Wellness travel is no longer considered only to be a high-end spa vacation. Today, it encompasses everything from yoga retreats to tech detoxes. It’s about traveling with a purpose to promote health and well-being.
Wellness travel is rising in popularity. That shouldn’t come as a surprise considering the wellness industry grew over 10% between 2013-2015. Tourism now makes up $563 billion of the $3.7 trillion growing industry, according to the Global Wellness Institute. Expanding into wellness travel is a great way for companies operating in the health and wellness sector to extend their brand reach and capitalize on the growing popularity of wellness.
We recently partnered with Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, and this spring marked their first-ever international wellness program to India. We had the chance to speak with a former Academic Travel Abroad program manager, seasoned tour leader, Kripalu ayurvedic counselor, and dedicated yoga instructor, Kyra Anastasia Sudofsky. Read on to gain insight on wellness travel and the success of Kripalu’s inaugural international program.
Q: Hi, Kyra! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
A: I’ve been working as a tour manager with ATA for almost 25 years. I have traveled all over the world, throughout Europe and Asia. It has been a pleasure to work with such a professional company and to meet interesting people from many cultures and backgrounds.
Q: Have you ever participated in a wellness travel program before?
A: Yes, many times. I have led retreats to Jamaica, Turks and Caicos, West Virginia, and Hawaii. These trips typically included a strong element of yoga and meditation as well as a focus on healthy cuisine.
Q: How did you get involved with the Kripalu organization?
A: I have been attending classes at Kripalu for over 27 years! I started while still a student at the University of Massachusetts, and I worked in the Kripalu kitchen during spring break. Kripalu is a very special place for me, and I know I will continue to return over and over again.
Q: What motivated you to lead the Kripalu Yoga trip to India?
A: It was a dream come true for me to unite ATA and Kripalu. I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time! I liked the idea of connecting my two loves, yoga and travel.
Q: Describe a typical day on the Kripalu program in India. What activities did travelers participate in?
A: We typically began each day with a yoga class and then went on a sightseeing excursion. One of the group’s favorite excursions was visiting a local school and teaching yoga to the children. We also had the opportunity to make bread at a Sikh temple and dine with a local family in their home. The extension was much more active than the main program. While staying at the SwaSwara resort, we had more time to relax and enjoy Ayurvedic treatments.
Q: What makes India a good location for a Yoga trip?
A: India is where yoga originated. It makes so much sense to travel to India for anyone interested in yoga, spirituality, or meditation.
Q: What other destinations would be ideal for wellness travel?
A: There is so much that can be done in India, but other excellent destinations include Belize, Costa Rica, Cuba, Greece, Italy, France, Indonesia, Nepal, and Bhutan.
Q: What was the most meaningful or memorable part about the trip? (for you or the travelers)
A: The highlight for me was making new friends from Kripalu and in India. We were fortunate to have such a cohesive and wonderful group of like-minded people.
Kripalu’s first international wellness trip was a huge success! Mandie Dixon, a Kripalu traveler, reminisced, “The trip was awe inspiring. The yoga and ayurveda was above excellence in subject content and delivery. The food, lodging, and tour was outstanding in comfort, and the leaders were knowledgeable and caring. This trip changed my life and will forever be in my heart.”
We look forward to working with Kripalu on future programs as the demand for wellness travel continues to grow.