This summer I studied Pranayama on a Yoga retreat with the great Pranayama teacher and director of the Kaivalyadhama Institute: O.P. Tiwariji. The retreat took place at Samahita Retreat on Koh Samui, Thailand. After only two weeks I was leaving replenished, radiant and full of energy, deeply relaxed with a feeling of contentment, a new connection to my true self and with a big smile on my face. And from my experience I can say that everybody who spends time on a Yoga retreat like that usually feels similarly great afterwards.
So I asked myself what happens in those times of retreat that has such a profound effect on our well-being. And what could we do in our daily lives to have that effect (at least partially) on a daily basis. Following are some of the things that came to my mind.
Daily Practice of Pranayama, Meditation and Asanas
Obviously on a Yoga retreat you do a lot of Yoga in all its forms. For me that meant 2 hours of Pranayama and Meditation to start off each day, followed by 2 hours of sweaty Ashtanga Vinyasa practice. And the evenings were filled with another hour or two of Pranayama and some Mediation.
Even if our busy schedules don’t allow as much time for our yoga practice at home, a short practice we should be able to fit in. Just sit 10 minutes in silence and be just with yourself each morning after waking up and/or in the evening. Take some deep breaths and do a couple of sun salutations to increase circulation. Those small things will set your focus and increase the awareness throughout the whole day and will also improve sleep quality during the night.
Delicious and healthy food, eaten and enjoyed with awareness
I love to eat! And the food on those Yoga retreats is usually more than healthy and delicious. It’s one of the few places where „weird“ eating habits like eating only raw, being vegetarian, wanting fresh, unrefined products without conservatives and food additives, chemicals and GMOs are not met with skepticism. Those “extras” are usually part of the program and everybody is invited to indulge in healthy eating. But apart from what you eat you also have time to enjoy the meals, enjoy the view of the calm sea while eating and be with full awareness on the process of tasting and enjoying.
At home we have to try a bit harder to keep our diet healthy. But with a Green Smoothie to start off each day and one big shopping each week from the farmer’s market that provides fresh, organic and locally grown fruits and vegetables, we should have a good foundation. Then have at least one meal a day, that is consciously prepared with love and eaten with awareness and without distraction.
Drink plenty of pure water, coconuts and fresh juice
Water is life, it is needed for all processes in the body and helps the body clean itself. That is nothing new. Yet on a Yoga retreat with the tropical climate and the good quality of purified water I drink plenty of it all day long, plus some young-coconut water and a freshly prepared juice here and there. That gives the body the opportunity to flush out toxins, rehydrate and support all healing that might be needed.
So why not start and finish every day with a big jar or two of water and skip a coffee – our body might feel like on vacation ;) The young coconut is hard to find in shops but a stop at a juice bar can provide additional nutrition.
Meet inspiring people and connect with them
One of my favorite aspects about going to warm tropical places to do Yoga is that one can always meet many new people with interesting lives and ideas that can open up new horizons and inspire. You build new friendships and share some great time and experiences. And since Yogis often have less ordinary lives and travel a lot, there are always fun stories to share.
While at home why not try to spend as much time as possible in a community with extremely positive people, share different opinions and ideas, create and inspire each other.
Reconnect with nature
While on the retreat we are not only reconnecting to our self, but also to nature. A walk on the beach, swimming in the sea, feeling the tropical rain and sleeping in a bungalow close to the “richness” of tropical wildlife can have a calming and enriching effect.
At home we can search for opportunities to walk through the woods, take a swim in the lake, walk barefoot in the park or go camping for the weekend.
If we intentionally try to incorporate as many of those things in our daily lives, maybe we can feel better, more vibrant and connected to ourselves and enjoy each moment instead of waiting for our next vacation or retreat to enjoy these pleasures.
This arcticle was originally published on my blog www.greenashtangi.wordpress.com