Two years ago I wouldn't have gone on a yoga retreat. I know it's crazy. I run a travel company that specializes in yoga retreats. If you are anything like I was, an inexperienced yogi, skeptical of spending my rare time to travel on potentially weird and unauthentic experiences, then this article is for you.
What I thought (and didn't want):
1. I didn't want to be stuck with a bunch of serious and weird women talking, eating and breathing yoga and feelings all day long.
2. I didn't want to miss out on the deep connection I seek with nature and culture and people.
3. I didn't want to miss out on leaving room for improvising, for making good OR bad decisions, for getting lost, for meeting someone that inspires me in an unexpected way.
4. I didn't want my adventure to be all wheatgrass and Namastes and happy crying.
5. I didn't want to be locked into a schedule at a boring hotel with so many things to do nearby and so much nature to explore.
6. I didn't want to miss my workouts and time at the gym.
What I discovered:
That a yoga retreat is designed to expand upon all of the things that I thought I would be missing out on.
I wasn't with a group of super intense yogis that I couldn't connect with, rather, I found a group of interesting people from around the world who I didn't just catch for a second at a hostel, but who I really got to connect with during the week.
I didn't miss out on the chance to get lost, you can always find ways to get lost and I always do.
I definitely didn't miss out on nature, as it became connected to every part of the day, eating local foods, sleeping in open air cabanas, hiking with experienced guides, swimming in rivers and oceans, secret waterfalls and hot springs.
I discovered that the better I felt traveling the more I was able to soak in my experience. Eating gourmet food? Practicing every morning before the day's adventures started? Sleeping harder than I've slept since I was a kid? Preventing injuries from hiking and surfing and other activities? Adding a yoga and healthy eating routine to a trip is a no brainer. No more feeling bad about missing your workout routine or your healthy food while traveling. No more having to recover from a vacation! In fact, it helped me establish a routine of daily practice and healthy eating for my life at home.
I discovered that amazing things happen when you practice something like yoga 1-2 times a day for a week. A depth of experience that can't be replaced by years of yoga 1-2 times a week.
I discovered that travel and yoga, among other things, share in the unraveling of the foggy layers of yourself that have cocooned around you, so that you can reveal and embrace who you are at the core. Or at least work towards that.
That inherent in those that seek adventure is the same curiosity in those that seek the depth of a spiritual practice. Yoga retreats aren't just for our traditional concept of a yogi anymore. They are for anyone who has unbridled curiosity. They are for anyone who wants a deeper practice to include what they do off the mat. Yoga retreats are for younger people and older people, newcomers and experienced, couples and friends, foodies and thrill seekers. It turns out they're are all about finding that sweet spot, that hidden cave, pristine crater lake, the magic healer of the community and turning that search inward to find the sweet spot within yourself that you can tap into whenever you want.
I discovered that the travelers you'll meet on a yoga retreat are the kind of people that you can only dream of one day meeting.
So next time you decide it's time to pack the bags and head out on an adventure, give a retreat a chance. I'll fully support your decision to hit the road solo without a plan just to see where it takes you, who you'll meet, what you feel and all that goodness that comes from that kind of travel and that I love too. And when you're ready for a little more juiciness, to find that sweet spot of travel, you'll know where to look!
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