Published: February 26th 2008February 26th 2008
oga is the art of release. It is the study of one’s concentration upon the diverse layers of the body, exploring deeper with an advanced focus into the mind, until eventually delving and settling forever within the spirit. This ancient tradition of breath, movement and meditation developed within the Hindu culture of the Indian subcontinent becomes the practitioner’s sacred ritual. Therefore, finding the right yoga retreat is equally a part of one’s practice as is a particular inhalation of breath, an exhalation into a specific posture, or the stillness of silent observation. The right retreat must align with the right individual, and only then will one have the relaxation to let go and discover the true depths of their yogic journey. The Destination Is Also The Journey Y
oga retreats are aplenty. They come in all different shapes, sizes, destinations and complete packages. Some offer 24/7 yoga, strict meal guidelines, and absolute silence. Others begin the day with a series of opening postures (or asanas
in Sanskrit), and then immerse participants in the culture of their environment, performing creative activities and restorative downtime. The day ends with a final series of relaxation. It’s all up to you
—the practitioner. It is your
practice and only yours
. So how do you find the right retreat?
Close the eyes. Take a long inhalation through the nose. Hold. Now release all breath out of the mouth. Settle into your seat and relax. Imagine you yoga-ing
. Imagine the setting. Where would it be?
To offer a little input, I’m on a beach. I’m not in the Himalayas watching a fast approaching lightning storm upside down while shaking in Sirsha-asana
(or head-stand pose). No. I’m in the tropics, half naked (okay… completely naked) on warm sands with the sound of the ocean’s waves cresting upon one another. Breezy palm trees rustle overhead and their shadows offer refreshing shelters. I am far from the office, the phone calls, the expectations others’ harbor of me. These are long gone and far out of mind. I am relaxed, warm, at peace and loving life.
Your dreamy setting might be different. It might not. No matter, it’s your
yoga practice (as the conscious instructor reiterates); therefore it’s your
yoga retreat. Take Me To Your Leader F
rom the location of the retreat, the next important element of the practice is who’s teaching. Who is it that
will lead you through the doorways of your “guesthouse” as the Sufi mystic Jelaluddin Rumi referred to when speaking of the body? Whose guidance will you trust and surrender to? At best, it’s safe to say that if a professional institution certifies the teacher you have no reason to doubt their practice and capabilities. However, each person’s style of teaching is unique and each system of yoga is different. Search their name on the Internet, find their website and if possible take their classes. Acquire feedback and read their students’ testimonials. Where have they lead retreats before? And most of all, find an instructor whose style of practice and system of yoga aligns with your needs. But how do you do that? There can’t be that many traditions of yoga…
Oh yes. There is Hatha Yoga, Yin Yoga, Flow Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, Bikram Yoga, etc., etc., etc.
The list goes on and for the practitioner to choose the most fitting retreat it is advisable to carry basic knowledge about and experience within that appropriate yogic system.
For example, you’re looking to work yourself. You want to physically sweat, strain, push and endure your entire body—muscles, joints,
ligaments, bones and all—then open the doors to a vigorous Ashtanga practice. Or say you’re seeking peace and tranquility—long restorative postures—then settle into a form of Yin Yoga. The choices are as many as the thoughts found within the mind. Your Life, Your Retreat W
ith a destination and style of yoga pinned down, then it’s up to you to find out what is being offered beyond your guesthouse’s doorstep. Check the local studios for flyers. Browse through conscientious periodicals and publications that focus on spirituality and self-improvement. Search the Internet for retreats in specific destinations or in a certain tradition of practice. Ask your friends. Ask the universe. Ask yourself.
A yoga retreat is a sacred offering to your body, your guesthouse, your
temple. It is time taken off the daily frivolities of “making-a-living” in order to honor who you are; in order to develop the mind, body and soul closer to a state of relaxation and peace. In essence, yoga is learning how to accept and love oneself whole-heartedly and unconditionally.
Practice your yoga practice. Observe your breath and welcome all sensations of the body. Let the mind go and find your perfect yoga retreat
to learn to release and live your own life. Resources
Yoga Nidra, Vinyasa, & Flow Yoga by Laura DeFreitas: LauraNidra.com
August 2008 Retreat: Yoga & Festival Season in Bali, Indonesia
The Yoga Journal: YogaJournal.com
There are more photos below