Going on 'retreat' tends to conjure up images of bunking down, going deep and attending to your 'spiritual side', whatever that means... for a male of the species, it isn't the normal place to go in order to spend precious days away from the office – we normally love football, sailing, spending time with the mates at the pub, or whatever activity is associated with the stereotypical alpha male.
For me, I am the first to admit I am not the stereotypical male. I tend to find refuge in places like yoga retreats and blend in quite well with the (often female) company and the beautiful surroundings. That said, I believe going on retreat offers something for everyone, and it’s how you find that right balance between what you seek and what you find...
Going on retreat - you shall find what you seek.
I've been on a few yoga retreats now. Each one has been different but there is a recurring theme in all of them. A theme which, given the short duration of the retreat, is actually quite remarkable - something happens, something clicks and a new feeling of openness and compassion pervades amongst everyone. Even more remarkable is the fact that at the end of the retreat, you may never see these people again, yet in between you have shared something so deep. I sometimes ask myself, what was that all about? But as time marches on, that is life in its purest form - in the moment and onto the next experience.
I guess then that in a way, going on retreat is like "retreating" into one's own self, but at the same time providing for a very therapeutic setting - one where problems, issues, dilemmas or whatever is going on in one's life can be openly revealed and discussed amongst complete strangers, or acquaintances who you have only just met, in the grand scheme of things. I've even seen 'quantum healing' sessions being given, offers to do astrology sessions and things so deep, that I have to ask myself, is everyone carrying around baggage, just waiting to be unloaded? Such is the suffering of life, as Buddha once said.
Behold, all is not lost for us males - I personally quite enjoy such interactions with my lady friends, given my strong right brain-dominant tendency - but I appreciate that this may not be for everyone. A retreat, on one level, will offer at least one session of yoga (perhaps two) per day, great food and then time to go and enjoy the local area. A traditional holiday in that sense, something which allows us males to really thrive – by providing a strong sense of adventure and exploration.
I remember fondly my first retreat with Vidya Heisel at Suryalila retreat centre, in southern Spain - the opportunity to explore the local Andalusian area, including trips to a Hammam (Arab baths) in Jerez and walks in the countryside. I spent Christmas day one year in a cafe with my fellow yogis in a remote, but beautiful whitewashed village called 'Prado del Rey'. I also discovered trees that bear oranges and lemons. Remarkable!
the remarkable ‘orange and lemon tree’ in Prado del Rey
In Mallorca, with the wonderful Brent and Claudia at Yoga Mallorca, on a break whilst staying at the beautiful yoga retreat centre, ‘La Serranía’, we drove to the Cap de Formentor and did yoga poses overlooking the headland. Needless to say, we paid extra attention to our balance.
Tree poses at Cap de Formentor
Also in Mallorca on another retreat with my dear friends at Avenidao, Patricia and Jörn, I met and became best friends with a lovely Doberman by the name of ‘Marrón’.
The lovely ‘Marrón’ or ‘Scooby’ as he was affectionately known.
To me, these experiences were priceless.
Going on retreat may not feel like the natural holiday for the typical male. However, for one, it offers us something (assuming you have a mild interest in yoga) by having the chance to get away. On another level, it can give us an opportunity to explore our more feminine side - something that requires nurturing from time to time. Of course, you can just listen and help some 'damsels in distress' as their life issues are dumped upon you. To this extent, one can really lend out a helping hand. Even if you never see that person again, you know that you've helped them, simply by 'being on retreat', and letting that special concoction of emotions and energy feed into a really special setting - of loving kindness for all living beings.
Thanks for reading this post. Looking for a yoga retreat for men? Go to BookYogaRetreats.com and look among the largest compilation of yoga holidays and yoga teacher training on the web. For more on Scott’s writings, head on over to Yogi Banker where he shares his musings about life in the city as a yogi and a finance professional!