If you were to start looking into a beginner yoga retreat (by typing the very combination of terms into your online search platform), you would likely meet a barrage of articles claiming to be a consolidation of the best beginner yoga retreats from around the world. To research this article (and to see what others are saying), I did this very thing. What I noticed, however, was that while it’s easy to claim that any particular retreat is of the best in the world, what does that even mean? What is the criterion that is being used? So instead of telling you why, for example, a Bodhi Sessions surf and yoga camp would be an excellent option for any beginner yogi or yogini, we are going to show you using some concrete examples of why we believe this is true, as well as giving a few pointers of what to look for if you choose to go elsewhere.
Without further ado, here are some examples of what to look for in a beginner yoga retreat. More than anything, we encourage you to look past all the flashy marketing that exists in the yoga retreat world, and to delve deeper into what each particular retreat offers.
Obviously, balance may be something that you hope to either find (mentally or spiritually) or practice (physically) whilst on a yoga retreat. However, it may actually be something to look out for as a quality in your overall experience. If you are indeed a beginner, it may be a bit much to dive into a full-on, immersive yoga retreat. Yoga is much more than a physical practice, for many, it’s a way of life — a complete physical practice (Asanas or physical postures), mental practice (Dhyana or meditation), spiritual practice (Yamas and Niyamas or the guiding principles in the yoga philosophy). Therefore, if you’re just starting out, it may be a good idea to find a retreat that offers a balanced experience — between yoga and another activity, between learning and practice, between serious and light-hearted. Dip your toe into the water, as they say, and see if yoga is for you!
Balance at Bodhi Surf + Yoga
Being as though we are both a yoga and a surf retreat, Bodhi Surf + Yoga does indeed provide a balanced week of several activities and themes, all of which relate or tie nicely into the overall practice of yoga. The week-long schedule includes five thorough yoga classes in which students learn not just about the asanas, but also about breathing, meditation, history, and philosophy of yoga. There are also five surf lessons where students can practice their “yoga off the mat” — putting what they’ve been mastering physically (strength, flexibility, stamina, balance, and breathing), and mentally (awareness, grit, acceptance, focus, and bring present) into practice. Finally, the rest of the retreat is itself balanced. There is fun: group meals, game nights, pool time, waterfall visit. There is relaxation: hammocks and daybeds, reading library, massage, pool time. There is connection: to fellow attendees and staff, to the community, even potentially to an awakening of purpose. There is learning: about deeper philosophies, different ways of life, conservation, and how to have a positive impact on the world. All in all, balance is the order of the week-long retreat.
Simply, the fundamentals
Yoga is so much more than a workout or stretch routine, and its benefits are so much more vast than simply the physical. There is so much to learn and understand about yoga, and a holistic teaching method should include context; some history and philosophy, and a component of breath and meditation. Ultimately, your beginner yoga retreat should address the fundamentals of yoga. This will aid you in understanding the practice as a whole, and figuring out if it’s for you.
Simplicity + the fundamentals of yoga at Bodhi Surf + Yoga
At Bodhi Surf + Yoga, we cannot claim to have a flashy yoga program. Some may even say it’s simple, and we would take that as a compliment. We can assure you that what it lacks in frills, it makes up for in profundity. Our mission is to help you to deeply delve into the beautiful, all-encompassing, potentially life-changing practice of yoga, in its entirety, and ultimately:
- Learn a little bit about yoga’s origins
- Get to practice yoga in the physical realm
- Have assistance from a qualified yoga instructor, whether that be answering your questions, or suggestions to help you with the posture and alignment (to help you into the optimal position that both aids and pushes your body)
- See the myriad of ways that it can positively affect you, in whatever walk of life you may be on
An ideal climate for the body
While yoga is not all about the physical, we do have to remember that we live and need to operate in a visceral world. The physical body is indeed a very central and important component of the asana yoga practice. With that in mind, it’s important to look out for several characteristics in your beginner yoga retreat:
- Comfort of the studio: you’re going to be spending quite a bit of time on the floor, so we hope it’s nice (and clean!), that it has nice props and mats, and that overall it is a pleasant place to be
- Experience level of the teacher: you weren’t born knowing how to place your body into the proper form for each specific yoga posture, so it’s very important to have a teacher who is experienced and well-versed in human anatomy so that you avoid injury
Bodhi Surf + Yoga has an ideal climate for learning yoga
Bodhi Surf + Yoga has an ideal climate for practicing yoga, period. Whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced practitioner. There is something simply delightful about doing yoga in a warm climate. The body is more flexible, limber, and supple. Additionally, while you are on vacation (without the stresses of modern, daily life) your level of relaxation increases dramatically. Finally, when you’re on a yoga and surf vacation with Bodhi Surf + Yoga in the quaint, coastal town of Bahia Ballena (a place that just exudes the “Pura Vida” way of life), the relaxation factor is even further multiplied.
While Costa Rica does indeed get quite warm (and some of you may be worried about getting sweaty — we hate to break it to you, but here, it’s a given) the yoga studio is the coolest space on the entire Bodhi Surf + Yoga property. Our yoga studio is on the top floor of a raised, two-story platform that is located centrally on the property, and surrounded by lush foliage. It is a delightful place to practice, even on the hottest of days. All of our yoga teachers are seasoned practitioners and teachers, skilled at helping you with alignment and ensuring the well-being of your physical body.
Yoga off the mat
Some of the most important effects of yoga are not the most obvious (increased flexibility, stamina, strength; decreased stress, anxiety, and risk of injury). Some of the most important takeaways are actually from the yogic philosophy itself, which features a broad set of guiding principles (i.e. golden rules) that can have a very positive effect on your life, health, and happiness. A few examples? Teaching you how to be more present. How to treat others better. How to be content with what you have. How to be more disciplined. It would be a missed opportunity for any prospective beginner yogi or yogini not to have these teachings incorporated into their retreat.
Bodhi Surf + Yoga — off the mat
The yoga curriculum during the Bodhi Sessions surf and yoga camp involves a great deal of this type of teaching. We consider ourselves educators first and foremost, and purveyors of positive vacation experiences as a close second. We sincerely want our guests to know and learn about the traditions, philosophies, and practical uses of our passions (yoga and surfing) — of which there are many.
We are all about taking yoga off the mat (and surfing off the board). Here at Bodhi Surf + Yoga, we hope that the surf and yoga camp experience can be a space for guests to pause their everyday lives, to relax, learn, be inspired, reflect, and go home with a fresh perspective and motivation to improve any aspects of their lives that may need improving. That they are armed with tools that they acquired through the activities of yoga, surfing, and the entire Bodhi Surf + Yoga experience. We hope that it is a catalyst for awakening.