Yoga Holidays are going green. We have a couple of projects planned in the ongoing month and are making positive steps to helping the environment. Read on to find out more about our exciting future projects;
Tree Nation Planting Project
We have decided to off set all of the carbon and are going to join the Tree-Nation Planting project. We’re going to work with Tree Nation and we’re grow a Yoga Wellbeing Forest! To counter desertification we will start to plant a tree for every customer who attends our holidays, in your name! Once you’ve received your tree, you can follow this project and watch your tree grow! Tree Nation’s website has lots of information on the project and the countless benefits to both people, the country and the planet in general www.tree-nation.com
Starting at the end of the yewr, we will be off-setting the Co2 emmisions on all flights within Europe and one-way for flights to Asia (we’re hoping you guys will offer the return flight!). We are going to work in conjunction with Climate Care and they have a calculator where you can see how many tons of Co2 your flight put into the atmosphere and pay to off-set it. For more information on Climate Care, please visit their sitewww.climatecare.org
Yoga is not just about getting bendy. Let us know how your helping the environment by working with different communities. As ever, we would like to hear your thoughts and read your stories – click here.
I had someone ask me in a regular Yoga class in London what is the benefit of meditation. This is a great question that is raised so many times on yoga retreats or even short yoga weekends. People get some space to think and start to want to open up even more.
Research into the benefits of mindfulness seems to support its claims. People prone to depression, say, are less likely to have depressive episodes if they practice meditation. Stress goes down. But it’s more like going on a journey than taking a pill. Though meditation techniques can be learned quickly, it’s no instant remedy and requires discipline. That said, many who attend lessons or go on retreats find immediate benefits – which is not so surprising, given that in a world of no stillness, even a little calm goes a long way.
Part of the appeal of mindfulness is that it doesn’t come loaded with theological assumptions. You can do it without being a Buddhist, though Buddhist assumptions do underpin it. The most obvious is the concept of dukkha – which can be translated as suffering, dissatisfaction or discontent. It’s meant in a very broad sense, everything from deep psychological wounding to the faintest perturbations that trouble daily life. The Buddha’s discovery, when he was enlightened, was that life is characterised by such suffering. But there is a path to follow, along which suffering will cease. Meditation is a key part of it. Mindfulness eases the habit of clinging to things, even big things like life itself. When the clinging ceases, the suffering ceases too.
Other traditions take a subtly different view. Christianity, for example, teaches that the fundamental characteristic of life is not suffering, but the quest for love. It’s what Saint Augustine had in mind when he diagnosed that to be human is to have a “restless heart”. He argued that the restlessness propels you to discover the source of life, which lies outside of yourself, in God.
A secular take on suffering might see things differently again – as a kind of alert system, telling you that something is wrong with the world. The way to respond is not to detach yourself, but to address the causes. It’s this notion of easing suffering that inspires everyone from doctors to political reformers.
Buddhism has strands that engage in social action too. As for seeking God, there are many non-Buddhist theists who practice mindfulness as a useful technique. This supports the case that you don’t have to be a Buddhist to engage in mindfulness, particularly when it is offered as a practice aimed at caring for yourself. Then, it’s about knowing yourself better, something recognised as a crucial part of living well across a wide range of traditions. It’s striking that today we often don’t take the time to do so. Hence, perhaps, many of the ills of the western world.
But mindfulness says: make the time to step back, and here’s a way to do it. It encourages you to be more aware of life, and promises that mindfulness is a source of insight and hope.
Meditation is something that has been a part of my everyday for as long as I can remember. Finding a place to meditate in London is a little bit of a challenge. Although that all changes when you get yourself out of your normal environment.
Rates of depression and anxiety are rising in the modern world. Andrew Oswald, a professor at Warwick University who studies wellbeing, recently told me that mental health indicators nearly always point down. “Things are not going completely well in western society,” he said. Proposed remedies are numerous. And one that is garnering growing attention is meditation, and mindfulness meditation in particular.
