Yoga retreats and wellness getaways are becoming increasingly popular for not just regular yoga practitioners, but also people who are looking to unwind from the stresses of everyday life, those who want a way to stay active while on vacation and people who want to learn more about yoga and deepen their practice. Earlier this year, I hosted a wonderful group in southern Sri Lanka for a 4-day yoga retreat (click here for 7 reasons why you should attend a yoga retreat in Sri Lanka!) and was blown away by their open-mindedness, dedication and warmth. In addition to meeting new people, traveling and taking part in a yoga retreat is a wonderful way to fill your cup and enhance wellness, explore new parts of the world, be a part of the international yoga community and most importantly: immerse yourself in Yoga.
Whether you are a regular yoga practitioner, have never stepped foot in a yoga studio before, have attended a dozen yoga retreats or are considering attending your very first one, I have teamed up with a few amazing travel bloggers who have participated in a yoga retreat to put together this list of 11 tips to help you get the most out of your yoga retreat experience!
1. Give it a go! / from Katie of The Katie Show Blog
I recently participated in my first ever yoga retreat and my biggest piece of advice for making the most of your time, especially if you are new to yoga but want to give it a go, is to put your reservations and/or embarrassment to the side and just focus on what the instructor is guiding you to do. I didn’t have much yoga experience at all when I went to the retreat and during the first couple of classes I felt that I was focusing more on being embarrassed by what I couldn’t do than being in the moment with what I was doing.
2. And…focus on yourself during class, not anybody else / from Katie of the Katie Show Blog
I also focused on how everyone else in the class was so much more advanced and all of this held me back from being able to get the most out of the lessons. Once I put that to the side, I was really able to focus on what my body was doing and listen to what the instructor was teaching me and not only did my yoga improve, but I also enjoyed the process a lot more. Don’t make my mistakes and waste those first couple of lessons. Instead, go into the retreat with a focus on your own practice and you will have a lot to gain from your time there.
3. But don’t let that hold you back from getting to know your fellow retreat participants!
Like I said before, being a part of a yoga retreat is a great opportunity to meet like-minded people and be a part of the community. Everyone’s practice looks and feels different so don’t let comparison get in the way of reaching out and connecting with others! Learn about each other’s passions, hobbies, family, pets, beliefs and thoughts – the sky’s the limit!
Photo credit: Katie M / TheKatieShowBlog.com
4. Get lots of sleep and look after yourself
Yoga retreats can be intense and often involve multiple asana (poses), breathing, meditation and philosophy classes each day. Now is not the time to push your body (and mind) beyond its limits; instead, aim to play the edge and practice self care by getting plenty of rest, eating well, drinking lots of fluids and taking time to fill your cup.
5. Book some one-on-one time with an instructor / from Amanda of The Boutique Adventurer
Photo credit: Katie M / TheKatieShowBlog.com
It is amazing what a difference the smallest changes can make to your poses – and your enjoyment of yoga. Most instructors will be happy to spend some time with you – either a quick session before or after a class or a more formal paid session. One-on-one instruction has shown me things like the importance of spreading your fingers wide, how to use your toes in poses and placing your weight under the index finger portion of our hand vs the whole hand. Another key benefit is having the instructor adjust your poses whilst you are in them. This helps your body develop an instinctive sense of how to adjust itself no matter what the pose.
6. Ask lots of questions
A yoga retreat can become an immersive experience if you allow it to be. More often than not, our practice at home is limited to 1) self practice or 2) a group class at a studio and in both instances, you don’t always have the time or opportunity to ask your yoga teacher any burning questions. They can be as simple as “what yoga mat do you recommend?” and “what books on yoga philosophy should I read?”, to “what props should I use if my hamstrings are really tight?” and “how can I better understand the 8 limbs of yoga?”
7. Keep an open mind and just listen / from Ivy of Kollecting Koordinates
The mister and I just came back from a mini yoga retreat this past weekend. We had no idea what to expect before going- he doesn’t even practice yoga on a daily basis (or at all, for that matter!). It turned out to be an amazing experience and we can’t wait to go on another. I think the most important thing is to keep an open mind and just listen. Listen to your instructor, listen to your surroundings, and listen to your body. Breathe, and let go. We left feeling extremely rejuvenated and inspired!
8. Explore your surroundings
Regardless of whether you are traveling to the yoga retreat destination by plane, train, car or even foot, during your downtime, make the most of your experience by getting out and exploring what the area has to offer. Be it temples in Thailand, rice paddies in Bali, the beach in Mexico, nature trails in Canada or a safari in Sri Lanka, discover the local sights!
9. Be patient / from Jenna of The Exploring Yogini
It’s common to have high expectations before & during your yoga retreat. After all, you’re paying a lot of money to go on your holiday! When things don’t go quite as expected, this is the perfect opportunity to practice patience, contentment and letting go. If the schedule isn’t exactly as planned or your food is taking awhile, remember to come back to your breath. When you’re consciously breathing, it’s easier to focus on what you can control. If pesky insects decide to join your savasana, guess what? It’s the perfect opportunity to pause and seek gratitude for your yoga retreat.
10. Remember why you’re there
Everyone has a different reason for participating in a yoga retreat. Maybe you want to deepen your practice, get in touch with nature, see a new part of the world, remove yourself from daily habits and patterns, relax and de-stress or maybe it’s a combination of all of these reasons. Before the retreat, take some time to think about what you want from the experience; after the retreat, set some time aside to reflect on your retreat experience and contemplate what you learned (or didn’t learn but wish you did!).
11. Last but not least, take some of what you’ve learned and incorporate it back home
The yoga retreat experience does not have to be detached from your everyday life at home. Everyone takes away something different from a yoga retreat: from how to modify a pose or a new breathing or meditation technique, or perhaps it goes a bit deeper and you discover more about yourself, your practice and your priorities. Find ways to integrate your new skills, knowledge and realizations into your life.
Have you ever been on a yoga retreat before? Do you have any other tips for how to get the most out of a yoga retreat experience? Share it with me in the comments section below!
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