I love to travel. Summer vacations weren’t really a thing when I was young, so I think that the 30-something independent and adventurous traveler I have become was born from childhood trips to Kennywood. Or, if we were feeling really crazy, Sandcastle. (I loved both, by the way. These are mentioned only to set the Pittsburgh scene.) The travel bug struck me when I was in college. Since then I’ve traveled many different ways—over-scheduled trips to see and experience everything, under-prepared trips to dive into whatever suited me, slow trips to the mountains, exciting trips to the beach, and hectic jaunts through many a city. Each time I board a plane, I anticipate a new and expansive adventure.
As I began practicing yoga, one theme grew consistent: before I boarded the plane (or sitting in the seat on a plane), I would look up the right yoga studio for me to visit. I loved taking yoga in different places, sharing the practice in different corners of the world, where I allowed new perspectives to sneak up on me and teach me far more than asana. I learned about the communities and what their studios valued about a yoga practice.
I began to recognize that there was also a different way to travel—a way I hadn’t experienced yet. Seasoned traveler, good flyer, comfortable with any twists and turns that might come my way, and I decided to go on my very first yoga retreat. I imagined that my going on this retreat would be a similar to any of my other trips—just with a lot more yoga. That idea appealed to me greatly. What I didn’t realize was just how very different a retreat could be.
A yoga retreat isn’t a vacation. Although vacations and retreats share certain likenesses. You can relax, find ways to separate from your day to day, keep your own hours, and indulge in your surroundings. However, going on a retreat is making a conscious choice to come to a place to immerse yourself in a yoga, both on and off the mat, can be extremely rewarding, eye-opening, and, dare-I-say, life changing. Yoga has the ability to change your perspective. And when you take time to explore the relationship you have to your practice, to yourself, to your community, to your experience on and off the mat, you might find space to open up in ways you may not have anticipated. Yoga then has the ability to change you.
I tend to return from vacations wishing I had a vacation to recover from my time off. Retreats are different. When I return from retreats (I’ve now been on several), I find that I have new tools to navigate life. I have created more space to allow more experiences to truly become a part of me. I return a stronger, softer, more confident, grounded person, and I’m ready to ride the waves with a bit more ease.
So if you’ve been thinking about it, considering it, wondering if you have the guts to travel alone … I leave you with the words of Pema Chodron.
“Each moment is an opportunity to make a fresh start.”
Just stop wondering and go find your yoga retreat. We can choose to press ourselves forward. And in the warm arms of a community that comes together to embrace yoga, meditation, and each of our inner truths, there is no safer space to explore what that means to you. Perhaps it reads as shameless promotion, but I couldn’t be more honored and humbled to be one of the teachers leading classes at our very own yoga retreat this fall. Inhale is going to Mexico, and the truth is Janna, Melissa, Sydney and I are so excited to share the deep parts of our own practice and to learn as we dive deep into experiences together with familiar friends and new faces, both on and off the mat.
May you be happy, may you be safe, may you be at peace, may you be well.
Shanti, peace, and namaste,