Nov 30, 2019

Why you should go on a Yoga Retreat and How to choose the right one

“From time to time, to remind ourselves to relax and be peaceful, we may wish to set aside some time for a retreat, a day of mindfulness, when we can walk slowly, smile, drink tea with a friend, enjoy being together as if we are the happiest people on Earth.”

 ― Thich Nhat Hanh

Have you ever wanted to go on a retreat and didn’t know, if it was the right fit for you? There are so many good reasons you should experience a yoga retreat at least once. Whether you are a beginner and wish to start off your yoga practice or an experienced practitioner and want to take your practice further, or if you just wish to take time for yourself, away from daily routines - you will benefit immensely from participating in a retreat.

 

A retreat is a beautiful opportunity to dive deep into the philosophy and practice of yoga, learn more about the backgrounds and get insight into practices and techniques that often get a raw deal in open classes. In addition, you not only get to know yoga, but you will get to know yourself a little better. When we dive deep into the practice on the mat, we not only encounter restrictions or resistance in our body, but also in our mind. Mindfully working through the practice on the mat, we learn to equally observe ourselves and breathe through challenging situations in life and to find joy in the experience. 

If that little intro wasn’t enough to convince you, here are some of the reasons, you should definitely go on a retreat:

Indulge in a positive atmosphere.
The participants of a yoga retreat might be there for different reasons, but they all have one thing in common: they want to feel good. Nobody is there to spread bad energy, instead they are looking for relaxation, joy and healing. And the teacher(s) and the staff are there to support you and make sure you have a lovely time. Expect to be surrounded by kind and loving people in a place far away from traffic, stress at the office and other unavoidable conditions of daily life.

Take time for yourself.
A retreat is different from other travel experiences. Your trip will mostly be organized for you, food should be provided and a convenient accommodation. You won’t have to take care of too many travel arrangements, cooking, cleaning, driving or anything else. This way you can fully focus on yourself and the experience. This means you will not only enjoy classes that provide tools and techniques for well-being and self-care, but even beyond that you will have the time in-between all to yourself. You can rest, read, talk to the other participants, enjoy the nature or other activates. Completely carefree and free of responsibilities!

Start or deepen your practice.
This is a chance for you to really learn about and indulge in the practice of yoga. There is plenty of time for different practices, in opposition to a 60- or 75-minute class. Spending a couple of intense days with personalized instruction by the teacher, maybe group or partner work, gives you input and time enough understand everything and actually progress in your practice, regardless of your current level. You will learn a great deal in just a few days, much more probably than you will over a long period of time of going to open classes just once or twice a week.

Make new friends.
Whether you join the retreat with a friend, your partner or alone, you can be sure to meet interesting and open-hearted people. It is a beautiful and easy way to make honest and inspiring connections and even form new friendships outside of contexts of work and party. Sharing movement classes, meditations, meals and other moments together is a completely different and profound way to get to know people. In my experience, a lot of retreaters finally dare to take a trip alone, knowing that once they arrived, they will be part of a community.

Establish healthy routines.
You get to stay in a safe space after class instead of heading right back out into traffic after a studio or gym class, allowing you to fully enjoy the effects of the practice. And these effects last even longer, often for days, weeks, some memories last forever. Plus: Retreats often include special nutrition and depending on the program other self-care practices. Learn how to meditate, get inspired by the healthy cuisine, take home your own yoga practice or adopt some of the heathy habits you learned during the retreat long term.

Discover new places, connect with nature.
Most yoga teachers and retreat organizers take great pride in providing the best experience and take the retreaters to carefully selected places, often in remote locations or equally curated within a city trip. What a beautiful way to travel to new places, whether it is right outside your city or in a country far away - there are endless options.

If you feel intrigued to go on a retreat, there are a few things to consider. Here is what you should ask yourself and find out before choosing your retreat to ensure the best possible experience suited to your needs and wishes.

What is the program like?
Inform yourself about the program. Do you want an intense schedule, be challenged or rather have an easy vacation with yoga added once a day. Is it an Ashram-style all day program including lectures, physical classes and meditation or is it rather a group trip that includes adventurous excursions or sportive activities and only offers a relaxing yoga class in the evening? There are so many kinds of programs, make sure you read about them, maybe even ask for a schedule to understand what your days will look like. You also don’t want to forget to find out about the targeted yoga level of the participants: beginner, intermediate, advance, all level?

