What to Expect from your First Yoga Retreat
Are you itching to dive deeper into your yoga journey on your first yoga retreat?
You have been pondering upon going on a yoga retreat for a while now. Everyone seems to be talking about them, and you see it pop up in your Facebook feed more often than ever. Maybe you’ve just got into yoga in the last year, and you are curious about a more immersive experience. You are ready for your first yoga retreat experience.
But what’s stopping you? A lot of people feel nervous about booking onto a retreat, and that’s entirely natural. I have been running AdventureYogi for ten years, but when I booked my first yoga retreat of someone else’s for the first time I felt just like you and had the same questions;
- Will I like the teacher?
- What is the accommodation like?
- Is the price affordable?
- What type of person goes on this retreat?
- Are there going to be people my age?
- Will it be too hippy for me?
- What’s included in the price?
- Is there anything on during the day?
- etc etc…
These are all normal and very sensible questions to ask yourself. For more help with this check out my blog about what to consider when booking a yoga retreat.
This blog is being shared with you to help dispel any myths or misleading facts about yoga retreats that may put you off! Here are 15 points that show you what you will experience on your first ever retreat. And hopefully, give you confidence in what you are about to do!
1. Stay in beautiful accommodation in beautiful places
Yoga retreats are all about removing yourself away from your day to day hectic life, and this includes your surroundings. With this in mind, you will usually find retreats in an area of natural beauty and surrounded by fields, or by the sea. No neighbours, no noise, just peace, and quiet. You will visit beautiful houses and villas or chalets in the most scenic of places because going on a retreat is being somewhere in the middle of the countryside for peace and serenity.
2. Meet new people who are non-judgmental, relaxed and supportive
When I booked on my first yoga retreat, I was exhausted. I didn’t actually care what the people would be like as I needed to sleep and have some serious R&R. But what I found was that everyone was quietly supportive of me needing my own space. No-one questioned why I retreated to a sun lounger and slept all day after morning yoga and breakfast and only surfaced to eat lunch or do more yoga. And that is what it is like.
A group will slowly bond together. On a weekend retreat, it happens even after two nights, because the yoga brings everyone together. The meal times bring people together and the walks or activities also. It’s a time to hang out with people you’ve never met, who are in exactly the same position as you so you would have that in common. And no-one judges anyone. It’s a marvelously beautiful space to be in.
3. Go deeper into your yoga practice, or immerse yourself if you are a complete newbie – really feel the positive effects it has on body and mind
If you have only been going to weekly classes, you will have experienced a sample of how yoga can calm the mind and unwind the body. It is delicious, isn’t it?! So imagine a whole weekend or even a week. Sublime.
On your first yoga retreat, you may be a bit achy, especially the arms if you aren’t used to chaturangas. At first, you may feel a deep tiredness rise up after the first and second class, as you connect with your body and really start to feel how you are rather than thinking it.
Yoga brings you into your heart space and takes you out of your head which is where we reside most of the time in day-to-day life. You will feel amazing after any retreat – two nights or ten nights. You may well even get hooked.
4. People traveling solo, with a friend or a loved one
These are the types of people you will see on a retreat. I would say around 70% of our guests travel solo – they may be single or have a partner and family they leave at home – or they are a couple or a mother-daughter duo or a group of friends. We have all sorts so don’t feel that you will be the only one!
5. Space and time-out – permission to relax
We all need some time out – and we all need to relax. In our day to day lives, some of us may find it hard to switch off the “go” button. On retreats you are repeatedly being gently coaxed by your yoga teacher to switch off, relax, let go, give yourself permission to just “be” not “do”. Everyone needs to be reminded of this as life just gets in the way sometimes. This is what going on a retreat gives you. There is plenty of time to do this on a retreat, we call it “busy relaxing” – as we make sure there are lots of things to do if you want to but it is fun, energising, and relaxing.
6. New friendships
Whether you come alone or with a friend, on a yoga retreat you will be spending time with new people, all with the common interest of yoga, wellbeing and travel. You share more than you usually would on a usual holiday as you are growing and changing and processing and shedding layers from the yoga. You may also be surfing, hiking, eating meals with these new people and so you connect during your stay. We have seen best friendships form and then a retreat buddy being born. It’s beautiful!
7. Everyone needing what it is you need
You may have decided to book on your first yoga retreat because you are tired from work. Or perhaps just finished a contract; need some sun; need to unwind; have some life decisions to make; broken up with a partner; want to go on holiday, but you have no-one to go with; want to try surfing, and no-one else does; you have just lost someone. There are many reasons why people book on a retreat, and you just need to know that you are not alone in your reasons. It is a safe space to share your woes and is a therapeutic experience if you allow it to be.
