After the success of “Eat, Pray, Love,” I read an article that stated that female attendance at yoga retreats increased by approximately forty per cent after the release of the movie. I couldn’t help but wonder if these women were indeed looking for enlightenment through enhancing their yoga practice, or if they figured that they would find all-encompassing love Elizabeth Gilbert Style. But we can’t deny that society is looking for a way to escape and so retreats, for those able to afford them, are an excellent opportunity to do just that. But not all of us can imagine leaving all our worldly possessions in order to take part in retreats, which can often be several weeks (or even months) long. We have responsibilities and houses and children to look after! It got me to thinking: Am I the retreat type?
Yoga and meditation retreats take many forms and can take place over a weekend or spread out over several months. The escapes are often comprised of classes, guided meditations, yoga classes, hikes and healthy food, so that those who attend can find spiritual and mental peace, a connection with themselves (which we all tend to forget to nurture, somewhere along this path called life!), and of course, a deepening of their yoga practice. And although we might not all be able to pick up and go to an ashram in India or a sanctuary in Bali, we can find these retreats in our proverbial backyards, with easy access for those too busy to take regular time for themselves.
I noticed that many providers of yoga retreats offer several options, obviously cognizant of the fact that consumers need a variety of retreat options in order to fit the escape into their lives. In Vancouver, Semperviva Yoga offers several retreats, from several weeks in Costa Rica to a weekend on Galiano Island, just off the coast of Vancouver. Yoga Age website gathers information about several different retreats within Canada and organizes it all on one webpage, for those who don’t have a passport. And if you can’t even go further than a few hours away from Toronto, the central hub of Canada, then Sahayoga might be the place for you. Knowing several friends who have gone on this retreat, they all found it to be relaxing, welcoming and accessible for all levels of yogis. Oh, and apparently, the food was amazing.
So after looking at all the options available to me, I realized that as much as I thought I wasn’t, I am the retreat type! I can easily make time for a long weekend dedicated to developing a deeper understanding of myself, something that I often don’t take the time for, even when I know it’s vital to my own mental health. I can’t take months off work and leave all my loved ones behind, but I can go to a weekend-long yoga retreat and then take the benefits of that weekend and apply them to the rest of my life.
In fact, I have to sign off on this post. I need to go book my first retreat.