Life, these days, has become quite hectic. With prolonged working hours, heightened goals and ambitions, and an ever-demanding lifestyle, we barely get any time to unwind and rejuvenate ourselves – mentally and physically.
While taking a vacation could be an option, all it does is divert our mind from the monotonous schedule for a while. Once the vacation is over, so is our peace of mind. In such situations, what our body and mind really need rather than desires are a time-out!
To be able to cherish this ‘time-out’ completely, we need to find an inner balance which only comes from an environment full of serenity and bliss. And, the easiest way to achieve that is to indulge ourselves in a retreat, even better a yoga retreat.
Though you could choose any place for your retreat, yoga retreats in Kerala must be your top priority – endless beaches, tranquil atmosphere, natural surroundings, the best of Ayurveda, and of course, numerous yoga centres.
Like our clothing and accessories, one size may not fit all in terms of retreat. While some of us may be looking for a break from our work schedule, some may just be recovering from a long-term ailment.
Let us explore the various kinds of yoga retreats programs and their benefits so that making a choice becomes convenient.
Types of Yoga Retreats
As mentioned, yoga retreats can be of various kinds. To select what is best for you, you must know what each kind of retreat offers. Only then would you be able to filter what
- Beginners Yoga Retreat – Designed for first-time yoga practitioners or those who want a crash course before indulging into an intensive yoga program, the beginner yoga retreats lay a practical foundation for participants in a systematic way and instills in them regular yoga practice habit as well as few theoretical basics about yoga. In this kind of retreat, you would most likely learn a few basic postures along with the right posture techniques, basic meditation, the importance of chanting, and a few detoxification procedures.
- Experienced Yoga Retreat – If you are a regular practitioner or have a bit of formal yoga training, participating in an intermediate yoga retreat will enable you to continue your practice while you spend your valuable time learning under the guidance of highly experienced yoga gurus. Subjects covered during such a retreat include meditation, yoga practice and techniques, philosophy, basics of human anatomy in accordance with yoga, and significance and practice of meditation.
- Group Retreats – A lot of yoga institutions offer group retreats where you along with your group of friends and/or family can participate in a special retreat program aimed only to cater to your group. Taking such a family retreat not only brings you closer to the rest of your family members but also helps you connect with them on an entirely different level.
- Customized Retreats – Joining a group of complete strangers for a retreat vacation may not be your ideal retreat holiday dream which is why quite a few established yoga schools offer customized yoga retreat plans which are designed specifically keeping in mind your privacy, requirements, and comfort.
- Specific Yoga Retreats – If you are a follower of a specific style of yoga such as Hatha, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, or Iyengar, it is idyllic that you look for a yoga retreat which specialized in the type of yoga that you are acclimatized and comfortable with. For example, you may look for weekly or fortnightly Hatha retreat programs where you would be involved in daily morning and evening Hatha yoga practice sessions along with classes on meditation, breathing techniques, yoga philosophy and anatomy, and chanting, and much more.
- Mixed Yoga Retreats – These kinds of retreats combine more than one form of yoga, such as Hatha and Ashtanga, to create a perfect balance. Also, it gives you a chance to explore other forms and aspects of yoga. At the same time, you can practice detoxification, yoga nidra, meditation, and breathing techniques.
- Yoga Adventure Retreats – In such retreats, you get to combine yoga with other adventurous activities such as rafting, biking, surfing, and paddle-boarding. Designed mainly for outdoorsy people, these retreats create a perfect balance between relaxation and enjoyment.
Speaking of specific yoga retreats, India, as the world knows is the epicenter of all yoga-related activities and fields of study. Though there are hundreds and thousands of yoga schools spread all around the Indian sub-continent, there are a few places which are considered highly. Some of these top-rated destinations are Rishikesh, Kerala, Mysore, Bangalore, Bihar, and Goa.
The schools and establishments at these destinations often offer specialization in one or more than one types of Yoga retreats. Below mentioned are some of the most popular retreats that are organized by the schools:
Ashtanga yoga retreat
One of the most popular styles of Yoga, an Ashtanga Yoga retreat is meant for the fast-paced learners who don’t mind following a routine. As such, Ashtanga Yoga series involves a specific series of postures which are practiced repeatedly till you perfect the sequence. Such retreats mostly involve postures that help you redefine your core, increase your overall strength, focus on related practices such as meditation and breathing techniques, and indulge in some extra activities such as Ayurvedic massages, nearby excursions and one-on-one talk sessions.
