I bet when we you think about going on a yoga retreat your first focus is on the health benefits to your body (and perhaps booking a relaxing massage). Plant based food, exercise, lots of outdoor activity and fresh air is the ultimate health boost. Maybe you have a specific goal to lose some weight, tone up or kick start some healthy habits to bring back home.
But did you know that there are also proven benefits to your mental wellbeing as well?
Being outdoors in nature can help you to think through a big decision.
One of the most popular reasons people decide to go on a retreat is because they have a decision to make; wondering whether to take a new position or job, whether this is the right time to start a family. Or have found themselves at a cross roads and are pondering which direction to go in.
So why is it that we choose to go to a retreat to make these decisions? Apart from the obvious reason, to get some space from friends and family to think!
There is another reason - the environment itself. The heavy focus on nature at many retreats can actually help us to make these decisions. In a recent study participants spent 15 minutes walking in a natural setting, a built up setting and watching videos of a natural setting.
The natural setting actually increased the participant’s ability to direct attention and increase positive emotion. Two things that help hugely in decision making.
Yoga improves the brains ability to handle stress
Whether you’ve tried it before or heard about the benefits we know that yoga and meditation help to relieve stress. Calming relaxing music, stretches and shivasna (okay so there are some power yoga moves that are a little more strenuous!), the point is that after a class we often feel a lot calmer and at peace with the world.
Recent studies have shown that this benefit carries on into our everyday lives off the mat. With the use of MRI scan technology yoga and meditation has been shown to increase the areas of the brain which dampen stress. This means we are more able to cope with stress on a day to day basis.
Just the act of travelling to a new place can have huge mental health benefits
Disrupting our daily pattern, meeting new people and experiencing new things can really help to put everything in a different perspective. We have the space to grow and learn about ourselves as well as soak up new ideas and cultures.
Socialising is often a huge aspect of going on a retreat. Meeting other people, sharing our story and swapping ideas can give us a sense of belonging and wellbeing. There is a reason why so many people stay in touch with friends they make whilst at a retreat, and this is the shared connection and bond you have from learning about yourself in a shared environment.
Our daily lives are full to the brim with stresses and strains, media, advertising and the relationships we want to grow and keep up with. If you live in a city these can be multiplied tenfold. Going on a retreat is a great way to learn about what is and isn’t working in your life.
To help you make an important decision, reconnect with yourself and with nature and give you the tools you need to better manage and enjoy to the maximum your life at home.
For tips about incorporating wellness in to your everyday life check out my website Citycalm. Whether you have just come back from a retreat and want to keep up the good work or don’t have the time or money right now to go you will find easy healthy recipes, tips on growing organic vegetables and sprouting indoors. My favourite juicing recipes, free yoga classes from beautiful locations all over the world and retreat reviews.