1. You can immerse yourself in the total lifestyle.
A retreat offers a concentrated amount of time for you to focus on your practice. In running terms, if your weekly class is the training then the retreat is the big race – just don’t forget to pace yourself.
2. You’ll be able to deepen your relaxation.
Retreats take you away from real life, and the stressors that go with it. Even if you are a master meditator, there’s something about being away from the familiar that lets you release your constant mental list making. Give yourself permission to fully let go of all distractions and worries. You might find that by letting them go, problems often find a way of working themselves out or lose their strength over the course of your time away.
3. You’ll see a progression in your practice over a very short period of time.
Yoga is a journey and though we try not to put too much emphasis on achievement that doesn’t mean that your path is not a progression. Deepening your practice means different things to different people and can just as easily be about learning to sit still for your entire relaxation period as it could be about your first bakasana.
4. You can examine other areas of your life where improvements might be made.
Most retreats will include some ancillary benefits like expanding your eating horizons. Many of us get stuck in a food rut or routine, sticking to what we know. A retreat is a chance to push past those boundaries and get a bit adventurous with your appetite.
5. You can travel on your own without feeling self-conscious.
Sometimes you just really want to get away from it all and it’s not always easy to coordinate that with friends or partners. Yoga retreats are a safe environment to travel solo and you’ll find that even if you arrive alone you’ll leave with a load of new friends. Yogis are also quite sensitive to others’ needs so if what you’re craving is alone time, don’t be afraid to bring a book and tuck yourself into a quiet corner, you’ll not be offending anyone.
6. You’ll have the opportunity to connect with nature.
Most retreats or holiday venues are selected for their location. In fact I’m writing this from a sunny balcony with a full view of the Atlas Mountains outside of Marrakesh. For the last week everyone on the retreat has enquired about the daily routines of the turtle we found on the grounds day one. In a world of CNN and Sky, our breaking news is whether or not Tigmi turtle has managed to get fully around the pool before lunchtime.
7. You can step back and re-evaluate your life.
It’s hard to make decisions when you are immersed in a routine. Many of us go through entire days and weeks without straying far from our set activities: Monday, zumba, Tuesday, book club, etc etc. Taking a step outside that routine allows you a new perspective. Retreats are a great time to set goals as well as reflect on difficulties. After a few days away you might find that you have resolved some inner conflicts or challenges. You might find that solutions come to you for questions that had been lingering. It’s a great idea to take a journal with you and write down your thoughts and feelings on a daily basis to track this progress, and also to use as a gentle reminder when you return to your daily life.