Imagine a one-day yoga retreat at a converted barn amid rolling country hills, complete with spring-fed pond, saltwater hot tub, and macrobiotic brunch. A beautiful retreat. What might it mean, and what purpose might it serve in the practitioner’s life?
The obvious benefits
A retreat provides the yoga student with all the obvious benefits of extended practice, plus the benefits of a day in the country – relaxation, self-care, time to breathe and be with nature.
Something longer and further flung – Costa Rica, let’s say, or Hawaii – would undoubtedly provide students with more of the same, as well as the intense experience of consecutive days of practice in an ideal setting.
Combined with the healthy foods served in these places, we are bound to come away feeling like our best selves and then some.
But what if that’s not possible?
Of course there will be times, for whatever reason, that a lengthy, idyllic retreat is simply not available to you. Is it still possible to create that retreat feeling within our own city, or even our home?
Thinking of what makes a retreat a retreat, and not just everyday practice, it seems that much of it has to do with the commitment to it, the devotion of one’s valuable time. The first step then, seems to be to declare a certain length of time – a weekend, or just an afternoon – as your retreat time.
The setting is just as important. The nature thing is nice, sure, but if you’re stuck in the city can you plan a walk in a nearby ravine, coupled with two hours of uninterrupted time to practice and read in your candle-lit rec-room?
Can you devote three consecutive evenings to practice at a nearby studio, followed by stargazing, even if it’s only in the parking lot?
Perhaps you have a friend who makes a wicked quinoa salad, and another who’s a smoothie-nut. Maybe the three of you could get together for a Sunday morning, teach each other a few moves, read something inspiring to one another, and chow down.
Change it up!
Another benefit of a yoga retreat is simply changing one’s routine. The change could be as simple as trying a new studio. Maybe there’s that new one that just opened with the special for first-time students. Declare the duration of the intro rate a retreat, and see where it goes!
Or shake up the style of yoga you do, and allow your body to explore new frontiers. The retreat I just did was my introduction to traditional ashtanga. Used to gentle vinyasa, yin, and sitting meditation, my body was achy in brand new ways, but open and alive in new ways as well! If you’re fast-paced, slow down! If you tend toward the slow, crank things up a notch!
Okay, so none of these things are a week in Costa Rica, but it’s possible monks in ancient India weren’t getting there much either. So think about what yoga retreat might be possible for you, and get away from it all, right here and right now!