5 Ways to Hold on to the Bliss of a Yoga Retreat
As a yoga retreat comes to a close, feelings of apprehension can start to creep in. Can the calm and centeredness cultivated during the retreat — the sense that things are as they should be — withstand the pressures and stresses of everyday life?
I’ve been thinking about this question last week as I led a retreat in Mallorca. My answer is a resounding “yes” — not only can you hold on to the experience, but it can help you stay grounded through life’s ups and downs. Here are five tips to keep the retreat with you back home.
1. Establish small rituals.
Take some time each day — even if it’s just five minutes — to tune in to yourself and reconnect with the peace and clarity that you experienced during the retreat.
Maybe you roll out your mat and do two sun salutations. Or maybe you sit for a meditation or a breathing exercise. What’s important is that you claim this time for yourself, and that you stick to it. Starting right after you come home, while the retreat experience is still fresh, can make it easier to get this habit in place.
2. Stay connected.
It’s easier to tap into the good feelings and healthy habits you’ve cultivated if you’re in regular contact with others who share similar values and goals. Staying in touch with people you met on the retreat can be an important part of this. Though lives are busy, taking some moments to continue your conversations and even share the struggles you experience trying to stay in that centered place can be very powerful.
The place you practice yoga can also keep you connected with like-minded people. (For the times you can’t make it to a class or prefer to practice at home, my yoga videos, shot in Costa Rica and Ibiza, can be a nice way to extend the retreat experience.) If there are other aspects of the retreat that resonated with you, you could look to deepen those as well — for example, by finding a meditation center near you.
3. Give thanks.
Research has linked gratitude to a host of physical and psychological benefits, including more positive emotions, greater resilience, and more friendships. While yoga can be a powerful tool for cultivating gratitude, an even more direct approach may be to keep a gratitude journal. Each day, try to jot down 10 things that you’re grateful for, both big and small. (It doesn’t matter if a few of these things carry over from day to day.) You might find that the first few things come easily, but by the time you reach #7 or #8, you’re really needing to dig in, perhaps recalling little moments or circumstances that could easily go unacknowledged. Along with lifting your spirits, this exercise, if done before bed, may improve your sleep .
4. Find inspiration.
It’s no coincidence that yoga retreats are often held in beautiful, natural surroundings. Being in nature invites us to breathe more deeply, move more slowly, and feel more connected to the world around us. Carving out time for this in our “normal” lives — whether it’s a walk in the woods, a hike up a mountain, or a swim in the ocean — can serve as a powerful reset, helping to enhance our appreciation and renew our perspective. Of course, we might find inspiration and nourishment from other sources as well, whether it’s seeing or creating art, listening to music, or sharing ourselves with others through volunteer work. Whatever it is that moves you — whatever ignites your sense of meaning and purpose — be sure to make time for it regularly.
5. Be gentle with yourself.
Even with the best of intentions, it can be easy to fall back into familiar habits or ways of thinking once you return to your normal routine. Don’t be hard on yourself — just as these patterns took time to take hold, replacing them with something new will also take time. In the words of Benedictine monk David Steindl-Rast “every moment is a new gift,” an opportunity to start anew. Take a step back to reflect, then give yourself over to the next moment and its possibilities.