A Deeper Look Into the Word "Retreats"

So my awesome yoga teacher buddy and I are running a Yoga retreat in Nicaragua this coming April. Naturally, we’re both pretty darn excited about it. In my excitement, being the vocabulary nerd I am, it got me thinking about the word “retreat” and its connotations.

I immediately associate this word with old-time cartoons, where the army of woodland creatures goes in to attack their foes, only to realize their vastly out-numbered so they squeak out “Retreat, retreat!” and scatter in all directions. I also start to think of Monty Python and “The Search for the Holy Grail”. There’s a show down at a French castle that results in fake cows being thrown over castle walls at King Arthur and his knights, causing them to squeal “Run away! Run away!”

That’s where my dorky mind goes when I think of the word “retreat”.

I find this interesting, because retreating in a battleground scenario is not seen as a good thing. Having to cut the losses and admit you’re woefully over the debt would not be described as a sought after experience.  But the word “retreat” can be turned on its head.

Perhaps the deeper meaning of this word retreat can be associated with the idea of “giving up” some aspects of your life that no longer serve you, and finding the courage to do so.  Some examples of why it may be time in your life to take a pause and submit yourself to a retreat, can include:

·       When you realize you have no more to give.

·       When you’ve exhausted all of your resources and need to throw in the towel.

·       When you finally admit to yourself you’ve been burning the candle at both ends.

If you’re anything like me, I’ve become addicted to the adrenaline of busyness and suddenly realized I'm trapped in an unhealthy pace of life that is not maintainable. I let the busyness define who I am. I let the rush push me until I’m running on fumes. Inevitably this leads to the “crash and burn” or as I like to call it the “snap back effect”. This is the effect of pulling an elastic band too far in one direction, only to have the band snap back ten times harder in the very direction it was trying to pull away from.

When it gets to this point, sometimes retreating is the only option.

Retreat to me is escaping into my apartment for dates with my yoga mat, a good book, my guitar, or a long journal writing session. It’s quiet conversations in cafes with friends I love, whose words are like a salve to my aching soul. It’s sleeping for more than 5 hours a night – which we must remember is magical and life-changing!

The offering for any retreat should provide a space you can hideaway to refresh, renew, and restore by connecting to who you are to the things that bring you back to life. I want to turn the word retreat into a positive experience. I want to make “running away” the cool thing to do. I want to make surrendering to the reality of our crazy modern life the “in thing”.

Whether you end up retreating with me in gorgeous Nicaragua, or simply retreating into the covers of your warm and cozy bed - I hope you find joy in giving up and calling it quits. May you find peace as you retreat.

Written By: Written By: Jelayna Da Silva
Jelayna is a well certified, passionate yoga teacher and writer living in downtown Toronto. Her love for yoga takes her across the GTA to teach at several studios and to multiple clients. With a background in Psychology and College Athletics she infuses her classes and writing with mental and physical awareness, not to mention a healthy sense of humor. Whether leading at a large outdoor events, in a classroom, or in the home of a client her philosophy for teaching is simple - teach with love, empathy, patience and humility. Yoga is a journey, not a destination.  www.jelaynayoga.com