Stretch, Relax and Connect
Oct 01, 2019 02:54PM
● By Danielle Sullo
Yoga retreats can be spiritual experiences that focus the practice and enrich present-day reality. They help attendees delve deeper into their mindfulness, reminding them that no matter where they are on their journey, it is their own.
Attending a yoga retreat combines the love of yoga, travel, adventure and community. Many retreat leaders say they find joy in the wondrous adventures they plan, making lifelong friends and witnessing amazing connections. Retreat leaders often enhance this community-building by choosing locales to which they personally feel a strong connection.
Maggie Durbas, founder of Journey of Yoga in Simsbury, describes her upcoming European yoga retreat location as magical. As a self-proclaimed “mountain girl at heart,” and having already visited this region for extended periods of time, she is leading her first international yoga retreat in Lake Como (Lago di Como), Italy, this month. The retreat will center on daily yoga practice, planned excursions, and exploring the beauty of this majestic mountain and lake region.
Local yoga studios leave nothing to chance in the planning process in order to ensure that participants feel completely comfortable and cared for throughout the experience. Retreat leaders usually create all-inclusive packages around these trips, so participants are responsible only for airfare and personal spending money once the trip is booked. Durbas checks and double-checks that all is in order prior to her trips, and even takes the time to meet with all participants to address questions and concerns prior to the trip. Berta Prevosti of the Jiiva Center in Stratford arrives at a retreat’s destination a few days in advance to be sure all is ready for her groups, and that “there are no glitches.” Both Durbas and Provosti expressed feeling both fulfilled and challenged as they prepare for the magic that comes when participants arrive. Attendees can expect to be at ease not just on the mat, but for the duration of their retreat, thanks to the dedication and planning of the retreat leaders.
Provosti plans her retreats to include meditation, gathering, lectures, yoga, kirtan (call-and-response chanting) and organic food offerings. “I am proud of the amazing communities that have been formed during these trips,” she says. “I ensure participants have the right balance of choice and structure.”
Jessica Proulx, Director of The Om Center for Yoga and Massage in Watertown, agrees, saying, “It is important to include time for rest and play. It is important for us to teach and help our students to find that balance, which is often lacking as house-holders.”
Aside from furthering participants’ yoga practices, retreats are designed to bring people together, and offer opportunities for personal connection. “I pride myself on bringing people together as a community throughout the experience,” says Provosti, who plans one winter, one summer and numerous local retreats each year with her son, Domingo Perez. When planning her retreats, Provosti prioritizes affordability, location for introspection and exploration, and the security that the participants’ money and vacation is well-spent.
Most importantly, yoga retreat leaders take pride in offering a holistic experience so that in addition to daily yoga practice, participants have many opportunities to connect with each other as well as the energy of the natural landscape in which they find themselves.
As is so intricately woven into the yoga experience, yoga retreats also provide opportunities for spiritual awakening. “My second retreat to Jamaica was more than the location and the yoga,” says Provosti. “It was about the spiritual experience.” She says when she began offering yoga retreats, she didn’t realize how many people were searching for this type of spiritual experience.
All three trip organizers describe their retreats as having a deeply spiritual element that honors the spirit of the group and the soul of the location, creating a profound sense of connection that participants will never forget.
Retreat leaders offer local and international retreats. Both Provosti and Durbas began planning local yoga retreats before those with an international focus, such as Provosti’s upcoming Bali trip in February 2020. Her first retreat was held four years ago in Vermont during the winter, and she says, “it was the people and the community, not the location,” that made it special.
“On a personal level, leading retreats is and always will be one of the greatest joys of my life,” says Proulx. In addition to offering retreats in places such as Costa Rica, Belize, Sedona and an upcoming Maui trip in April 2020, she is offering a three-week, 200-hour teacher training immersion in Belize in February. “While not a retreat, being able to spend three weeks in deep practice and in such a beautiful location will give it that feel,” she says.
For anyone interested in attending a yoga retreat, the depth and breadth of the experiences planned by local yoga retreat leaders seems unmatched. Roll up your yoga mat, tap into your sense of adventurous spirituality and plan to see the world. Let it change you. Let it challenge you. Let it be.
Danielle Sullo is an educator, writing facilitator and freelance writer based in northwestern Connecticut. Connect with her at [email protected]
Maggie Durbas, Journey of Yoga
Simsbury • JourneyOfYoga.com
Berta Prevosti, The Jiiva Center
Stratford • JiivaCenter.com
Jessica Proulx, The Om Center for Yoga and Massage