New Jersey-based online yoga instructor, Janice Liou, is devoted to opening doors to healthier and happier lifestyles through the practice of yoga and through wellness-oriented adventures with like-minded people. Janice aims to empower her students by establishing a connection with the mind, body, and soul to create a deeper connection with oneself. To delve deeper into the practice of yoga, spirituality, and cultural connections, Janice hosts retreats to different international locations so students can fully immerse themselves in their practice and self for one week. Eating local cuisine, exploring the land, daily yoga sessions, and self-discovery are what one can expect from Janice’s incredible retreats. One of her latest retreats was a journey to Ubud, Bali where students encountered a transformative experience in one of the most spiritually healing locations on Earth. This awakening adventure provides students with a fresh mindset and healing tactics to take into their lives. I had the opportunity to speak with Janice and gain a deeper understanding of why she teaches yoga, the purpose of her retreats, and what she hopes her students take away from her instruction.
How did you get involved with practicing and teaching yoga?
I first started when I was 17 because I was struggling through anorexia, stress, and anger and my doctor suggested I try yoga. I found my first yoga studio when I was in high school in Taiwan. I joined for three months and thought it was so difficult and all I could hear was loud breathing around me. I stayed with it because they (the yoga studio) wanted you to be accountable, so I decided to try different types of yoga and found a love for Yin Yoga. Yin Yoga is all about holding postures and surrendering into the stretch and it allows me to sit with myself and let go of any thoughts coming up.
I practiced a lot at home on my own when I came back to the United States for college because I didn’t have a studio to go to. It wasn’t until eight years later when I got a job at Lululemon and they offered a lot of yoga classes which helped me find a yoga studio. Once I found a studio, it introduced me to a whole new community of yogis and I did my yoga training that year. At the time, I was still Pre-Med and working towards becoming a doctor but I decided to give myself one year of opportunity to quit my job and try teaching yoga and it was an incredible experience that opened doors to an entirely new lifestyle.
I connected with students and yogis through social media for both traveling and teaching opportunities. In 2018, I launched an online yoga service that teaches students through digital videos, and this year I launched my app, Om Life Living. I am now about to launch a service to help struggling yoga teachers create a sustainable lifestyle platform and put it online.
Who would you say your retreats are aimed towards?
Retreats are aimed towards anyone who is looking to switch things up. Anyone who has been feeling stuck in a routine and they are not feeling inspired. It is a truly transformational experience where you get to connect with other people who are similar and have the drive to develop and grow. Beginners are more than welcome. Bali was especially aimed towards beginners since it is a great way for beginners to start their path with a strong footing. It is seven days of learning the practice, culture, and mindset of yoga.
Why did you choose Bali as the location of this retreat?
I have been to Bali three times before the retreat. There is something really magical about Bali and when you get there you really understand the magic of it. The culture feels traditional, but it is also very broad because people travel to Bali from all over the world. The retreat is very spiritual, but also includes the modernized convenience of luxury.
The scenery of Bali is another huge reason I chose the location (for the retreat). You have the sea, the jungle, and the mountains, so we try to bring the students to experience all three sectors of nature. The rice fields, temples, and mountains are breathtaking and it is epic to experience the sunsets over the water. It’s so beautiful. I have led other retreats but none of them have all of the elements the way that Bali does, and the traditional culture ties everything together.
What do you hope your students gain from the retreat experience?
I hope they open themselves up to seeing their own mindset and being more open to possibilities. The first step of the student booking their retreat is already them taking accountability to change their own lives. I also hope they discover something about themselves that they have not known before. Whether it is what they are passionate about, what type of energy they want in their lives, or where they can challenge themselves. Of course, I want them to learn some yoga, but I really hope they take away that experience of living life so fully back into their own lives.
What does a typical day on the retreat entail?
We start quite early with a morning practice to the sunrise and we end with a meditation and then we have breakfast together. Breakfast is different every morning, but it is usually something light like a smoothie or acai bowl, and everything is freshly prepared by private chefs. After breakfast, there is relaxation time which the students can spend at the pool, at their villas, or with spa treatments. Traditional Balinese massages are amazing. We usually have a private massage therapist with us at the resort, and we highly encourage the students to partake. The amount of yoga we practice on the retreat combined with the jet lag makes a massage the perfect way to get to that ultimate state of relaxation. On some days we have planned excursions where we will all go out into the town and shop, visit the temples or maybe have some more food.
We come back together in the evening for another yoga practice. This practice is usually a workshop where we can work on specific skills such as flexibility or strengthening. After our evening practice, we enjoy dinner together which is also prepared by a private chef. All of the meals are vegetarian and are prepared in a traditional Balinese way. We end the night with a journaling session, some sort of ceremony, and relaxation time before bed. Being immersed with a group of strangers that are all looking for an experience and to grow in some way for seven days connects everyone very intimately, ultimately turning strangers into a family.
Janice hopes to host more retreats in 2021 and is eager to connect with new students and expand her community. Her focus on the cultural and community aspects of yoga through connecting people with similar interests provides a full package of wellness for those who participate in her retreats. The practice of yoga combined with a drive towards healing and the inspiration traveling ignites, creates healthier lives and mindsets for Janice’s students. If you are interested in a transformative experience, visit www.janiceliou.com to learn more about how you can elevate your life.