A movie like "Couples Retreat" has the capability to scare even the most dedicated of yogis away from a yoga retreat! While we are certain you could find an incredibly Avant-garde retreat if you really wanted to, the majority are much more mainstream venues in which you can deepen your practice in a safe, restorative and focused environment. In this post, we will explore what a yoga retreat is and why you might consider attending one.
By definition, a "retreat" is "an act of moving back or withdrawing." It is also "a quiet or secluded place in which one can rest and relax," and "a period of seclusion for the purposes of prayer and meditation." (Source: New Oxford American Dictionary)
A yoga retreat is a temporary (most lasting a weekend or a week in the case of a vacation retreat) act of stepping back from the tasks and routines of daily life, to be immersed in learning and mindful awareness. If you feel relaxed and restored after a Namaste Yoga sequence or your favorite yoga class, imagine how you might feel after three days of it! The term "sore" might come to mind, and of course, this is possible if you push yourself too hard. But this time is meant to also be a period of relaxation and rejuvenation; listening to your body is key. Focusing on the self and what you are able to do in each session is likely to be part of the lessons you find invaluable, both on and off the mat.
According toKate Potter, "The benefit of going on a retreat is that all the pieces of yoga are integrated. One really feels the 'community of spirit' when we live and practice together. There is nothing left out, and one finally feels the depth of what Yoga has to offer. On retreat, all levels of practice, and all manner of experiences are given space. It just does not compare to any other way of learning."
And if finding the ‘community of spirit’ with fellow yoga practitioners is not enough, there are a number of other great reasons to go on retreat:
- A vacation
- Concentrated time to deepen practice
- Contact with trusted instructor in a more relaxed environment
- Gain deeper understanding of yoga
- Form new yogi friendships
- Posturous Uninterruptus!
Vacation Among some of the simplest notions might be that you love yoga and could use a timeout from the daily grind of your regular routine. In the case of a consistent Namaste Yoga practitioner, a retreat provides an opportunity to learn more about the practice you have spent hours studying in the comfort of your home. Of course, there is always the draw of meeting and being taught in person by the legendary Kate Potter!
Deepening Your Practice For many, committing to the time and expense of a weekly class is difficult. Proximity, tight finances and our ever-evolving schedules can make a dedicated yoga class a commitment that makes us feel more burdened than the unburdening intent from which yoga grows. In this case, a one-weekend retreat may be more manageable and just the thing to reinvigorate your home practice.
Quality Questions It's also nice to know you have several days in which to assess your own strengths and weaknesses, and formulate questions you can really benefit from. If you have a question and forget it, no worries! You will return in a few hours for another session, and you can ask it then. Because you are there for the weekend, you may find the answers to your questions are more thoughtful and thorough than they would be if you were rushing out of a yoga class to your next task.
Deeper Understanding A yoga retreat often covers a broader base of topics in the yogic spectral field. It's not just asana. An entire session can be devoted solely to anything from meditation to pranayama, and postures. Because you are there for several days, there is more time to cover these topics fully, and provide more in-depth information than you might find elsewhere.
New Friends A typical retreat consists of about 25 practitioners, who are bound to gain comfort in each other’s presence. You might find common ground with your fellow retreat yogis, who may also have wonderful knowledge and experience to draw from. If you reside in an area where yoga is not readily available, you may be able to gain contacts and friends to share knowledge and experience with when you return home.
Posturous Uninterruptus Yep! Simply put, your pets will not be climbing up your back, your children will not tug on your yoga pants, your BFF will not drop by, your spouse will not need you to find their shoes... AHhhhhhhh!!!! Leave the grocery list and the work agenda on at your desk, please. They are not essential to your being for this one moment, this retreat. You can go back to the very basics for a little while and really, truly, fully allow your practice to restore you.
Are you convinced? Here's a link toKate Potter's Retreat Schedule, just in case you're thinking about it! There are currently about six spots open for her October Yoga Weekend.