If you can afford the time and money they are a great investment. But with so many to choose from these days we have put together a few things to consider so you can make the most of your time.
Deepen your practice
One of the main benefits of a retreat is that you get to spend time with the same yoga teacher. This really gives them, and you, time to get to know your practice. To learn about your posture, your tendencies in poses and give you personal attention. Most retreats have at least two yoga or meditation sessions a day, so if you’ve just been practising once a week before you go, now is the time to include a few more sessions! This will improve your strength and fitness but can also give you ideas on what you would like to work on during your retreat. A retreat is also a brilliant way to re-establish your practice and to bring fresh energy back into it.
All this practising will inspire you! Make the most of your free time and go deeper into yoga philosophy or anatomy. Get stocked up on inspirational books and podcasts before you go. Take a look at recommendations ofyoga books from our teachers.
For the same reason consider taking a break from social media while you’re away. Switch off your phone if you can and let people know back home you’ll just be around at specific times.
Of course you want to be with a great, experienced teacher while you’re away. Check out personal recommendations and reviews if you don’t know your teacher already. We list retreats from EkhartYoga teachers on our Workshops page. You can also find listings on websites like BookYogaRetreats.com and YogaTrail.com
The world is your oyster when it comes to destinations, but think about what you want to get from your retreat. Are you looking for a total immersion into yoga, or a relaxing holiday with lots of yoga? Do you want a retreat which combines yoga with something else like surfing or hiking? All these options are brilliant but be sure you’re getting what you expected! Check out the schedule in advance and contact the retreat organiser with any questions. Things to look out for are how many sessions of yoga and meditation are included, how many people will be there, what free time you have between classes, whether any other activities are on offer and how easy it is to get around if you have free time.
Making it cheaper
Often retreats will reserve a space at a reduced rate for a volunteer. You could be cleaning, cooking or working on the surrounding land. If you’re travelling alone you won’t be the only one! Offer to be matched up with someone to share accommodation and travel. Many retreats will arrange this for you.
Nowadays you can go all over the world for your retreats, so combining it with some time off for travel afterwards makes a lot of sense and also helps with returning back to life post-retreat. Look for retreats closer to home, or to make it really affordable you can always make your own home yoga retreat with us 😉
Create a community
Going on a yoga retreat is an opportunity to meet like-minded people from around the world. You’ll practise together, eat together and maybe share rooms together. So many people make wonderful long-lasting friendships on retreats.
The flipside of this is that of course you can meet someone you clash with. Take an open mind and a friendly approach, check out what’s irritating you and whether it could be a reflection of something in yourself. Maybe it is, maybe not! Practising so intensely can sometimes bring emotions and feelings up for people, give people space and take time for your own too.
Food and drinks
Retreat centres often serve up amazing food and are used to catering for different diets – like in Suryalila in Spain where Esther has run retreats and teacher trainings for example! Some will let you volunteer in the kitchen so you can learn from the cooks. Check out what food and drinks are included in your retreat price, take extra snacks if you usually need them.
Alcohol! Some retreats have strict no alcohol policies. So again just do some research so you know what you’re getting, in case you’re expecting cocktails on the beach – there are yoga holidays where you can do that too 🙂
Going to a retreat for the first time reminds me a bit of going to level 2 or 3 classes for the first time. All kinds of doubts can come up: will I be ‘good’ enough? Will we just be doing one-handed arm balances? Will they all wonder what I’m doing here? Have I been practising enough? (I have lots more of these…). Yoga is not meant to be a competitive sport but it’s human nature for us to look around and see what other people are doing. Try to keep your focus on your own mat and your own practice, but you can also use this as a chance to learn from other students too. If there are specific things you are anxious about contact your teacher beforehand. This is your opportunity – enjoy it!
Bringing your retreat back home
At the end of your retreat you’ll be feeling healthier, happier, motivated and inspired to keep it all up. Then you get home and have to put it into action! Plan ahead a little – think about two or three things that you want to continue with after the retreat and make specific plans for them. This could be about continuing with a regular meditation practice or it could be about looking at things from a different angle. Bear in mind that while you’ve been away opening your mind and clearing out old patterns those at home may not have, so be gentle with your new-found enthusiasm and positivity! Make these plans realistic and achievable – practising four hours a day is much easier on a retreat than when you are fitting it in around work.
Check out all our teachers’ workshops, retreats and trainings on the Workshops page