Updated: May 17
by Thread Co-Founder, Liza Bertini
In 2001, I went on my first yoga retreat. It was only a weekend in Connecticut, not a week in an exotic destination, but it changed me forever. It showed me that I could really relax, learn new things, deepen my yoga practice, recharge, but most of all, it reminded me who I was. Just two days of pausing helped me reconnect to my Self, and to “dust off the mirror of my heart” as Krisha Das says. Retreating allowed my heart to soften and helped me see clearly again.
After becoming a yoga instructor myself, I realized how essential retreating is for wellbeing, especially for yoga teachers whose job is taxing physically, energetically, and mentally. I started hosting my own retreats and even co-founded a retreat business that I ran for over a decade. Each a every retreat experience I have had has been magical and healing in its own way.
Retreating should be built into every yoga teacher’s business plan. As yoga teachers our bodies, energy, and minds are our working tools. One can’t be their best self if injured, depleted, overwhelmed, uninspired, or disconnected.
Here are 11 reasons why a Yoga Teacher should retreat:
1. Time to Truly Pause
Unlike a vacation that takes lots of planning and scheduling and then doing, a retreat is a trip in which all you do is sign-up and get yourself there. Your retreat hosts usually do everything else for you. Eat amazing and healthy meals (without cooking or finding a restaurant), take classes, go on excursions already planned, or DO NOTHING. When I host a retreat, everything is optional and no one ever feels pressured to do more or see everything. It’s up to you. Time to relax comes easily on retreat as you unwind from the ongoing busyness of your regular life.
2. Get Inspired
The word Inspire literally means “to breathe into”. On retreat you can breathe life into your life and teaching. Inspiration can happen at any time, but it usually doesn’t happen when you are moving through your days on auto-pilot or stuck in habit. Inspiration can be sparked from a change of landscape or trying something new. We’re all creative. Creativity and inspiration happen when you take the time away from your day job to remember your daydream.
3. Have a Unique Experience Retreats vary in what they offer but when a group of people get together for a retreat it always winds up being unique. Each teacher offers something special, each guest brings their unique self, and each destination offers something new. I have never been on two retreats that were the same, even though I held retreats in the same location several years in a row. Each one offered a new way to experience life!
4. Get a New Perspective
Going away on a retreat can give you a new perspective on life. Discovering new ways to look at things can help you evaluate how you are showing up in life, and a teacher, and inform your future decisions. Sometimes to help get through current challenges we are facing; we need to be in touch with our creativity. Often the answers we need come when we are immersed in something. Clarity flows when we give ourselves time to retreat.
5. It’s Tax Deductible If you are a yoga teacher earning income as an independent yoga teacher or as a yoga business, you can write off the expense of a yoga retreat. Yoga retreats will teach you about teaching and leading retreats and can be considered training and development.
6. Learn Something New
On retreat, teachers have the opportunity to share more of what they love and what they know. It is a great opportunity to learn something new such as cooking, writing, drawing, surfing, nature, the list is endless.
7. Deepen Your Practice
Being on retreat is a great way to immerse yourself in the teachings of yoga—to refine and align your practice and to explore new ways of practicing. With the extra time and attention from your teacher, you can learn a lot in a short amount of time which will also have profound benefits to your mind, body, and spirit.
8. Commit to Self-Care
Going on a retreat is a perfect place to commit to eating healthy, getting good sleep, practicing yoga daily. Once you get a dose of good ‘old healthy living, you may be inspired to take it back home with you and incorporate what made you feel good into your daily life!
9. Take a Digital Detox
Anne Lamott said, “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” Not only work again but will work better! Technology has a profound effect on our ability to focus, relax, and actually experience life. Life, at its best, is happening right in front of you and most of the time we are missing it. According to the research group Dscout, the average person touches their phones around 2,617 times a day, 2.5 hours per day, while heavier users up to 4 hours per day! After the past two years, zoom fatigue is real and on retreat you will take a much needed break from screens so you can experience life, just as it is.
10. Get into the Green
Reconnecting with nature has so many benefits. Numerous studies in the U.S. and around the world are exploring the health benefits of spending time outside in nature, green spaces, and, specifically, forests. In fact, in 1982, the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries even coined a term for it: shinrin-yoku. It means taking in the forest atmosphere or "forest bathing," which is found to help relieve stress and improve health. Being in green spaces boosts our mood and immunity, reduces stress, helps with focus, and improves healing. Immediately when I moved to the Berkshire Mountains in Western Mass. I felt a change on a cellular level as a result of living in a more rural area and surrounded by natures beauty.
11. Meet Others with Similar Interests Moments that I feel most energized, inspired, and alive are when I am having conversations and spending time with like-minded people. Research shows that we all want to experience a sense of community and connection -- to have a group of people, who speak the same “language”, who support each other, share ideas and interests. Without a doubt, whether you go alone or with a friend, you will definitely meet people who are seeking respite and wellbeing. I’ve seen many people build lasting relationships from a chance meeting on a retreat. Within The Thread Community we see how powerful conversations and connections can be among yoga teachers who are inspired by the practice and want to share it with others.
It’s time for your next retreat!
Join The Thread Yoga Collective for its annual weekend retreat
Go Deeper Weekend Retreat, Sept 29 - Oct 1, 2023
at www.menla.org in the Catskill Mountains in NY.
Learn more and register HERE.