Trying to decide if going on a retreat is for you? Check out these 6 reasons and then sign up for our Mid-Winter Yoga Retreat, which will be taking place on Saturday, February 10th!
Going on a yoga retreat, whether for a few hours or a few weeks, is undoubtedly a time commitment. Stepping out of your normal life for more than an hour or two can feel daunting, especially when you aren’t sure what it is you are committing to. Every yoga retreat is structured and focused a little differently. Our past retreat included yoga, meditation, live music, painting and craft work, nature immersion, personal time, relaxation, and more. We think this sounds like fun, but if you do a little research you can find the retreat that feels right for you, or tell us what you’re looking for so we can design a retreat that meets your needs in the future! If the idea of going on retreat sounds interesting but you still aren’t sure if you’re informed and ready enough to make the space and time in your life, here are six bite-sized reasons why you absolutely should consider it:
#1. Your yoga practice will grow, strengthen and deepen
Whether you are new to yoga or a seasoned practitioner, practicing yoga with a supportive group and the full attention of a knowledgeable yoga teacher will fast-track your progress and bring a deeper understanding of your body’s capabilities. In a hatha yoga (pose) focused retreat, you will have immersive access to your instructor, and will be able to deeply explore pose customizations, ask about anything from modifications to yogic philosophy, receive individualized corrections and guidance, and resolve lingering questions or discomfort from previous yoga experiences.
#2. You will make new friends (but only if you want to!)
A yoga retreat can be an opportunity to meet new people who also want to meet new people! This being said, retreats can range from very group-oriented (many group activities and times for sharing) to very focused on the individual and making space for lots of contemplative alone-time (private rooms, silence for hours or even days at a time!). Whether you are looking for a new, friendly, diverse community after a move or lifestyle change, want to try out a new experience with an old friend, or just want to get as far away from everyone and everything as you can, a retreat exists that is structured to suit your comfort level with companionship or solitude. Even if you struggle with socializing in daily life, going on a retreat with some social components can be a fantastic way to form new friendships as well as to access a diverse network of people from all walks of life with unique perspectives who you can collaborate with, lean on, and reach out to in the world beyond the retreat.
A note for beginners: Sometimes the hardest part of joining a new class, studio, or discipline is the feeling that every other person there is more experienced, already knows each other, and has membership in a kind of social club that you now have to find a way to crash or risk feeling like an outsider forever. While some people mistakenly believe that retreats are only for the most committed, experienced yogis on their path to enlightenment, this is completely untrue! Since everyone will be new to the situation, a level-appropriate retreat can be the perfect place for a brand-new yogi to jump-start their practice and find a supportive yoga community.
#3. You’ll get a new perspective on your world
Going on a retreat creates an opportunity to see yourself and your life in a new light. Retreats in faraway places– usually warm, sunny climates– can give you a giant step back from your day-to-day circumstances if that’s what you need and can afford, but even being in a new room in your town with new people for several hours can provide the change of pace, space, and perspective you need to declutter your mind and gain clarity, direction, and presence. There are retreats that are more nature-focused, retreats that happen entirely indoors, and every combination in between, so you can choose the environment that feels the most useful to you.
#4. You’ll let go of outside stimulation to work on looking mindfully inward
During a retreat there are no buzzing or ringing devices, no work deadlines, and no house chores pulling you away, which means you’ll have the space to work on a single task, or practice the elusive art of Just Being. If you are interested in but new to meditation and mindful practice, don’t worry! Find a retreat that will give you the guidance you need to start. Our regular lives can make the transition into mindfulness or meditation practice extra challenging, but a retreat can set you up with the distraction-free atmosphere you need for a solid head start. If you have tried meditation in some form but aren’t necessarily a convert, find a retreat with a different focus, or one that incorporates unique types of mindful practice like walking meditation, service to others, or just exploring breath and focus a bit more in your favorite yoga poses.
#5. You’ll relax and de-stress
Most retreats dedicate significant time for deep, sustained relaxation, a rarity in our fast-paced world. While going on retreat is a valuable and engaging learning process, freedom from responsibility over all the minutiae of everyday life allows for plenty of rest time. Most retreats longer than a few hours provide healthy and delicious meals. Eating with a mind free from to-do lists, meetings, and commitments will allow you to really enjoy your meals without guilt or rush. Setup and cleanup tasks are often minimal group efforts, and your commitments will be scheduled for you in a way that you don’t have to rush, multitask, or worry about fitting it all in or missing out on something.
