• Kamilla Seljelid

Why a Yoga Retreat?

If you have dipped your toe into the world of yoga, you may have experienced the many yoga retreat offers popping up everywhere. If you have never attended one of these before, you may wonder what the fuss and craze is about. As you dip a few more toes into this yoga world, you'll see that most of us swear by them. So why are yogis - the fresh beginner and the seasoned practitioner alike - so fond of yoga retreats? Let me share my thoughts and experience with you ...

Relax, unwind and restart

The perhaps more evident reason people are so fond of attending a yoga retreat is the inevitable possibility to completely unplug. In today's society our schedule is packed with meetings, work tasks and shaping our careers. We run between the grocery store, the gym and that Friday beer with our friends. We make sure we see our parents, our grandparents and our in-laws on a regular basis. We balance walking the dog, cleaning the house and making time for a date night with our better half. And if we have not yet found a life partner or Mr. Right turned out to be Mr. Wrong, we make time for first dates that we hope lead to a wild night or a forever love.

For all the mamas and papas out there, there is also school, soccer practice and dance classes. Not to mention sleepovers, sleepless nights and the occasional tantrum in the middle of Ikea.

All these things are wonderful! After all, they are what shape our lives. They bring us joy, comfort and happiness. The career we create gives us a sense of purpose. Our Fridays with friends give us a sense of belonging. And our family transforms a house into a home. Let's face it, is there really anything better than a child asking for a cuddle or the wagging tale of a happy dog when you come home from work?

The despite the good moments I think we can all agree it would nice to enjoy them without feeling drained or utterly exhausted. In the business of daily life it is difficult to take time out for yourself. When we have a few minutes or an evening to spare alone, we tend to spend it in front the tv with a cold beer or a glass of red. And while this gives us a momentarily sense of relaxation, the reason yogis choose to attend a yoga retreat time and time again: because a yoga retreat offers relaxation at an entirely different level!

A yoga retreat is often set in nature and as the word retreat menas withdrawing, the idea behind a yoga retreat is to withdraw from our daily life entirely for a longer period of time.

At a yoga retreat we disconnect from daily life and connect with ourselves and the nature around us. We give ourselves time to completely unwind and allow ourselves to restart altogether, and thus uncover the ultimate way to relax. A yoga retreat offers a unique sense of stillness and calm that for many is hard to make time for in our busy schedules. We practice the art of relaxation, we unwind and we press that restart button on ourselves. A yoga retreat is time dedicated to yourself, where you learn and practice techniques to quiet the mind and return to the present moment.

A chance to go deeper

When our shoulders have dropped, our stress wrinkles are gone and our smile wrinkles have found their way back to our face, we get the chance to go deeper. At a yoga retreat you will deepen your practice. Yoga and meditation is usually practiced several times per day at a yoga retreat, and the classes are tailored specifically to the retreat participants. The beginner will experience the ultimate introduction to the practice and the seasoned practitioner will be given wonderful building blocks to take their practice to the next level. At a yoga retreat, the teacher goes into greater depth about techniques, transitions and positions, and my experience both as student and as a teacher is that one week at a yoga retreat is the equivalent of several months of practice at home.

As we delve deeper in to the physical practice of yoga, we also tend to go deeper within ourselves. At a yoga retreat it is normal to feel like we land and take not only a step back, but a step inward. One of my meditation teachers, Sarah Blondin, calls this coming home to yourself, and I couldn't think of a better way to describe the feeling!

At a yoga retreat we tend not only to our body, but also to our mind, heart and spirit. We actively take time to contemplate our own inner state, learn to use the breath as a means to slow down our nervous system and in turn reduce stress and anxiety. We practice the art of stillness as a means to tune our attention inward. As we do all this, the feeling is best described as coming home, and this sense of coming home feels utmost natural. This is perhaps the greatest distinction between a yoga retreat and a regular holiday, because on a regular holiday we passively relax and often return tired or experience that the stresses of daily life return immediately upon arrival after the holiday has ended. At a yoga retreat, we use the practice to actively unwind and the practice of returning home to oneself makes the relaxed feeling last longer after the retreat has ended.

Connect with nature

There is a reason we call it a yoga retreat, and there is a reason they are held close to nature. Nature has the power to ground us and reminds us that we are not superior to it, nor is it superior to us. We are all a part of one whole unity, a unity we often feel disconnected from. We connect to the elements, whether that is the water by the beach, the air in the mountains, the firing heat in a desert or to earth in the middle of a jungle.

