After years of traveling and exploring the world, yoga instructor and business owner Rachel Roberts is now using her experiences to help others find their own path. “I traveled around the world for two years through the practice of yoga and explored some of the most spiritually important places on the globe,” she explains.
A Cincinnati native, Roberts moved to Colorado in the early stages of her career where she thrived in the hospitality and service sector. For 20 years, Colorado was home, but in 2008, Roberts made the decision to travel the world and expand her knowledge of yoga. Originally, Roberts planned on spending only six months abroad but this soon turned to two years of studying under the best yogis in Europe and Asia.
Rachel Roberts (David Warnke – Photographer)
When Roberts relocated back to the United States, she set her sights on coming back to her hometown of Cincinnati. “It was really important for me to come home and open a studio on Main Street,” she recalls. In 2010, Roberts opened The Yoga Bar in downtown Cincinnati with the mission to “to brighten this city we share through the practice of yoga.” This allowed Roberts to introduce a standard traditional school of yoga to the local community by housing the studio in a historically renovated space in an urban center. “We practice this ancient discipline that we might be healthy in body, calm in mind, useful in life, and joyous enough to inspire others,” she explains.
In 2013, following the success of the first studio, Roberts opened a second location of The Yoga Bar in Newport, Kentucky. In addition, she opened the Bija Yoga School + Retreats in 2012 as part of the studio’s educational arm. “Bija offers teacher training programs and yoga retreats – everything from one-day workshops to nine-month long Yoga teacher training programs, as well as retreats as close as Red River Gorge and as far away as Bali,” Roberts says. As part of the Bija Yoga Retreats, customers are offered the opportunity to select their accommodations ranging from comfortable but rustic to 5-star depending on the retreat.
“Bija creates an experience where once you arrive to a retreat, the burden of decision-making is removed, where you as a student can be still and calm and do the needed work of self-reflection, adaption and growth in beautiful, inspiring settings,” adds Roberts.
Why the British Virgin Islands, Kentucky, and Bali as the locations for her annual retreats? “Kentucky because it is close and accessible and it reminds us that there is beauty, calm and connection to nature right here at home, the British Virgin Islands, because the ocean remind us to be fluid and adaptable, and Bali because it is the heart Chakra of the world and the most spiritually renewing place I have ever practiced,” Roberts explains.
Roberts credits her time spent in Colorado working in the hospitality industry as an advantage to her successful retreats. “My background as a guide in Colorado, and in the hospitality industry ensure that guests are catered to, their needs are anticipated and the spaces we create are safe, nourishing and comfortable,” she says. Although students may not have the same opportunity to travel for extended periods of time as she did, Roberts wants to ensure each retreat is an accelerated version of the yoga education she received. “Getting to hold students in a bubble of yoga – free of the distractions of everyday life, is an amazing way to help them expand their practice, their understanding of yoga and frankly to them renew,” she explains.
Prices for the retreats range from $375-$2500 depending on duration and location. All include accommodations, meals, yoga, meditation and excursions. In addition to leading workshops and international retreats, Roberts is also the founder of Yoga on the Green in Cincinnati. As part of Yoga on the Green in Cincinnati, the public can attend a free yoga class at Washington Park every Tuesday night starting Memorial Day and ending on Labor Day. Currently Roberts is preparing for the opening of her third Yoga Bar Studio in historical Over-the-Rhine by the end of 2014.