#6. You’re worth it!
Committing to a full day (or overnight!) retreat can be intimidating or even a little anxiety-inducing (what about the to-do lists?!) but taking time for some self-care is energizing, empowering, and enjoyable! Making time for a retreat might feel selfish at first glance, but many people who go on retreat find that the time taken to recharge physically and emotionally allows them to recover from burnout and be more productive and present in their lives. Yoga retreats are designed to take care of you and give you a space and guidance to deepen your relationship with yoga– whatever that means to you. More importantly, they are designed to help teach you how to take better care of yourself, in the moment and long term. Allowing your body to progress through healing movements while building healthy habits for your mind benefits both your productivity and your overall feeling of physical and mental wellbeing in the long run.
Have you ever been on a yoga retreat? What would you tell a friend about your experience? If you haven’t, what would your ideal retreat involve? Please treat us to your reflections and ideas in the comments!
Welcome to the Putney Moves blog, Begin Where You Are!
This blog is about practicing yoga,the kind you do on the mat but also, and most importantly, the kind you practice when you are far far away from your mat (when your toddler throws her food on the floor, when you back into a tree and smash your taillight, when your work feels like it’s consuming you, or when you are desperate for an answer, a path, or a new beginning).
We hope this blog will be a place we can all visit to find better ways to process, work through, and heal from the effects of the stress and exhaustion inherent in our lives.
Perhaps our bodies ache from the unnatural postures we adopt
to work on computers, drive cars, and slouch on sofas. Perhaps our minds, constantly bombarded by stimuli and distractions, have difficulty focusing, taking in information, and being present with friends and family. Perhaps our hearts feel unclear and disempowered after months or years of pushing our deepest desires out of our daily lives. Perhaps we yearn for authenticity, deep interpersonal connections, or meaningful work. Our culture has begun to take for granted that many of us feel disconnected, fragmented, and just plain tired– we hope to present you with refreshing ways to think about life as well as to structure and live it, to spark interesting and meaningful dialogue in the comments, and to expose you to the most exciting new resources culled from our research.
We hope this blog will open up discussions on how we can integrate yoga and mindfulness into our daily lives: at work, at home, and in the world. We hope to explore ways to release pain and disappointment; to think about how we can infuse our days with gratitude; to work toward repatterning our thoughts so that they lift us and others up instead of dragging us into thought spirals and self-sabotage. We want to take a stab at questions of how we can increase our energy, clarity, and health while exploring the idea of a fulfilling life lived in service to others.
MYTH: I’M NOT FLEXIBLE ENOUGH TO DO YOGA.
FACT: EVERYBODY STARTS SOMEWHERE.
Unless you are a gymnast or ballet dancer, it is very normal to feel tight during your first couple of yoga classes. (Even if you are a gymnast or a ballet dancer, you may find that yoga stretches and strengthens your highly-trained muscles in a new and balanced way!). Don’t worry if touching your toes seems “out of reach” at first (pun intended). The good news is that every ‘pose’ is really a vast spectrum of levels and modifications, endlessly customizable to suit your body’s needs and limits, whatever they are today. It’s also true that with regular practice, yoga is a great way to safely and effectively improve flexibility. The beauty of a group class with a qualified instructor is that you can ask questions, explain your concerns, and get the exact modifications you need to make yoga work for you.
Ask anyone who knows me well, and they’ll answer unequivocally: I love breakfast. Eggs in any form delight me, oatmeal is a weekly staple, and the smell of soft, warm sprouted grain bread popping out of the toaster… I’m smiling just thinking about it.
I realized recently that while I enjoy the thought of breakfast, I haven’t necessarily been making the most of the experience. I’ve been experimenting with easy ways to bring mindfulness into my life, and I decided to give mindfully eating breakfast a try.
It didn’t sound particularly appealing to pay such conscious attention to my eating process. Would I feel gross or greedy? I wondered. Or…horror of horrors… what if I realized I only liked the idea of breakfast? What if actually didn’t love breakfast that much? Read more