Unless you’ve been on the Planet Zog for the past few years, there’s absolutely No Way you could have missed out on the world’s latest obsession with yoga and meditation — literally everybody’s doing it! From Hollywood A-listers to the proverbial “little old lady down the road” — the whole planet has, in exercise terms, flipped Head over Heels into “Chakrasana” (the “Wheel Pose” for any aliens out there!)
Whilst the popularity of these practices continues to rise, the idea of a spiritual retreat is fast becoming the hottest choice for a weekend escape. The boozy city breaks are slowly, but surely, being swapped for a trip to the countryside. People are stepping off the dance floor and onto their yoga mats; leaving the G&Ts at the bar and instead reaching for a nice warm mug of Green Tea.
So- why is it called a ‘retreat’?
Now I don’t know about you, but I always thought a ‘retreat’ was that rather inglorious withdrawal of military forces from a losing battle. I certainlywouldn’t have described it as an enticing combination of picturesque views, smiling faces, and banquets of delicious vegetarian food!
So, to work out what really goes on at these trendy getaways, I turned to leading yoga teacher, Neil Patel, for some more information. As it happens, my wartime scenario wasn’t too far off the mark.
He started by describing life as a battlefield- not wrong there!- and then proceeded to talk about an on-going conflict between two worlds- the material and the spiritual. Supposedly, within each and every one of us, there is a battle taking place internally. Who’s it between? Well, in actual fact- it’s a case of you versus… you! No I’m not making this up- according to Neil, one side of this fight rises up from your ego, whilst the opposition emanates straight from your soul.
A weekend retreat allows for individuals to really understand the stress between their egotistical public personas and who they really are deep down.
This time out, or ‘retreat’, gives people the chance to take stock and realign their ‘inner-troops’.
Neil Patel was extremely careful, however, to emphasise that a yoga retreat is not the same as a surrender. Unlike in military terminology, this type of retreat is not about being defeated. The choice to pull away from life is far from an act of giving up, but rather a willing commitment to some revivifying, and necessary, time away.
A weekend like this would serve as a chance for us 21st Century soldiers to retreat both physically in terms of location, and internally by way of meditation. It’s a chance to walk away from the drama that surrounds us daily, and instead spend time with like minded people who radiate a similar energy to our purest forms; our souls.
All making sense now?
It sounds like this kind of break is taken with the intention of remembering who we are, and more interestingly, why we are- a little different to a few nights in Brighton where, let’s face it, we’re unlikely to remember anything at all!
A yoga retreat will instead guarantee the necessary calm needed to reflect and learn about ourselves, before we re-enter the hustle and bustle of the material world again.
This is what sets it aside from any old mini-break, and that is why it is called a ‘retreat’.
Now, if returning to your desk on a Monday morning with a rediscovered sense of self sounds a bit more appealing than the usual Monday headache, then be sure to check out the Chi Kri retreat found below, led by Neil this coming summer.