Yoga retreats …
Los Naranjos … Shangrila Dharma Center … Kripalu … Ashtanga Yoga Week at Rancho La Puerta … White Yoga Montreal … The Chopra Center San Diego … Yoga Journal Conferences …Omega Institute … SamasatiCosta Rica-SeaneCorn-Mirval-ShambalaMoutainCenter-BahktiFest-ShivaRae-DoeBay-TheListIsFullAndFantabulous!$@%#*….
My first experience with a yoga retreat was unplanned, and wonderful. Emerging from my room into the bright Jamaican sun, after sleeping for two days (that’s right … working 80-hour weeks for months at my New York City broadcast job did this to me), I found myself surrounded by yoga students from Washington, D.C. Each morning, they gathered on the black lava cliffs of our Negril resort, saluted to the sun, downward dogged a bit (what did I know?) and welcomed me into their circle with open arms.
I planned an entire week of doing nothing but eating ackee, sipping rum and soaking up the tropical-ness all alone … until I met those folks. From that first morning, my singular experience was transformed.
“Retreats are a wonderful way to meet like-minded people who are on a similar path, allowing for lifelong friendships to form,” says popular Maya yoga instructor Alex Baker, who recently led a retreat to Costa Rica. And so true –I stayed in touch with my D.C. yoga buddies for years after meeting them. Yet, their reasons for choosing to go on retreat were very different from mine. “I look into what the theme of the retreat is, asking myself, ‘Does this compliment my studies and passion?’” Alex explains. Where is it taking place? Who are the teachers? What kind of food will be served? All questions to ask yourself when choosing a retreat.
Experience the Unusual. “Yoga retreats are a brilliant way to break free of old patterns, release limitations, let go of fear and step into the space of courage and new possibilities,” says yoga teacher Katrina Love Senn, author and founder of Yoga Girl Revolution. “They allow you to go deeper into your yoga practice so that you can find space in your body that will allow you to connect with new opportunities in your life.”
Healing Transformation. “I think it’s important that retreat participants know to be prepared with an open heart and mind,” says Maya yoga instructor Barbara Welty. Last fall, Barbara attended Maya’s inaugural retreat in Yelapa, Mexico in partnership with Los Naranjos International Eco-Center. “It’s a great opportunity to build relationships and to allow for a inner shift of peace.” Alex agrees. “On retreat you unplug from the day to day, allowing for the internal chatter to slow and eventually cease,” she says. “As a result, you can arrive at meditative insights that will guide you deeper on your path – yoga or otherwise.” Little did I know I’d return from my own Jamaica vacation-turned-yoga-retreat just months away from leaving New York, facilitating a healing transformation of my own.
Learning from the Unfamiliar. Where was my first stop on my new journey? I “retreated” to Canyon Ranch in Tucson, AZ before heading on to Los Angeles. “Moving outside of the familiar creates a dis-comfort, resulting in a type of brain activity that cracks us open,” says Maya general manager Shannon Aldrich Payne, “and we are new again, able to re-discover elements of ourselves that might have been buried or denied while staying in our familiar grooves and habits.” At Canyon Ranch, I hiked in the mountains, took breathing lessons, practiced meditation, and got reacquainted with my own self, which prepared me more fully for my new life.
Maya Retreats. Shannon’s intent is to develop a vibrant retreat program through Maya- with events taking place at the Southport studio, as well as continuing Maya’s partnership with Los Naranjos in Yelapa, and developing relationships with other retreat centers where Maya instructors can partner with others to provide new experiences. Stay tuned for more.
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