Which yoga style(s) do you like?
The same applies for the style of yoga; rather relaxed soothing yin, powerful dynamic practices or both? What is the main aspect you are looking for? A rather introspective spiritual journey or is fitness important for you – it can be both, of course! Again, make sure to read about the offering, maybe contact the retreat organizers to get all your questions answered.

Who is the teacher?
Do you know the yoga teacher(s)? If you have practiced with the teacher(s) before - in the studio or online - that’s great. You already know them and their style, level and focus. If you don’t know them, I recommend asking for personal advice of people who have practiced with them. If that is not available, read reviews about the teacher, their previous retreats and look at their virtual presentation online. Yoga is such a personal practice. These considerations are not necessarily about distinguishing between a good and a bad teacher, but rather if you like them personally, their style, their pace, voice etc.

How long is the retreat? Where and how is the location?
Quick weekend get-away just outside of your hometown or 10 days far away on a different continent? Nature or city, ocean or mountains, adventure or stillness, luxury or simplicity? This is not to value the one or the other, again, this is personal preference. Knowing what you want to get out of the experience, how much time you have and how far you are willing to travel just makes the search in the endless sea of retreats easier. Of course, you can just browse and let yourself be surprised by what sparks your joy : )

What is included?
Last but not least, before booking makes sure you have a clear overview of what is included in the cost of the retreat. Some organizations ask you to pay the accommodation directly to the location and only the fees for the yoga retreat to them - look out for the full price! Is the food included, the yoga material, the travel expense etc. Most of the times travel costs is not included (especially air fares). That is very common, but makes sure to check how far the location is from the airport and if the transfer is included are how much it will cost you extra.

Now you should have a pretty clear idea of how to choose your retreat, but somehow, I hear you asking:

Where to find yoga retreat offers?

If you have a yoga studio that you regularly practice at it is easy to start there. Most yoga studios or teachers offer retreats and can give you loads of information personally. If you don’t have a studio/teacher, or you do, but they don’t offer retreats or you want to move outside of your common yoga practice (totally valid also, it’s great to experience a new approach!) you can find retreat offers in the following places:

  • Websites of teachers and retreat organizers. Your friend Google will show you the way, but make sure to include some detail in your search, to receive relevant results.
  • Friends. Obviously the most trustworthy option – if you have yoga interested friends, ask them. Maybe they have been to or heard of a good retreat. 
  • Booking platforms. There are many online platforms specialized in yoga retreats, the most famous one is Bookyogaretreats.com; this is recommendable only if you don’t know the teacher(s), as such platforms charge the teachers quite a large commission, so you would rather help your teacher when booking with them directly.
  • Flyers. This is only relevant, if you live in a place with a vivid yoga/wellness scene. If you do, you can often find a lot of flyers with retreat offers at yoga studios, yoga retail shops, vegan cafes, restaurants and ice cream places.
  • Social Media. Even though not too many people use the slightly outdated Facebook, it has some groups, that can be quite helpful in finding retreat. Make sure you don’t look in ‘Yoga Retreats Worldwide’ or such, since you will get offers of all kinds of retreats from all over the place, NOT sorted by date. This rather works if you find specialized groups like ‘Yoga Retreats in Germany’ or ‘Yoga & Hiking Retreats’. As for Instagram, you can be lucky when following hashtags like ‘yogaretreats’, but you might have to scroll through a lot of content to find what is interesting for you. I’d rather refer you to point one of this list: specialized Google search.

I hope this inspired you to take the leap and experience a yoga retreat and helped you with what to look for.

If you are interested in joining a retreat with me, please check out my events page or the direct link to my next Spring Retreats: close to Berlin in March 2020 and in Sicily May 2020.

I did my best to describe as accurately as possible, to support your decision process :) You can read some reviews about the retreats here.

I am always happy to hear your opinion, receive questions or feedback!

Wishing you amazing yoga adventures,
Jenny <3

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