By Lisa Dumas – Yoga Instructor
It’s the end of a yoga class and you’ve left feeling serene and at peace. However, after checking cell phone messages, dealing with traffic or diving back into a lengthy to-do list, that blissful yoga-buzz comes to a jarring, abrupt end.
It can be challenging to take our practices off the mat and into the world. The distractions of our day to day lives keep us busy, stressed and worried. A yoga retreat is a wonderful way to experience the presence and stillness of mind yoga offers us for several days in a row.
1. Yoga with a View
Mabel Lake Yoga Retreats take place in July and September, when weather in the Okanagan, British Columbia, is at it’s best. Yoga is practiced on an expansive deck overlooking the clear, deep blue waters of the Mabel Lake. The retreat centre is set high above the lake, surrounded by woods, so yoga takes place in complete privacy amid the trees, underneath a sky which is home to soaring bald eagles, surrounded by sparkling water below. The view reminds us how connected we are to nature. We become present to the beauty of our surroundings which can be deeply moving.
Between morning and evening yoga experiences, retreat goers are free to simply be. There are no expectations or demands on your time. You are able to move from the depth of your yoga practice to a comfortable seat in the sunshine, an inspiring wander through the forest, or a refreshing dip in the lake. In a peaceful setting like this, one can practice maintaining intentions long after yoga class is over. We can make space for contemplation, learning and growth.
Yoga Retreats encourage the opportunity to take a break from daily life, especially the demands technology can have on our time. It can be liberating to turn off the phone and computer and connect with self, others and the world in person.
4. The Food!
At Mabel Lake, every meal is a labour of love by our incredibly talented raw, vegan chef Andrea. Even if you have no interest in going vegan or the raw food movement, you will be blown away at the delectable meals served in the gorgeous outdoor dining area of the retreat home. No participant has ever felt deprived, in fact, retreat goers unanimously agree the food is unlike any they’ve enjoyed before. Each dish is a work of art, unbelievably delicious and so chalk full of nutrition that after a day of eating this remarkable food the energy levels of the participants increase dramatically!
There is an opportunity to connect deeply with other like-minded individuals at a yoga retreat. Daily yoga, meditations and contemplation can promote honest and thoughtful dialogue and the chance to receive and offer support to others. Conversely, participation in socializing isn’t a requirement. The new connection you may make might be with yourself.
If you choose to attend a retreat with a clear intention to take steps toward positive momentum in your life, it can be a powerful starting point. Away from the triggers and distractions from daily life, new perspectives can be accessed. Distance from people and places can clear confusion and reveal a new path to wholeness and contentment.
7. Self Care
Often our days are filled with responsibilities and taking care of the needs of other people. We know we are better able to serve others when we have nourished ourselves first, and a yoga retreat can fill up our energy reserves, warm our hearts and calm our minds so we emerge refreshed and ready to provide love and support to family and friends. You may now be inspired to begin a personal practice cultivating the tools needed to offer to others without depleting yourself. Perhaps you’ll be inclined to pepper your weeks with mini retreats like a solo walk in nature, a few moments of meditation, a wholly enjoyed special meal or an afternoon nap. A yoga retreat reminds us to slow down and take frequent breaks, so we don’t miss the beauty and wonder of the world around us every day.