Retreats; They're Not Just For Yoga
Fanatics! - Karen Banes
If the word retreat has you picturing orange robed Buddhist monks
contorting themselves into unattainable (for you) yoga poses while
meditating to a (not so) catchy little chant, you clearly haven't checked
out one of the new-style educational retreats.
Retreats may still revolve around yoga, meditation, and spiritual growth,
but many of them also incorporate art, food, and even surfing!
While traditional religious retreats are still alive and thriving (and
probably better value for money than most other kinds) many retreat
centers have sprung up to cater for people who want have a somewhat
spiritual, or simply deeply personal, experience while relaxing,
rejuvenating and learning something new.
Of course it's that spiritual dimension that sets a retreat apart from just
another vacation or spa visit, but it's the type of activities being offered
by many retreats that are changing, and opening up the experience to
people who want a little bit of fun with their spiritual enlightenment.
Surf Sol Sister, for example, prides itself on offering unique retreats for
women. They involve 'simple' yoga and lots of wholesome nutritious
food. They also involve learning to surf. Multi-day retreats in San Jose
del Cabo, Mexico include two hours of surf instruction (board included)
per day as well as a daily yoga class and (probably well-deserved)
massage. The retreat appeals to women travelling solo, as well as
groups of friends and makes a great mother/daughter break as well.
If surfing's not your thing you might want to consider the Temple Knights'
annual Kung Fu and Ninja Camp, at their sanctuary located on 170
acres of wilderness in Ontario, Canada. Enjoy a week of traditional
Kung Fu, ninja and stealth training for health, fitness and self-defense.
This retreat is available to adults and kids and they offer a family
discount. Why not get the whole family trained up like super heroes while
doing a little spiritual re-connecting?
No? OK, what about a cooking retreat. The Conscious Gourmet runs
retreats everywhere from Arizona to Connecticut to Hawaii (I know which
one I'm signing up for). These are more than just how-to cook vacations.
The retreats focus on 'Food Philosophy' and are ideal for anyone who
loves to cook and/or eat (I like the and/or part, as I like to eat much more
than I like to cook!) I'm particularly impressed by the fact that they claim
to use 'whole, fresh, natural seasonal, REAL food' and yet say they will
show you how to make a Chocolate Mousse Cake with Chocolate
Fudge Frosting out of it. Sounds like my kind of eating.
How about a retreat that actually improves your chances of promotion? It
may sound like we're straying from the truly spiritual nature of retreats
and into self interest here, but the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New
York offers Career and Leadership retreats focusing on such specialties
as The Art of Leadership, Sustainable Success, and Transformational
Then again, the Omega Institute is probably the mother of all retreat
centers, offering retreats in a pretty comprehensive range of areas.
Their categories include, but are certainly not limited to, Arts and Crafts,
Writing, Nature and Environment, Language, Sufism, and Native
Wisdom and Shamanism, with different retreat options within each
category. If you're looking for inspiration, their website is a great place
to start, even if you aren't planning to travel to New York for your actual
A couple of questions to ask yourself when choosing a retreat:
What do you want to get out of it?
Do you want to learn a new skill? Build on an existing one? Relax and
rejuvenate? Re-connect with old friends? Or make new ones?
Keep these things in mind when researching what's available. If you're
travelling with a group of friends, check group rates. If you're travelling
alone check if there's a single room supplement to pay, or if they'll team
you up in accommodation with other solo travelers to cut your costs.
What can you afford?
Some retreats are very affordable. Others are pretty expensive. Decide
on a budget and remember to factor in travel costs, insurance and any
extras not included in the retreat price.