As we plan to journey far off the beaten mat, surrounded by glorious flowers, magical springs, and giant trees, it’s important to couple the experience with a teacher who understands the magic of nature, which is why California-vinyasa teacher Marina Gustucci, everyone’s favorite “Yoga Vagabond” is leading our Bhakti in Bloom retreat
We sat down with Marina to get to know her a bit better.
We are so excited that you are leading our Bhakti in Bloom Retreat! Can you tell us a little bit about what makes this retreat special?
The magic of this retreat lies in the reclusiveness of the location. Sierraville is tucked away high in the mountains amongst giant fir forests, grassy meadows, fragrant sagebrush and, of course, our magical springs! To top it off, we get to experience the high altitude spring season reveal its very first flowers.
What are you looking forward to the most?
Personally, I can’t wait to check out the incredible view we’ll have of the stars without the city lights stealing any of their thunder. It’s a perfect place to explore the depths of our inner landscapes while submerged in the bounty and beauty of the outer.
What makes the Sierra Hot Springs an ideal place for a yoga retreat?
Sierra Hot Springs provides a kind of rustic seclusion that’s sure to evoke a deep seeded calm in just about anyone who’s lucky enough to visit. My favorite spring on the property is a shallow warm pool set aside amongst cedar trees and surrounded by open grassy meadows. It’s a perfect little spot for anyone needing to grab a moment of solitude for themselves. I love that our casual lodge-style digs make this retreat feel as if we’ve all landed at our very own cozy grown-up camp! It’s ideal for those of us looking to unplug, unwind, tune-in and recharge.
Obviously, a major aspect of every retreat that we have is the yoga. Can you tell us a bit about how you got into yoga? What made you interested in becoming a teacher as well?
I was a huge gym rat when I stumbled across yoga. I was bound so tightly that I couldn’t even touch my toes! On top of that, I had been long battling eating disorders and body image issues. My practice allowed me to find some desperately needed balance and flexibility — both inside and out. It made me feel so vibrant and healthy that I felt compelled to share my yoga with others in becoming a teacher. My main goal as a teacher has been facilitating students in deeply connecting with their bodies, to nature and each other in order to build sustainable communities around the practice of yoga.
Can you tell us a bit about your yoga classes and the style that you teach?
My central muse is nature, on top of which I layer my personal experiences. I lead students through a soulful vinyasa flow that’s alignment-rich vinyasa
and backed up by music that inspires movement. I encourage students to experiment through organic movement and creative sequencing. I want for every person who comes to my class to feel each breath, pose and transition fully and completely, without hesitation. Our asana practice is all about sensation, it’s about disengaging our analytical mind, and tapping into the emotional and spiritual body. I believe when we do this, we find in ourselves a powerful tool with which we can examine and manage our world through an entirely different, more intuitive based lens.
What do you hope your students gain through your classes on retreat and on retreat in general?
A fresh outlook on their practices, habits and rituals. Taking a step back from our daily routines can be quite an eye-opening experience. The space we gain from going on retreat is one of the best ways to effortlessly examine what we need and what we don’t need. Think of this retreat as a kind of spring cleaning for the soul!
Tell us a bit about your teachers. Who and what inspires you?
My teachers have ranged from old school power yoga folks like Bryan Kest to my current inspiration, Abby Tucker, who leads a more alignment based Hatha classes. The people who inspire me are those who awaken or shake-up my insides. I look for teachers who aren’t afraid to “stir the pot” and who operate with full integrity and passion. Beyond humans, the outdoors are what most inspire me.
Besides yoga, what are you passionate about?
I’m a huge outdoors
junkie. I grew up hiking and mountain biking in Marin, so nature has informed a large part of who I am. I’m also keyed into social activism, particularly in the realm of racial inequality and discrimination. I’ve spent over a decade working on different causes including receiving my undergrad degree in ethnic studies from UC Berkeley, many hours volunteering at Bay Area organizations and more recently, offering classes and special events to raise money and awareness around these very important issues.
We try to encourage self-care and love on all of our retreats. What’s one essential element to your self-care routine?
Well, it used to be escaping on almost daily hikes or rides, but as of late, it’s been taking part in a skincare regime every day. I had my first baby in November and so life has taken one of its major turns. At first, I resisted the change and felt like I was being robbed of my “me” time, but then I surrender to my new reality and changed what my solo time looked like. Now, I take a moment in the day for myself to wash my face and apply my favorite oils and creams. It may seem trivial, but as a new mom, it’s really the littlest things that help keep me sane.
What’s one quote that inspires you?
“You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.” –Malcolm X
Anything else that you would like to add!
I’m so looking forward to sharing in nature, practice, music, stories and grub with our future Bhakti in Bloom kula.