Yes to Yoga Retreats

When it comes to travelling, it seems like there’s two main buckets that people sit in when travelling for leisure. The first bucket- adventure. A jam-packed trip where the sole purpose is to soak up as much of the new place as possible and return home with brand spanking new memories. The second bucket- relaxation. I’m talking those trips where the most you’ll do in a day is maybe a short walk, but you’ll inevitably spend the majority of the day relaxing in a sun lounger.

Typically, I fall into to the first bucket. The second type of trip normally bores me to tears with the combination of my inability to sit still, and my mind not being able to shut up. However recently, after an insanely busy 2019, I fell into bucket number two and I’m forever changed from it. I went to a yoga retreat in Spain and it was an invigorating experience. Where I went is less pertinent to the overall experience, because a yoga retreat in Europe or south east Asia is a dime a dozen. That being said, I would strongly recommend La Crisalida, just outside of Alicante in Spain. What matters more is the experience. Now I’m not going to lie, this definitely is not an experience for everyone. It’s also definitely not the cheapest break you could ever take; it’s not a 30quid return round trip that’s for sure. However, taking a break from daily life, a designated time to breathe and relax. Time to turn off. There’s no price on the value that has to your mental health.

Where we were in Spain, we were lucky enough to be surrounded by gorgeous mountains and beach. Admittedly it was Spain in January, so we weren’t exactly sunbaking, but it was still lovely to be able to feel some warmth from the sun on your face. Yes, the winter sun in London is shockingly, not that warm. The days consisted of nature walks, yoga, meditation, talks, and relaxing. I don’t think my body really knew how to process the lack of intense 1Rebel, Digme or FlyKick classes. The food was fresh, plant based, with no added salt, sugar, flavourings or preservatives. And there was no caffeine. That was a shock to the system. They were also very into their juicing. Not really my scene but was interesting to try and I’d encourage anyone to try it at any point because you’ve legitimately got nothing to lose except water weight. That being said, it didn’t work for me due to the lack of protein and high volume of carbs- my insulin resistance did not enjoy this.

Did you know that there's 28 different types of Yoga? I'm a Vinyasa devotee as it strikes a nice balance between my inability to be still, while not being as intense as a HIIT or spin class. I thought I was really well versed in my yogi language, but I only knew about Vinyasa, Hatha and Ashtanga. At the retreat I went to, there were 6 different types of yoga being taught in the one week. The schedule changes weekly, so depending when you go, there might be more Restorative yoga than Yin Yang. At this retreat, they encourage you to do as much, or as little as you want.

What's rebounding, I see you asking confused looking at that schedule? I never actually got around to a class. My 'regular' exercise week normally features 2-3 sessions of some type of high intensity exercise- so I really wanted this week to be a week where I didn't do anything remotely high intensity outside of cracking a sweat in yoga/ yogalates or on a walk. That being said, the other people at the retreat who did the classes absolutely raved about it, so who knows; maybe it was something that I really missed out on?

With the food, as mentioned, it was all plant based, no added sugar/salts/preservatives etc, and they were big into juicing. There were set menus that changed per week, and you had to complete a form the night before to let the kitchen know if you were juicing, eating, or weren't going to be there for a meal (sometimes people went for walks into nearby towns). While juicing is not necessarily for me (I tried it for 1.5 days- they recommend 3 days of juicing) I can understand why people like it. I would caution us city slickers that if you did do this, you'd be giving up caffeine for the time you're there, and caffeine withdrawals ain't pretty. But they don't judge you for wondering into town and satisfying that hankering for a latte either. I tend to cook veggie quite often, having grown up with my younger sister flipping from veggie to vegan and back again, I'm used to thinking of different ways to use lentils and beans. But I'm very big into my salt and oils (cheers Bobba), so this was a new experience for me. And honestly- I missed salt. But I was inspired to use it less. The clean eating, lack of caffeine for the week definitely felt like a bit of an internal cleanse; and that's the whole point of these places no?

What I think us first bucket dwellers forget is that while traveling is a time for invigoration, if we’re constantly busy in our day to day, and then we’re also busy on our holiday- when do we give ourselves a chance for a break? More importantly, when do we give ourselves permission to take a break? It was a bizarre feeling being able to relax and take an afternoon nap- I felt guilty. If anything, this week just reinforced that we all need to be a bit more selfish with our time in order to be a bit kinder to ourselves. Taking a break for mental health is almost a dirty word, when really, it shouldn’t be. If anything, being able to recognise that you need to take a break before you really break should be something commendable!

Now this isn’t to say that a yoga retreat is a cure all. Hell a yoga retreat isn’t everyone’s piece of cake (of green juice might be more accurate here) but hell- taking a break every now and then and forcing yourself to sit still. Or in my case, fall asleep in yoga.


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