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Old 06-04-2011, 12:38 PM   #1
YogiDiva
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How to Choose a Yoga Retreat

For those just beginning their yoga practice and those who have practiced for years, a yoga retreat is just what we need sometimes to enliven our practice. No matter the duration, a yoga retreat can provide us the sacred space to delve deeper, to find the little gems of yoga practice that are not always shining at the surface of our work-a-day world. By taking time away, we can retreat into the deeper recesses of our being, and come up with a clearer view of what is lurking in our egoic minds. We can practice yoga without the distractions that accompany family life, work life, and the thousand other things that call to our attention, and instead place it, without guilt or pressure, on ourselves.

For some people, carving out this time in and of itself is a declaration of self care. We may already know the tremendous benefits of a consistent yoga practice, but find it difficult to make it to even one class a week. This type of practice though beneficial, is still more of a crisis management tool instead of a deep excavation. While making it to a yoga class even once a week can keep you from raveling apart, the deep, resonant, calm that abides in us Is not accessed in a practice of this frequency.

Likewise, maybe we have a consistent daily or several times’ weekly practice for yoga, but our tools have become rusty. We may have gotten really wonderful at certain asanas, and tackled pranayama with gusto, but not found the sacred space or time to really dedicate ourselves to the ultimate goal of yoga, that is meditation and one day, enlightenment. As long as the ‘real’ world has us tethered to our usual habits, it can be difficult to let them lose. Sometimes a retreat can help us to really sink deeply into the quiet, with the support of others, and for a slightly longer and consistent duration (weeks, months even in some cases) and many more layers of detritus can be cleared from the psyche. What we used to approach with determination and perhaps even frustration becomes magically easy. Asana that we have worked to perfect for months or even years can suddenly come to light in this more mindful atmosphere. We find that everything happens with more ease, and less effort.

When choosing a yoga retreat it depends upon your ultimate goal. Many students chose retreats based on a famous teacher or on a location, but the distance you travel and the exotic locale are irrelevant in some cases. Most of your day will be spent in asana practice, quiet meditation and in some cases, learning more about the philosophical aspects of yoga. You can choose a retreat that offers more free time for tourism-related activities, but you should be careful not to over schedule your day. After all, you are trying to slow the pace of your life for the next week, or month. The point of a retreat is not to entertain yourself, per se, but to find a deeper layer of happiness that may be absent from your life due to the demands of modern civilization. It is so rare for us to be able to carve time out for ourselves at all, it behooves us to use it wisely. If we spend our entire retreat running from tourist attraction to tourist attraction then we miss out on the longer terms effects of a calm and peaceful pace of life and yoga practice.

Another key ingredient in a good retreat depends to some degree on the length of your current yoga practice. If you are just beginning a certain style of yoga and have found it beneficial, you may want to stick to that stay and learn about it in more depth. There are so many layers to yoga, that often teachers who have regular classes that last an hour or maybe an hour and one half are struggling to fit just the surface aspects of yoga into their class, due to time constraints, they are not able to teach as many of the philosophical subtleties that they may wish to, but in a retreat, there are many more hours to approach even a single pose, or a single form of pranayama. Some retreats may talk more in depth about kundalini or the Yama and Niyamas, or even the chakra system. These are often blind spot in most beginning yoga students’ practice and can be invigorated greatly with the shared wisdom of a proficient retreat leader.

If your practice has had a longer duration, you may want to try a style that you are not as familiar with so that you can approach some of the things you know ‘well’ from a slightly different angle. Every branch of yoga offers a slightly different take on the best or fastest way to reach enlightenment, and they are all useful. A retreat environment will allow you to access some of this knowledge and put it to use long after you have gone back to your daily responsibilities.

Although famous teachers are enticing, they often charge a hefty price for attending their retreats. Do not let this discourage you if the listed price is out of your budget. Call and ask if they have any seva programs. Seva means selfless service. Some retreats will allow you to help out in the kitchen or help maintain the grounds, or any other form of volunteer work to offset the costs of the retreat. An added boon to this type of situation is that you will be practicing karma yoga, and many great sages have talked of the generous benefits the soul receives through practicing karmic cleansing through labor you give with no thought of return.

