5 Reasons to Go on a Yoga Retreat

5 Reasons to Go on a Yoga Retreat

Yoga in the Yurt at Tilton House

Yoga in the Yurt at Tilton House - photo by Kat Kinsella

Originally published on Urban Lucy‘s Urban Blog.

Despite practising yoga for a decade I didn’t go on my first yoga retreat until 2011. One of my very first thoughts once I was there was “What took me so long?!” The retreat I’d chosen was a weekend break in the UK, yet it was just enough to bring my mind and body back into balance. And suited by budget too. I’d always thought that a retreat was a pipe dream but whether you want to head off to far-flung sunny climes or have a short but sweet weekend break closer to home there’s such a wide range of choice out there that it is possible to find a getaway to suit your tastes and needs.

I loved the experience so much that I now teach yoga on retreats and believe so much in the value of taking time out for you. Far from being selfish, taking that time to take care of you allows you to recharge and, in turn, enables you to give the best of yourself to your loved-ones. I recently returned from teaching on a weekend retreat in Sussex and was reminded all over again of why it’s so good. Here are just a few reasons for you:

Delicious food on the Sally Parkes Yoga retreats at Tilton House

Delicious food on the Sally Parkes Yoga retreats at Tilton House

1. No pressure to ‘do’ anything
Ever been on holiday and ended up with an itinerary so packed that you came back feeling like you needed another holiday? Well, one of the great things about being on retreat is that there’s no pressure ‘do’. We have enough pressures and ‘shoulds’ in our day-to-day lives and even on holiday that can creep in when what our minds and bodies really need is the opposite. On retreat you have the genuine opportunity to slow down with no guilt whatsoever. You can opt in or out of as many of the classes and other activities on offer as you like. Hang out with the group, or spend time alone. It’s your choice! It’s a real chance to Relax and restore.

Join Sally Parkes & I on our Relax & Restore retreats at Florence House

Join Sally Parkes & I on our Relax & Restore retreats at Florence House

2. You get to indulgently focus on your yoga practice (or even begin your yoga practice!)
If you already love yoga, then what better opportunity to practice every day! Though if you’ve never done yoga before, a retreat is a great place to start. There are lots of beginner-friendly retreats out there in the UK and abroad, including the ones I teach on for Sally Parkes Yoga (www.sallyparkesyoga.com). As a beginner you’ll be in a safe, nurturing environment and guided by teachers who want to support you.

Experience a nurturing Restorative Yoga class on retreat at Florence House

Experience a nurturing Restorative Yoga class on retreat at Florence House

3. It can be an opportunity to support a transition phase in your life
When I went on that first yoga retreat I was in the process of being made redundant from the job I worked at for almost ten years. Though it was a change I wanted, it was still a lot to come to terms with at the time. Being out of my regular surroundings was a great chance to step back, take stock and reassess things. It helped me get clearer about what I wanted. I’ve heard similar stories from other people about how they found a new perspective while on away on retreat and consequently, were able to take positive action once back at home.

4. It’s okay to go on your own (if you want to!)
Of course it’s okay to go on any holiday on your own, though holidaying alone isn’t something everyone feels comfortable with. From my experience, going away on retreat is a great way to go away on your own. The environment is safe and supportive and you get to meet some great people. People come from diverse backgrounds, yet often similar experiences have brought them to a retreat. It’s not uncommon to form lasting friendships.

Beautiful grounds at Florence House

Beautiful grounds at Florence House

5. The effects can last when you get back home
I feel this is best summed-up by a recent retreat guest who at the end of our weekend retreat totally humbled us with the following:

“I came on one of these retreats a while ago and came away with a warm feeling that lasted a long time. This time I’ve got that feeling again.”

So what are you waiting for? Why not start planning your next, or even your first yoga retreat? Do something nice for you.

This Summer you can join me on the following weekend retreats with Sally Parkes Yoga:

20th – 22nd June & 8th – 10th August – Summer Detox Retreats: Yoga and Meditation Weekend Retreats at Tilton House, Firle, near Lewes, East Sussex. Click here for more details (NB – only twin share rooms remaining for these dates. Autumn Detox Weekend 10-12th Oct is now SOLD OUT.)

29th – 31st August. With Sally Parkes and I – Summer Relax & Restore Retreat: Yoga, Pilates and Meditation Weekend Retreat at Florence House, Seaford, East Sussex. Click here for details.

Watch this space at the U Can Yoga website for upcoming retreat dates in 2015!

