When people first hear the words "yoga retreats" the book and movie "Eat, Pray, Love" is probably what first comes to mind. But while the same conceit of self-discovery and reawakening is there, yoga retreats actually are much different. In fact, no one yoga retreat is the same, in the sense that they each offer something unique to the experience. If you want to get away from it all, but also deepen your spirituality and your mental and physical balance, a yoga retreat is an excellent way to go. Here's some things you might want to take into consideration.
Not Just Any Vacation
Usually, if you take a holiday you expect to be able to lounge around and be waited on hand and foot. Which is great, but not what you should be expecting at a yoga retreat. While some luxury-end retreats will offer great packages like spas thrown in, if you're serious about finding yourself through yoga, you need to expect some austerity. You can expect daily asana practice, meditation and breathing exercises (pranayama), sometimes even twice a day, depending on the program. The food being served will most likely be in line with yogic principles - it might not be strictly vegan, but don't expect any four-star meals either, or junk food. Everything is targeted towards creating an atmosphere conducive to attaining that state of higher consciousness that this isolated retreat encourages.
Finding Your Community
However, yoga retreats aren't just about deepening your practice and living austerely. One of the best things about yoga retreats, aside from getting out of your city, is getting to live with a group of people for an extended period of time. The lines between personal space grows blurrier, as unlike the usual studio-based class where you leave your classmates right after the session, here you eat with each other, pray together, and yes, grow to love one another. Witnessing and being able to partake in a yoga community can be a wonderful feeling of freedom and calmness. And it can also be quite fun, as some yoga retreats will also include such activities as kirtan (chanting) sessions, drum circles, hiking, or cooking classes. And there is always such as sense of acceptance even if you're new to yoga. Most yoga retreats will include yoga exercises for beginners, even as warm ups, in order to be more inclusive and welcoming.
Becoming One With Nature
It wouldn't be a very good yoga retreat if it wasn't located in a beautiful, stress-free environment, preferably with a minimum of walls and buildings. The perfect yoga retreat locale for you might be in the mountains, or by the beach, or in the middle of nowhere, just surrounded by nature. Free from technology and the senses no longer overwhelmed by all the hustle and bustle of the city, here you can concentrate and truly find your purest you. As such, your living conditions can be simple but ultimately inspiring. Your yoga retreat program may be run on Ayurvedic wisdom, an ancient form of mind-body healing, in which case your daily routine and the foods you eat will be predetermined for you. It may even be possible that yoga teacher training, which is a minimum of 200 hours, can take place at yoga retreats, which is a great way to focus and surrender to your practice.
All in all, yoga retreats are a wonderful way to re-locate your inner light and discover your peaceful self. Your mileage may vary according to the cost, so it's very important to do you research into the kinds of programs being offered, and whether or not it is a good match for you. Be honest with yourself, and you will not be disappointed in what you invest in.