What Is A Yoga Retreat?

There are an enormous amount of yoga retreats up for sale, all over the world, ranging vastly in location, standard and cost. But what exactly goes on at these events and do you need lush palm trees and world renowned gurus there in order for it to ‘count’? I think the guests at my beautiful little yoga retreat, Surrey England will tell you otherwise!

The Definition of Retreat 

The definition of ‘retreat’ is to ‘move back or withdraw’ and this really does go a long way to explain what happens when you decide to dedicate some time to yourself in a quiet and secluded place. When you look up ‘retreat’ in the dictionary, it most commonly describes it as a military manouver. When troops feel they are being defeated and have lost control, they take a step back. This works as a metaphor for our own lives. When we feel we have come up against a situation that perhaps is no longer tenable, we withdraw to a safer place where we can re-group.

Of course, you don’t have to wait until you feel like your life has become untenable before you take time out. Infact, it would be much more preferable to act before that! Prevention is better than cure afterall. 

Retreats As Part of Your Self Care

We often think that we don’t have the time to fit in any self care – even running ourselves a bath can seem overwhelming and outside of our To-Do list. But what we don’t appreciate is that in order to be productive, we need to rest. It has been shown time and time again in studies that multitasking and getting no sleep, while the badge of honour of many CEOs and busy working parents alike, is not the most efficient way to run our lives.

During a retreat, we can diarise time to completely unwind and relax. The benefit of actually paying money to go somewhere different means you can take yourself outside of your usual day-to-day routine and you won’t be tempted to decide something else is more important at the last minute.  

It’s imperative that we occasionally put ourselves first, for how can we support those that need us if we are depleted and burnt out?

So that’s a retreat in general, but what is a yoga retreat? Well, it could be one of two main things. Firstly, it could be designed purely to give you some time to unwind from the stresses and strains of regular life, as outlined, and it uses yoga practices to help you do that. Alternatively it is designed to very specifically improve your practice and focus on your development, in much the same way as a writers or artists retreat would. For me, the perfect yoga retreat would combine both of these things. I want to come away feeling relaxed, but motivated that I have new skills that I have learnt and can continue to develop long after the retreat has ended.

You may have read or seen about yoga retreats before, and have an idea that they are only for advanced yoga practitioners. That you have to wear white, spend your time in a headstand, and only eat raw food. And yes, some yoga retreats are like this, and there isn’t anything wrong with that. But I run my retreats for my clients, and my clients are normal people with normal bodies and normal needs. The yoga is accessible to everyone as long as you can put one foot in front of the other. The meditation isn’t too long. The ritual isn’t too woo woo… A little, but not too much 😂

Things To Consider

If you are thinking of booking a yoga retreat in the future, here are some things you might want to consider:

  • What level of yoga is the retreat aimed at and will you get something out of it – no matter where you’re currently at?
  • Who is facilitating the retreat and do you think you can connect with them, and that they will have your safely as their number one priority?
  • What are you actually hoping to gain from the retreat? A better handstand? Some deep meditation? Or simply to connect with like-minded people?
  • Does what they are selling seem like good value to you? Don’t be caught up in paying simply for the name of the famous yoga instructor who might be teaching there

What is a yoga retreat has as many different answers as there are people who are asking, so you should be mindful to choose carefully. If you would like to try a sample-sized retreat before going ahead and spening potentially thousands on several days, I run a half day yoga retreat, Surrey, 4 times a year. 

You can see what’s involved by going to my website: