Bath’s First Yoga Retreat with Hand in Hand Yoga.

Back in October, my cute little Mum and I had the pleasure of attending Bath’s very first Yoga Retreat with Hand in Hand Yoga.

My love for yoga surfaced late-2016 and I think living in London was a big part of that. The busy-ness of life and sheer amount of classes available were the perfect mixing bowl for dipping my toes in. Toes dipped and I quickly found my feet, practicing at home and in my spare time whenever I could.

One of the reasons I fell in love with yoga is because it exists as a true escape. I can get in tune with my body. It’s a time to stretch, to breathe and just be – and there are no requirements of a yoga class other than to be present and mindful of your body.

It helps to create more space in your body and your mind. More space for feeling love, creativity, clarity, understanding and openness to the things that we (myself included) might otherwise ignore – or be too busy to pay our full attention to.

It’s difficult to truly zone out in our busy lives, but my yoga practice is for me. It’s the time that I allow myself to be present, be selfish. Ever since finding this newfound love, I had always wanted to immerse myself in some form of retreat, so when I saw that there was one in Bath I jumped at the opportunity without hesitation!

Before going into more of the ins-and-outs, I just want to say that going on a yoga retreat really is so worth the money and the time.

Yes it pushes you out of your comfort zones. Yes it’ll be in an unknown location and yes, you’ll spend time with unfamiliar faces. But add all of those factors up and what do you get? A challenge. A weekend to embrace change and an opportunity to approach something completely new with an open mind and an open heart.

Because my experience was all that I had wished for and more, I wanted to spend the time writing up a of my top tips to help you get the most out of your first retreat. After all, you can only ever have a first time once!

1. Choose your retreat well.

The lead up to a retreat is as exciting as it is for the teachers and the students. In the lead up to the weekend, I found myself spending more time on the mat practicing different poses and different flows. It sparked a whole new level of inspiration and connection with my body, which I really loved.

I’d encourage anyone who is attending a retreat to find your practice. Dive in head first and maybe make a list of what you’d like to get out of your retreat. It is yours after all. You get to decide how much you want to take away from it.

2. Accept positive transformations.

At the core of a retreat is the authenticity of yoga postures, breathing techniques and the meditation that’ll benefit your mind, body and soul. Arrive with an open mind and be curious. The classes will help you exceed the limitations you set and bring out so much positivity. You’ll likely leave feeling on cloud 9 – at least that’s how I felt!

3. Take in the beautiful surroundings.

Your retreat will no doubt be located in a picture perfect setting. A manor house, a beach or in the woods, I urge you to take in the natural beauty that you’re surrounded by. Breathe in the fresh air, bask in the sun and allow yourself to just be. You might feel an overwhelming sense of emotion or rejuvenation. Both are absolutely okay. Just go with how you’re feeling no matter what it might be.

Hand in Hand’s retreat was situated at Week Farm in Combe Hay. The most beautifully tranquil manor house that showcased just how beautiful Bath and its surroundings are.

4. Savour the food!

There is often a misconception that the food offered at retreats is super healthy but super boring. Well I can happily tell you that is NOT the case. A good yoga retreat serves up choices that are delicious and healthy. I had some of the best home cooked food I’d had in months (sorry Mum!) Think fruits, yoghurt, eggs & muffins for breakfast. Power protein balls for mid-morning snacks, hearty soups for lunch, and lentil dhal curries for supper.

The meals also tend to be served to all guests at the same time to promote a sense of community and enjoyment, which is a great opportunity to connect and interact with the other like-minded guests there.

5. Enjoy the digital break.

Another reason I love yoga is for the digital break. You don’t have the time to look at your phone to check emails or notifications. The workshops are interactive, and the classes immersive. There is simply no space for it and it became so refreshing. It is a great time to disconnect from the online world and to connect with all the beautiful things around you.

Our retreat was also in the middle of nowhere, which meant little to no signal other than the occasional spout of Wifi. It was bliss.

6. Meet amazing people.

Besides yoga and meditation practices, retreats are also about forming good connections, indulging in mindful discussions and learning. Going on a retreat is like entering a new community where you get an opportunity to meet others who are there for the same reasons as you – to better their daily lives, enhance their practice, and self indulge. It’s a wonderful opportunity to connect with people you might not normally have the chance to pair yourself with.

7. Relax and rejuvenate.

Many retreat packages include workshops, massages, mediation and therapy sessions.

I was lucky enough to take part in an Ayurveda class and workshop which was so eye opening. I’d heard of it before and read a few articles here and there, but never applied it to myself or my practice.

The healing touch and knowledge of Ayurveda combined with the food, meditation and yogic practice is rejuvenating. We were also afforded the time to digest all the new information and ask as many questions as we liked. No question is a silly question after all.

8. Take back a rewarding experience.

A yoga retreat is not the type of holiday where you get home and feel like you need a detox.

The experiences you gain from a yoga retreat ensure that you’re able to continue some of the yogic practices into place. They say a ‘yoga retreat is the starting pathway to long term holistic health and wellness’ and I honestly feel as if this has been the case for me.

9. Be yourself.

Easier said than done especially on a retreat. You’re with people that you’ve never met before and you want to make a good impression.

However, one thing that we are constantly reminded of during any yoga practice is to leave any expectations you’ve set for yourself or any egos at the door. The same goes with a retreat. Let go of the high standards you’ll have undoubtedly set for yourself, and be true to you.

On the mat, let go of striving to please or impress the teacher. Don’t compare yourself to others and go with the practice that works for you. If you’re not sure of a pose, ask for help.

10. Make the time to reflect afterwards.

Unfortunately, my mum and I had to head off before the last day of the retreat, otherwise we’d have been able to take part in the Closing Ceremony – this is perhaps one thing I’d do differently next time.

Having given myself time to process everything. I remember I slept really well the following nights after the retreat and once again, returned to the mat more than I have done in a while.

In our Ayurveda workshop, we were encouraged to journal and this is something I’d also do post-retreat. Retreats can bring up lots of emotions, both good and bad, and for me jotting down my thoughts helped immensely with processing why I felt a certain way. 

I know I cannot speak for other yoga retreats as this was my first, but I can say with absolute certainty that I would recommend the experience to anyone – especially Hand in Hand Yoga. You are accepted for who you are, what your yogic abilities are and you are so well looked after.

With Hand in Hand Yoga, you become part of a community and a family for the weekend. It’s like a home from home. Thank you Wendy for an unforgettable experience!

Something that has been on my mind for quite some time now is also the thought of becoming a yoga instructor and I’ve now spent hours researching YTT courses. This experience, and the exposure to more teacher training styles, has definitely fuelled my desire that much more!

Have you been on a retreat? If so, what were your experiences and thoughts? I’d love to hear from you! Let me know in the comments below, or feel free to send me a message on Instagram.

Amy xo.

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