Stretch, Relax and Connect – Yoga Retreats Tap into Energy of People and Place
Thatch Caye Resort in Belize. Retreat location.
Attending a yoga retreat combines the love of yoga, travel, adventure and community. Many retreat leaders say they find joy in the wondrous adventures they plan, making lifelong friends and witnessing amazing connections. Retreat leaders often enhance this community-building by choosing locales to which they personally feel a strong connection.
Yoga on Location
Becca Roberts, owner and founder of Namastesis, in Fishkill, ran a yoga retreat last spring in Ananda Ashram, in Monroe, New York. She says the area’s rustic vibe and secluded feel resonated with her. She knew the natural setting would give participants opportunities to stretch their experience beyond the official retreat activities through hikes, meditation and fire ceremonies.
In November, Roberts and her friend Phoebe Miller will offer a retreat in a vastly different, but still naturally restorative, environment. “We’re going to Belize,” she says. “Phoebe has run a retreat to this location before, and it was very well received.”
For Rhodella Hughes, finding the perfect spot for her upcoming fall retreat wasn’t an issue. It was in the Adirondacks—right outside her door.
She and her husband purchased Yoga in the Adirondacks (YitA) in 2015. But they’ve lived in a home on an adjacent property—a private, sustainable family farm they named The Divine Acres—for more than 20 years. Having watched their children grow up in Adirondack State Park, the couple felt that shepherding other people in their personal and spiritual growth through yoga retreats in that same breathtaking landscape was a natural next step.
YitA specializes in seasonal retreats, which tend to take on the themes that play out in nature and are so visible in the Adirondacks. The studio offered its first seasonal, Spring into Summer, on the weekend straddling May and June. Its upcoming retreat, Autumn Transformation, will take place September 27-29. At all YitA retreats, guests stay in farmhouse accommodations and enjoy farm-to-table meals from the organic gardens. Besides practicing yoga and meditation, they make the most of what the mountains and farm have to offer, from hiking to tending the ducks and chickens.
A Stress-Free Experience
Local yoga studios leave nothing to chance in the planning process in order to ensure that participants feel completely comfortable and cared for throughout the experience. Retreat leaders usually create all-inclusive packages around these trips, so participants are responsible only for airfare and personal spending money once the trip is booked.
Berta Prevosti of the Jiiva Center, in Stratford, Connecticut, arrives at a retreat’s destination a few days in advance to be sure that all is ready for her groups and that “there are no glitches.” She says she feels both fulfilled and challenged as she prepares for the magic that comes when participants arrive. Attendees can expect to be at ease not just on the mat, but for the duration of their retreat, thanks to the dedication and planning of the retreat leaders.
Prevosti plans her retreats to include meditation, gathering, lectures, yoga, kirtan (call-and-response chanting) and organic food offerings.
“I am proud of the amazing communities that have been formed during these trips,” she says. “I ensure participants have the right balance of choice and structure.”
Because relaxation is one of the main reasons people choose to go on her retreats, Roberts handles as many of the logistical and financial details as possible before her visitors arrive.
“The participants in my retreats are usually looking to relax and shed unwanted feelings or thoughts. They generally come for the individualized attention. So they don’t have to worry about a thing once they get there,” she says. “Most of the retreats I run include all meals and two classes a day. For example, our retreat to Belize includes all meals, hotel, and two classes per day, plus a snorkel excursion. The only thing that is not included is the airfare.”
Nurturing the Spirit
The combination of relaxation, yoga and nature often has spiritual benefits for retreat participants.
Hughes says one participant told her that a seasonal retreat at YitA was an opportunity to reset and center herself during the transition from endings to new beginnings. As a result, she experienced “deeper wisdom and a spiritual and mystical awakening.”
“My second retreat to Jamaica was more than the location and the yoga,” Prevosti says. “It was about the spiritual experience.” She says when she began offering yoga retreats, she didn’t realize how many people were searching for spiritual benefits.
“I do believe these retreats can induce a spiritual experience for some,” Roberts says. “If they’re willing to let go completely and release what no longer serves them, they may find the mental and physical balance they’ve been seeking.”
For anyone interested in attending a yoga retreat, the depth and breadth of the experiences planned by local yoga retreat leaders seems unmatched. Roll up your yoga mat, tap into your sense of adventurous spirituality, and plan to see the world. Let it change you. Let it challenge you. Let it be.
The Jiiva Center
Yoga in the Adirondacks
Danielle Sullo is an educator, writing facilitator and freelance writer based in northwestern Connecticut. Connect with her at [email protected]