My 5 essential pillars for a yoga retreat
In today’s world, we’re constantly overstimulated, being bombarded with information and we spend far too much time looking at screens. The pandemic left many of us feeling isolated, disconnected from each other and fearful. Offering the opportunity to take time and care for your Self has never been so important. So how can you cultivate a healthy, balanced Retreat that helps your participants to feel good physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually?
Let’s take a look at the five essential pillars in detail and see how you can implement them into your Retreat so that your participants can get the most out of it. The five pillars are: Mind, Rest, Movement, Diet and Community. Each one represents an important component that contributes to achieving true balance and contentment in life.
1. MIND – Sitting Meditation
With the constant connection to our screens and the tendency to fill the day with multitasking, it’s important to give your brain a chance to unplug, to relax and be quiet. A lot of retreaters feel irritable or anxious, when they arrive at the retreat and are in need of a way out of that. When you’re feeling anxious or stressed, you’re far more likely to reach for unhealthy foods, exercise less and have poor sleep.
That’s why meditation techniques are an indispensable tool for a Yoga Retreat. By intentionally taking the time to unplug from everything else going on in your day, you can bring peace and calmness to your mind, so that you can gain some clarity and reduce your stress level.
Taking a few minutes to pause and clear your mind can have an amazing effect, helping you to become more focused and calm by quieting the constant chatter of the mind.
2. FOCUS – Breathing ( Pranayama)
Most of the participants in a retreat are far away from feeling rested and relaxed. They probably don’t sleep properly, wake up constantly due to their busy mind. The brain is constantly ON causing anxiety and stress.
That’s why Breathing Awareness and Breathing Exercises are important to be part of a Retreat. You intentionally focus on your own breath to detach from everything else going on in your mind. This type of conscious concentration allows you to connect to your body and its sensations, instead of clinging to the thoughts.
3. MOVEMENT – Asana practice (Yogic poses)
Most participants come from a 9-5 job and probably feel achy from sitting at a desk all day. Moving your body is key to getting your blood flowing and lowering your stress levels. The benefits of Yoga, not only on your physical but also your mental health and emotional well-being, are well documented. Vijñāna Yoga is a practice that is accessible to anyone, no matter what your level of physical fitness is. In addition to improving your balance, strength, and flexibility, practicing the seven vital principles can also enhance your mental focus, emotional balance, and overall awareness. This leaves you feeling relaxed and more aware of how you do what you do.
Most retreaters probably don’t have time to prepare nutritional food in their daily life. However, one has to understand that the food we choose to put into our bodies has a tremendous impact on our well-being. It’s important to eat wholesome foods that nourish the body. When your body is getting all the necessary nutrients it needs to not just survive but also thrive, you will feel the difference in your mental clarity, energy, and even mood! Both quality and quantity of the food you consume matter, and each person’s unique constitution and digestive power determine their ideal diet.
That’s why participants enjoying fresh, local, seasonal, and home-cooked food is essential during a Yoga Retreat.
As social creatures, humans require connection with others and a sense of belonging to a larger purpose in order to lead a fulfilling and happy life. Studies have shown, that people with more social connections have better physical, mental, and emotional health. Apart from that, it’s great to meet people from all over the world who share the same passion. They become a second family for the time of the retreat. These connections often develop into lifelong friendships and serve as a bond between teacher, participants and event organizer.
The retreats that I have participated in as a student gave me the time and space to truly rest, nourish my mind, body, and my soul. I cherished the time I got to spend meditating, resting, practicing, sharing my experiences in order to bring back balance and focus to my life. My intention and wish is to be able to offer the opportunity to do the same according to their personal needs.