Retreating is defined as a drawing back, a withdrawing to a safe, quiet secluded space, especially for spiritual renewal. Yoga is defined as “union”, originating from the same root word as yoke, to bring together. Hatha Yoga is a union of opposites. Ha is the sun, tha is the moon. We find union in opposites. We find these opposites in a simple stretch of a muscle. Think of a rubber band. You can’t stretch it unless you hold it on opposite ends.
The opposite of a Retreat might be defined as everyday life- fast paced, busy, to-do lists, responsibilities, work, pressed for time, wound-up, wanting to get this over with so I can get to the next thing. We all know it well. In the mind it feels like stress. In the body it feels like tension, increased heartbeat, increased blood sugar level, a sense of speeding up, caffeinated. This way of life can so easily become habit, to do more & hurry up!
Yoga teaches us about counter-postures. When we do a deep forward bend (example: seated forward bend) we lengthen the musculature of the back body and legs & contract the front body. To counter-posture we go into a backbend (example: cobra pose) where the back body is contracted & the front chest, abdomen and legs are lengthened. The result- balance! The body finds a sense of” Ahhh… This feels right”, like coming home.
Vacations can provide us with exciting opportunities to see new places, do new things. That is certainly valuable. What may not happen on vacation is a deep sense of relaxation and renewal. You may have heard someone say after returning home “I need a vacation from my vacation”.
Let’s perform a short experiment. Sit tall with your shoulders relaxed down. With eyes closed, one long deep inhale, pause a few moments, one long, slow deep exhale, pause a few moments. Experiment over. How do you feel? I feel like I want to sneak a few more because it felt so good! Slowing down, deep breathing, quiet space, withdrawing inward. Retreat provides us the opportunity to “counter-pose” our busy life, balance by pausing . Deep relaxation reminds us when we are busy on the outside we can still find a calm, centered and content place within. We find “home”, both in body and mind, Union – Yoga. With fresh eyes we see what may have not been obvious before, beauty, playfulness, creativity and gratitude.
Retreating requires you to prioritize, or it probably won’t happen. Make time for relaxation. Discover a new sense of balance, appreciation & gratitude. Nameste.
Susan Atkinson, Yoga Instructor with Sunrise Yoga Durango in Colorado. Annual Fall Equinox Retreat in Pagosa Springs, Co. www.sunriseyogadurango.com