I admit, the first time I heard about a yoga retreat I was skeptical. What was the point of flying off to some far away place with a bunch of people I didn’t know to practice yoga, I wondered. My home yoga studio and my home yoga practice were just fine, thank you very much. Yet yoga retreat opportunities kept popping up, and I found myself more and more curious. Once I finally took the plunge, I was amazed at how powerful the experience was. Now I can’t imagine letting a year go by without trying to make it to at least one yoga retreat. Whether your yoga practice needs a boost, or you just need a vacation, you can benefit from giving yourself the gift of a yoga retreat. Here are my top 10 reasons to take a yoga retreat:
-Devote yourself fully to your yoga practice.
So often in life, we let things get in the way of our yoga practice. We work too much and then “unwind” by watching tv or surfing the internet. A yoga retreat gets rid of distractions, and allows you to focus your time and energy on your yoga practice.
-Spend time with like-minded people.
Maybe you live in a place where there aren’t many opportunities to practice yoga in a group, and use DVDs or online classes at home. Perhaps you go to a yoga studio occasionally, but attend solo because your partner and friends aren’t “into” yoga. For many, going on a yoga retreat is one of the few times that we can spend surrounded by a community of yogis. You can talk about how your bow pose is progressing with people who understand what you’re talking about, and make friendships that will sustain you when you go back home.
-Eat delicious, healthy food.
Yoga retreats generally prioritize fresh, healthy foods and beverages as part of the experience. You can use your yoga retreat as an opportunity to jump start a healthier diet, or recommit to healthful eating if you have let yourself indulge a little too frequently. Many retreats employ professional chefs, so there’s no need to worry that healthy food may not be to your liking.
-Deepen your practice.
Taking a yoga retreat is a great way to take your yoga practice to the next level! If you regularly take a weekly class, you can experience how it feels to practice daily. If you practice daily, you can experience the postural or meditative breakthroughs that intense practice provides. Some retreats even serve as teacher training programs, allowing you to take what you learn out into the world to serve others when you’re finished!
At its core, yoga is an opportunity to calm our minds through the discipline of physical postures and meditation. As our mental chatter decreases, we find an open space that is fertile ground for new ideas and ways of thinking. A yoga retreat gives you the opportunity to quiet your mind, and find inspiration that can benefit you in your work, relationships, and many other areas of your life.
-Trying something new.
Don’t meditate regularly? Haven’t tried chanting? Yoga retreats can give you the opportunity to try out different aspects of a yoga practice. You might even want to try out a completely different type of yoga! If you’re a dedicated Ashtanga yogi, you could try out a Kundalini retreat with a friend. You can experience something that you may want to start incorporating into your personal practice when you get home.
-You can unplug.
Facebook, Twitter, CNN, text messaging, and so many other things can take up our time. Going on a yoga retreat allows you to literally unplug all of your electronics and recharge yourself. It might feel a little strange to be out of touch at first, but by the end of the retreat your increased peace of mind will be worth it.
Yoga retreats often take place in some of the most beautiful locations in the world. You will often be able to schedule a massage or other spa treatments in your downtime, as well as enjoying beautiful scenery. And what could be nicer than practicing yoga on the beach or on top of a mountain, soaking in beautiful views while you stretch and strengthen your body!
-Learn more about yourself.
When you attend a structured yoga retreat, your day to day activities are planned out for you. Because you don’t have to concern yourself with anything other than practicing yoga, you have an excellent opportunity to pay attention to yourself. How do you feel when things are very quiet, or moving at a slower pace than you’re used to? How do your day to day activities contribute (or not) to your overall sense of well-being? Use your retreat time to learn about yourself, and take those lessons home with you.
Many yoga retreats also have optional excursions in the surrounding areas. If you’ve ever wanted to go ziplining through the jungle, or swimming with whale sharks, you can definitely find a retreat that will offer those activities. Fun is an integral part of a yoga practice, so take advantage of the side trips your retreat offers!
Have you ever taken a yoga retreat? Let us know about your experience! And be sure to check the Casa Om schedule for all of our upcoming yoga retreats!