Do you realize we are only four weeks before 2013 wraps up? Just four more weeks left!
An interesting question at this point is: Are you on track for creating and manifesting the most incredible 2014 for yourself? Do you know what you would like to welcome into your life in 2014 and beyond? If not, not to worry, you still have more than enough time to give it some thought and, I encourage you to do so. After all, if you don’t know what you want, how will you ever get it…?
A great starting point is to know where you really recharge. Do you know? Do you ‘really’ know?
Than put it on your to do list and ‘simply’ do it more often. Not just in 2014. Why wait, change can start any day, also to-day. Whether it’s taking a walk, going to the beach, doing yoga, sitting on your mat, meditating, painting, making music, running, swimming, reading more books; whatever it might be, do it more often.
And, yes, you do have the time, that is, if you make the time.
Another great way to take some time for yourself, to figure out what your plans can be for 2014, is to go on a yoga retreat.
Nope, I’m not going to bluntly advertise my own retreats in this blog. I will just share why I’m such a strong believer in yoga retreats. During my corporate years I went on three retreats per year (!) so I kinda take them seriously. What I will share are some of my own pictures.
How to pick out the right retreat? Google your way around, check the location, the teacher and the program, and, if it all ‘feels’ good, just go for it!
So here are my 10 reasons to make your next holiday a yoga retreat:
1. Yoga retreats are a brilliant way to break free of old Patterns
Being on a yoga retreat breaks your daily habits and routines. At a yoga retreat you will have the luxury of time and space to do things just for you. You can focus on yourself and your needs. You will be able to contemplate what makes you happy and have the time to do it.
Many people take the opportunity to stop drinking coffee, alcohol or eating sugar for just that week. Others start with the habit of daily meditation or being more mindful during the day. The opportunities are there for you, without judgments or expectations, they are just there.
2. Yoga retreats can support a Life Change
Change seems to be the overall theme these days. I would even call it a hunger for change. Not sure if it’s because of many things, that seemed certainties for a long long time, are all collapsing one after the other. Looking at the environment, politics, economics, even religion. Fact is that we are constantly confronted by change around us. And many people feel the urge to change, to do ‘something’ different, but what ? and more specifically: How?
If you are reassessing your life in any way, thinking of a career change, moving, going through a divorce or experiencing the loss of a loved one, then attending a yoga retreat is a beautiful and healthy way for you to gain deeper understanding, clarity and insight. It can help you in building courage and internal strength to help you deal positively with your life change.
3. The days are Structured
Participants often show up pale and buzzing with nervous energy. On the first day or two it is very common for people to ask for details on the schedule for the week, where the nearest town is, if there are extra hiking possibilities, what to do during the ‘free afternoons’, if I will add workshops or excursions, if they can read the books in the library as the 5 books they brought will probably not be enough, etc. In order words: They want to break out and keep the stressed pace.
Personally, I hand out a program with a daily schedule but I also let them know that the schedule is flexible and, that they might even consider being open for the unexpected. I admit, not an easy thing to do for control freaks :).
By the end of their stay though, an amazing transformation often takes place which makes my mission absolutely worthwhile. Their being has visually changed. Their skin takes on color, their eyes shine and the diamonds within start to shine again.
With any good yoga retreat, every activity is optional as it’s your holiday, your time to relax and do exactly that what you like to do. Usually, there’s a nice and well thought of program so you don’t have to worry about planning the day.
Oh, one thing about the books. Bring one and not five; you’ll see, it will be hard enough to finish just that one and yes, in most locations you can browse around in the libraries and grab whatever book you like.
4. You’re guaranteed to Eat well
Eating healthy requires a bit of preparation and planning and doesn’t usually fit a corporate agenda, making it all too easy to indulge in fast food more often than we’d like. The food in most yoga retreats gets a lot of attention, after all, it has the potential to basically make or break the retreat.
In general, the food is vegetarian, organic, tasty and healthy. Your body will de-stress and heal better with the healthy, good foods you give it. In some retreats coffee, sugar and alcohol are huge no-no’s, in other retreats they might be pretty relaxed about all that. Just make sure to check upfront.
5. Your Body and Mind will Reconnect
When signing up many people are a bit worried that they will end up in a yoga boot camp and that the whole experience will involve being forced into a daily repetition of at least a 100 sun salutations.
