First, full disclosure, in the spirit of Satya (truth): I lead yoga retreats and would love you to join us on retreat! However, the truth is that what brings me and my partner Liz the most pleasure is watching people retreat, renew and relax into the essence of who they really are. Retreats can truly help with this goal.
A recent study published in Seattle Yoga News found that 62% of yoga practitioners are interested in attending a yoga retreat. Are you one of them? Whether for the first or tenth retreat, a local weekend retreat or ten day global adventure, here are some reasons to consider:
#1 Deeper and longer lasting relaxation than “normal” holidays. Let’s face it, regular holidays can be exhausting. Whether it is stressful visits to relatives, excess travels, or drinking beer and wine every night, we can come home more tired than we left! A 2013 report in the Wall St Journal claims that less than 10% of people on “regular” vacations achieve complete relaxation, 58% receive no stress relief, and 27% feel more stressed at end of vacation than the beginning!
#2 Connection with like-minded yogis is invaluable, and perhaps the most profound aspect. I have witnessed countless friendships born on retreats. Just recently, I heard from a couple who attended our Bali retreat. They were flying to Texas to attend a wedding of a young lady they met on the retreat. You will also make a connection with locals, as well as local fauna and flora.
#3 Ambiance and Healing atmosphere in the accommodations and retreat center, and access to nature. Most retreat centers are built or created on beautiful or sacred land, often in nature – near rivers, lakes or beaches. Yoga alone is great, but in sacred settings your practice becomes amplified. For example, when we visited the Goddess Garden in Costa Rica, and after a few days of yoga in the rainforest, everyone was just buzzing with prana (life force)!
#4 Deepen your yoga practice. Retreats can increase flexibility, strength, balance and grounding. The asana (poses), hiking and other physical activities will help you physically. Often, the area we do yoga has paths and rocks and uneven ground, which I find is great for practicing balance. For example, one place we visit in Yelapa, Mexico has rock steps that are perfect for self reflexology simply by walking barefoot. I always feel awesome after the first tender day!
#5 Stillness and an chance to build your bond with your Divine or Deeper Self. Our world has gotten way too fast and furious, and retreats can break that pattern. Retreats which include gentle asana, meditation, and breath work provide space for grace. We can kick start our spirituality and mindfulness. But be careful not to distract yourself (yes, some stay busy, plugged in, and mind crazed even on retreat!)
#6 Listen to yourself and remember to value yourself. The simple decision to go on retreat gives the universe the message that we value our self, that we are worthy of taking care of and spending a few bucks for the vacation we truly want. On retreat you have time just for you, far away from habit, schedule, patterns and duties.
#7 Healthy, nutritious and local foods. At home, we often have to cook our own food, so on retreat we get to eat healthy food prepared by someone else! We not only get to taste healthy food, but get ideas for new dishes we can make at home.
#8 Pleasant mix of inner discovery and outer exploration. A well balanced retreat will have time for both inner journey and outer activities or adventures. Inner includes meditation, reading or just goofing off and lounging in a hammock, and outer includes anything from hiking to snorkeling to zip line tours.
#9 Kick start your life. There are unhealthy “geographicals” (psychological term for running away) and there are healthy geographicals (seeking, exploring). Retreats offer a chance to see with new eyes, a change of scenery and surroundings, and meet inspirational people. We get a boost towards a life worth living, to help find our passion and remember what is important and what we are here to do. With a break in routine, we gain clarity on who we are and we may decide to make some long overdue changes in work, hobbies or relationships.
#10 An Opportunity to have Fun! Again, at home we fall into ridiculously serious routines. I cannot tell you how much we laugh and have fun on retreats, which we do not do enough of in our “normal” busy lives back home.
Please trust your heart and gut about decisions on yoga retreats or other getaways. The mind may argue that you cannot afford it, or that you don’t have time, or that you are simply too introverted or just not the retreat type. If your heart says yes, that is all you need to know. The Universe will take over from there.
Lastly, however, there may be some legitimate reasons for some people NOT to attend a yoga retreat:
- If you have a strong need for control, with high expectations. Travel with a group requires flexibility.
- If the financial investment will simply cause you too much stress and worry.
- Your health or food allergies are so challenging that it would cause too much stress.
- If you are running away from yourself. Wherever you go, there you are!
About Roy: Roy Holman has led over 50 retreats to Costa Rica, Mexico, Guatemala, Hawaii, Bali, Sedona, and in his home state of Washington. He has run Holman Health Connections in Everett, Washington since 2000. Roy is a certified Yoga, Meditation, and Healing Instructor, a Oneness Blessing giver and trainer, and author of two books: Healing Self, Healing Earth: Awakening Presence, Power, and Passion, and Poems from the Passionate Heart: Reflections on Healing and Awakening. Roy does a health and healing radio commentary every week on KSER 90.7 FM. Roy has a passion for assisting the healing of our Earth and evolution / shift of humanity. He teaches with humor and joy.
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