By Penny Moore
My Oxford dictionary tells me that to ‘Retreat’ means to – ‘with draw to a quiet or secluded place’; ‘the act of retreating’.
That has to sound good, right? The first time I attended a Hills Yoga School Retreat my head was buzzing with many questions – would I be good enough, would my body cope with the intense practice, how would I be with living in close quarters with others, could I disconnect with my busy life and focus on immersing myself in my yoga?
By the end of the Retreat I had answers to all of these questions.
Firstly, there is no such thing as ‘good enough’. We are all at different stages of our yoga journey. Your teacher (Stephanie) is skilled in ensuring that classes will include the opportunity for you to participate fully no matter what level you are practicing at or what physical challenges you bring with you. The Retreat gives you a chance to examine your practice deeply and take advantage of your teacher’s expertise and the experiences of your fellow students. There is much to learn!
My body was just fine. I had a physical awareness that I was practicing more that I usually would, but at no time did I feel stiff, uncomfortable or unusually restricted by the extra activity. Massages are usually offered during the course of the Retreat which received very positive feedback from all those who participated! There is also plenty of time to rest in between. I walked, talked to fellow students, did some meditation or just sat in the sun by myself.
I am an introvert and find being in groups a bit (a lot, actually) of a challenge. The down time between classes allowed for plenty of time to myself. I also enjoyed the opportunity to talk about what had happened in class and sharing yoga experiences with others with a similar mindset and commitment. I found that all those who attend are respectful of each other and their individual ‘spaces’.
For me, disconnecting is probably the hardest part of the Retreat. To be honest, it takes me a couple of days to settle properly. Even then, the external world may sometimes find its way into your space, but that is the reality of our lives. By the end of the Retreat, I am never keen to re-enter the world again. It always seems ‘harsh’ and ‘loud’ compared to where I have been.
From my perspective, there are two critical factors in attending a Retreat. The first is you. Approach the opportunity with an open mind that is willing to take on new experiences. Have the courage to place yourself in a situation that may be outside of your natural comfort zone. The second is your teacher. A Hills Yoga School Retreat gives you access to the highest quality teaching for a concentrated and extended period of time. Stephanie is gifted in this space and will tailor the class to meet the needs of every participant.
If anybody asks me if they should try the Retreat, I always say ‘absolutely’. It took me several years to build up the courage, but I am so glad that I did. The chance to immerse yourself in something that you love in an environment of the highest quality teaching is one not to be missed. It is a rare privilege.
3 July, 2018