Whether you practice yoga or not, a yoga retreat is a fantastic way to rejuvenate mind, body and soul. Having recently returned from my fifth yoga retreat, I felt inspired to share with you what I enjoyed most about it and 5 reasons why I love yoga retreats.
1. A BREAK AWAY FROM ALL THINGS FAMILIAR (not just your environment and routine)
If you attend the same class on a regular basis you can easily fall into what I call “comfort zone yoga practice”. My practice at home is self-led, so this is effectively the same.
And yes - most styles of yoga are based on the same yogic poses (asanas), which means there is repetition in this respect. But when we’re familiar with a certain style and sequence of practice, we can become comfortable from knowing what to expect next.
Just like we can become comfortable in our work if we don’t stretch ourselves to learn new skills, ways of doing things or become better at what we do.
Going on a retreat for me, with an inspiring teacher that takes me out of my “yoga comfort zone” and helps me deepen my practice is really important.
Suddenly, on retreat I didn’t know which move and pose was coming next, and I had to focus on mastering sequences and styles of yoga practice that I wasn’t used to. It was equally as exciting, as it was challenging!
2. EVERY DAY, I LEARNT SOMETHING NEW
I learnt new yoga postures, new ways of getting into postures, new dances of yoga, new insights, new possibilities. I also became better at the postures I was or wasn’t comfortable doing.
Yoga is about progress not perfection. And it's fantastic at supporting growth and expansion of mind, body and soul.
Our teacher, Mira talked us through the correct way to perform postures and made adjustments where necessary, to not only make sure that we weren’t hurting ourselves, but to also help us develop our physical practice.
Mira whole-heartedly shared her knowledge and was there to guide and support us throughout the entire week.
I chose well! It goes without saying that the teacher can make or break your experience. So before booking a retreat, do check out the teacher’s profile and their overall yoga focus / schedule.
3. CONNECTING THE PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICE OF YOGA WITH EVERYDAY LIFE
Something else I loved about our yoga sessions was the authentic theme or philosophy linking our practice to everyday life.
As with everything, and depending on what was happening at that moment in time for each of us on the retreat, some points resonated more than others.
One thought-quote I really liked was:
"As the mind, so the person; bondage or liberation are in your own mind. If you feel bound, you are bound. If you feel liberated, you are liberated. Things outside neither bind nor liberate you; only your attitude toward them does that.” ― Swami Satchidananda, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
Yoga teaches you to take listening-based action that respects your body.
Just as I was finding it tough to perform or hold certain physical postures and use my breath to help me let go, stay focussed and ride these challenging moments, life itself also involves struggles.
And yoga retreats are a great reminder of how to apply the principles and practice of yoga to connect the breath to the mind and body as well as to gain a different perspective on life events, which can help us work more positively through struggles and transitional times.
4. DEDICATED TIME & SPACE TO BECOME A STRONGER PERSON
Investing in a period of physical, mental and spiritual discovery can be incredibly powerful.
Everyone has their own reasons for attending a yoga retreat. But in doing so you’re committing time and space for yourself. It’s not selfish. In fact, it’s quite the opposite - because when you leave that retreat you’re full of fresh inspiration, energy, courage and peace to step back into your everyday life in a better place than where you were before.
This new stronger and more balanced version of you will positively rub off on all those people that you interact with on a daily basis – whether it’s family, friends, colleagues or strangers.
On retreat, we were encouraged to relax, reflect inward and be content with ourselves and our lives. A twice daily yoga practice empowered greater presence, mindfulness and letting go. Clarity of mind for this extended time facilitates clearer thinking about current circumstances and what you want to manifest in life.
5. YOGA SUPPORTS A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
Because of the away-from-it-all and more intensive nature of a retreat, inevitably you’re taken on a deeper journey into learning more about yoga, yourself and the nourishing impact it can have on your body and life.
For example, our morning started with a 90 minute vinyasa (breath and movement) flow practice. This is predominantly fast-moving to awaken and energise the body and mind in preparation for the day ahead. Afterwards - I felt super-charged and amazing!
Before dinner we practised again for 60 minutes in which time the focus was on restorative yoga. During this session, we held deep stretches for what seemed like an eternity and at times my body was screaming “get me out of this position now”. Despite the momentary challenges throughout, I felt incredibly relaxed and calm afterwards.
Essentially, we were balancing out the body with a yang (energising) practice in the morning and a yin (restorative) practice in the evening, to help us wind down.
In an ideal world this is the perfect twice daily, yoga practice scenario. And that’s what's so great about retreats because they create the healthy time and space for you to do just this.
Our retreat was also set in a naturally beautiful part of Spain and I shared the week with amazing and like-minded people. The fun, exploring and conversations that took place outside the yoga studio also contributed to my special experience.
Do get in touch if you'd like to know more about this yoga retreat.