It is the season for reflecting, getting healthy and going on a retreat.
I have been going to health retreats for two decades, and on the whole, I love them. These are some tips I have gleaned to ensure you have the most fabulous experience.
Before booking yourself in, have a think about:
Location: The location can have a huge effect on your experience. There are retreats located in multiple destinations. Consider weather, travel times and culture. Click here to read my experience at a retreat in India, a location I loved.
Rules: How strict is the place? This is the first question you need answered, and you need it answered in detail. They vary a lot. Some allow the odd glass of wine, others kick you out for smoking. Know what you are signing up for before you sign up.
Time: How long do you need to sign up for? Most health retreats have a minimum and it may be longer than you think.
How tough will it be? Make sure you’re up for it. An advanced yoga retreat for a beginner is not going to be any fun. And often retreats involve some sort of commitment, even if it is only waking up at sunrise. Make sure you are happy to commit. (This is my experience at a retreat I came home thinner from).
Prepare well in advance: It isn’t wise to arrive at a retreat expecting to give up coffee, alcohol, red meat and smoking all on day one for 7-14 days. You are far better to address as many of your addictions or things you will put to one side temporarily in order to get the most out of your time away before you go.
Solo or with a friend? Think carefully about going with someone, especially your partner. Most people experience a roller coaster of emotions and physical changes when on a retreat. Your body is dealing with major diet changes and your mind is also affected. Taking someone with you means they will be going through their own journey beside you and you may want to have your own space – and so might they.
Research: Do your research about the environment you are going into. Do you need to pack mosquito repellant? Sunscreen? Yoga gear? Old clothes (if they’ll get soaked in oil). And what are the local customs? A lot of retreats are in Asia and possibly third world countries where denim cut-offs may not be appropriate for example.
Go All In: There is no point attempting to keep working or sneaking food into a health retreat you have paid and signed up to go. Give it 100% and you might just surprise yourself with the outcome. This is my review of a health retreat I enjoyed in Vietnam which I gave 100% to.
Post-Retreat planning: I always like a day or two out of the retreat in the local area before returning home. It gives me some space to reflect on where I have just been and where my life is going.
This is a great site to find the right retreat for you.