Time away from your normal life can bring many rewards.


Why Going on a Retreat Can Change Your Life

"Retreat" is a buzzword that conjures up images of meditation on mountaintops, yoga on the beach, and woo-woo ceremonies involving chanting and recitations of the word "om." Sometimes, they're just that: an experience centered around a blend of spiritual and physical practices designed to help you press the reset button. But they can also be a little less esoteric and more akin to a gathering of friends in a beautiful location where you can simply relax and undwind.

Today’s retreats are built around ideas ranging from cooking to writing and everything in between. What many of them have in common is that they provide opportunities for breaking out of our tired routines, exposure to new ideas and people, and getting us out of our literal and figurative comfort zones. Personal growth is one perk, and good old-fashioned fun is another! 

The first time I went on a yoga retreat was in 2010, and I have to admit, I was very skeptical. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and didn’t know anyone else who would be attending—so there was a bit of unease surrounding the idea. Sure, I was excited to spend a week in Mexico, but I just didn’t understand what a retreat really meant and had built it up to be something intimidating and potentially uncomfortable. Turns out I needn’t have worried! After one week, I was sold. Not only did I step away from my daily routines and gain perspective and clarity about my life and priorities, but I also formed unexpected friendships with inspiring women from around the globe.

If possible, we should all make space in our lives a few times a year to check in with our habits, feelings, wishes, and goals, and to do something that nourishes the soul. Wellness getaways are all the rage, but if yoga, juicing, or meditation aren’t your jam, there are so many other possibilities. Consider these:

    • A fitness retreat to get back into shape after a sluggish year
      • A mindfulness retreat to regain mental clarity and harness our thoughts and emotions
      • A surfing retreat to build confidence and overcome fears
      • A detox retreat to allow the body, mind, and spirit to heal and revitalize
      • A couples retreat to help reconnect with your partner
      • A cacao retreat to discover the life-changing magic of this sacred plant

I was so moved by the power of my first retreat that I decided to create one to share with the VegNews community! Each year, renowned yoga instructor Jasmine Tarkeshi and I host a week-long vegan yoga retreat in Mexico. We stay at a stunningly beautiful, boutique eco-resort overlooking the Pacific Ocean and eat organic food, practice daily yoga, take meditative hikes, and connect over fireside chats. It’s an amazing week of learning and self-discovery, and an experience I love sharing with others. If this sounds like your idea of heaven, please consider joining us at a future retreat!

Whether you decide to join me in Mexico for a week of sun, sea, and asanas—or opt for another kind of retreat—there are some things to keep in mind to make the most of your experience. Try these tips to ensure you get everything you can out of your transformative adventure:

  1. If possible, disconnect from technology and social media. Not easy, but the rewards are manifold! Be present, and take in all the retreat has to offer. Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook will still be there when you’re done. 
  2. Focus on good sleep, eating well, and taking in as much as you can from the program. Resist the temptation to treat your retreat like a beach vacation, and instead, think of it as preventative medicine for the body, mind, and spirit.
  3. Get to know others on the retreat, many of whom you probably wouldn’t meet in your normal life. For some of us, making new friends is a challenge. Think of your retreat as a safe space for forming new connections and letting others in.
  4. Take time for personal reflection each day, to not only think about what you’re learning, but to gain clarity on your life at home. Any changes you want to make? How can you apply your newfound knowledge and understanding to bettering other areas of your life?