If seva is not an option, you can look into a retreat with less notoriety, but really wonderful references. In this case, if you are unfamiliar with the teacher or the site itself, call and ask for some of the recent attendees contact information, and get some feedback straight from them. These people will often be very candid about their experience, telling you both the pleasant points and the not so pleasant. Contact at least two people, especially if you are traveling to a different country and ask them what they wished they know before leaving for their retreat. This one question can provide you with invaluable information.

Overall, let your retreat be time for you. Set up your outgoing phone message, your email and all other contact so that people know you will be traveling and either ‘in silence’ or not able to reach a phone or internet. This can seem like a radical move, but it will free up your mental energy while you are at the retreat so you can concentrate on what you are there for. Whatever comes up while you are gone, barring a real emergency, can wait until you return. Sometimes people who rely on you greatly will find a new self-reliance while you are gone, and your absence is the only thing standing in their way of finding this new skill.

Every yoga retreat can deepen your practice refresh, renew and heal you. If you set yourself up for a calm and unhurried retreat, the benefits of your newly refreshed self will last for many weeks after your return to regular life. Allow this deep and abiding change and then see what new gems within you can uncover.

About the Author:
Christina Sarich runs http://www.yogafortheneworld.blogspot.com
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Old 06-10-2011, 09:12 AM   #2
lucie
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great article, thank you for sharing this. personally i think that a yoga retreat needs to have an element of holiday and fun. some places are obsessed with business, some are too strict into strict practices. ive had a taste of many as well as years of practicing yoga and i think that a retreat/holiday with
- culture, where you learn about the world, making your mind open up!
- good people- where you can connect with others
- activity - where there are more activities to do than yoga and finally
- something which inspires you (open to you) is going on.
for me my favourite yoga spot is Surf Berbere Yoga - its on facebook with a SBYogaTaghazout ending.
where you get to chill out or work out - with yoga and surfing, adventure around morocco - a rich and full culture who need tourists to support the local communities and soak up the sun with great beaches and fun surfing.
wish you all amazing yoga holidays and retreats,
all the best
lucie
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Old 06-10-2011, 11:43 AM   #3
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Yoga retreats are money making scams.
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Old 06-11-2011, 04:51 AM   #4
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yes some of them are but the yoga community also needs to keep growing. Its good to take some time to escape the day to say stresses and retreat to somewhere peaceful and nurturing. Its also great for people to have fun and be inspired to practice before returning back to their day jobs feeling revitalized and fresh. sometimes we all need some time out. time to reflect on our lives, listen and get to know ourselves. yoga is a way of life, but theres something special found in dedicating some time to it away from home.
peace out
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Old 06-11-2011, 02:33 PM   #5
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Yoga does not need to be practiced in some expensive spa resort. It is just one way to capitilise on the popularity of yoga.
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Old 06-11-2011, 11:20 PM   #6
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Thank you for the article, YogiDeva.
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Old 06-11-2011, 11:23 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Sarvamaṅgalamaṅgalā View Post
Yoga retreats are money making scams.
Some might be.

There are costs involved though which include lodging, food, materials, preparation of course materials, pre-production, post-production, sales, marketing, consultation, the list goes on. There is a lot involved. I've looked into it. I may be co-hosting a yoga/massage retreat at the end of the fall. I have to check in with my partners to see if there is still interest. It will be reasonably priced and in a great remote location.
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Old 06-12-2011, 09:27 AM   #8
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where will you be locating your retreat dharamdeep? i agree there is a LOT involved in organising retreats. I think that a lot of yoga centres/teachers dont make much money and work very hard throughout these retreats because they know how much good it can do for a person
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Old 06-12-2011, 11:00 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by dharamdeep View Post
Some might be.

There are costs involved though which include lodging, food, materials, preparation of course materials, pre-production, post-production, sales, marketing, consultation, the list goes on. There is a lot involved. I've looked into it. I may be co-hosting a yoga/massage retreat at the end of the fall. I have to check in with my partners to see if there is still interest. It will be reasonably priced and in a great remote location.
I am sure there's a lot involved, the idea itself to do yoga is some spa retreat alone is raping the idea of yoga. Authentic yoga needs not to be taught in such a cozy environment.
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Old 06-13-2011, 07:02 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Sarvamaṅgalamaṅgalā View Post
Yoga does not need to be practiced in some expensive spa resort. It is just one way to capitilise on the popularity of yoga.
its true very true. I have just finished my yoga teacher training paying $1,000 half off for volunteer marketing and I feel ripped off. I loved yoga before the teacher training I practiced daily on my own and thought I would be going into a deeper level of my mind and body and learn to teach others about the great practice of yoga. Now that I have seen what yoga is all about in the studios I have been turned off to it.

