* This article was first published in Positive Life Magazine in 2012. It shares my memories of the first yoga retreat I attended back in 1998-ish, as well as some thoughts I had at the time on the benefits of retreat.
Full of nerves, I sent the email and booked myself into my very first yoga retreat.
I had no idea what to expect, I was excited but to be honest had my moments of wanting to back out as well. I was committed. I was going to head off to study yoga and to take time retreating, offering myself a different holiday experience.
When I arrived at the centre, I was greeted by a friendly reassuring smile, I felt like a child on the very first day of school, brimming over with curiosity and a belly full of butterflies.
I had heard many people say how beneficial going on a yoga retreat was- though I hadn’t really completely understood what they meant- but I was here now.
I unpacked and then went out to meet my fellow retreatees. Some were seasoned, many newbies, some solo and others coming with friends but everyone finding the lay of the land, like myself, before going to the yoga room for our first class together.
The first class was a perfect initiation, I was most pleased that I felt that I had done well, for a novice anyway, and was ready for the delicious meal that awaited us.
Over dinner, the same friendly face that welcomed me reviewed the weekly programme with the group. We also went through the retreat ‘rules’ which were really just a few things to remind us to be considerate, as we would all be sharing each others space…and amidst the chats and laughter…I knew I had arrived to a nurturing, positive and fun environment.
I was beginning to realise that I had truly embarked on a unique experience and as the weeks flew by the daily schedule was relaxed - while somehow supporting each of our own personal journeys - through yoga sessions, meditation, discussions, sharing meals while making new friends, with plenty of time for relaxing on my own as well.
Some days it felt easy and care free, while others were more challenging for me. By the end of the two weeks I was wishing I could stay longer and understood that the time I had taken on retreat would give me long-term benefits.
So what are the benefits of retreat?
- Simply put, Yoga retreats give you the fun and adventure of a holiday; while at the same time ensure you feel refreshed and fully revitalized.
- Retreat enables you to not only benefit for the months to follow but potentially for the rest of your life. You will, surprisingly, discover your optimum vitality, learn to relax, reduce stress levels and experience rich relationships in life through Yoga retreat.
- Retreats are normally off the beaten path or in unique locations. Most retreats are in locations where there is hardly any traffic or noise but for the sounds of the birds and of nature.
- In an environment of harmony, you get a real chance to relax, meditate and experience the benefits of Yoga.
- You will surely experience new dimensions of yourself that you may never before known existed; It was through retreat that I came to understand that to go on an inward journey of self-enquiry, within the exploration which is Yoga, is truly the greatest adventure of them all!