Yoga for Early Birds Tuesdays + Thursdays

Yoga for Early Birds Tuesdays + Thursdays

Yoga Flow at Evolve - Tuesdays & Thursdays 7.30-8.30am

Yoga Flow at Evolve - Tuesdays & Thursdays 7.30-8.30am

Feel rejuvenated, energised and ready for your day!

After month of teaching Thursday morning Yoga Flow at Evolve in South Kensington, I’m very happy to announce that I will now be teaching on Tuesday mornings too! Both Yoga Flow classes are from 7.30-8.30am.

These classes will release tension in the body and mind while developing focus, mobility, stamina and flexibility. With a mix of energetic flowing sequences focussing on big movements to wake-up and all the major joints, alongside longer-held postures, you can expect an emphasis on alignment and breath awareness.

If you’ve yet to visit the beautiful Evolve centre then I’d highly recommend it! Based in Kendrick Mews you’ll find yoga and Pilates classes, holistic treatments, innovative workshops, courses and special events all under one roof. New clients can also take advantage of the 3 classes for £10 offer. To find out more you can click here to visit the Evolve website.

See you on the mat! 🙂

There’s no such thing as a perfect yoga pose

There’s no such thing as a perfect yoga pose

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Each month I write for OM Yoga Magazine – here is my column from November 2012

Since 2012 I’ve written a monthly column and the odd feature for OM Yoga Magazine. This column was originally published in the November 2012 issue:

A mild thoracic curve means my chaturanga can look slightly lopsided. However, I only noticed this after observation in a mirror and working one-to-one with a teacher. X-rays and scans confirmed mild scoliosis
as well as spondylolisthesis, so the wonky chaturanga then made sense. Not long ago I had the experience of being in a workshop where an advanced teacher tried to (literally) wrench my shoulder up and back in chaturanga to straighten me out, despite my explanation of my physical imbalances. Instead of listening, he stared at me blankly and said, “You’re not doing it right”.

These experiences greatly inform how I approach teaching. They also remind me what an honour and privilege and responsibility it is. If I were less confident, that experience with the advanced teacher would have upset me. (Let’s save the ‘what is advanced?’ discussion for another time!) I like to remember the words of Judith Lasater who I studied with earlier this year. During training, one of the many things she said that stuck with me in regard to yoga asana is that there is no right or wrong – there is only safe. It’s important that we do our best to be safe in our postures.

I enjoy one-to-one yoga sessions a lot. Each person I guide through practice teaches me something. Every body is different. There is no perfect yoga pose. One of the things I love about working one-to-one is being able to guide someone to finding the expression of a posture that works best for them. Together we can take more time to get back to basics, break down poses and tailor their practice. My hope is that within this the yogi comes to experience that the practice they are developing is about more than touching their toes. When a client told me she had practised a couple of poses on her own at home because she liked how they made her feel afterwards I was delighted. Delighted that she felt confident enough to do some asana practice on her own and that she was finding her own unique experience of yoga that went beyond where to place her feet in trikonasana. Even better that this was for her self-care and not to please the teacher.

Paula Hines is a London-based yoga teacher (www.ucanyoga.co.uk) – if you are in London and interested in 1-2-1 or Small Group Private Yoga, please click here for details.

If you’d like to read a selection of my past OM Yoga Magazine columns and a FREE 24 page preview of the latest issue at my U Can Yoga website, please click here.

*NEW* Gentle Flow Yoga Class at Embody Wellness

*NEW* Gentle Flow Yoga Class at Embody Wellness

NEW CLASS - Gentle Flow with Paula at Embody Wellness, Vauxhall

Join me for Gentle Flow, Fridays 5.45-6.45pm – starts 2nd May.

Transition from your work week in this new slow flow class harmonising your body and mind through the practice of gentle yoga postures and breathing techniques which will leave you feeling centred and rebalanced. Great for beginners as well as more experienced students wanting a more gentle practice.

To further de-stress from your week, stay on for my Relax & Restore restorative yoga class which is straight after from 6.45-7.45pm. I often joke that it’s ‘adult nap time’, but for good reason. Whether you’re an endurance athlete looking to aid recovery, stressed and over-worked, a mum-to-be or simply in need of some me-time, everyone can benefit from restorative yoga as the poses facilitate rest and recovery by activating the parasympathetic nervous system – the part of our autonomic nervous system that is in charge of our ‘rest and digest’ activities in the body. Learn more about restorative yoga and what to expect at a Relax & Restore class by clicking here. And find further details and booking for both classes here.