In a world where we work longer and harder than ever, carry more stress and rest less, prioritising self-care has become critical. The result? A flourishing market for wellbeing retreats. We must now, it seems, pay someone else for the privilege of relaxing: to try to do so at home, where the mountain of outstanding tasks hangs precariously over us, is fruitless. A weekend away to practise yoga, spend time in nature, rest and recharge is, unquestionably beneficial. But is one day really long enough to rejuvenate a tired body and soul? Rebecca Cox asks: what’s the point of a one-day yoga retreat?
Breathe Bend Believe Yoga Retreat Review
It has taken precision organisation to reach Briony’s beautiful home, the venue for our Breathe, Bend, Believe one-day yoga retreat. (Briony is pictured, top.) I am tired before we begin, due to the organisation of myself and my child, the transportation of him to suitable childcare, and the journey to said retreat. I am thinking on the way that it might have been better to just try and slot in a couple of yoga flows in the living room between washing loads, since the overflowing laundry basket awaits my return. On arrival, we stand around chatting, drinking coffee and freshly-squeezed juice, and my mind is still being pulled toward the deadline I’m behind on and the forgotten errand I’ll need to run after the school run on Monday. I’m wondering if this one-day yoga retreat will actually leave me more stressed than before I arrived. The effort of engaging in small talk with strangers and finding common ground, though, quiets these thoughts and by the time the first yoga session is underway, the internal chatter is quieting and we are all more ‘in’ the room.
Briony’s energetic and challenging class banishes all other niggling thoughts and worries from entering for the next hour: keeping up and being in my body is the only option since my yoga practice is sporadic at best. The class is transparently body rather than mind focused, with no language or rituals ‘borrowed’ from other cultures, a welcome distinction from many retreats. Despite the physical challenge, I feel energised at the close of class, and don’t check my phone before we pull on our boots and head out for an hour-long country walk. We connect with our fellow retreat goers as we tramp through fields (bless the glorious right to roam) and hop across muddy patches, occasionally throwing a stick for Maggie, Briony’s adorable four-legged assistant (pictured at the bottom of this article).
The walk is followed by a hearty veggie lunch, even heartier conversation, a lot of laughter and a rich chocolate tahini banana loaf for pudding. And then we have two hours of nothing. Simple, blissful nothing, in a stranger’s house, to sleep, to read, to sit and stare. Just as we’re all truly in a state of zen, it’s time to finish up with a one-hour deep stretch yoga session, little to no movement, just long, deep, slow stretches. And that’s a wrap, back out into our lives and busy little worlds we all disperse. Bodies nourished and stretched and in possession of a new key piece of information: the answer to the question, ‘what is the point of a one-day yoga retreat?’.
So, What’s The Point Of A One-Day Yoga Retreat?
The point of a one-day yoga retreat is that it isn’t a retreat at all. It is a bit of a misnomer. It is an approach. Retreating is about going away and slowing down, and while this is a definite pause from life, it is not about going backwards, but refreshing and making sure you’re moving forwards in the best possible frame of mind. The other women I connected with on the retreat were diverse and interesting and funny. Connecting with them felt rejuvenating, as much as the yoga, the nature walk, the healthy meal and the downtime.
We’re so conditioned to squeeze productivity out of every second of our waking hours that when we book a day-long retreat we expect an itinerary packed with activity, but Briony has brilliantly overruled the urge to do and do, and instead of easing into activity she eases her guests into rest. I arrived amped up on stress and ready to yoga the hell out of the day to make it worth taking the time out for. But taking that time out is the real need she is fulfilling for attendees. That glorious two hours of nothingness that you’d baulk at if you saw it on an itinerary is the most brilliant inclusion. My mind slowed, I read a novel, I didn’t doom scroll or send an email. I sat in comfortable silence with relative strangers and remembered how nice it is to not physically be able to do something productive, just for a little while. Booking a yoga class is a wonderful little snatch of self-care, but by the time you’ve changed and are rushing back out into the city and the next item in your calendar, the slice of zen you’ve achieved has evaporated. This one-day ‘retreat’ made that post-yoga-class buzz really settle in and stay put, to lay a root or two in this frazzled, frantic mind as a reminder to pause and take care whenever the chance presents itself. And when it doesn’t, to schedule another day ‘retreat’, or as I’ve now come to think of it as an ‘approach’, to a better state of mind to carry into the days ahead.
Briony’s upcoming retreat dates are: Friday 31st March 2023, Sunday 2nd April 2023, Sunday 23rd April 2023, Friday 12th May 2023 and Sunday 21st May 2023 | All are bookable at breathebendbelieve.co.uk