As a Yogi who has been hosting yoga retreats for ten years, I’ve welcomed many different types of retreat guests to Retreat in the Pines. There are those who start out shy and reserved, but as the weekend continues, they begin to reveal the challenges they’re facing. Then there are those who jump in with both feet, sharing everything, all weekend long. And then there are those who keep to themselves the whole weekend, either with their cell phone or the friend they came with (these are the guests that I worry don’t get the full retreat experience).
A retreat is for YOU. It’s a place to open your heart fully to healing, peace, strength, joy, connection and love. A retreat is the place to reconnect with your true self, and find those things that you’re seeking. Sometimes you lose sight of who you are when you are facing challenges or as you get wrapped up in the day to day minutiae of relationships, jobs, responsibilities, LIFE!
A recent Retreat in the Pines guest commented:
Get a Richer Retreat Experience
Try these six simple tips to enrich your retreat experience:
Put down your phone, tablet, device, whatever connects you to distractions. You may need to check on your children, but everything else can wait until you get home. Know that those work e-mails will still be there and that your friends can wait to hear about your experience when you get home. The more connected you are to technology, the less likely you are to be connecting to yourself. Disconnect and enjoy the experience in the moment.
2. Be open
Maybe a meditative walk or a silent meal isn’t necessarily your thing. Allow yourself to be open to new experiences. Open up to vulnerability and let go of the negative thoughts like “I will look silly” or “This is weird” or “They want me to do WHAT?!” In yoga it is believed that the poses you don’t like are the ones you need the most. Open up to the idea that the experiences you are resisting may be exactly what you need. Who knows, be open to new things and you may find immense joy just from the act of trying.
3. Be present
Make the effort to be mindful: look around you, notice the beauty of your surroundings, listen to the sounds or the stillness, feel your body moving into and out of each yoga pose, breathe deeply. Taking photos all weekend will rob you of being fully present. Letting yourself get wrapped up in your story will do the same thing. Be fully present and you will enjoy each moment. (Here’s a great Forbes article about fully focusing on the moment, see what you think.)
4. Let go
Your expectations, judgments, whatever doesn’t serve you – leave all those thoughts behind, and come to the retreat totally open to the joy of the experience. If you find you are holding on to something specific, gently let it go – imagine it floating up into the sky like a balloon – then bring yourself to the sensation of openness and freedom that comes from the act of surrendering. You CAN control your thoughts. Acknowledge the thought or distraction and be grateful. Think, “Thank you [distraction] for reminding me to stay present”.
5. Enjoy free time
Sometimes there are so many wonderful activities happening at a retreat that you want to enjoy every single one of them. I don’t know about you, but nothing stresses me out more than a jam-packed itinerary. Instead of adding stress to yourself by scheduling as many activities as the day allows, try taking some down time to read, journal, or nap. You can schedule yourself silly when you get home, but a retreat is a perfect place to enjoy (without guilt!) the luxury of free time.
6. Consider coming alone
I know it seems scary, but know that a yoga retreat is probably one of the best environments for you to be on your own: mentally, physically, and emotionally. When you come with friends you may be more likely to filter your experience through their expectations, or you may find that you are too distracted to experience the richness of the retreat. When you come alone you are opening yourself up to the possibility of new friends, new experiences, new thoughts, and new a perspective.
Bring it home
On the drive or flight home allow yourself to meditate on the changes you experienced. Upon arriving home, take some time to jot down a few thoughts or journal about your retreat experience. This will allow you to look back and see how you were profoundly affected by your retreat experience. Reflect on your new outlook on life.
When you make the effort to open your heart to the beauty of your life, you’ll find gratitude and the joy will overflow out of you. You may even inspire someone else to be open… to trying a retreat, to finding gratitude, to living fully.
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Theresa has been teaching and leading yoga retreats since 2004. She is founder and owner of Retreat in the Pines. Theresa teaches in the Dallas area, as well as leading “Retreat Yourself” workshops throughout the country. Contact Theresa at firstname.lastname@example.org
Retreat in the Pines
Since 2004 guests from across the country have experienced the healing energy of Retreat in the Pines, a beautiful retreat center located in East Texas on 30 acres of peace, serenity and pine trees. We specialize in women’s retreats and offer several weekend retreats per month each with a unique focus. The endless woods on the property offer spots to wander away from the group, while the shared accommodations allow for relationships to be cultivated.
Retreat in the Pines is also available for instructors wishing to host their own retreat.
Some upcoming retreats at Retreat in the Pines: HERE