That’s why I wanted to talk to you about the various ways of maintaining your practice during your vacations.
I will be covering workshops and retreats, two somewhat different formats that can spice up your practice!
A workshop usually takes a day or a half day. This practice is led by one or two instructors. A workshop can be general or focused on a topic, a pose or a series of poses.
Some instructors will have a round table to ask about each student’s expectations, to allow everybody to get familiar and to open up if they so wish and ease the group into the practice… Then the workshop begins, usually like a regular practice. If the practice is focused on a specific pose or a series of poses, once the body is all warmed up, we give ourselves the time to go deeper, and to work on those poses with more precision by helping each other or using props. If the workshop is more general, the instructor may choose to work on inversions, heart openers (unlike a regular practice where we’d usually focus on one or two peak poses).
The participants can also be encouraged to choose which poses they wish to practice depending on their usual practice and their own progress.
Some instructors choose to dive deeper into the yoga philosophy by reading texts or by speaking about a particular topic during the physical practice. Those topics are not brought up as often during ‘regular’ classes. Therefore, it is also a good opportunity to move away from asanas and discover the other limbs of yoga.
A retreat program may vary depending on duration. Usually, the minimum is two asanas (physical practice) per day. A standard retreat day usually starts with a morning meditation followed by a practice. Breakfast is next, after which the participants have time to do activities. In some cases, the location has a spa or offers hikes and other seasonal indoor and outdoor activities. After lunch, the participants get more free time to do activities. The end of the day is dedicated to the evening practice. The late evening is spent having dinner and meditating or singing mantras.
Depending on the duration of the retreat, there can be fewer practices and more diverse activities. Some retreats offer mixed programs (yoga and hiking, yoga and fasting, yoga and water sports…). Again, this is just an example, not a hard and fast rule.
Going to a retreat is a golden opportunity to fully dedicate a few days to your practice. The schedule includes daily practice time so you don’t need to ‘make time’, nothing can jeopardize your practice, no other ‘priority’ disrupts the flow of your day.
These few timeless days allow us to refocus, to put aside all of our daily struggles and worries. Practicing several hours daily, even for 4 days only, has huge benefits: it relaxes the body, restores calm and serenity, stimulates the removal of toxins… And obviously, you will notice physical progress during your retreat! But other than that, it’s also an opportunity to meet people who share interests with you, and to bond with a group moved by the same energy for several days.
There you have it friends! Now you’ve got a better idea of what a yoga retreat or workshop can be like, for those who didn’t know.
And now it’s up to you to decide whether you want to step it up and practice differently this summer!