Yoga retreats are truly magical and each offers unique experience. You can’t compare them to normal holidays or gateways. The first retreat I’ve ever attended was a decade ago when I thought I may as well go as the price was just the same as going for a long weekend and having to eat out every day and stay at impersonal, soulless hotels. I couldn’t have been more wrong about what a yoga retreat is about though. In my head I assumed it will be a wee bit creepy, way too much yoga (I was a complete beginner back then), I will never cope and people will make me sit in lotus and meditate for hours without food. I will feel alone, won’t know anyone and no-one will even speak to me as I can’t rock a wheel, handstand and the most mortifying: my heels don’t touch the ground in a down facing dog. Clearly, I was a little bit dramatic back then.
First of all, you don´t have to be a superstar yogi to go on a yoga retreat. The feeling that you´re not advanced enough, not flexible enough, not skinny enough to go on a yoga retreat is a common theme that often prevents people from signing up or even coming to a yoga class in the first place. It’s that type of negative and destructive self-talk we do every day that yoga or yoga retreats try to challenge.
From the moment you step into your yoga retreat house you feel welcomed, you feel important like everyone has been waiting just for you. Even though there are 10 other participants, you know that you matter. Every day you wake up before the alarm as your mind can finally relax and slow down and waking up isn’t a major challenge. Yes, you do yoga, but this type of yoga is completely different to the one you experience at your yoga studio. You can do more, you are stronger, and you are more tuned to what feels right and what doesn’t. In fact anyone can harvest the benefits of practicing yoga everyday in the most perfect environment - you just can´t go wrong with that – nature, sunshine, delicious healthy food, being away from the stresses and strains of modern life. Of course it all seems to be easier! You finally don’t judge yourself for not being able to touch your toes. You are just happy where you’re at now.
The small group classes on retreats offer a personalised approach to yoga, where everyone´s individual needs can be taken into account, making it a truly holistic experience. When you lie in savasana (your final relaxation or sleep time as my students call it) you know you have done something absolutely amazing, you feel proud of all the incredible things you can do and adventurous about everything you are still to conquer. Sometimes you can feel your own heartbeat and that makes your entire nervous system shiver, it feels just amazing!
Through the day you eat delicious food, connect with other like-minded people who may be there for similar reasons. All of a sudden you realize that people are more connected than you think, they may carry similar baggage or experiences and the bond you create may sometimes last way beyond the retreat itself. Yoga retreats offer a unique opportunity to find that connection with yourself that everybody talks about these days. It all happens in a special way, and creeps up on you unexpected. Sometimes it's in that heart beating savansana moment or quite often after you are back at home when you realize you breathe more and you don’t get as anxious as before. You connect with other people while sharing mealtimes, adventures and creating a sense of community that may be missing in our busy city lives.
Each retreat is carefully designed, from finding the most convenient location to food you are consuming. You can always expect being able to do things that nourish your mind and the body like long baths or quiet ‘me time’, or loud and cheery wine testing. These days you can travel anywhere in the world, sink into faraway lands? and swear you will never get as stresses out as before. Three months later, you can barely remember where you went. When you take a trip that involves working on you as a person, listening to your own body’s needs and routines rather than stuffing yourself with food you don’t really need, activities that don’t help you relax, abusing alcohol, you then realize what I mean when I say 'magical experience'. That’s when you see that things start to shift. You don’t come back and feel more tired than before your holiday. You come back with tools, techniques or routines that you are more likely to continue to apply at home. Those techniques preserve that shift and help you tap into that state of relaxation and strength during your life back at home. You suddenly remember every day of the yoga retreat you attended and you love it.
My summer yoga retreat in Poland is based at the heart of the Warmia, the most peaceful and stunning part of Poland. It reminds me a little bit of the Lake District in England but it is more sunny. We are staying at Kwaśne Jabłko (that translates as 'sour apple’:) which is a stunning farmhouse. Those who came to my Highland retreat know I really like the ‘rustic’ look where you feel at home from the moment you enter the house and you aren’t afraid to touch anything in fear of breaking it. It's got a very modern twist, which makes it feel bright and inspiring. The house is surrounded by apple trees, fields and a wee lake. You can rest under an apple tree in a hammock or set yourself for a wee adventure to discover the beauty of the local area.
They even produce their own cider, which we are going to try on one of the evenings! Interestingly, in May 2015 their products were even very 'highly recommended' by the jury of the British Cider Championship.
It is the most perfect place to relax, let go of fear, remove blocks that you've been building through your life and connect to your strength. This connection will be the main theme of the retreat. So, don't wait.
You will get yoga every day (and yes, if you want to sleep in it’s fine to do so!). We will organize shared transport from and to Warsaw airport, which makes it so much easier. We will use essential oils to enhance your yoga practice, luxurious shared accommodation will also be offered. You will try fabulous, home cooked food. This includes homemade bread in the mornings! We have a Spa Day where we are going to soak our bodies and souls in warm outdoor baths. There are bikes there that you can use if you want to explore the local area. Finally, we are also going to indulge ourselves in an evening with their homemade cider.
Since my first yoga retreat, I have had a few ‘normal’ holidays, weather it was surfing, or volunteering or just travelling across a part of the world I have never seen. But to me nothing matches the experience that a yoga retreat can give you.
To book visit the retreat section of this website.