Even though summer and the traditional vacation season is officially ending, that’s no reason to give up on self-care. I recently went to Barbados on a five-day yoga retreat called #BreatheBarbados, held at the Crane Resort, with a group called Omnoire – a social wellness community for women of color. It was my first time going on a retreat, but certainly not my last. Four months later and I’m still breathing easier, feeling better and glowing. Here are my top 5 reasons why every one needs to go on a retreat.
1. Learn or Start a New Practice
Are you new to yoga or meditation? A retreat could be a good way to experience either one for the first time (be sure to check the expected experience level/type or practice before booking), in a safe space with other like-minded people. Starting a yoga or meditation habit provides a number of benefits. Practicing yoga improves flexibility and strength, and meditation helps reduce anxiety and stress. Don’t be afraid to push beyond your comfort zone. You may return home with a new favorite move or a method you may not have otherwise discovered.
2. Connect with New People
You never know who you might meet on a retreat! I walked away with a few new friends, Instagram buddies and honorary aunties. The energy among the group was kinetic and re-charging. I interacted with women from all walks of life. Be receptive to making new connections, and bring your authentic self with an open heart. The point of a retreat is to be vulnerable and share intimate details about your life, which gives others power and encouragement to do the same. The relationships made and lessons learned will stay with you long after the retreat has ended.
3. Refuel, Recharge, and Release
With so much going on in our lives, it’s easy to forget about taking care of yourself. Because retreats are often in destinations removed from your everyday surroundings, they deliver the perfect escape from the daily hustle and bustle. When you’re in paradise, it makes sense to stop and enjoy the natural beauty. Retreats offer opportunity and freedom to disconnect and focus on you without the responsibility of your responsibilities. I used my time in Barbados to reflect on the life I have, appreciate where I am and visualize where I want to be.
4. Treat Yourself
When was the last time you did something nice just for you? For me, this meant staying in a stunning resort. The Crane was outside of my normal price range; it’s a secluded hotel on a hilltop with breathtaking ocean views. Once there, I continued to treat myself - a cocktail, a catamaran cruise, sleeping in, you name it. An occasion where I could be totally selfish! Everyone needs an opportunity to treat yourself - because you’re worth it!
5. Immerse Yourself in a New Culture
It can be fun and exhilarating to explore a new culture or customs. Soak up the splendor of your surroundings! Figure out why the locals speak with an accent, learn about the history, take a cooking class to understand the flavors behind your favorite local dishes, discover a hidden or cool hangout. Traveling to different areas gives you new perspectives, and a deeper appreciation for the world. You can find retreats for men and women, and for various interests. But by all means - go! You’ll be glad you did!