If you've ever looked at anything yoga related on the internet, you've most likely come across a reference, a review or even an ad for a yoga retreat. And you've most likely been very tempted by these to book one of your own. I know I was!
Back in May, I had the opportunity to do a yoga retreat near to my home in North Yorkshire. While most yoga retreats you see take place in exotic climes, with sand underfoot, the seas at your toes and the sun over head, this one was a little different but just as amazing. No matter what the location, a yoga retreat is so worth it, and here are 5 reasons why I think you should do a yoga retreat:
1. Improve Your Yoga Abilities
A yoga retreat is far more intense than your usual yoga practice, even if you visit a studio or practice at home daily. A yoga retreat will usually include 3 or more yoga sessions per day - generally one early morning, one during the day and one more meditative and relaxing session just before bed. Given that a yoga retreat usually lasts 3 days or more, that's a minimum of 9 sessions with a highly qualified instructor.
If you're not used to practicing this often, it may leave you feeling a little achy, but your abilities at the end of it will be hugely improved. A good instructor will be closely watching you during the retreat, giving you guidance on what you can work on.
The access to an instructor who is closely focused on you is key, and yoga retreats are often smaller groups too so you'll get lots of attention. Personally I found myself leaving my retreat able to get up into wheel pose where I couldn't before and with a recommendation for a new yoga mat that would work better for me.
2. You can Learn and Experience Something New
Most yoga retreats often include an additional aspect - the one I did also included Stand Up
Paddle-board Yoga (SUP Yoga). I was quite nervous about this beforehand as I had never done anything like it before, but it was really rewarding to try something new and to find out that I loved it. This experience actually helped to improve my yoga abilities further as trying to find your center when on water is a lot more difficult than on land!
Other retreats I've seen advertised have included the opportunity to do cooking classes, surfing, meditation walks and spa treatments - every retreat is different. Even if there are no additional activities aside from the yoga, you'll be experiencing a whole new type of practice under a different teacher.
3. The Opportunity to Connect with Like-minded People
The group that you do a yoga retreat with may be strangers at first, but you'll find that you connect very quickly with them. Since they've all chosen to book some time for themselves at a yoga retreat, they're a like-minded group to you.Personally I went to my yoga retreat by myself. I was really nervous as I don't often spend time alone, but by the end of the weekend, I had a group of new friends who I still keep in contact with. We spent a lot of time together, even outside the yoga sessions - in the spa, at meals and wandering the estate - and much of it fits of giggles. Thanks to the connection that yoga gives you, we found we were getting into heartfelt discussions of life, the future and taking time for ourselves.
4. Taking Time for Yourself
Allowing yourself to take a break from your daily life will do wonders for your mental health. Life is so fast paced and often stressful, so give yourself a chance to slow down and focus on you. Self-care is a huge part of a yoga retreat and can have huge effects on your well-being.
The meditation aspect will allow you to be introspective and think about where you can make changes in your life. Even if you're not in a stressful position, just taking that break away from your everyday life will make a big difference.
5. Improve Your Confidence
All of the above points will contribute to this final one: your confidence. Learning something new, dedicating time to your own well-being, connecting with new people and improving your yoga practice: you'll come away feeling like a whole new person!