The word "retreat" literally means to withdraw and my ideal yoga retreat is one where withdraw means going inward, creating a major departure from normal life. By “departure,” I don’t necessarily mean leaving home. The setting can be familiar or foreign (although novelty does make an impression). Rather, this departure must be mental: a separation from the everyday idea of self. A departure from the usual to do's & don'ts. Besides this amazing inward connection what more is there to gain from a Yoga retreat. Here are 7 more reasons to pack your bags & book your retreat.
1. Deepen Your Yoga Practice
A retreat can last anywhere from a few days to weeks depending on how much time you have. You don't necessarily need to come to a full week to reap the benefits, a weekend workshop can already give you that deep sense of going inward. During the retreat you have the great opportunity to delve deep into a daily practice with qualified teachers who are passionate about yoga. At Yogaion, we spend a lot of time focusing on connecting with our innerself, through asana practice, pranayama, meditation & philosophy, aligning the body, mind & soul. When you are in a space where you are practicing everyday, you can really start to see shifts in your practice.
2. Gain perspective
For those of us who live in the West, it can be challenging to focus on spiritual practice when you are juggling a million things at once. It seems that most people fit their yoga practice somewhere in between their 9 to 5 jobs, their partners, children, friends and responsibilities. Yoga in the city is sometimes that 1-hour class you fit in between work and dinner. And most probably don’t reflect that much on what yoga really is. On retreat, there is an aspect of solitude, self-study and reflection. When you take yourself out of your regular routine, allow yourself the time to be in nature, practice, eat well, sleep well, you can create the space for transformation. Hopefully, you’ll be able to take some aspects of the retreat and integrate them into your regular life.
3. Cultivate practice & detachment
As our lives are getting busier & busier and the pressure to perform higher, who really has time for a 3 to 4 hour practice daily, healthy food & solitude. In Yoga Sutra I.12, Patanjali explains that to achieve a state of yoga, or focused concentration, one must cultivate both practice (abhyasa) and detachment (vairagyam). Detachment is best understood in this sutra as a letting go of any habit or tendency that impedes you from reaching your goal. Practice & detachment are one of the very first tools Patanjali offers to help us in this process of refining the mind toward clearer perception and a deeper connection with the Self. During a retreat there is finally time for both practice & detachment, with daily classes & detachment from your usual habits & tendencies. The best way to break a bad habit is to replace it with a new healthy one. When you get out of your regular routine for a week, you can replace unhealthy habits with conscious new behaviors that support you in being your best self.
4. You'll get to travel to a stunning place
Yoga retreats are usually set in amazing places around the world. Here at Yogaion we are so fortunate to host the retreats in the most amazing national coastal park of Portugal. Where star gazing, nature bathing and hearing the sound of the ocean & birds drift by.
5. Meet wonderful likeminded people
During a retreat there is always a wonderful mix of likeminded people. Undeniably, you will meet individuals with similar interests. Even if you go alone (which I did my first time), you have a chance to make friends with people from around the world who you might know for the rest of your life. At Yogaion retreats we always keep the groups nice & small with no more than 10 (surfing) yogis. This way it always feels very cozy, and becomes like a
group of friends, having meals together at one big table sharing stories & experiences.
6. You will feel great
All the yoga practice, being out in nature, eating healthy & getting away from the internet, phones & computers as much as possible really centers us, connecting back to ourselves. Eating 3 deliciously healthy meals a day without any effort, silence all around, no traffic jams. Relaxing & de-stressing. Being on a retreat allows you to listen to your body, rest when you need it, and be free from stress. Being sure that you will leave the retreat feeling great & hopefully being able to tap into that feeling for a long time to come after the retreat is finished.
7. Because you are worth it!
One of my favourite quotes from Rumi is: “Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.” While this quote might be speak to a lot of us, chances are you make excuses about why you can’t yet go. Often times the excuses are about money, time or circumstances but guess what, you deserve a break. You work hard for a reason and you can always find reasons why you should or should not do something. The key to happiness is deciding what you really want and making it happen. No excuses.You are worth it!