Yes, it’s true… there’s yoga with dolphins.
Imagine relaxing in lotus pose while dolphins zip and twirl through turquoise water right in front of you. Sound like a dream?
It’s reality at the “Yoga with the Dolphins” experience within the Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas.
This yoga with dolphins class is an example of a hot new travel trend. It’s called destination yoga. Both enthusiasts and novices seek out yoga classes, excursions and retreats in exotic and unusual locations.
Q: What are some of the more interesting locations where you have taught yoga?
There is a bit of controversy in the yoga world about traveling retreats. There is clearly no place to travel to find yourself. Remember the saying: Wherever you go, there you are?
Still, I’ve done a bit of research in epigenetics that proves that our environment does play a factor in how we think, act and speak, which is inherently a meditation in yoga.
I’ve been very fortunate to practice and teach in many US cities, the Galápagos Islands and in the dolphin observatory at The Mirage where I’m currently based in Las Vegas.
Q: Which is your favorite? Why?
I absolutely loved the Galápagos Islands.
There is so much research being done there in conservation, human and animal evolution and biodiversity. The environment resonates with respect and peace. However, what I love about the dolphin habitat at the Mirage is the experience of peace and tranquility. It is accessible in Las Vegas, a very unexpected and welcomed surprise.
Q: What’s the appeal of taking a yoga class on a trip to a place like Vegas?
Most people travel to Vegas to break the monotony of their everyday—to dance, to drink and get lucky.
But there are also families who visit Las Vegas. There are a lot of business conventions. International travelers often fly to Vegas as a first stop in touring the West. Everyone isn’t there for the gambling.
The dolphins have a natural appeal to the everyday tourist. The habitat does not offer shows that are typical to animals in captivity.
The yoga class and other interactions with the dolphins provide a personal reflection. It’s quite therapeutic and exactly at the heart of what Vegas tourists are truly seeking.
Q: Why is yoga with dolphins so unique for both the participant and the dolphins?
When I first began teaching in the space, I noticed something really different was happening during classes. I knew I was the same person teaching the same practice, so I looked into the neurotransmitters that are released among dolphins. It turns out our bodies release significant levels of oxytocin around dolphins.
Oxytocin is crucial in forming social bonds in the human experience. Now that our environment is becoming so digital, oxytocin is a rare, healing and beautiful sensation.
My knowledge of how it impacts the dolphins is more limited. However, every morning when I go down to set up, they eagerly await some handstands and often mimic the poses during classes.
It seems we are mutually stimulating each other. The dolphins are just as curious about our yoga asanas (poses) as we are about them.