What are we retreating from and where to? And what exactly happens on a yoga retreat?
Getting at the heart of these questions may sound something like "we reconnect with the stillness inside of us that is there all along, even in moments of greatest uncertainty and chaos." Though, of course, so much more can happen when we choose to take a break from our daily rhythms and adventure on an inner and outer retreat journey.
The Essence of Going on a Yoga Retreat
The practice of retreating is as old as time, and found in some form in each spiritual tradition out there – it is the removal of the self from the outer chaos of daily life in order to rediscover – through mindfulness - a stillness and restful ease that we always carry within. Of course, we can go on this journey without changing our outer circumstances, however sometimes a shift in perspective can be a powerful catalyst to refocus our inner sight.
Finding a nourishing oasis of calm
Yoga retreat locations are ideally oases of calm: when searching out your next retreat, be sure to check out the exact location and see if it is removed from major roadways and outside of town, so that it can provide you this sense of removal from the daily grind.
Once there, we are relieved of even basic responsibilities like preparing meals: all that we need is provided. When our daily activities are pared down to a few, and these activities aim to nurture our slowing down, our feeling of the body, our deep listening to ourselves, our consciousness will begin to shift its patterning, allowing us to do just these things.
Be sure to this end to find out how you will be nourished during the retreat, and that the food and accommodation support you in whatever way is ideal for you.
Learning how to turn inward
We are ideally offered guidance, a soft structure to lean on as we turn the focus inward – a process that happens quite naturally when we give ourselves the space and time. On a retreat, for example, yoga and meditation classes are usually offered in the morning and evening, as a frame for your day which may then be spent relaxing, enjoying a massage or exploring your surroundings. If you choose to participate in a retreat, do some independent research about the yoga teacher or facilitator to be sure that they are an appropriate guide for you.
The best part of all of this, is that while on a retreat, nothing is required. Not even the introspection. It is your time for you, to be spent in the way that nourishes you on every level. And the magic is, that most of the time, like it or not, we do slow down, go inward, relax and root down in ways that we couldn't have anticipated.
The precious takeaway
This kind of luscious introspection is a gift we can give ourselves in order to then carry our rootedness in ourselves, our bodies, in this moment back into Life as it hums and whirls, thus living our life more consciously, more fully, grounded in the here and now. We have chosen to immerse in an environment that facilitates slowing down enough to feel ourselves. Most of us, awash in complex daily rhythms, don't often take this time to settle into ourselves and just feel… without distraction, without obligations and appointments.
When we come home to the buzz of daily life with a trove of fresh impressions and a solid connection to the unshakeable core inside of us that nourishes and guides, all of our life then becomes a richer tapestry of moments experienced mindfully. And perhaps we also make some new friends along the way…