Who is Taylor Casey, the Chicago woman missing from a Bahamas yoga retreat?

A summer yoga retreat in the Bahamas was supposed to be an enlightening experience for Taylor Casey. The 41-year-old Chicago yoga practitioner’s friends and family were excited to hear all about it. But no one has seen or heard from her in more than a week.

  • Casey has not been seen since the evening of June 19, according to a representative for her family. Staff at the retreat notified the American Embassy and the woman’s family as soon as she failed to show up for a morning class on June 20, according to a Facebook post from the ashram.
  • The Royal Bahamas Police Force on June 21 posted a missing person flier to its Facebook page, asking for tips to be shared with its criminal investigation department or a tip line. Police have not mentioned suspected foul play.
  • Royal Bahamas Police Force Chief Superintendent Chrislyn Skippings told reporters that investigators found Casey’s cellphone in nearby waters.
  • The U.S. State Department issued a travel advisory for visitors to the Bahamas on Jan. 26, warning travelers to exercise increased caution due to crime. It noted that violent crime, sexual assault, burglaries and robberies occur in tourist and non-tourist areas, with the majority of crime happening on the islands of Grand Bahama and New Providence.

Casey has been a yoga practitioner for 15 years, often traveling abroad to learn more about the lifestyle and culture, according to a Monday news release shared on behalf of her family. Family members described her as vibrant and loving and said she had gone to the retreat “to fulfill a long-term goal of deepening her practice.”

Casey had been regularly updating her friends and family while she was at the retreat. They say she was excited to tell them about her trip and to return home. Casey’s mother, Colette Seymore, told CBS News she received a photo of the beach and a text from her daughter on June 18 that read: “I miss you, mom. I miss you. Look, I’m at the beach.”

That was the last time she heard from her daughter.

“I believe Taylor is in danger because she was eager to share her yoga retreat experience with others upon her return,” Seymore wrote in the news release. “Taylor would never disappear like this.”

Where is Paradise Island?

The ashram is on Paradise Island, a small island connected to downtown Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas, by bridges that are one-third of a mile long. Nassau is on the island of New Providence.

Paradise Island is home to many tourist-friendly spots, including the Atlantis Paradise Island resort and Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Bahamas.

It is also the setting of the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat, which Taylor was attending.

What is the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat?

Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat uses the combined practices of a traditional ashram — a spiritual monastery commonly found in India — and a modern yoga center. The ashram hosts dozens of programs and vacations throughout the year. Casey was participating in the ashram’s yoga certification program, according to the post from the center.

The ashram teaches Sivananda-style yoga and has a strict daily schedule including meditation, breathing practices, yoga postures and learning, according to the organization’s website. The ashram was opened in 1967 by Swami Vishnudevananda, a disciple of yoga master Swami Sivananda. Vishnudevananda opened a number of yoga centers in the West inspired by Sivananda’s teachings.

What’s the latest on the investigation?

Police searched around the retreat but have since expanded their search area, Skippings said, adding that police are also looking through CCTV footage. Investigators have spoken to a number of people at the ashram and will continue to do so, she said. They have also been in touch with Casey’s family. Her mother plans to travel to the island to help with the search, the family said in its news release.

Skippings reminded the public that they can remain anonymous and still report information to help the investigation at 242-300-8476.

“That’s the most important thing for us right now,” Skippings said. “We want to find Taylor.”

Kim Bellware contributed to this report.

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