‘enter the personal space’ of a person (the mat). He clearly doesn’t understand Yoga because for him this was a joke.
Bottom line: Don’t pay in advance and be aware of the minimum stay (3 or 7 night) Good luck to you all!