Have you ever wondered what it is like to take a yoga retreat for a week or two? With my modest experience of having participated in two retreats, one in Thailand a year ago and another one in Bali in Jan-Feb 2017, I would be happy to share some learnings!
Yoga retreat is a great way to deepen your practice and learn more about yoga and meditation, but more importantly it offers you the opportunity to slow down and truly turn inwards, as there is more time and dedication towards self-observation. The fixed daily routine helps you to set yourself to the right mood and forget the life outside the retreat more easily. Like nearly everything in life, also yoga and meditation require practice.
I had the chance to participate in Blooming Lotus Yoga Retreat in Bali, close to Ubud, and I can definitely say it was a life-changing experience! The school is focused on more traditional practice and emphasizes the importance of meditation as a path to self-love and awakening. In the end, yoga is a practise for us to take, so that we can sit longer times in meditation. The teachers in Blooming Lotus do it to share the gift of yoga and meditation and they are great at guiding you towards more aligned asanas as well as meditation.
So, how does a typical day look like in a yoga retreat? It is advised that you would wake up before sunrise to synchronize with the sun. It is also believed that there is an energy boost before and at sunrise. Our meditation practice started at 7:30 every morning and there was some coffee and tea served before the practice but it is also good to go with an empty stomach.
The meditation practice is guided starting with breathing practice to calm the mind — first ujjayi breath and then nasi shodnan breathing and then into the meditation itself. I must admit that some mornings my mind was better at calming down and going into meditative state than other mornings…
After meditation we went into our asana practise, which was very classical, but also very strong, and one could definitely notice the sore arms and legs the next day. It is pretty amazing to start your morning with yoga facing the beautiful jungle and hearing all the voices of birds, singing from the temple nearby every once in a while and the wind or rain in the trees.
At 9:30 we were served breakfast, which consisted of fruit salad and some granola. After this I usually had a quick shower before our class at 11:00. We deepened our knowledge about subjects like ayurveda, mantras and living according to yoga lifestyle — living consciously. After our class it was time to hit the town of Ubud, where you could go shopping, eat lunch or just walk around and admire the beautiful temples and houses.
We returned back home at around 16:30 in the afternoon and at 17:30 we had another session of meditation and yoga, very similar to the morning session. It was definitely harder to quiet the mind in the evenings, but at the same time it felt good and meaningful to just be silent and present in the moment and observe your mind in silence.
After the evening yoga session we had dinner and then it was time to go to bed or enjoy time together with the other participants in the retreat. We were a group of quite many beautiful and strong women and one guy, and it was amazing to see that somehow we all connected and were grateful for sharing a part of our journey together on this retreat.
Not that we all came to the retreat for the same reason, but we were all looking for something spiritually and in some ways were in turning points in our lives. Personally, I felt like it was another important reminder that we human beings face very similar challenges, joys and griefs as well as life situations all around the world despite of our education, background, race or religion.
Besides yoga and meditation, we got to enjoy traditional Balinese Kesac fire dance on our first night. On our first day, we visited a water temple and did some traditional purification rituals in the water. You can definitely see how Ubud has been able to preserve the Balinese culture and how traditions created centuries ago still live on this beautiful island.