I went on a yoga retreat a few years back (one that I wasn't running, I mean).
I really needed to go. I'd had a rough year and I was feeling frayed around the edges. I didn't know what I was looking for, really, except that it would be nice to be somewhere warm at the end of the Winter, and it would be nice having someone else take care of meals and of how the day would be structured. I was so tired by that point, even cooking meals sounded too hard.
The retreat had a pretty loose structure: yoga in the morning, breakfast, maybe an outing or some hanging around the pool, lunch, a massage or a nap, then yoga in the evening.
Yes, I could have done all these things by myself, but what a difference it made being in a beautiful tropical place with a bunch of like-minded people who I could hang out with when I felt like it.
Plus doing that much yoga - it seems to change things.
Obviously there's the exercise component (most of us don't move enough in our day to day lives, and that stresses our bodies). But there was also the mind stuff - the way, after a few days, I stopped endlessly ruminating, stopped grinding my teeth, settled into a calmer place in myself.
It was like no other holiday I'd ever had. I learned so much about yoga on that retreat.
And so much about how to manage myself.
That's what made me decide to RUN a retreat. And it turns out, those retreats often make the same difference for other people. Here's what an attendee of the 2011 retreat had to say about her experience:
A yoga retreat is a really good way to unwind, deeply unwind. It's a GREAT way to get deeper into your yoga practice because there's time to ask questions and workshop things.
It's also a nice way to spend a holiday with friends or family - there's enough structure that you won't be driving each other mad all day, enough looseness that you can go off and do your own activities as well. Once family will be joining us for a third time this year!
For me, going on that retreat all those years ago was a turning point: after six months of Extreme Stress, grinding my teeth to chips (I kid you not, don't ask how much I spent on dental bills that year) and of failing health, I felt like a different person when I got home. It lasted for months afterwards, too.
I think the top-up I got at that retreat might have been the impetus to do a bunch of difficult things I needed to do in my personal life. I just somehow felt I would be OK, which I hadn't felt before.
Now, if I could only find a way to bottle that retreat zen for the times of the year when I get stressed out!