The aim is simple: to pay attention – be “mindful”. Typically, a teacher will ask you to sit upright, in an alert position. Then, they will encourage you to focus on something straightforward, like the in- and out-flow of breath. The aim is to nurture a curiosity about these sensations – not to explain them, but to know them.
It’s a way of concentrating on the here and now. It doesn’t aim directly at the dispersal of stresses and strains. In fact, it is very hard to develop the concentration necessary to follow your breath, even for a few seconds. What you see is your mind racing from this memory to that moment. But that’s the trick: to observe, and to learn to change the way you relate to your your mind. Here lies the route to better mental health.
Mindfulness is not about yogic flying. Moreover, it is not a fast track to blissful happiness. It can, in fact, be quite unsettling, as works with painful experiences, to understand them better and thereby get to the root of problems.
At Yoga Holidays we would like to offer you the type of yoga retreat that would work for you on the retreat and when you return home to the world of washing up and tube journey’s. On one of our next retreats we will be looking at yoga for a better posture and lower back pain.
We seem to be living in a society that promotes sitting. How often do you hear the words “Please take a seat” in one day?
Statistics show that people spend 35 years of their life sitting. It’s quite shocking isn’t it? The other down side is that most of us sit with very poor posture.
If in doubt, check the way your work colleagues sit at the office or pay attention to the way commuters read the papers on the train. It can be an eye opener.
At Yoga Holidays as yoga teachers, posture and alignement are our specialist subject. If you would like to know more about how you can improve your posture and get rid of back pains. Come along
When booking a yoga retreat in the UK, some yogis would rather look good in a bikini than consider the spiritual side. Everyone has there own reason’s on booking onto a retreat, some first time yoga holiday yogis are more interested in the physical side.
And in fact most people, who attend yoga classes at an early stage don’t stop to think about meditation or how well their Seven Chakras are aligned.
Sports play an important part in our everyday life because people have come to realize that their health is directly related to the type of lifestyle they choose to adopt. Here’s a our top five benefits for joining a yoga retreat this Summer;
1. Yoga is a good medicine for our body. Yoga is probably the first physical activity that will help you get rid of locomotor problems thanks to the wonderful postures that enable us to work our joints and muscles without damaging them. The same is valid for our back problems which will be soon forgotten if you stretch your spine with the help of these poses. People who suffer from bad blood circulation can improve the circulatory system with the help of several inverted yoga positions.
2. Yoga – an invincible enemy of the stress. When they practice yoga, people concentrate on the moves they make while taking deep breaths. This is the best method to free your mind of any thoughts and thus, rest your brain for a while. If you work in a stressful environment, yoga will help you restore your inner balance by putting a stop to your frenetic lifestyle.
3. Yoga is the best remedy against obesity. Sedentariness and bad food habits have caused a lot of weight problems to the entire population of the planet. Thanks to yoga, you can take up a healthier lifestyle and the meditation will enable you to stick with it. Unlike other type of sports which may be difficult to practice, such as, bicycling or jogging, yoga does not require a lot of physical efforts, but it will definitely help you lose weight and tone your muscles.
4. Yoga offers personal trainings. There isn’t just one type of yoga exercises, so people can choose to practice the poses that are more appropriate for them and their intentions. However, the intensity and the difficulty of the yoga poses will vary as the practitioner gets accustomed with the poses.
5. Yoga – a communion with nature. There is nothing that can help you restore your inner balance like the contemplation of nature; therefore, yoga is now practiced in the most peaceful natural environments. People who choose to leave the city life for a couple of weeks will also benefit from the wisdom of the best Hindu practitioners.
Here at Yoga Holidays we would love to hear your thoughts. Does it surprise you that many yoga teachers promote yoga for weight loss, slimming yoga or even sexy yoga? What message are yogis sending out there when they advertise yoga retreats, yoga holidays or yoga classes?
