As yoga grows in global popularity, many people are interested in “giving it a try.” Some are looking for a sweaty workout while others desire to become more flexible. Even still, it’s important to remember the tremendous benefits that can come from a dedicated yoga practice. While you likely won’t experience all the benefits of a yoga practice within a week, I’m confident that you’ll notice a change in your body and mind that will leave you coming back for more. There are many formats for learning yoga and really diving into what it means to practice yoga.
This post will explain why you need to dedicate a full week of vacation to yoga. It’s important to remember that even if you’re focused on yoga during your vacation, you can still enjoy a number of other activities. This post doesn’t mean to suggest that your entire vacation should be one long yoga practice in a secluded cave. I hope you enjoy other activities, tours, the local community, and cuisine on your vacation. But if yoga is at least one of the foci of your vacation, you’ll be able to tap into an entire new realm of personal potential. Here are four reasons why you need to dedicate an entire week of vacation to yoga.
1. Personal attention from the instructor
It’s not uncommon to attend a yoga class in the U.S. with anywhere from 10 to 20 students. As a yoga instructor, I’m usually thrilled to have a full class because usually compensation is per head. However, it also means I get to spend less time with each student, helping them with their form and making adjustments. Many people fear looking stupid or doing poses incorrectly in public classes. I know I certainly felt that way when I started my yoga practice — intimidated by more experienced practitioners! I knew I was doing some of the postures incorrectly but with so many class participants, it was impossible to get the kind of one on one attention I needed to progress in my practice.
When you spend a vacation dedicated to a yoga practice, at a place like Bodhi Surf + Yoga, you get one-on-one attention. The instructor, Pilar walks around the yoga space during the class and gives adjustments to her students, helping them get deeper into the pose while also giving them modifications to do if the pose is out of reach. She really takes the time to understand each person’s abilities and uses her years of experience to provide guidance.
2. Exposure to more content
Studios often need to adhere to the busy schedule of their customers and a teacher typically focuses on asanas (postures) in a 60-minute yoga class. This is especially true when the classes don’t build upon one another. They might be able to bring in a theme or focus for the class but they can’t truly dive into yoga beyond the asana practice. Yoga is so much more than movement on a mat.
The eight limbs of yoga
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali were written over 2000 years ago and explain that there are eight limbs of yoga and within them numerous elements that explain what it means to truly practice yoga.
- Yama: the attitude a yogi should take towards the world. Includes non-violence, truthfulness, non-theft, sexual moderation, and detachment.
- Niyama: the approach a yogi should take towards themselves. This includes purity, contentment, austerity, self-study, and surrender.
- Asana: the most widely known and practiced limb — the physical postures of yoga. There are hundreds of asana postures and a variety of different variations and adjustments for each one.
- Pranayama: a yogic breathing exercise, used to prepare the mind and body to sit in meditation. It improves self-awareness and consciousness of the breath.
- Pratyahara: the “withdrawal of the senses”. It happens when a person is extremely aware of oneself, is present, and is completely absorbed in their chosen activity. Some creatives have described this state as their “flow state”.
- Dharana: a visual and mental fixation on an internal or external object. All consciousness is directed toward one object. It often requires years of practice, especially in this day with increasingly short attention spans.
- Dhyana: also known as meditation. It is used to calm down and control the mind by limiting its activity through focus, concentration and ultimately self-awareness.
- Samadhi: the most mysterious limbs of yoga. In Hindu yoga, it is regarded as the final stage, when there is union with the divine either at or before death.
There is entirely too much content to cover in a 60-minute, 120-minute, or even a 200 hour course. When you immerse yourself in a place where yoga is the main focus, you’ll be able to witness and understand these limbs on a much deeper level than you would in a studio setting or a one-off class.
3. Break negative cycles
There is a reason why it’s called a yoga practice. Regardless of where you are as a student, every time you wake up, you’re practicing one of the eight sutras. How you view the world, how you interact with others, and how you treat yourself are all aspects of practicing yoga. It’s safe to say that most people want to become the best version of themselves, living with more kindness, patience, and compassion.
When you fully immerse yourself in a week of yoga, you’re set up to see the positive impact in your life much faster. Whether that’s comfortably pressing up to a headstand, finding stillness in a meditative seat, or learning to move past ego. A dedicated yoga practice has been known to “break the cycle” of negative or dangerous mindsets.
4. Find community
Yoga attracts individuals willing to invest in something bigger than themselves. They are often mindful of their impact and how their words and actions affect others, the environment, and their own lives. In my experience, when you spend a lot of time around fellow yogis, you start believing in yourself more than you ever have. I went into an Acro Yoga training completely unprepared. It felt like everyone there had mastered inversions and could bend into crazy shapes that I was nowhere near achieving. When a fellow student found out I was uneasy about headstands she said “what do you mean you can’t do a headstand, of course you can!” She then proceeded to spend an hour of the very little free time we had breaking down how to safely press up to a headstand. I was astonished how easy it was with the proper instruction.
My strongest friendships have come from the yoga community. This isn’t because yogis are perfect. Yet they are aware of the power of their words. My yoga friends constantly build me up, believe in me, and support my dreams and ambitions. If you have the opportunity to spend a week with those also invested in a yoga practice you’ll surely meet a few like-minded people who are helpful, kind, and interested in helping you succeed.
Dedicate a week of vacation to yoga! This is an investment in yourself. The instruction you’ll receive will be more targeted and personal. You will…
- get adjustments as well as a bit of a challenge
- learn about yogic teachings on a deeper level and how to bring them into your life
- feel a shift towards a more positive, productive lifestyle, and likely make a few new friends in the process
Take the time you have off from work to really learn what yoga means and how it can positively impact your life. If you want more information about Bodhi’s Yoga program go here. You can also read about our main instructor Pilar. When you decide you’re ready to become the best version of yourself, let us know! We have exciting things in store for you.
Written by Katie Jones