Five Reasons to Go on a Yoga Retreat
Despite practicing yoga for a decade, I didn’t attend my first yoga retreat until 2011. One of my very first thoughts once I was there was “What took me so long?!” I live in London and the yoga retreat I’d chosen was a countryside weekend break in the UK. Even though I hadn’t traveled very far, it was just enough to bring my mind and body back into balance—and suited my budget too. I’d always thought that a retreat was a pipe dream, but whether you want to head off to far-flung sunny climes or have a short but sweet weekend break closer to home, there’s such a wide range of choices available that it is possible to find a getaway that suits all tastes and needs.
I loved the experience so much and since that first retreat I have become a yoga teacher and taught numerous retreats in the UK and abroad. I believe so much in the value of taking time out for you. Though it can be easier said than done at times, self-care really is a non-negotiable for all of us. Far from being selfish, taking that time to take care of you allows you to recharge and, in turn, enables you to give the best of yourself to your loved-ones. Every time I go on a retreat, whether teaching or as a guest, I am reminded all over again of why they are so good. Just in case you need further convincing, here are a few reasons to attend:
1. No pressure to “do” anything
Ever been on holiday and ended up with an itinerary so packed that you came back feeling like you needed another holiday? Well, one of the great things about being on retreat is that there’s no pressure to “do.” We have enough pressures and “shoulds” in our day-to-day lives and even on holiday that can creep in when what our minds and bodies really need is the opposite. On retreat you have the genuine opportunity to slow down with no guilt whatsoever. You can opt in or out of as many of the classes and other activities on offer as you like. Hang out with the group, or spend time alone. It’s your choice! It’s a real chance to relax and restore.
2. You get to indulgently focus on your yoga practice (or even begin one)
If you already love yoga, then what better opportunity to practice every day. However, if you’ve never done yoga before, a retreat is a great place to start. There are lots of beginner-friendly retreats out there, including the ones I teach for Sally Parkes Yoga. As a beginner you’ll be in a safe, nurturing environment and guided by teachers who support you.
Join Paula on a Retreat in Spain
3. It’s an opportunity to support a a life transition
When I went on my first yoga retreat I was in the process of being laid off from my job of almost 10 years. Though it was a change I wanted, it was still a lot to come to terms with at the time. Being out of my regular surroundings was a great chance to step back, take stock, and reassess things. It helped me get clearer about what I wanted. I’ve heard similar stories from other people about how they found a new perspective while on away on retreat and consequently, were able to take positive action once back at home.
4. You can go on your own
Traveling alone isn’t something everyone feels comfortable doing. From my experience, attending a retreat is a wonderful way to get away on your own. The environment is safe and supportive and you get to meet some great people. Participants come from diverse backgrounds, yet often similar experiences have brought them to a retreat. It’s not uncommon to form lasting friendships.
5. The effects last after you return home
I feel this is best summed-up by a past guest who at the end of one of our weekend retreats humbled us with the following: “I came on one of these retreats a while ago and came away with a warm feeling that lasted a long time. This time I’ve got that feeling again.”
So what are you waiting for? Why not start planning your next, or even your first yoga retreat? Do something nice for yourself.
About the Author
Paula Hines is a UK-based yoga teacher and writer with comedy scriptwriting credits for BBC TV and radio. She writes the monthly “Teacher’s Tales” column in OM Yoga Magazine. After 14 years of working full-time in television, she now teaches yoga in her hometown of London and on retreats for Sally Parkes Yoga. Her yoga teaching journey has so far taken her to Morocco, Montenegro, Spain, and locations closer to home such as the valleys of Snowdonia and the Sussex countyside and coast. Find more of her upcoming classes and retreats at www.ucanyoga.co.uk.