The word retreat suggests withdrawal or moving away from something. It can also mean a place where one goes for peace or sanctuary. Both are relevant: you can retreat on a retreat!
People attending a retreat will be physically leaving their daily lives behind for a period of time: work, home, duties, relationships – all are put to one side. In their place will be space, nature, time for thinking or just being, and wholesome food. There may be yoga or other movement practices, meditation, periods of silence, therapeutic treatments, and time for connecting with people.
When I first went on yoga retreats around fifteen years ago, I didn’t have a mobile phone. Nor did many other people. We disconnected from the external world by perhaps not using the radio or TV during the retreat. Today we are constantly connected to the entire world, 24/7, through a tiny device which has become like a fifth limb.
There is growing evidence that the pressure of social media and the relentless negative news is increasing people’s stress and anxiety levels. A retreat presents us with an ideal opportunity to not only retreat from our daily duties or work but also to reconnect with what’s around us and what’s within us.
It also presents us with an ideal opportunity to reconnect with people, with nature and to reflect on what’s important to us. We can focus more clearly on our physical wellbeing, our mind, our priorities in life. We can reconnect with real food and establish beneficial habits such as morning meditation. The chance to retreat from the stresses of daily life and to enjoy a slower, more contemplative few days can be very restorative.
Alyson is jointly hosting a yoga retreat on the theme of reconnection with fellow yoga teacher, Kerry Riddell, at the Allanton Peace Sanctuary in May 2020.
By Alyson Tyler