• 2022 Wellbeing & The Benefit of Yoga Retreats

January 14, 2022


This month, our guest blog is by our lovely friend and London based yoga teacher, Lorna Fisher.   An ex lawyer, Lorna is passionate about yoga and wellbeing and balance.  A busy mum herself, she has also seen the many benefits of yoga practice for children and her teen workshops became very popular during the pandemic. 

As it's the beginning of a new year, it feels like the perfect time to look at what wellbeing practices you want to include in your life.  In this blog Lorna shares the many benefits of taking time away from the busy-ness of life and enjoying a retreat. The many benefits and shares about her own retreat at the end of this year. 
“Tell me what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” asked Mary Oliver in her
incredible poem, The Summer Day.


As I write this blog it is the start of a new year and traditionally a time for reflection of what has
passed but also anticipation and planning of what is to come. During 2020/2021 we have navigated
(and still are to a degree) a challenging two years filled with global uncertainty, multiple lockdowns
and huge lifestyle changes which have placed us under substantial physical and mental stress and
caused many of us to develop unhealthy lifestyle habits.
If whilst looking into the year ahead you find yourself wishing for rest/relaxation, the opportunity to
find clarity from within, time away from day-to-day stressors and to step back from constant
external stimuli (not just Netflix!), a chance to feel physically and mentally better and deepen your
yoga practice then a Yoga Retreat could be the answer.
As an attendee of multiple yoga retreats, a yoga practitioner of over 25 years, a yoga teacher of 18
years and with a UK yoga retreat planned for September 2022 this is what I have learnt from my
experience of retreats.

Why go on a yoga retreat?


1. The opportunity to destress from the busyness and challenges of everyday life.
We spend so much of our lives organising other people, ourselves, being busy and
productive and living for too long in a state of “fight or flight” or survival mode and
ultimately feeling exhausted.
The practice of yoga (including breathing techniques and mindfulness) not only offers
multiple health benefits and the chance to calm an overactive sympathetic nervous system
but ultimately the opportunity for us to step back, to pause, to create space withing our
bodies and minds and perhaps feel a little lighter for it. The techniques and practices we
learn on the retreat can be used again and again as tools to help us calmly navigate our daily
lives.


2. Disconnect from technology
I appreciate the irony of this statement as you may well be reading this on your phone,
tablet, or computer but we all know how tiring it can be to feel constantly “connected”, to
feel like we are always available and on call. Disconnecting from technology allows us both
to regain time and part of our lives lost to “tech”, connect more deeply to ourselves and
others at the retreat and take a break from electromagnetic radiation. If, however you are
alarmed at the prospect of not being able to access social media or your laptop for a few
days then you might like to confirm whether the retreat centre has Wi-Fi although most, if

not all, have good old-fashioned telephones! My advice would be to enjoy and relish the
freedom that tech free time allows.


3. Detox
A controversial term because ultimately our bodies internal organs and physiology already
does a great job detoxing us. Detoxing means “the process of removing toxins and toxicity”
and if our body already does that then why is this relevant to a retreat?
Disconnecting from technology (see above) could be regarded as a technology detox.
There is also some evidence that our physical yoga practice and movement of the body into
specific postures can decompress our internal organs, improve blood flow, digestive systems
and assist in elimination. Irrespective of whether there is sufficient science to back this up its
generally acknowledged that twists and many other yoga poses increase our energy,
enhance our mood, and improve overall wellbeing. As Cybele Tomlinson said,
“Yoga is about clearing away whatever is in us that prevents our living in the most
full and whole way. With yoga, we become aware of how and where we are restricted – in
body, mind, and heart – and how gradually to open and release these blockages. As these
blockages are cleared, our energy is freed. We start to feel more harmonious, more at one
with ourselves. Our lives begin to flow – or we begin to flow more in our lives.”
Finally, of course there is the opportunity to eat lots of delicious, wholesome, and healthy
food and drink plenty of water. So perhaps a physical detox is possible.


4. Time to yourself and for reflection.
How wonderful to have the time to reflect upon our lives, the actions, and decisions
we have taken or those we are considering taking. Time away from the noise of our
everyday lives creates space to enable us to reflect upon whether decisions made or
to be taken are in our best interests. This can be quite a deep and emotional
experience and it can be helpful to take a journal to express thoughts and gain
greater clarity.
Time to ourselves means that we can finally pick up the book we have been
desperate to read but has been gathering dust on the shelf, or even enjoying the
creativity of daydreaming and being with our thoughts without interruption.


