Ooh, it’s a while since I’ve used those hamstring muscles. That’s my initial thought, just five minutes into the first class of a weekend yoga retreat in Devon, UK.
Whether it’s for a holiday or as part of a career break, here are my tips on what to expect on a yoga retreat.
Typically there are two classes a day, one in the morning around 8am, another in the early evening. Afternoons are usually free to do your own thing. Class intensity will progress gradually on each day and you’ll be surprised what you can do.
Retreats are a good opportunity to experience different yoga styles and their benefits. Some retreats have a more spiritual focus than others.
Top tip: Check whether the retreat suitable for beginners or those with more experience, and let the teacher know your capabilities in advance.
Where to go
I’ve been a participant on four yoga holidays in the last four years – two in Spain, one in Morocco and – most recently – a weekend in Devon, UK.
I love to explore, so I always check out what else there is to do nearby for those free afternoons. Many guests use that time to relax on the retreat premises.
Retreats are often located remotely, so if you want to explore you need to account for car hire or other transport costs.
How to find a yoga retreat
I’ve used yogaholidays.net, which has links to up-coming weekends, weeks and longer stays around the globe. Thailand, India, Costa Rica, Florida, Spain, Morocco, Turkey and Greece are just some of the varied locations on offer. The world’s your oyster. Or should that be your crab?
In my experience, the average girl to guy ratio has been around 10:1. Age range is typically 30s-50s. Most people go on their own and are fairly sociable types. At fancier places you may find the odd mum and daughter combo.
Costs and what you get for your money on a yoga retreat
Prices for yoga retreats typically include your accommodation, yoga classes, and at least 2 veggie meals per day. Alcohol may or may not be available, depending on the nature of the venue.
This is my preferred option. Rooms may be shared with one other person, though you can usually pay a single supplement to guarantee your own space. Rooms usually have a simple en-suite bathroom, or a bathroom shared with one or two other rooms.
Weekend (2 or 3 nights): £250-£400 ($415-$660) exc flights
Week: £500-£750 ($825-$1240) exc flights
Locations in this price range will have landscaped outside areas to relax in. Think English country garden, Moroccan riad roof-terrace, or Spanish patio and pool.
Spare the pennies or splash the cash
Ashrams in India provide a more authentic and simple approach. The expectation is that you attend all classes, and it’s a no-alcohol affair. A week booked in advance starts from around £200 in a shared dorm or room.
You can also find your own yoga class on your travels. I found a private lesson in Pokhara, Nepal for £4.
Luxury yoga retreats are all-out pampering holiday affairs in historical or otherwise beautiful properties. They come complete with spa treatments, but can reach the £2000 mark ($3300) for a week. Ouch!
My Devon yoga weekend
Fast-forward three days from my arrival in Devon. I’m stretched, relaxed, feel surprisingly invigorated, and uplifted and energized. Nothing can zap my energy. Not even the 7-hour drive home. When can I go again?Exchange rates calculated on www.xe.com 2nd September 2014, rounded to the nearest $5, and based on a rate of £1=$1.65.