Hatha yoga retreat
The foundation of all forms of yoga, Hatha Yoga is best suited for beginners and for those who can’t strain their body. During such a retreat, you will unwind yourself along with rebuilding consciousness and balance between your mind, body, and soul. Your sessions will involve practical as well as theoretical aspects of yogic studies. Meditation, pranayama, and detoxification lessons will also be organized.
Meditation, also known as mindfulness, is the art of disconnecting from the outer world while you reconnect with your inner-self. It is a process to develop consciousness within your mind and body. It is a state where you train your mind to remain calm and stable. One of the most important factors while choosing a Meditation retreat is the surrounding in which you will be spending your time since a lot of these sessions happen outdoors, giving you a chance to connect with nature. During such retreats, you will spend a lot of your time in silence, chanting or meditating. At the same time, you will learn several theoretical aspects of meditation such as correct meditation techniques, accurate meditation postures, different kinds of meditation, and significance of meditation.
Yin Yoga retreats
Yin Yoga, although not such a popular form, comprises a set sequence of postures which focus mainly on the lower parts of the body such as inner thigs, pelvis, and the hips, and connective tissues such as bones, joints, and ligaments. The postures are mainly passive floor postures and require you to relax and soften your muscle while you gain a deeper access to your body. During your retreat, you will also learn about Yin yoga practices, postures, and principles.
Yoga and Ayurveda retreats
One of the most preferred types of retreats in Kerala, Yoga and Ayurveda retreats combine the wellness of Yoga and Ayurveda into a single program. On one hand, you get to practice and learn various yoga postures which improves your physical and mental health, on the other, undergoing various Ayurvedic massages and practices helps cure various ailments that you may be suffering from. Such retreats require that you follow an Ayurvedic diet which not only helps in detoxification but also strengthens your immunity and metabolism.
How to Choose the Right Yoga Centre?
Now that we know the various kinds of retreats that you can enroll yourself into, it is important that you find yourself only the best institutions.
These days, almost all establishments claim to have Yoga Alliance Certification and advertise themselves as ‘the best’. However, as discussed before, ‘the best’ depends on what you need and how far does a yoga school cater to your requirements.
Some of the key factors that you should consider before enrolling in a program are:
- Level of Expertise – First and foremost, consider the level of yoga practice you already have. If you have been practicing for some time and have a formal degree, it only makes sense if you indulge in an advanced yoga retreat. However, as a beginner, Hatha retreat programs, meditation retreats, and yoga and Ayurveda retreats may be best suited for you as they do not physically challenge you to do the unexpected.
- Style – As mentioned, a lot of schools these days follow more than one yoga form. For example, Rishikul Yogshala, headquartered in Rishikesh with centers all around the world such as Khajuraho, Kerala, Nepal, and Iran, specializes in Hatha and Ashtanga Yoga and offers programs such as 200-hour TTC, 300-hour TTC, 500-hour TTC, yoga and meditation retreats, and adjustment and alignment courses.
- Recognition – Before you sign up for a program, ensure that the establishment is Yoga Alliance certified. Yoga Alliance is a non-profit organization that provides accreditation to yoga schools and teachers. Before certifying a school or an establishment, Yoga Alliance ensures that they meet a set list of guidelines. Thus, you must ensure that the school you pick is Yoga Alliance certified.
- Location – Your ambiance plays a vital role in the whole rejuvenation and relaxation procedure. Being stuck with 20 other yogis in a tiny hole in the wall amidst a busy city street won’t do you any good. Rather, a location which can bring you closer to nature and to your senses will fulfill your purpose of unwinding yourself. For that matter, yoga retreats in Kerala or somewhere in the mountains would be a great idea.
There will always be an excuse or a reason why you didn’t find time for yourselves. But, this is not just unfair but unhealthy. To be able to flawlessly manage your personal and professional life, it is imperative that you cut yourself some slack every now and then, and do something for yourself, even if it feels selfish.
By disconnecting yourself from the usual humdrum of life and immersing yourself into something so authentic, inspiring, and invigorating, you are bound to open all your mental and physical blockages. This implies that you not only move forward towards a better way of living for yourself but you also have the power to the same for your loved ones.
So, gift yourself a week of yoga retreat this holiday and bring back that long-lost smile.