yoga-retreat-04 by marcusjames


									As a yoga teacher in modern America, I do not have the ability to dive as
deeply into this ancient and beautiful art as I would like to. It is a
cliché, but only because it is true: in this fast-paced modern life, we
do not have the time to sit and relax and reflect on the nature of
reality. And the nature of reality is what yoga is all about, after all.
This is why I love leading yoga retreats.

I run an Ashtanga yoga retreat in Northern California. We only get to go
about twice a year, and just going that much is difficult for many of my
students. Although I do offer financial aid for those who would like to
go to a yoga retreat center and cannot afford it, the strain of taking
time off from friends, life, family, and of course work, is more than
many people can take. This is a troubling facts, as those who need a
yoga retreat most are often those most unable to go on.

The yoga retreat is not only a time to practice the yoga postures
intensively under the eye of a knowledgeable yoga instructor, but also a
time to understand the practice more deeply. At our yoga retreat, we
have time to read the yoga sutras and compare our impressions and
knowledge for greater understanding of the texts. Yoga, after all, is
not about the asanas. The yoga poses provide a foundation for the
practice, but the practice goes much deeper. At a yoga retreat, we are
able to investigate the deeper meanings in a way that we never have time
to in our personal lives. Part of this involves intellectual
investigation – the sutras can be very difficult and involved texts. But
reading them and intellectually understanding them is not enough. You
need to have the time to back off from life, to really contemplate them
at length and ponder their beauty and inner meaning.

Maybe the best thing about going on a yoga retreat, however, is the
connections that you make with other practitioners. Much of yoga is a
solitary practice, but it can be a communal practice as well. Through
yoga, we learn about sustaining the world and improving it, one
practitioner at a time. The only way to do this effectively is to make
connections with other practitioners. This deepens the practice of each
one, as practitioners are able to learn from each other. And that is the
most profound meaning of the yoga retreat.

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