Waterfall in the depth of Croatia, Norwegian mountain tops & and the inside of a barrel in Sri Lanka

In India it has been known for thousands of years how yoga is beneficial to humans. Western science has for some decades begun researching these benefits and both traditions conclude that yoga is efficient in reducing stress, increase energy level, improve concentration, fight depression and anxiety, improve heart health and chronic pain, as well as promote better sleep to mention some. The list goes on and goes deep.

One of the ways yoga has proven efficient in these cases is the active attention towards the present moment.

In todays society we focus heavily on the future and the past, and very often forget what is happening right now. When we eat we think about work, when we rest we worry about paying our bills and when we work we think about food. Instead of focusing on the present, our mind wanders off to another space and time, while the truth is: life happens now. When we retreat to nature it is easier for humans to remember that we too are a part of this grand, majestic and complex circle of life. We are one piece of an entire puzzle, and returning to nature in this way is incredibly powerful.

Holistic self-care

There are many ways to define self-care. To some it means a massage or spa treatment. To others it means a healthy juice or a smoothie bowl. Some practice self-care running at their fastest pace on a treadmill or while lifting heavy weights. I have friends who find self-care at the top of a mountain or while riding a wave. These are all wonderful self-care tools, but what differentiates yoga is the exploration of self-care inside of ourselves. Self-care describes the deliberate act to take care of our physical, mental and emotional health. A yoga retreat will invite you to take a deep-dive inward to assess the true state of your entire being and allow yourself to be raw, real and unfiltered in order to discover a truly unique meaning of self-care.

We learn techniques to evaluate our thought patterns and emotional habits, and learn to adjust, remove or evolve thoughts and feelings in accordance with how we would like to experience life. Through the physical practice - the asana practice - we improve the health of our brain, heart and bones. We also boost our immune system and grow stronger and more flexible.

This kind of holistic self-care is unique because we do not just address how we are based on what we eat, how much we exercise or whether or not the products we put on our body is good for our skin. Instead, we ask ourself how we experience life, and practice self-care from there.

Travel with a purpose

Traveling has never been as accessible as it is today. More and more people are able to leave their hometowns behind and explore the many corners of our planet. A yoga retreat will give you a chance to experience what it is like to travel with a purpose. At a yoga retreat we practice attending to each day like it is the only thing existing. When we become more present we are also more able to enjoy what is happening right here and now. Very often when we travel, just like in our daily life, we tend to always think about what comes next and what just happened. We forget that life is happening only in the present moment and that the past is just a memory and the present is just a prediction.

Our travels tend to be another tick on our bucket list, an attempt to releave ourselves of daily stresses or a longing to explore something new. However, without being able to be present, we very often end up in a mess where we are so focused on our bucket list that we forget to do what we actually intended to do. At a yoga retreat we avoid this, and actively practice mindfulness and being present, and in turn are able to enjoy our travels noticeably a lot more!

We are able to enjoy the sunsets and the nightsky without focusing on anything else. We are able to truly watch the fish as we snorkle in the sea because nothing else occuipies our minds. We are able to truly feel the rocks underneath our feet as we hike up a mountain because we are only focusing on what is happening the now.

This may sound corny to some, but once you have experienced what it is like to truly live in the present moment, even if it was just for a brief moment, you will understand. And if you haven't yet had the chance to experience this unique feeling of being present, it will all make sense once you do, and a yoga retreat is possibly my number one tip in order to experience this, and thus travel with a purpose.

You are beyond worth it

I have recently discovered the value of truly taking care of myself - on the inside. How valuable it is to take care of my mental and emotional state, and to put this high up on my priority list. In a world where there never seems to be enough - whether that be time, money or something else - it is always worth it to invest in yourself. It is always worth it to take time and spend money on your own inner well-being, and this is why a yoga retreat is particularly wonderful for just that. Because we do not rest or serve our ego further, we strip down to simplicity and learn to enjoy what we already have, what already is and who we trult are.

Everyone deserves self-love, appreciation and self-care. Everyone deserves to be taken care of and tended to, and everyone deserves feeling good about themselves. Once we grow up this is no longer our parents job. It is not the job of our spouse, our children or our friends. This is our job.

However, in today's world this element of adulthood is often forgotten. In the midst of pleasing our bosses, tending to our partner and giving to our children, we simply forget about ourselves. A yoga retreat is your gift to you. It is when you take time to give back to yourself. At a yoga retreat you will be able to tend to you and prioritize your own well-being. This is a wonderful feeling, and trust me, you are beyond worth it!

Love and light

Kamilla Seljelid

To look into my retreat offers, click here.

I currently offer early bird discounts on my

Yoga retreat in Croatia in July 2020 and

I would absolutely love to host you!

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© Kamilla's Yoga

Oslo, Norway