8. It’s a safe space just to be
The retreats that we organise are run by a highly experienced team of yoga teachers, chefs and hosts who have been working on retreats for a long time and have experienced a lot during these sacred times. The space created is warm, friendly, relaxed and fun, yet quietly sympathetic if needs be. Your retreat teams are there to look after you and guide you if you need it. Or if you have any queries or issues they are there to help you with that also.
9. Silent walks
On your first yoga retreat, this activity seems a bit weird for a lot of people at the beginning but for me, it’s my favourite part of a retreat. Collective silence. There is something really beautiful about starting the day like this. It sets the tone of the day – calm, serene, peaceful. Everyone being together yet not speaking, acknowledging each other’s presence but in silence. It’s a great way to start the day. The first walk seems a bit strange to most, but after that, some people love them and even try it at home.
10. Experience different types of yoga
On your first yoga retreat, the teacher will get to know you and what it is you want to get out of the retreat experience. The teacher will gauge the level of the group and then tailor the classes to everyone, taking into consideration level, energy levels and everyone’s body types and abilities. So don’t be worried about your level.
Even if all teachers trained in the same course, the way they will interpret what they have learnt will be a different one from the other, as they bring in their own personal learning from their teachers and also other aspects of self-development that they are passionate about. So experiencing different teachers can be a really educational thing to do. Each one will teach the same pose in different ways and you can learn from all of them. So be open-minded about the teachers and come with an open heart, to see what you can invite in and then take away with you on your yoga journey.
11. Sleep well and get lots of it – if you need it
Before coming to your first yoga retreat, you may see that there are loads of activities on offer also and you may want to do all of them. Just wait until you arrive and start with the yoga. As mentioned above – yoga connects you to your body and takes you out of your mind, and this is when your true self-starts to surface. You may find that you are actually very tired. This is ok, it is entirely natural and lots of our guests experience this. Just go with it and do what it is you need on the retreat, if it’s rest and sleep – enjoy it! If not, then enjoy the other activities on offer.
12. Cleanse body and mind with healthy (vegan/vegetarian) food and possibly have a rest from caffeine if you can for extra clarity
We are a vegetarian company – in line with yoga philosophy. We can cater for all dietary requirements also. Most yoga retreats are also vegetarian. If you are a carnivore, then you may feel apprehensive about no meat for 2, 3, 7 or 10 days and this is normal as our guests have told us that they do! They are also then very surprised when they have loved the food, even more so than their usual diet and want all the recipes as they feel inspired to cut back on meat and get more creative.
13. There’s enough food to go around
An added worry to the food being vegan is that there won’t be enough and people panic and buy snacks. There is enough food – maybe even too much! Be prepared to be dazzled and wowed by the variety, taste and quantity of the meals!
14. Not everyone’s a pretzel in the yoga class
If you are a beginner, never done yoga before or have done it on and off but not for a while, that’s ok! You won’t be alone, and a lot of people are the same as you. So don’t be intimated that everyone will be able to put their legs behind their heads, it’s just not true.
15. Ultimately – on the last day to feel rested, clearer in mind, stretchier, calmer and more relaxed in body and mind
All this relaxation, healthy food, stretching, meditation, rest, fresh air, escape from the countryside and a change of environment are all just the tonic for anyone. We would love to take before, and after photos of our guests as in the after picture, everyone is glowing, vibrant, bright-eyed, fresh-faced, with a lot of smiles and laughter. However, the before photos may not be what people wish to see! Even after 2 nights you will feel and look different. The breathwork, the mindfulness and the asana help to re-align your body and mind, and you will just feel great and ready for anything. Imagine how you can feel after 10 days!
The last word on your first yoga retreat – It’s not all about relaxation
I have written mostly about wellness style retreats above, but there are other types of retreats – like skiing and yoga, surfing and yoga, hiking and yoga or adventure travel with some yoga thrown in! If you attend these types of yoga holidays, then you will be more active. Sometimes, all day in fact especially with skiing! On these busy yoga holidays, you will benefit from the yoga for the activity, preparing your body to improve your skills and strength to excel at your chosen sport. The yoga warms up the body in the morning and releases tension at night.
Now you have heard all about the truth of yoga retreats, I hope I have dispelled any concerns that you may have had about going on your first ever yoga retreat! Just give it a go, you may even become a retreat convert! We run over 50 retreats a year from mindfulness, digital detox, wellbeing, and the more active ones such as skiing, hiking and adventure travel. Click HERE to check out our Calendar!