Over the last few years, Yoga Retreats in Spain have become the trendy way of adding an extra bit of relaxation to a holiday.
However, less intrepid travellers would probably ask why anyone would want the hassle of flying abroad when it is possible to experience a retreat closer to home. Well, just as Bikram or hot yoga is thought to help the body sweat out toxins and allow the practitioner to safely come deeper into the poses or stretches, practising in a warm climate can have similar benefits. Whatever yogic style takes your fancy, it is always more energising to perform a Sun Saluation in the face of that orange glow of a beautiful sunset.
The warmth of a Mediterranean evening and the audible backdrop of waves splashing on a nearby shore and the whole thing seems to flow easier.
We have had many yogis/yogini’s that have commented on the benefits of our retreats are they can highlight areas of yoga that cannot always be focused on in a single hour-long class once a week. The time to calm the mind as well as develop your physical practice is such a benefit from a four day or even better a week long retreat.
Let’s face it Spanish retreats can involve slightly more expense, but tend to be more exclusive with fewer students per teacher. This means that the classes can involve more personal hands-on teaching relating to each individual needs. Offering a more personalised approach.
Yes, suddenly going abroad for a long weekend yoga retreat to take in some brilliant sunshine becomes something that could be added to the calender. Don’t forget to pack your mat and your sun lotion.
New yoga devotees often talk in mystical terms about discovering a remarkable sense of well-being and health. “Yoga is opening my energy channels,” they’ll say, or they’ll describe a sense of “being in the body.” Practitioners also credit yoga for alleviating back problems, menstrual difficulties, arthritis, or chronic pain they once thought would limit their lives forever. These anecdotes are real and meaningful—but do they translate into quantifiable health improvements or the kind of credible scientific research that members of the medical community accept?
Many yoga students, trusting their own experiences, may not know or even care if the medical establishment believes in yoga as a valid therapy for specific diseases or conditions or has researched and quantified yoga’s benefits. But there are practical reasons for encouraging scientific research into yoga’s benefits. Insurance companies, just beginning to honor yoga and other alternative therapies as legitimate healing practices, are more likely to embrace yoga and reimburse ailing students for its costs if research documents its effectiveness.
With the establishment of the Office of Alternative Medicine (OAM) in 1992, and the subsequent establishment of the OAM’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) in 1998, government-funded research about yoga and other mind-body practices is gaining momentum in the United States. As part of the National Institutes of Health, which calls itself one of the world’s foremost biomedical research institutions, the NCCAM mandates at least some funding for research in alternative healing therapies. Though these funds don’t compare to public and private funding for conventional medicine, the existence of the OAM acknowledges the growing importance of natural and traditional methods of healing, and the roles they may play in today’s changing medical climate.
Scientists and medical doctors pursuing yoga-related research are focusing on its ability to help prevent, heal, or alleviate specific conditions, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, carpal tunnel syndrome, asthma, diabetes, and symptoms of menopause, and its benefits as a technique for relieving stress and coping with chronic conditions or disabilities. In fact, the NCCAM itself, identifying yoga as a therapy worth pursuing in the research arena, says that, “During the past 80 years, health professionals in India and the West have begun to investigate the therapeutic potential of yoga. To date, thousands of research studies have been undertaken and have shown that with the practice of yoga a person can, indeed, learn to control such physiologic parameters as blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory function, metabolic rate, skin resistance, brain waves, body temperature, and many other bodily functions.” Though it’s difficult to find most of these studies, some current, accessible research reports significant results for challenging medical conditions.
So, you’ve had enough of the overrun beaches, the tiresome tourist traps, the frazzled feeling that comes from fitting too much “fun” into your precious little time off. What you really want this year, you’ve decided, is not recreation, but re-creation—extending the peace, serenity, and sense of well-being you feel after yoga class. What better way to do this than by taking a yoga vacation?
You ask around for some leads, get on the Web and visit a few sites, make some calls, and soon you’re inundated with a stack of brochures promising unique, life-transforming yoga adventures, each one more tantalizing than the last.
