Have you looked out the window or been outside lately?! Going on a retreat to a warm place, late in the year is a no-brainer. As I write this, it’s rained every day for as long as I can remember here in England! Extending your summer and seeing gorgeous sunsets from the beach in November is a dream but what really happens on a yoga retreat?! Many unanswered questions leave people opting for a regular holiday...even if you do come back feeling exhausted, joking to everyone at work "now I need another holiday to relax from my holiday!" And the rest of the overstressed and overwhelmed people laugh like it's a funny joke while they've been trapped at work. What the hell is wrong with our culture that we have no times to restore our energy when work and family life is often draining?!?!
Think about this - have you ever taken time out to examine how you could live happier? Like, really wake up each day, excited about what every day will bring? What would it be like, feeling confident and making changes in your life, knowing they would result in feeling less stressed and overwhelmed? Like having actual coping mechanisms to get through the stress and crap of life when you feel like everything is stacked against you. We’ve got two choices in life. 1) Take time to figure out who you really are and then create a life where every day you wake up with anticipation for what’s to come because you are in control of your decisions and emotions or 2) just ignore it. Do whatever you do whether that means be happy with the way things are or float through life without ever really having a chance to see what relaxation, self fulfillment, living your truth, emotional regulation & resilience, managing stress in a healthy way, and improving your relationships is really like. Zen Retreats Ltd, a company founded by moi and my company The Art of Zen Living. We hold retreats about transformation, teaching people the skills through ancient Zen and yogic techniques, and some modern ones, to help people discover the possibilities that already exist in their life but they aren't tapping into because of mindset and limiting beliefs. We look at how to be more resilient emotionally, at work and in relationships. If you think the word yoga means "doing things that fit and flexible people do" you are misinformed about all that yoga is. Yoga is a union. In Zen Yoga, it's uncovering who you really are after a lifetime of conditioning. It's learning to live from that place so you can find the most beautiful feeling of fulfillment that no one could ever take from you. Once you see it, it can't be unseen. So what else happens?! Here are the truths revealed!!
All you do is yoga and yoga-ish stuff
On a yoga retreat you can participate in as much or as little as you want! You can even sleep in if you choose! The structure is there so you can join in when you want to and so you have an idea of what's happening throughout the week. One day you might prefer to take a day trip somewhere else or read a book in a cafe. Retreats often have a theme (like yoga & surfing) or are in a location with much more to enjoy. Want to drink wine and watch the sunset, do it!
Everyone that goes is really good at yoga and the yoga will be hard
False! There is no minimum requirement of experience required to go on retreat and the teachers will have prepared classes for all levels and abilities, complete beginners too! And to be honest, there isn't really such a thing as being "really good at yoga." Some people will be more experienced the longer they practice but that doesn't mean they are better. Yoga never gets easier. You just get stronger.
When people are new to yoga, they often think it's all about how the body looks in positions. It couldn't be further from the truth. Real yoga is about how you feel. It's about when you're figuring out where you put your hands and feet - that you've forgotten about the worries on your mind. THAT'S yoga! A yoga retreat is your time to connect the mind and body, to give the mind a break from overthinking and to do some constructive thinking, if you want.
It costs a lot.
Look at it this way - do you experience stress in life that you can't seem to get past? Do you struggle with sleep? Struggle to relax at home...or even have no clue what actual relaxation is without a phone/table/TV?! A yoga retreat is investing in yourself so you can live your life in a way that's more fulfilling, more mentally & physically healthy. What you do in a yoga class on a retreat is nothing like a regular yoga class at home. So much more can be done on retreat and that is why they can be so transformational. You haven't just rushed home from work, realised you forgot to email your boss, got stuck in traffic and 5 other annoying things too. You are in totally different surroundings where you can begin to relax in a different way. More on this in a moment.
Retreat prices vary and they can depend on a lot of things so it's best to look at what you get for the cost. Different to a regular holiday, you are taking classes, workshops and/or courses that aren't offered elsewhere. Being able to return home with a feeling of renewal, where have learned new skills to better manage stress and get better rest are priceless.
Retreats come in all price ranges. Retreat leaders spend hundreds of hours putting together the many different types of sessions, workshops and everything else so there's a lot to it. And if you want to go but are struggling to afford it, tell the teacher! You may be able to get a scholarship; some retreat leaders offer work/trades options.
You have to be a yoga person and have a yoga-y friend to come along
Many people go on yoga retreats alone. It's much more common than you think. Men can go alone on a yoga retreat and no one will think it is weird! There's no sense of it mattering if a person came alone and you can make friends or do your own thing on a retreat. That is the best part for me - I really enjoy travelling alone and I also like that I can go off to do my own thing when I'm feeling like I need some quiet time.
The food's boring and only consists of vegetables
Some retreats will be vegan or vegetarian. For me, I tried to be vegetarian for a long time and it didn't go very well. Chorizo is my downfall and the upcoming retreat is going to be in Spain! Needless to say you will see me eating chorizo and the fish - oh so good! And I drink wine too! Life's too short for so many rules.
You need to bring all sorts of yoga stuff...and dress well too
Most retreats locations will have yoga mats, props and anything you might want or need.Yoga mats do get cleaned but if it really freaks you out, bring your own. For clothes, wear what's comfortable. Don't worry, it's not a fashion show.
You need to have practiced with the teacher to join
Odds are the yoga teacher has a lot of videos and posts online that you can get a feel for how they are without ever having been to a class. Find a retreat that looks appealing, check out the teacher and contact them so you can have a chat about what to expect.
When you go away on retreat you have the chance to immerse yourself in practices that most people feel they don't have the time to do in their "normal life." Our brains are constantly in a state of being clouded and we've become to accustomed to living that way, thinking it's just normal. It's not! Many people's brains are like a snow globe. Shaken up so much it's like a total white out - thoughts, fears, insecurities, and doubts swirling around the mind causing sleepless nights, pains when there was no injury, gastro-intestinal issues and other chronic stress related problems. When people feel stuck in their lives, overwhelmed and behind it's difficult to take the time to look at what they truly want for their lives. This is your chance. 2 spaces left for Tarifa, Spain. Flights are under £140 and you leave November 2nd coming back the 9th. Read more details here!
And if you can't make it to Tarifa, there will be more retreats next year so be sure you are signed up for the newsletter list to be the first to know. Scroll down any page on the website to sign up. Adios!