Yoga for tourism opportunity in Norway
Pust inn og pust ut
Mona Anita K. Olsen, PhD
In reading the magazine Yoga Journal, I am always interested in seeing how the business of yoga is evolving, the narrative of focus in the yogic community, and the various destinations where yoga retreats and offerings are being highlighted from a tourism perspective. Many locations with warm climates are highlighted, but I am consistently surprised that Norway is not covered more. Given Norway’s majestic natural landscape, the cultural connection to appreciating the sun, and the strong focus on balance in life, I see lots of entrepreneurial opportunity to bring even more yoga styles and opportunities to Norway.
I have personally experienced yoga in Norway in several locations, both in cities and in rural areas. I am most intrigued by the opportunity to build out the yoga ecosystem in the rural areas, especially those with high tourism, where more integrated and strategic community development can foster economic development. For example, in the town of Farsund, in southern Norway, there is a charming yoga studio that opened in 2015 called YogaLista, which is run by Ann Helen Erichsen (www.facebook.com/annhelensyoga). YogaLista opened its doors at Torvet, an important location to the community, recently restored with a fabulous water view. While not huge in size, it allows for a cozy space to practice, and as the business has developed, YogaLista has ventured into offering retreats. YogaLista hosted a retreat around the start of the New Year at newly built and opened Langhuset (the Longhouse at Lista: www.thelonghouseatlista.com). The ability to co-create experiences in the community to serve multiple audiences is a trend that I plan to watch. There are many opportunities to leverage existing locations for building out the yoga practice aligned with the true meaning of yoga. Yoga means “union” and while associated most often with Hinduism, yoga predates religion as an all-encompassing practice.
Yoga is seen in the Norwegian entrepreneurial ecosystem more and more each year. I have watched Norwegian entrepreneurs such as Lena Lundal (www.lenalundal.com), who is based out of Stavanger and Farsund, begin to cover yoga in her photography work. Further, several websites have been created in English to help promote various yoga and meditation retreats in Norway to tourists, such as www.bookyogaretreats.com/all/c/yoga-meditation-retreats/d/europe/norway. For those who speak Norwegian, there are several that promote yoga in Norway, such as yogaportalen.no. There is also a host of apps on the market that have made yoga classes more accessible on mobile devices including MindBody, ZenPlanner, and Achieve.
From an organizational standpoint for more structured and long-term programs, the Yoga Alliance website (www.yogaalliance.org) indicates several locations in Norway that are registered yoga schools (RYS) and offer registered yoga teacher training (RYT). A typical RYS offers a 200-hour RYT program and this RYT certification is frequently accepted as the minimum requirement to be able to teach yoga in a venture. Programs are popping up in all types of locations with all types of focus, everything from slow flow training to 12-step addiction recovery training.
In picking an RYT in any country, there are various factors to evaluate. I have outlined some considerations below:
• Does an RYT certification matter to you or not in the initial training? While most initial trainings I have found are approximately 200-225 hours, not all result in an RYT. While many find value in the membership in the Yoga Alliance, others do not value this organization nor its certification process and do not weight the RYT certification in the decision process.
• Is there an application process? If so, what type of questions are required? What is the minimum expectation of experience and exposure to yogic philosophy and physical practice? What is the end goal of the training? For example, is the goal to be able to teach in the safest way possible or to gain an understanding of yoga more closely and appreciate the practice? What do you know about the philosophical and pedagogical lenses of the teacher(s)? What is the outline of the content that will be covered? Does the layout of the usage of time (i.e., the sutras, pranayama, asanas, chakras) align with your goals in taking the training? How will assessment be completed—tests, quizzes, reflections, practice teaching, or other methods? Do the assessment methods align with a style that will set you up to be the best teacher possible? Is the training offered completely in person or are there different methods of delivery, such as online web-conference calls or an online platform? How many people will be in the training with you?
• What type of policies does the studio have from attendance to health standards? Does the studio have a grievance policy? Does the studio maintain operations in alignment with local and country codes?
• What is the studio’s past performance in relationship to hosting training? Does the price for the training reflect the level of experience offered? Do the teachers and the studio have references?
Mona Anita K. Olsen is an assistant professor at the School of Hotel Administration in the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business in Ithaca, N.Y. She is also the founder of Innovation Barn 58N6E and the 501c3 iMADdu (I make a difference, do you?) Inc.
This article originally appeared in the March 23, 2018, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.