I went on my first retreat about 3 years ago, it was organised by Elwin Robinson of Lionheart herbs, and back then, for me, that was a very radical thing to do. It just seemed like something other people did.
To clarify, a retreat is weekend, week or other period of time where you stay with a group and attend a programme of yoga (or something else - for instance TBI) usually twice a day, with all meals provided. This is away from the outside world, which we are literally retreating from.
These were traditionally very spiritual and deep periods of reflection and contemplation, practised in many cultures and religions, but more recently have mixed a holiday feeling in so that the more austere and disciplined aspects are replaced with the modern need to relax, step away from life’s expectation and create some space to reflect and regroup.
On that first retreat, from the off, it was clearly a good decision. I wasn’t in the habit of taking holidays planned by other people, I was usually the one calling the shots about what happened and when. So although I had trepidations about the unknown, I remember being excited about having all that decision-making taken out of my hands.
Clearly I needed that first retreat more than I knew. When I came back, my husband at the time was completely blown away with how calm and centred I was. I remember that feeling well and know how much our daily lives can conspire to keep us whipped up and away from it.
Our entire beings respond with permission to explore those things we love and often have little time for.
I’ve taught day retreats and I am so pleased to be organising a longer, more exotic one in Ibiza- I'm excited about being able to help others find that depth of really dropping in to how we can be. Not attached to the next thing or what has to be done, but easily making time and space to simply be.
Of course life gets back in the way, but the more we can remove ourselves from the chaos, the more we routinely remember to find peace and calm in everyday life. Even complete beginners to a new practice find they can ease into it well because they’re relaxed – a great place to explore a new experience.
One of my favourite aspects of retreats is that because the day is started with a chunk of time for self-care – the part of our brain that needs to feel we’ve ‘done something’, that we haven’t wasted time, is pretty well satisfied. This leaves us free to truly relax. With that morning session having opened, energised and moved our bodies in beneficial ways, our entire beings respond with permission to explore those things we love and often have little time for. I always read a lot on retreats and am able to lie around in a way that I never could do on others holidays, where I was always searching for the next thing to see.
I also nap loads on retreats. My body gets the signals that its now (finally) allowed to rest for a decent amount of time.
The nature of retreats helps people to open up
I also love the communal dining aspect, which surprises me as I’m quite a loner. Shared eating and long meals with lots of chat for every meal are incredibly nourishing in more ways than just from the food. We are social animals who evolved in tribes and so many of us miss the big family thing that helps us feel included and the natural joy that comes from human interaction.
I’ve always been happy with the balance on retreats that you can access this social aspect when needed, but it’s also completely accepted and not questioned when you want to take yourself away, to be alone or even sleep in the day. Sharing healthy food and having all meals cooked for you is an absolute treat.
I’m always completely inspired by the different people I meet, all bought together by a shared recognition that they need to retreat from the hustle and bustle. The nature of retreats helps people to open up and share incredible parts of their lives, I’m constantly amazed by the different experiences people have had. Most of all, I’ve had the chance to feel connected to others, laugh loads and appreciate humanity again. Not to mention the amazing health benefits, energy transformation and renewed excitement for life.
I can't wait to be out in Ibiza this May - Blisscloud Ibiza
Morgan found yoga 15 years ago as a way to recover from anorexia. It has carried her through her PhD, raising twin girls and in a move towards her passion she chose to pursue full time yoga teaching in 2012. Since then she has led several yoga retreats, co-owned a yoga studio (Yoga-on-Tay) and helped to develop a 'yoga for amputees' program along with Finding Your Feet (FYF) Charity. When she is not yoga-ing, or parenting Morgan competes for Scotland in ultra distance running and cross country. Morgan believes that yoga is for everyone.