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Back to Basics: Why All Holidays Are Meant to Be Retreats

by Silvia Devi

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The word Holiday comes from the old English Haligdaeg. These were consecrated days, religious anniversaries that were set aside to allow us to celebrate an event or tradition of cultural or religious significance. The concept of a holiday was typically to allow individuals to attend to religious duties associated with particular dates.

In other words, holidays started essentially as periods of time free of work where people retreated to their minds. Periods when quiet contemplation and religious observance cleansed the soul.

As a businesswoman, traveling abroad was the highlight of my job and I tried my best to take advantage of it. I would rise early to maximize the experience of traveling to different countries and learning from new cultures. I would explore the cities on early morning runs, visit museums and practice yoga in many international studios.

At one point, I came to realize that these self-imposed “retreats” from the chaos and stress of my job were what my body and mind needed, so I decided to turn them into a full-time job. I changed my life 180º and turned from businesswomen to Yoga Teacher and Health & Wellness Coach.

retreat in nature

Traveling solo is a great opportunity for introspection and a popular yoga destination is a perfect place to visit on your own. This is another characteristic of the yoga planet – many of those who attend are seasoned travelers and very comfortable with traveling solo, so you tend to meet people from around the globe with similar interests to you, but who respect the need of many for their privacy to be respected.

The options are many and very different. There are yoga teacher trainings for those who want to go deep into the practice and the philosophy of yoga. There are holidays involving yoga and daily meditation. It is also possible to immerse yourself in new untested styles that you haven’t even come across: Acroyoga, Ashtanga, Kundalini, Power Yoga, Vinyasa, there are so many options!

We all remember trips and holidays as young children. There was a sense of freedom and discovery that seems to inevitably leave us as we grow older and immerse ourselves in the stresses of modern-day life. Yoga retreats are an extraordinarily effective way of rejuvenating the mind and body and rediscovering one´s sense of self. Not only will you look at the world through different and less cynical eyes but also you will reap the rewards of bringing coping mechanisms back to your normal life.

I look for a new retreat and venue each year. Armed with a backpack, yoga mat, and an open mind, you can choose a yoga plan that suits your level. And you can combine it, if you wish, with a trip to an interesting location. Silent retreats, in particular, are helpful to clear the mind.

solo retreat

I have butterflies already about my next retreat with one of my favorites Swamis - which is a retreat in complete silence that lasts for a whole week. Among other trips I have completed, are the 200 hours of YTT in Rishikesh and 300 hours of YTT in Indore for a Yoga Therapy course. All of them were amazing experiences!

I would recommend to anyone burdened by the hectic pace of modern urban life to go on a yoga retreat in search of a life-changing and life-affirming experience. Relax and embrace the healing powers of yoga and meditation in beautiful surroundings.

The potential for growth is maximized when we are removed from our comfort zone. A change from this environment enables us to decide who we want to be and with whom we want to be. Yoga and meditation are an incredible opportunity to re-evaluate life goals and ambitions away from the distractions of our normal lives. Personal growth in beautiful surroundings makes for an unbeatable combination in recharging one´s batteries.

India, Indonesia, L.A., South America. You can travel near or far; the level of satisfaction is not measured in miles, but in spiritual growth. Choose your destination and budget and go!

Make the change. Trust in the Universe. Travel and return in peace.

This article is also available in Spanish.

Going on a yoga retreat for the first time? Check out our infographic that will explain step by step how to pick your first yoga holiday!

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