An image from a yoga retreat can even tempt people who don’t do yoga. The sun is shining. People blissfully glow (rather than sweat) on a beach.
Smoothies sit in all colors of the rainbow. A hammock seems to count as an actual activity (isn’t it?).
However, as many of us have discovered through travel (or online dating for that matter), what is showcased on a website can be dramatically different from what exists in real life.
As a yoga teacher who has led retreats all over the world, I would like to blow the cover and keep you in the know about taking a yoga retreat.
These five things will help you to feel like a veteran, even if a yoga retreat is virgin territory.
1) A yoga studio may not be the only thing you share.
Many retreats are pressed for space, which means your accommodations will likely not be private. If you do decide to pay for an individual room, it may be almost double the cost of a shared room.
However, there is no need to feel nervous about rooming with a stranger. I have always encountered the nicest of people on retreats. If there were to be conflict between you and your roommate (which is incredibly rare), your teacher will work on getting you alternate accommodation.
Most people spend the majority of the day outside of their rooms, so, quite honestly, your room won’t matter much except during sleep. Be sure to pack an eye mask and ear plugs just in case you find yourself with a snorer.
It is also worth nothing that in some cases, the bathrooms are also shared.
Costs and accommodations should be upfront, but if you are unsure, ask the leading instructor.
2) There is lots of time for non-yoga.
Even the most jam-packed retreats have free time, which people either love or rail against. Plan to be unplanned.
I always think of the time off of the mat as inclusive in my yoga journey. Do your best to stay off of Wi-Fi (at least some of the time) and stay connected to your purpose for being on the retreat.
Take a nap. Enjoy a mid-afternoon stroll. Read a book without being interrupted. The way you treat your time in between classes can have an impact on the classes themselves.
3) You may not like everyone.
There are a variety of personalities that come on yoga retreats for a variety of reasons. Some people wear their stress on their skin. Others are quite emotional. Some like to talk.
Big groups can either result in easy fits or minor disagreements. If the latter is a part of your group, make sure to let the teacher know so that they can minimize your discomfort.
I always like to consider that my best teachers in life are the people who challenge me. The more I become aware of my reactions, the more I can learn to deprogram my buttons and choose kindness.
4) Emotions can surprise you.
It is so rare to have time where you learn, play and relax. It is so rare to give yourself permission to hit the Off switch.
Students cry infrequently during group classes, but I have seen it happen often on retreats. This is good to know in advance because if it happens to you, you can know that you are by no means alone.
It is a normal form of release when you are relaxed. You don’t even need to figure out what’s wrong. You can just let it pass through you, grab a tissue and feel much better afterwards.
Meditation can also unveil challenging emotions. If you are grappling with anything, you have the rare opportunity to chat with a live-in teacher. Make sure to set aside time to speak with them.
5) Before you book, consider some questions.
Does this retreat align with what you want? Does the schedule appeal to your current energy level?
Does the yoga style match with your current health condition? Do you like the instructor and the way they approach yoga? Do you like the menu?
All of these questions are valid. I lead retreats every year that end with vegan raspberry brownies. Some people come back the next year and joke that they are there for the brownies.
I get it. Doing most things for brownies just makes sense.
Edited by Jody Smith
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