[A Yoga Retreat during the era of COVID]
I have been contemplating these last months on when, how, and if I should be offering yoga retreats during an active global pandemic.
It is the inherent nature of a retreat to be in an intimate group setting for meals, yoga, and outings. So, with the conflict of the required social behaviors for the pandemic and the responsibility to bring people together, it was a lot to weigh out.
Who will come? How do we actually implement a COVID-era retreat with social distancing and masks? For many of us, the ethical and responsible decision-making process on socializing can be intense, even with just accepting a friend’s dinner invitation.
It’s one thing to travel somewhere on a plane, and then another to join a group yoga retreat with people you don’t know. Ultimately, this brings up the question, is it safe to go on a yoga retreat?
In September of 2020, we had our first retreat in Montana and the first COVID-era yoga retreat. When I made the decision the Montana retreat would go forward, I had to travel from my home in Costa Rica to the U.S. I didn’t know anyone personally who had traveled this international route yet since the lockdown mid-March.
As it turned out, it wasn’t anywhere as “overwhelming” or “unsettling” or “scary” as the hype would have it. There is still a lot of normalcy around international travel, flying, and airports. Of course, there is the added super sanitization and related protocols that we’ve all been versed in now.
The Montana yoga retreat went really well with 16 travelers coming from far and wide. We spent most of our days outside delighting in the beautiful weather. Everyone fell into a comfortable and easy flow of being together while continuing to being respectful of each other’s personal space, as we do these days.
Since then, I have become even more assured about the need for these meaningful getaways and that yoga retreats can indeed be done well given the new environment and in the right setting.
As I continued to research and get a more accurate pulse on what you all are feeling, needing, questioning and deciding, it has also become more apparent it is to each their own on what is the “right” decision.
Some of you have already taken the leap to go on a farther-away trip, and a number of you more than once. All the feedback I have heard has been positive.
Here are 7 tips you will want to consider when deciding if it safe and right for you to go on a yoga retreat.
- Re-assess your life philosophy. Oh boy! If this “careful” living is going to continue, then it will help settle the mind to be more conscious about how you do want to approach it. Ask yourself, how do I want to live? If this is how it will be for an undetermined amount of time will you be OK to stay hunkered down at home? You may be perfectly fine to do so. Or will your nerves and sanity start to fray? (Or have they already?)
- Weigh your personal risks and your comfort level. This will of course be different for each person. Get quiet and listen to your inner guidance.
- Gauge your need for a retreat. Are you feeling chronically stressed? Does your body feel contracted and suffocated in your space and routine? Are you unsettlingly ambiguous about life? Do you too frequently feel lonely, anxious, depressed, or fatigued? Does your mind constantly spin? Are you craving a change of scenery? Mental and emotional health are inextricably linked to physical health.
- Make your own decision, not others. Not everyone’s advice about whether you should travel will apply to you. Stay focused on you.
- Deal with fear rationally. Get clear on what is realistic and what is exacerbated and hype because of the “unknown”. And that’s not to say, don’t take precautions. 100% do take them.
- Choose the “right” retreat. You will want to have ample access and time to being outdoors in nature and fresh air. Choose a retreat that limits its size to a small group. Ask what are the health-safety/COVID-19 protocols; there should be the necessary ones in place but not overkill. You still want to enjoy the experience.
- Booking incentives & peace of mind. Review the cancelation policy and make sure it works for you. Purchase travel insurance.
If you are feeling guilty about the prospect of traveling and taking a trip, Conde Nast Traveler’s Women Who Travel have something insightful to say about that. Should I Feel Guilty for Wanting to Travel Right Now?
Live Well & Travel On (if it feels right for you) – Namasté ☀️
“I am so happy I took a plunge and decided to join Sandra’s retreat in Montana. Travel restrictions and uncertainty of Covid’s ebbs were the reasons for hesitation, but Sandra’s magic positivity, calm, professionalism made all worries recede. It is my second retreat with Sandra and she is magical. The whole enjoyable, meaningful flow of those 5 days appeared to unfold so effortlessly. I am sure it was preceded by thorough preparation, scouting of the location, and making sure all safety precautions that present time requires are observed (and they were). … The first thing you will do when you come back from Sandra’s retreat is to check the schedule for the next ones. I surely did.”
Guest review, Montana retreat – Sept 2020