Although this word and the corresponding form of relaxation have come into fashion recently, retreats are at least 2,000 years old: the practice of moving away from the world in all three world religions in order to devote oneself to meditation and prayers, in fact, is a real retreat, no matter how called in one tradition or another. However, retreats are different, and the religious component in them is not always present. An example of this is yoga retreats, open to people with any beliefs and beliefs. To participate in many of them it is not necessary to even have experience in yoga – the main thing is a sincere desire to spend a week or two with benefit for the body and mind.
Strictly speaking, calling yoga retreat vacation is not entirely true. At least it has little to do with staying at an all-inclusive resort. You don’t really lie on the beach here – spread the mat and go ahead, do asanas! Instead of cocktail parties and dances until dawn, here is a strict daily routine with early hikes, and instead of a buffet – a vegetarian diet, and even a detox menu of raw fruits and natural juices.
It would seem, why did the townspeople tired of the squirrel wheel “work-home-work” have such torment on vacation? Each participant in a yoga retreat has his own answer to this question: check yourself, get rid of bad habits and join a healthy lifestyle, find yourself among like-minded yoga lovers … But the essence of the retreat is the ability to go beyond the usual to rethink your own life, overcome one’s own fears and awareness of desires do little to clarify one’s head, like physical activity and healthy food. Of course, a yoga retreat is just one of the possible paths to oneself. But, firstly, one of the most interesting, because it involves a trip to exotic places and new acquaintances, and secondly, paradoxically, it sounds one of the easiest: to start waking up at dawn and refuse to overeat much easier in a group than one.
So where to go? There are retreat centers that conduct their own programs all year round, which you can join at any time. There are retreats organized by specific yoga teachers – they take place on certain dates in the same retreat centers, in hotels, or even in the format of hikes (as opposed to the usual outings with tents – the practice of yoga).
Yoga retreat programs also vary. Not only by their directions, but also by the requirements for the physical preparation of participants and even the daily routine and diet: they can be either mandatory or “optional”. If you want to immerse yourself in a radically different setting and understand the essence of retreat as a phenomenon, it is better to choose the option with “commitment”, and as far as possible from civilization, or rather its fruits, such as bars, clubs, television and the Internet. The optimal time for such a complete immersion in oneself through yoga is 7-10 days, for one weekend it will not work properly to reboot.
As for programs that allow the participation of beginners, you should not be afraid of their experienced yogis. Firstly, remembering the basics is useful, and secondly, many yoga poses suggest the possibility of simple execution for beginners and more difficult for “advanced users”, so that the latter will not be bored.
To save money by booking a retreat on your own, it’s better to plan your trip in advance – many retreat centers give discounts to “early birds.” You can also choose, for example, between living in a room and in a tent and single occupancy or sharing a room with another participant (in both cases the second option is more budget). However, whether these options are available depends on the rules of a particular retreat center.
For those who want to go through a yoga retreat, we picked up 5 interesting places where you can go this year.
Ulpotha in Sri Lanka serves as a venue for yoga and Ayurvedic retreats annually in July-August and from November to March. The rest of the time, this place lives the usual life of a tropical village where rice is grown. It is far from cheap, but the best teachers from all over the world come here with their programs. The situation is remembered for a long time: the houses have no walls, despite the fact that there is a rainforest with an abundance of living creatures, in particular, wild monkeys. This is where you can feel the unity with nature and guaranteed to get rid of the phobias inherent in the “asphalt children” far from it!
If you prefer horses to monkeys and elephants, you have a direct (albeit close) road to the other side of the world in the USA, Vermont, to the Stowe Mountain Ranch retreat center . The local climate and atmosphere are not much reminiscent of Asian retreats – the atmosphere of the wild-wild West reigns here. And yes, the menu, in addition to organic vegetables, fruits and cereals, includes fish and game. But the variety of programs conducted throughout the year, including the unique “Yoga with Horses”, does not allow one to doubt that this place is not in vain called one of the best yoga retreats in North America. And about vegetarian food, you can agree with the cook.
Villa Sumaya Retreat Center is located in Guatemala on the shores of Lake Atitlan framed by volcanoes. The views from the comfortable rooms and both yoga studios are a definite plus of this place. As well as a variety of retreat programs conducted throughout the year, the presence of a spa complex and a varied vegetarian menu. However, to completely disconnect from the usual schemes, it will require willpower: the center has Wi-Fi and a bar with alcoholic drinks. The latter in the retreat menu, of course, are not included, but they can be bought for an additional fee. If you are confident in yourself, it’s time to reserve a place in the retreat: from May to October, the “green season” lasts at Villa Sumaya, when people are fewer and prices are lower.
And again, Asia. The Lotus Yoga Retreat in the main resort of India, in the state of Goa, has two retreats in one: you can sleep, eat, practice yoga and meditate under the whisper of the waves of the Arabian Sea, or you can in the rainforest 2 kilometers from the beach. In any case, this is a very budget option with accommodation in huts made of bamboo, cane, and palm leaves and a varied vegetarian menu of organic products, freshly squeezed juices and herbal teas. You can come here with a friend or girlfriend who did not do yoga – while you are in retreat, your companion can simply enjoy life in an eco-village. By the way, in addition to India, the Lotus retreat is in Spain, in Ibiza.
Since we are talking about freshly squeezed juices, how do you like the idea of a week-long detox on natural juices and smoothies in one of the two Juice Master retreat centers? It will not do without yoga, as well as without other types of physical activity: fitness, table tennis, volleyball, hiking, and cycling … But here the main thing is not yoga, but just the nutrition system. You can try on the author’s approach of the British Jason Weil this year until October (inclusive) in Turkey and in October-December in Portugal (all places in the summer programs are already reserved). The conditions are more comfortable than in Asian retreats, and prices would not bite if they were not in British pounds.