When begin a yoga practice, maybe by going to a class, trying yoga online or as in my case (back in the day) borrowing a book from the library, we are opening a door to a new experience, a new sense of reality. For some this might be enough, one or two classes a week to give some respite from a busy life and a wholesome experience for the mind, body and breath.

For others, there may be a call to enquire more deeply. Yoga can be a life changing experience when practised correctly in the hands of an experienced (and properly qualified) teacher.

With regular practice and an open mind, yoga will have a profound effect upon the way you view, experience and live your life.

After an initial ‘blossoming’ period, your personal practice (whether at home or in a class) can become just another pattern, another routine in the rhythm of our day to day lives. This may be when your romance with yoga begins to fade, maybe you begin to look for another release, or if you like, another distraction. This is such a shame, the essence of yoga isn’t in the actual practice, but in the experience. Endlessly searching for the answers to your questions becomes yet another of life’s mundane habits.

This, is where the experience of a Yoga retreat can lift the veils of your practice and help to reveal inner truths.

When I say yoga retreat, I’m referring to a structured practice with an emphasis upon experience, enquiry and reflection with a firm foundation in the yoga tradition incorporating elements such as meditation, pranayama and asana with some philosophical discussion and instruction (satsang). I also like to use sound (mantra) and mandala’s to provide a rich tapestry of experience.

I’m not referring to a yoga holiday which is basically a holiday with a couple of asana practices a day with some feel good fluff to gilt the experience. A holiday is usually diversion or distraction from your everyday routine, any problems or life drama’s are more put on hold than actually dealt with. I’ve worked for companies in the past running a yoga holiday, and as a teacher, i found them shallow and a little frustrating as you were just scraping the surface. If you are looking for a holiday, that’s fine, but these most definitely are not retreats. You might also find you need a holiday to get over your holiday!

When I lead a retreat I try to be as much aware of the emotional aspects of the student as well as any physical issues a student has. I look not only at the students individually, but also the dynamics of the group as a whole and so I can adjust the practices to keep group harmony and the retreat flowing. As well as techniques and practices which students may be familiar with from a typical yoga class, I like to incorporate more expressive activities, for example on my last retreat we created small clay images of ourselves to view how we see and relate to our selves, and also to introduce the idea of being able to witness ourself without judgement and with love and compassion.

On a yoga retreat there maybe moments of insight, joy, bliss and laughter. Also there can be tears, inner turmoil triggered perhaps by deep seated memories of the past, longings or fears for the future as the retreat brings them to the surface. This is where the experience of a good teacher is invaluable. She or he isnt just there to adjust your triangle posture, but to listen, to mentor and to maybe share some of their own life experiences in relation to where you are right now as you endeavour to feel, experience and ultimately delight in walking the path of yoga.

Andrew’s next yoga weekend retreat runs from 21st to 23rd of October 2016 in Glastonbury. Price all inclusive £295 twin room sharing – one single room for £325. Contact Andrew for more info and bookings andrew@yogawithandrew.co.uk