5. Connecting with nature
Retreats tend to be in secluded beautiful locations with the benefits of nature on
their doorsteps to heal and rejuvenate us. Much of our daily lives are spent indoors,
often sitting at desks which not only has physical downsides (tight shoulders,
painful lower back, tight hip flexors) but also mental (contributing to stress and
depression). Time spent in nature (long walks inbetween the retreat yoga classes)
can help us feel more grounded, creative, and confident.

In the world of yoga therapy, the kosha model is used as a lens or tool through
which to view the whole person and diagnose them holistically. There are five
sheaths or layers moving inward from the outermost layer – the physical body, to
the innermost layer – the bliss body. Whilst exploring the inner most layers and how
to connect to them we acknowledge the benefits of time spent in nature, not only
its reassuring and mood enhancing qualities but its ability to connect us to
something bigger, the world around us and the universe. As John Burroughs said, “I
go to nature to be soothed and healed and have my senses put in order”.


6. Deepen your yoga practice
This is an important benefit, after all you are on a yoga retreat with the added
benefit of multiple yoga classes, styles, and experienced yoga teachers.
Whether a beginner or intermediate practitioner you have the chance to learn new
asanas or techniques for progressing a pose, learning specific breathing practices,
mindfulness techniques. Ultimately yoga is truly available for everyone regardless of
age or experience and retreats provided a great opportunity for yoga teachers to
take the time to be creative, to break down specific postures or sequences and
provide modifications/adjustments. Retreats may be themed enabling the chance to
explore a different element of yoga to one you are already familiar with.
Specific time away from your daily routine whilst immersing yourself in yoga and
nature may allow you to breathe slower and deeper and calm that overactive
nervous system.


7. Meeting new people/making new friendships
Whether attending with friends, partner or by yourself you are in an environment
which attracts like-minded people, wellness, and kindness (the Yama- Ahimsa,
meaning non harming is something we practice both on and off the mat) and
ultimately its reassuring to know that you all have at least one thing in common –
the willingness to practice yoga!


I’ve attended many retreats (some at Oxon Hoath to which I refer to below),
sometimes with friends and other times by myself and all have been a wonderfully
positive experience.

Attending a retreat solo doesn’t need to feel daunting or
unnerving because its quickly apparent that the connections we can make on
retreats are often very meaningful and genuine. I personally have relished the time
to deepen my yoga practice and spend time with others when I wanted but also
taking the opportunity to enjoy the luxury of alone time when needed.

Finally, if the above fails to convince you of the benefits of yoga retreats perhaps
the results of research might be of interest. Naidoo et al (2018) in a study of 2592
people on “the health impact of residential retreats: a systematic review”, found
that the participants attending reported numerous post retreat physical and mental
health benefits. Cohen et all (2017) in an observational study of health and
wellbeing after a weeklong retreat asked, “Do wellness tourists get well?” found
that substantial improvements in health and wellbeing were maintained for six
weeks.

Oxonhoath Retreat | September 2022
If you are feeling inspired to book into a yoga retreat, I am delighted to say that I am co-
hosting a UK based yoga retreat at Oxon Hoath in Kent in September 2022. A wonderful
weekend of yoga, meditation and breathwork to see in the new Autumn season.
Oxon Hoath is a magnificent Grade 2 Manor House built in 1532 and surrounded by 73
acres of enchanted peaceful garden and woodlands. There are 26 bedrooms ranging from
the Grand Master suite to smaller rooms which were once servants’ quarters. Most have
ensuite facilities and those without have a bathroom close by. You can view pictures on the
website www.oxonhoath.co.uk

 

You will have the opportunity to attend seven classes accommodating everyone from beginners to advanced
practitioners incorporating various styles of asana, meditation and breathwork. Nutritious
meals are included throughout.
Details of availability and prices can be found on my website www.lornafisheryoga.co.uk or
you can contact me direct. Although all rooms are lovely, and many retain their original
features there is only a limited number of superior rooms available which are offered on a
first come first served basis.

 

 

 

www.lornafisheryoga.co.uk 

 Instagram

@dynamicflowyoga 

 Facebook 

@dynamicflowyoga 

 

Main Image: Natalie Grainger at Unsplash 






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