Picture yourself completely relaxed and taken care of. You are staying in comfortable (maybe even luxury) accommodations in a beautiful part of the world away from the city and in touch with nature. Nutritious meals are fed to you three times a day, you can sleep in or nap as you wish, there are no expectations of you and you have no responsibilities. Sounds nice right? This is the beauty of the wellness retreat.
Yoga, meditation and/or overall health can be the focus of any wellness retreat. Although there are usually classes scheduled each day they are intended to be restorative and more importantly, optional. The intention is more to provide a space where you can focus on your own needs rather than follow a strict schedule of activities.
Going on a retreat for the first time can be a life changer. Even a short retreat can be enough to create a lasting impression.
Re-entering the “real world” after going on retreat is a fascinating phenomenon. On the one hand the over stimulation can be a bit of a shock to your system, on the other hand you feel re-energized and ready to take on the world.
At the first retreat I ever attended on the north shore of Oahu, our host, Jennifer Reuter explained something to us that would stick with me forever. She explained the difference between a vacation and a retreat.
Vacations can be a blast. They are often highly anticipated, packed full of fun activities and designed to take you out of your normal day-to-day routine. I have learned so much from vacations I have taken over the years. I’ve traveled to new places, learned about different cultures and tried new foods. They are the perfect time to bond with friends and family or reignite the spark between you and your partner.
The downfall of all of this fun and excitement however is the fact that there is often a lot of energy that has to be put into these occasions. There is a lot of planning that goes into them. You may need to travel on multiple planes or do a lot of driving, you have to be mindful of other peoples schedules, personalities and needs and work around them. There is usually a tendency to over indulge on rich foods and alcohol and stay up much later than your usual bedtime. There could be hours of sightseeing packed into each day or schedules to stick to. It can be mentally and physically exhausting.
When it is all over, and I’m sure many of us have said this in our lives, we need a vacation from our vacation. We come home and go back to work more tired than before we left. We are thrown back into our worlds starting off on our back foot trying to play catch up with life, our energy and getting back into our daily routines.
Vacations are joyful events but they can also be extremely depleting.
A retreat lives up to its name. It is a time to pull back and withdraw from all external commotion. Instead of accommodating others, you focus on yourself and your own needs. It is a time to fill your cup back up. To look inside and see what it is you really need in order to become re-energized.
On retreat you have all the time you need to relax and just be. Time to reflect and be quiet. The food that is served is designed to be nourishing, cleansing and to take no effort on your part.
Activities can include things like yoga, nature hikes and swimming. They are intended to cause you to reconnect with your body and move in a way that makes you feel good.
There are no substances or events that are depleting, only ones that are replenishing. It is a time to meditate, read, journal, reflect, move your body in a restorative way, hydrate, nourish and re-energize.
When you return from a retreat to the “real world” it is common to feel more focused and full of energy.
There are many life-changing events that can occur on retreat but the real take-away is always how you feel afterward. You feel like a new person – inspired, motivated and like your cup has been filled back up. This is the importance of wellness retreats.
Want to know more about the retreat I went to on the north shore? Click this link for more information about Jennifer Reuter wellness retreats.
Jennifer Reuter is a yoga and meditation teacher on the island of Oahu. She offers retreats, sound healing baths and yoga teacher trainings. She is extremely gifted, passionate and knowledgable. Learn more about her philosophy and offerings here.
Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and experience host whose writing focuses on cooking, holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made foods.