I recently got back from Sri Lanka after a 5-day yoga retreat. This is my second yoga retreat, after a short one at Ko Lipe last year. With 2 such experiences under my belt, I hope to demystify the concept of yoga retreats and hopefully, encourage you to take it up!

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Beach yoga is a must-try if you are having your retreat at a seaside destination.

1. Deepen your yoga practice

Contrary to popular belief that you must be an advanced yoga practitioner to go on retreats, the yoga classes there are usually accessible to beginners as well! A class at a retreat is about 90 minutes, and typically there are 2 sessions per day – morning yoga and evening yoga. This gives you opportunity to practice at a more laid-back environment.

Depending on the type of retreat you choose, you may have the luxury to practice at a more intimate class setting. There is also a therapeutic effect if you are practising in the natural surroundings, as compared to a yoga studio. The rustles of the leaves and the soothing sound of the waves have  a magical touch to keep you relaxed and at ease.

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The yoga shala where we practised in Sri Lanka.

2. Discover new travel locations

Many yoga retreats are set at very tranquil and idyllic locations that we are unlikely to visit on a planned trip. My personal yoga trips had brought me to Ko Lipe (Thailand) and Sri Lanka, both locations that were originally not in my travel bucket list. I have also came across other retreats to Philippines, Nepal, Goa and Bhutan.

There is a misconception that all yoga retreats are very strict and disciplined where you embark on healthy vegetarian diet and have your colon cleansed (!!). How you like your yoga retreats to be structured depends on your preference. I often like to take the opportunity to check out the sights and scenes of the country, so I would go sightseeing or beach-bumming in the afternoon in between my yoga sessions.

And nope, I didn’t really went on healthy diets as I still prefer to try out the local food. :)

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Visiting the Brief Garden at Bentota, Sri Lanka.

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Sights at the Galle Fort, Sri Lanka.

3. Give your mind and body a break

Even when we go on holiday trips, our minds may get tensed up over itinerary planning or rushing from one point to another to adhere to a planned schedule. At a yoga retreat, the whole aim is to relax and go with the flow.

You can choose to spend your free time relaxing at the beach, or enjoying a good massage. It not only keeps your mind away from the hectic life back home, but it encourages you to immerse yourself in the natural environment, without having to worry about catching 101 sights or points of interests.

4. Meet like-minded people

Usually, there would be other people in the yoga retreat or yoga class. Therefore you get to meet with new friends out of your comfort zone at a relaxed setting. Additionally, yoga retreat is a good way to travel alone because the other members in the group could be your travel pals!

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Dinner with ladies from my yoga retreat in Sri Lanka.

5. It is acceptable to just do nothing

In essence, it is nice to take the opportunity of a retreat to travel with new people, deeply immerse in a new place and culture, and spend time to deepen your interest in yoga without the burden of a fixed itinerary and schedule. If you like, you could also meditate and spend some time to think and reflect.

It’s great way to develop a new travel experience, and throw yourself in a different setting to understand yourself better. The healthier lifestyle and slower pace will give you renewed energy and zest to welcome the challenges ahead when you get back home.

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How can I join a yoga retreat?

There are yoga-focused programmes and accommodations at several places which you could consider. Alternatively, you could participate in retreat trips organised from Singapore. Below are some links for your reference:

  • Vikasa Yoga – Focused yoga programme, meals and accommodation at Ko Samui, Thailand.
  • The Yoga Barn – Full-service yoga studio and retreat at Ubud, Bali.
  • Villa de Zoysa – This was the yoga retreat I went for at Sri Lanka, which is quite more laid-back. I think it’s great for those who do not want your schedule to be too packed with yoga-related activities!
  • Qi Retreats – Founded by my friend. a Singaporean who is currently based in the Philippines.
  • Yoga Seeds – I have attended Wendy’s class before and she organised several retreats all year round from Singapore to other places.

There are also several yoga studios in Singapore that organise yoga retreats too. After all, all programmes are different and it is important to find one that matches your preferences and expectations. Regardless of which programme or retreat you opt for – be it intensive or laid-back – this is no doubt a great chance to take exploration to a new level.

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