Journey into a yoga retreat, Part 1

by Sara Snyder 

There might come a moment, maybe several, in your life when you feel like there is something beyond the bend, an opportunity waiting. We call this a crossroad. Sometimes we just keep going straight because it’s comfortable or we aren’t sure what the turn will hold. Sometimes we turn because the unknown is far better than what we do know. At age 30, I was at this metaphorical intersection and I took the turn.

Yoga is an important part of my life. It healed me from a breakup and filled my spirit with compassion and strength. I felt good and centered. But something was lurking inside me that wanted out. I was feeling restless. Since yoga has always helped me find my path, I thought a yoga retreat would be a great way to untie the internal knot. So, without too much thought, I reserved my space on a Costa Rican yoga retreat.

If you have never experienced a yoga retreat, I offer you a few pieces of advice.


How to choose the right yoga retreat

Grab a pen and paper and outline what you want from your time away. The possibilities and offerings are endless. Being clear about what you want will help you select the right retreat for you.

  1. Purpose. What do you want to experience? Do you want a little bit of yoga combined with spa treatments, pool time and excursions? Do you want a health and yoga retreat to detoxify your body and mind? Are you looking to emerge with a more advanced practice through workshops and lectures? Or maybe you want a retreat that offers 100 or 200-hour yoga teacher training?
  2. Style. This is an important factor as it frames your yoga experience. You might want to practice the style you enjoy the most, whether it’s vinyasa flow, power yoga, Ashtanga, Parayoga, etc. Or perhaps, you want to venture out and get an immersed taste of a new style you’ve never tried. Retreats are also a great way to experience time with a yoga teacher you have always wanted to practice with.
  3. Location. This is often defined by cost and time. Where do you want to go? Many places are energy vortexes, like Encinitas, CA.; some offer spectacular views like the desert mountains in Scottsdale, AZ; some are tropical destinations like Tulum, Mexico; and some are tucked away in the most understated and calming locations, like Vermont.


What to pack

The month leading up to my solo departure was a whirlwind of emotions. There were waves of excitement followed by waves of nervousness. I was most worried that I wouldn’t be as advanced as the other students or I wouldn’t be able to keep up. To combat this worry, I kept up my regular yoga practice and reminded myself that this retreat was about me. I get to bring to it and take away from it what I choose. I wasn’t going to bring that baggage of self-doubt with me. I just wasn’t.

The most useful items I brought with me, included:

  1. Journal. Let the thoughts and words flow freely and document your time. You will enjoy returning to the pages down the road.
  2. Comfortable clothes. After sweating for 6 hours in yoga every day, my moisture-wicking, easy-to-wash (and easy to pack) yoga tops made a world of difference.
  3. Thank You cards. My yoga retreat experience changed me and I wanted to thank those who were part of it – the instructors and my fellow students.


The outcome 

I thought going on that yoga retreat would offer me insight into where to turn next on my path. What I didn’t realize was the yoga retreat was the turn. I came back revived and energized. Shortly after, opportunities started appearing that I wouldn’t have seen before.

Whether you are a beginner or advanced yogi, taking a yoga retreat is a must for everyone. It is a great way to tune in to yourself – to find you rhythm. My friends, Mary Clare and Anne Sweet of Lotus House of Yoga are hosting a Salute the Sun yoga retreat in Scottsdale, AZ. I will be catching up with them during and after the retreat to hear about the experiences the students and teachers had. This will be Part 2 of Journey into a Yoga Retreat.



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