All its about now is getting as many students as possible to pay then over charge for a "spiritual" reatrat and make allot of money. It is not something I am interested anymore

yoga in the U.S HAS BEEN SOLD OUT. Just practice on your own and don't pay the overpriced reatreat fees
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Old 06-13-2011, 11:19 PM   #11
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where will you be locating your retreat dharamdeep? i agree there is a LOT involved in organising retreats. I think that a lot of yoga centres/teachers dont make much money and work very hard throughout these retreats because they know how much good it can do for a person
Hi Lucie, I'm planning to do it in Baja, California -- Cabo area. Another option is Costa Rica.

You are right. It can be hard to earn a living doing what you love sometimes. Many yoga teachers work two jobs just to make ends meet. Even with proper planning, unforeseen costs can make it hard for some teachers to earn much from a retreat.
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Old 06-13-2011, 11:29 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by handsofeye View Post
its true very true. I have just finished my yoga teacher training paying $1,000 half off for volunteer marketing and I feel ripped off. I loved yoga before the teacher training I practiced daily on my own and thought I would be going into a deeper level of my mind and body and learn to teach others about the great practice of yoga. Now that I have seen what yoga is all about in the studios I have been turned off to it.

All its about now is getting as many students as possible to pay then over charge for a "spiritual" reatrat and make allot of money. It is not something I am interested anymore

yoga in the U.S HAS BEEN SOLD OUT. Just practice on your own and don't pay the overpriced reatreat fees
It's very true. You can practice on your own and reap great rewards. I practiced for about 80 days on my own while only going into the studio maybe 3 times a month. However, I got bored after awhile and wanted to learn new kriyas and be around other people. Now I go to the studio 3-7 times a week and I love it! I never feel like I've been ripped off when I go to the studio. I buy the unlimited pass for $150. This past period they gave me a pass for 40 days for $150. That's a pretty good deal. While I may have not gone to every class, that's less than $8 a class if I go 19 times. I think it's a small price to pay to strengthen my practice.

The teacher trainings are expensive and I have thought about foregoing the training and just keep attending as a regular student. However, what you are really paying for is the certification and the knowledge of how to lead a class and run a business. To keep your yoga center alive you really need to keep students coming through the doors. What are you going to do if you can't pay the utilities or rent? It's a business and spiritual practice at the same time.

PS I'm a massage therapist as well. I checked out your website. It looks cool. Best of luck and prosperity to you in the future.
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Old 06-13-2011, 11:35 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Sarvamaṅgalamaṅgalā View Post
I am sure there's a lot involved, the idea itself to do yoga is some spa retreat alone is raping the idea of yoga. Authentic yoga needs not to be taught in such a cozy environment.
I don't think yoga should be taught in Burke Williams spa-type environments because that would be pretty drab and dreary. I think the evolution of yoga retreats is to include not only yoga, but massage therapy courses where regular folks can learn some effective techniques to try with their partner, have eco-exploration, kirtan music, fire ceremonies, and other fun-filled activities.

There are always going to be people that want to go on vacation and may be looking for a retreat focused on yoga and healing rather than dining, boozing, and partying it up.
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Old 06-13-2011, 11:37 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by lucie View Post
yes some of them are but the yoga community also needs to keep growing. Its good to take some time to escape the day to say stresses and retreat to somewhere peaceful and nurturing. Its also great for people to have fun and be inspired to practice before returning back to their day jobs feeling revitalized and fresh. sometimes we all need some time out. time to reflect on our lives, listen and get to know ourselves. yoga is a way of life, but theres something special found in dedicating some time to it away from home.
peace out
Yes, it's great to get away from home and explore other parts of the world!
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Old 06-14-2011, 01:51 AM   #15
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Look at this how much they are charging for a retreat: http://www.yogahealthretreats.com/
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