GOING ON a yoga retreat used to be a thing only the hippiest of hippies embarked upon – my, how times have changed! You know that yoga is having a major moment that just won’t quit, which means that yoga retreats are becoming the newest must-dos on the to-do lists of everyone from business execs to Bikram junkies. The beauty of retreating yourself is that you don’t need to be an experienced yogi to reap the full benefits – just like yoga itself, it’s more about the journey than what you actually do on the mat.
Ben Crosky is the co-founder of YOGASCAPES, a yoga retreat company aimed at creating a full-on travel experience by taking some of the most vibrant, energetic yoga and wellness teachers around and pairing them with everything you need to get a real taste of the local culture and breathtaking, off-the-beaten-path surroundings. He knows how overwhelming it can be to venture into the unknown (literally!), so we asked him to break down the ins and outs of what you can expect on your yoga retreat of choice…
Whether it’s your first yoga retreat or your twentieth yoga retreat, it will be – hands down on the mat – the most generous thing you could possibly do for yourself. Time and time again we see amazing people from around the world have transformative experiences on our yoga retreats. Some are coming for deep healing, some are coming to disconnect from technology. Others are marking a big transition or wanting to scratch a travel bug while staying healthy. Some are jumpstarting their yoga practice and others truly have no idea why they are on retreat except that something deeper has called them.
One thing that I’ve learned in leading yoga retreats with YOGASCAPES is that no matter what the intention was for coming on retreat, most people end up coming away with something they didn’t even know they needed. That’s just what happens when you spending a week getting to know yourself in a supportive, playful, healing space. In your search for a yoga retreat, you never know what you’re going to find that inspires you.
WHAT TO EXPECT YOUR FIRST TIME ON A YOGA RETREAT
ALL THE EMOTIONS
Spending a week traveling and diving into yoga can be a very challenging, emotional, powerful experience. Normally when you’re traveling it can be hard to feel safe and supported, however while on retreat, you have permission to dive deep into whatever you’re going through knowing that you have a group of people, and an experienced teacher to hold space for you.
Every retreat is different but on most retreats you can expect to have a morning yoga class followed by a delicious breakfast, free time in the morning followed by a delicious lunch, free time or an adventure in the afternoon, followed by an evening class and a delicious, healthy group dinner. We include all meals on most of our retreats. It’s amazing how much more time you get when you don’t have to cook every day!
Most retreats will have bodyworkers or other healers onsite. Depending on where you are, you might want to try something new, that you can’t get at home. For example, you can get an astrological reading from a Mayan shaman, a four handed massage, an ayurvedic consultation, a chakra healing and the list goes on
Most retreats take place in a beautiful natural setting. Depending where you are that might mean waking up to the sound of monkeys, birds, the ocean or a river. Yoga retreats are all about taking you out of unhealthy patterns and places and bringing you back into the natural vibration of the world. Sleeping in the jungle, playing in the ocean, being around wildlife, bring you into a relationship with nature and yourself.
There’s just something about yoga retreats that bring the best, most interesting, least judgmental, incredibly friendly, impressively respectful, contagiously curious and most importantly, wonderfully fun people. Expect to have amazing conversations over the dinner table and to come away with a new friend or many.
LOTS OF LEARNING
Practicing yoga for a week straight will change your practice. Practicing a couple times a week, maybe with a different teacher, is great but it’s hard to do any deep learning. On retreat you’re with the same teacher for a whole week and you really get a chance to learn, to ask questions, to get one on one help, to rest and recover and to see what happens when you commit yourself, even just for a week, to your practice.
Although some retreats are more serious than others, we think that a healthy dose of fun, laughter and playfulness is the best kind of medicine. Expect to laugh more than you’ve laughed in a long time and to feel like a barefoot kid again.
HAVE AN ADVENTURE
Beautiful places often go hand in hand with amazing adventures! Head to your yoga retreat with an open mind and plan on having the time of your life…