Yoga Retreats: five common misconceptions
Once upon a time, the phrase 'yoga retreat’ may have conjured up connotations of a strict regime, lacklustre food and dorm rooms. Roll forward to the present day, and not only have standards of food and accommodation improved dramatically; the range of what's available, where, is dazzling. At Satvada Retreats, we are sticklers for cultivating a friendly, inclusive, relaxed environment, suitable for both complete yoga and/or retreat beginners, and those with a long-standing practice. Over the years we’ve heard a full range of apprehensions from guests taken by the idea of going on retreat, yet concerned about what (or who!) they might find. Based on a decade of experience creating and running retreats, here are five common misconceptions about what to expect from the experience of going on a yoga retreat:
Everyone is super-fit and flexible
The Instagram effect has taken over: images of lithe young models in bendy yoga poses dominate our social media feeds, leaving many with an unrealistic view on what a ‘yogi’ looks like. From running both a successful yoga studio and a retreat business, we can answer that easily - people who practise yoga come in all shapes and sizes. Some are naturally slim, some are larger, some have natural flexibility, but many cannot touch their toes (and we can guarantee that happiness will be any more attainable with the simple ability to touch toes!). We’re keen to promote that yoga is about awareness; it's an ancient meditation, born of marriage between breath and body - and that means absolutely anyone can join our classes. Some of our retreats involve guided local walks, adapted to the particular needs of the group.
Only women go on retreat
Let’s nip this one in the bud right away. Whilst it is true that we usually have a higher ratio of women to men on our trips, we actively encourage men to join, as a mixed group is always good fun. Travelling alone is a great way for anyone, male or female, to fully experience the atmosphere of a retreat. Travelling as a couple is a great way to keep costs down as the shared room rates are cheaper - so there’s no excuse not to incorporate a retreat into a longer holiday perhaps.
There will be an enforced detox!
An important philosophy on our retreats is that food is not only fuel for our bodies - integral to our health and wellbeing - but something to look forward to and savour. Meals are generally vegetarian, and we are able to cater to all dietary requirements. Our chefs source as many local ingredients as possible, with our Croatian retreat hosts actually growing most of their vegetables and fruit in the organic garden right by the villa. Morocco is famous for its sumptuous tagines and bountiful breakfasts - in fact, many guests leave with plenty of inspiration and recipes to recreate dishes at home! Having a drink over dinner is by no means discouraged on our yoga retreats (though more immersive mindfulness retreats are alcohol-free), though guests wishing to abstain will find it easy, with fresh mint teas or herbal teas aplenty!
You have to travel long haul
Whilst it’s true that plenty of yoga retreats take place in far flung lands such as India and Bali, we prefer to keep things a little closer to home. Morocco is a quick three-and-a-half hour flight from London, although once there, you’ll feel like you’ve landed in a different world. Croatia is a two hour flight, and if you’ve only got a weekend to spare, our Norfolk Mindfulness retreats are easily reached by train or car.
There will be a strict yoga schedule each day
Retreats for us are about relaxing and rejuvenating; finding some head-space and perspective. We are always keen for them to be nurturing to body and soul. On most yoga retreats there will be two scheduled classes per day, a rejuvenating (though accessible) mindful flow in the morning, and a more relaxing, restorative class in the evening. Classes are completely optional and centred around how you feel that day - if you fancy a lie in then that’s totally fine! You'll always be encouraged to allow yourself to let the retreat experience be what's needed for you at that time. (It has been known for guests to spend most of their days sleeping, as this is what they need - and we will always support your personal choice). Some of our retreats focus on gentle, guided meditation and mindfulness sessions with no active yoga and again these are all optional, depending on your own needs and wants.
Feel like you might like to retreat with us? Take a look at our schedule...