One of my goals for 2018 is to lead an international yoga retreat. Ever since I studied abroad in Ankara, Turkey in 2007, I have been obsessed with sharing my deep appreciation for the cultures of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). My affinity for the region runs deep as does my stubborn desire to positively influence perceptions of it. I started a blog while I was still in business school called Because I Love Sand. Here, I explored topics that I felt would make the region seem less scary, intimidating and unfamiliar to friends and family back home. I wrote about pomegranates, princesses, and Phoenicians and attempted to translate the charm and wonder of the Middle East and North Africa. I have not updated it in almost four years, but it is a project that I still feel extremely proud of.
My favorite b-school professor (of entrepreneurship, of course), pushed me to write a business plan for the site, to monetize my mission, and to stick with it after school. I entertained this option, but didn't have any real ideas for how to turn this particular passion into a viable business. I remember so clearly the crestfallen look on his face when I told him I did not plan to become an entrepreneur after school and was searching for a job. He seemed disappointed in my decision to go out and get a job! I will never forget that. He knew something about me then that I didn't quite know or own yet. Just over four years later, I am back on track, and this time with lots of viable entrepreneurial ideas.
I want to lead yoga + culture retreats in the Middle East and North Africa. I envision cultural immersion being the primary focus and yoga & mindfulness being tools for processing travel experiences. My retreats won't be kick back on the beach and relax type of retreats, but let's walk through the souk and smell all the smells and really learn about the history of this place. I want to share the richness of the region while arming people with tools to process through travel challenges. I think the possibilities are endless here, but I'm focusing on Morocco as my first destination. Right now, I'm thinking Marrakesh in October, 2018 for about a week. Picture bright blue skies, snow-capped mountains, vibrant green palm trees and pale pink facades. Imagine the most beautiful tile work and lush gardens you've ever seen, harissa, tagines, mounds of paprika and ras al hanut, motorbikes whirling around you, monkeys and snakes performing, open eyes, deep breaths, and full hearts. Are you in?