Not true, unless explicitly mentioned! Most retreats are open to all levels, so you do not have to be an expert yogi. Even if you have never done yoga before and just want to try it, a retreat might be just right for you. Age is no limitation either, most yoga retreats have participants between 19 and 70.
My very first yoga retreat did mention explicitely that it was an Ashtanga retreat. Being way too busy before departure, and just wanting to get away, I didn’t pay any attention to this little fact, plus, what was ‘Ashtanga’ anyway? In our introduction round, I found myself in the midst of hard core Ashtangis. Joy, I had never done yoga before… But, I loved it!!! I followed all the lessons, I could hardly move after three days but I did what I could and started to feel alive again. FYI, Ashtanga or Power yoga.
6. You will spend time with like-minded People
Yoga has the potential to connect you to likeminded people who share similar passions, beliefs and sometimes even professions. A friend made on a yoga retreat can ultimately become a friend for life.
By looking at the organizer’s website, you can pick up quite a few things usually and figure out what their ‘average’ participant looks like. To be very sure about this, just ask the organizer.
7. You will get Inspired
A very nice definition of yoga is given by Patanjali, “yoga chitta vritti nirodha”, or yoga is the individual discipline that leads to the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind. So, at its core, yoga is an opportunity to calm our minds through the discipline of physical postures and meditation.
As our mental chatter decreases, we find an open space that is fertile ground for new ideas and ways of thinking.
A yoga retreat gives you the opportunity to quiet your mind, and find inspiration that can benefit you in your work, relationships, and many other areas of your life. Also the interaction with the other participants will inspire you, give you new ideas, perspectives and so much more.
8. You will go beyond your Comfort Zone
There is a saying that the fun lies outside of our comfort zones? Well, yoga retreats, and their cruel teachers 🙂 , usually know pretty well how to get people out of their comfort zones.
Without even being fully aware of it, you might find yourself dancing on house music at 9AM on a Tuesday morning. Chanting mantras as if you have been chanting mantras your entire life already, making mandalas or your own jewelry, or pizza. Scary stuff right? Not for you? Why not? Hello, ego…?
Also yoga wise, if you’re a dedicated Bikram yogi, why not try out a Kundalini yoga retreat? You can experience something new and fun, and who knows, you might even like it better!
9. You can have a Digital Detox
Email, Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, Pinterest, Instagram, text messaging, and so many other things can take up a lot of your time at home. Going on a yoga retreat allows you to literally unplug and fully recharge your own batteries.
Yoga retreats often take place in some of the most beautiful locations in the world, some offer Wifi, some don’t. In any case, it ‘could’ be the ideal environment to digitally detox.
Do check upfront if there are ‘rules’ about this, in some retreats they can be very strict about this and you might even have to switch everything off when you enter. Or worse, hand in all your electronics at the gate (own experience in Sri Lanka, quite a shock at the time, of course I didn’t check upfront, lol!).
10. You will have a lot of Fun
Safe the best for last! Besides all the other reasons I just mentioned for going on a yoga retreat, maybe this one is still the best reason. You will have fun, a lot of fun!
How can you not?
You will be in a beautiful location, there’s no one to take care of nor to worry about, there are no expectations, no deadlines and no distractions. You’ll spend the majority of your day in really comfy clothes, indulge in healthy food, take little naps whenever you feel like it, and rediscover the word ‘relax’. You will stretch, sweat and breath and discover muscles you didn’t even know existed.
And all this, being surrounded with at least a few (and probably a lot of) really cool people.
Where to book?!!!
To end, a few tips to help you in choosing the right retreat for you:
Check out the teacher:
If there are a zillion pictures of him or her to be found in acrobatic postures, this retreat might be very focused on the gymnastics on the mat.
Read testimonials of previous participants:
There’s usually quite a bit of info in these testimonials. Plus, if all participants are coming from one country, the retreat might not be so international.
Alcohol served or not:
This is a tricky one but if you see bottles of beer and wine on every single picture, this might really be a ‘holiday’ and not so much a retreat.
Check out the location on line:
Ask your organizer if the location itself has a website. If there’s not a single picture of the rooms to be seen, there might be something to hide, ask them to send you some pictures.
There you go, the ten reasons why I think you should make your next holiday a yoga retreat.
You’re very welcome to join one of my retreats of course, and if you have any questions about the locations I mention in the blog, don’t hesistate asking.
Did I forget something? Feel free to add your experiences!