But then what? Even if this is not your first yoga vacation, choosing among the vast number of offerings can be a challenge. How do you select the experience that’s right for you?
With a bit of common sense and the right resources, it’s not as hard as it might seem. Ask yourself the right questions, and you’ll soon determine the type of yoga vacation that best suits your needs.
Pick a Place
You’ll want to start by looking for ways to narrow down the field of options. For instance, if you’ve already found a teacher and yoga technique you like, you’re in good shape. Even if your teacher doesn’t offer yoga vacations, she should be able to recommend retreats with other teachers of the same style.
If you do decide to travel to distant shores, take special care to weigh your travel options. Some overseas yoga vacations are turnkey packages that include everything from airline tickets to local accommodations, language instruction, and prearranged sightseeing trips. Others, however, leave you completely on your own. If you choose to go to a remote place like Molivos in Greece, for example, you will need to arrange your own transportation, your own accommodations in one of the village’s hotels, guesthouses, or apartments, and your own meals. This is no big deal for a seasoned traveler. But if your idea of adventure travel is a package tour to the Bahamas, think twice before setting out for a place like Molivos.
Whichever option you choose, any yoga vacation can be a deeply transforming experience that helps you develop a new sense of yourself and what’s important in your life. Peace, strength, serenity, renewed vigor, and better health are just some of the souvenirs that you’ll bring home. Yoga retreats enable you to meet fellow travelers on the spiritual path, learn new techniques for creating greater inner balance, and above all, have fun and explore both the outer and the inner wonders of life.
There are a lot of these to choose from all over the world, and new ones are sprouting up every where so there’s a large choice of destinations at any time of the year! Sun destinations such as Greece, Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Italy, and the south of France tend to be most popular in the European summer while in the winter; India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Mexico and the Caribbean tend to be favourites. There are also a number of other locations which don’t emphasise the ‘sun’ part including Scotland, various parts of England, Ireland, Finland, Canada, Austria to name just a few. Even thought they might not be right up on the beach, these venues are chosen for their quietness and are far more suited to the practice of yoga than large tourist resorts.
Be clear on what you want
Are you going primarily for yoga, or primarily for a holiday? How much yoga to you want to do every day?. Club Med have had yoga teachers for many years in some of their resorts, they might be suitable choice for someone just wanting to do a couple of hours with plenty of fun and sun in between :), but they wouldn’t even think of calling themselves a yoga holiday resort.
A distinction is often made between yoga holidays and a yoga retreats, but it is not always clear. Generally speaking, a yoga holiday is primarily an activity holiday. The time devoted daily to yoga usually won’t exceed three hours, in one, or possibly two daily classes, and you will have time for other activities or just to relax and chill out. The location should reflect this, with a beach or other notable attractions nearby. Yoga holidays will nearly always cater for beginners.
On a retreat, on the other hand, the yoga schedule is likely to be more intense, possibly including some meditation, times of silence, etc. The main focus is no longer to enjoy yourself on holiday, but to deepen your yoga practice. Again, the choice of location should reflect this, with a quiet, possibly remote location. Retreats should be fully residential, the food vegetarian, and meal times carefully thought out to fit smoothly within the daily yoga routine. You will find more ‘hard core’ yogis and yoginis on retreats, and the overall atmosphere can be quite serious, with much less ‘free’ time. Unless you are quite certain that yoga is your thing, and want to move your practice to the next level, a yoga holiday rather than a yoga retreat is the best choice for your first time doing yoga away from home.
Decide whether you going alone, or with a friend
Going alone is not a problem. In fact, the vast majority of people going on yoga course go on their own. A few yoga centres will welcome guests who don’t do yoga, but in most cases, and certainly in the case of a retreat, yoga should be a shared interest with your prospective travel companion, so if you don’t want to go alone, a yoga buddy is a far better choice than your new boyfriend (unless, of course, you met him on a yoga weekend!)