Lots of people like the idea of traveling and staying fit and healthy while doing so. Lots of people like the idea of a group vacation to a gorgeous destination where activities and meals are provided. Lots of people ask us if they can come on a retreat, even if they’re “not that good at yoga.”
Short answer? YES. Long answer? Keep reading.
Why Go on a Yoga Retreat?
There are yoga retreats, and then there are recreational group vacations, adventure retreats, and all sorts of group travel tours with a focus on history, art, culture, cooking, or anything.
Ask yourself, why a yoga retreat? Even as a beginner, you should have an interest in learning more about yoga and meditation. If you’re uninterested in yoga, find another way to travel! There’s so much out there.
Skipping the yoga classes once or twice on your retreat is fine, we all need to rest. Skipping every yoga class on your retreat removes you from a potentially wonderful group experience, and isn’t fair to others on retreat either.
The magic happens on retreat via camaraderie and sharing our practice with others, even if our practice is just beginning!
What Type of Retreat?
A “yoga retreat” is sometimes all about yoga, and sometimes not. When looking at the retreat description, understand how much time is devoted to yoga, versus time spent on additional activities, or on nothing at all.
While all Baja Surf Yoga retreats are scheduled to the brim with twice daily yoga, twice daily meditation, outdoor adventure and tours in between, many retreats offer one yoga class daily followed by …nothing.
In that case, are you comfortable resting and reading? Does the retreat center offer a pool, a spa, a hammock, or access to tours and activities you can do on your own?
Some retreats focus on cooking, drinking, touring, exploring, or adventuring with just a tiny bit of yoga on the side. Understand what the daily schedule looks like, and be clear about how much yoga you want to participate in.
Are you looking for a yoga immersion? Or just a little taste?
What Style of Yoga?
A basic understanding of different styles of yoga can be helpful when deciding on a retreat as a beginner.
Even beginner yoga students can be athletic and gifted with strength and flexibility. Those seeking an active, athletic practice should look for terms like Power Yoga, Vinyasa, Ashtanga, or Hot Yoga.
Both Hatha and Vinyasa Yoga can vary in terms of strong, slow, restful, and powerful.
Seeking a totally chill experience? Look for terms like Restorative Yoga, Yin Yoga, Yoga Nidra and Meditation.
Many retreats will balance a powerful morning practice with a slower, more restorative evening practice.
Seeking personal attention and growth in your practice? Look for retreats that offer small groups, or workshops based on alignment, yoga philosophy, or foundational postures.
If you can’t find the information you’re seeking through the retreat description, reach out to the instructors themselves. Explain that you are new to yoga, be clear about what you are looking for, and disclose any physical limitations or injuries for the most honest and useful response.
Being Good at Yoga
What does it mean anyway, to be “not good” at Yoga? If you have the desire and intention to practice yoga and go deeper in your understanding of yoga and self, you’re already good at yoga – and you’re already doing it!
Understanding the self at least a little bit, and questioning your intentions and fears is a very good place to start.
Two extreme examples walked into a retreat…
One of them found themselves constantly focused on others, comparing their practice, their body, and their understanding of yoga to that of all those around them. They felt frustrated when they fell out of standing balances, skipped the workshops out of fear of not already knowing, beat themselves up for taking breaks in child’s pose, and generally spent the retreat feeling sub-par.
The other went in with an open mind, willing to learn and let go. They used the time on retreat to focus their attention inward, practiced patience with the poses, and moved slowly, even if not at the pace of the class. They welcomed child’s pose when they needed, breathed more deeply, asked questions, made friends and learned lots. Even without a single handstand!
Being good at yoga has very little to do with your physical practice, and everything to do with your mind.
Yoga Retreats are for Everyone
Sure, you’ll see us recommend at least a steady, six months of yoga practice before you attend a Baja Surf Yoga retreat. We recommend this because we want you to have fun and get the most from your retreat experience.
This is not set in stone – as long as you’re not. Come with a willingness to explore what yoga means on all levels; asana and beyond. Come free of expectations; show up to the classes and workshops, and learn. Come with an open mind, and you’ll leave with a more open heart.
Bottom line? If the desire is there to learn about yoga, just come!
You’ll get better at yoga by participating in a retreat. Although “getting better at yoga” may look very different from what you currently think it does.