Planning A Yoga Retreat? Things To Consider
With winter approaching, many of us daydream about escaping
on a sunny yoga vacation or retreat. Retreat literally means “withdraw,” and
the idea is to withdraw from one’s daily life, whether that means a mix of
asana and adventure at a luxury
resort, a week living like a sannyasin
in an ashram setting,
or an at-home sadhana
of asana, meditation, and cleansing.
Setting aside everyday distractions allows you to refocus
and re-energize. Thus, a retreat can help you shed old habits and establish new
routines, explore something in greater depth (such as chanting, Vedic
astrology, the yoga sutras), or rejuvenate your practice by immersing yourself
in a yogic lifestyle.
Retreats come in a variety of tempting flavors, and the
hardest part may be defining your preferences. Do you want to study with a well-known teacher? Or maybe a local teacher with whom you’re familiar? Is an exotic
locale a must? Is a particular style
of yoga important to you? Do you prefer to be social or to have private
time for inner reflection? Whatever flavor you choose, honor your experience
level: It’s good to stretch yourself (pun intended), but not if it means
introducing anxiety to an experience that’s meant to be a break from daily
stress. Look over the retreat schedule to see if the balance of activity and
rest is right for you.
Some retreats are all-inclusive, while others offer only the
basics, leaving it up to you to supplement from a menu of additional fee-based
services. To compare programs, you can add up total costs—including travel,
accommodations, and meals—and divide it by the number of days you’ll be gone.
But even if you’re on a strict budget, costs shouldn’t be your only
consideration. Check the cancellation policy, and research the retreat leader/s
experience level. Ask for referrals from previous participants.
A retreat can be a transformative experience. To make the
most of your time, confirm your travel arrangements and pack ahead so that you
arrive at your destination relaxed and receptive. Leave work behind and, if you
must check in at home while you’re away, limit your conversations. Tell your
friends and family that you’ll look forward to reconnecting with them after
your return. Think of your retreat as an opportunity for svadhyaya. This niyama
(observance) is often considered to be the study of yoga literature but is also
translated as seeing one’s true self. Whether you escape to a sun-drenched
beach or stay at home for a week of meditation and reflection, the newfound
perspective and clarity you’ll gain will endure much longer than any winter
What’s your idea of the perfect yoga retreat?