I’m sure you’ve seen it, stunning drone footage, wonderous swimming pools, stunning beach bodies and luxury accommodation that looks fit for a king or queen.
This is the norm when it comes to many yoga retreats in Chiang Mai, Thailand and around the world. As humans we are easily seduced by something that looks like it’s come straight from the heavens, something that that would have us believe if we can just visit this heavenly place even for a few nights, we would surely be able to relax, let go of our worries and get a sense of that inner peace that yoga practitioners are always talking about.
Yoga, an ancient practice originating in India shares teachings about living in moderation, understanding that there are many layers to our being, that there is much more to life than just fulling our own desires. So how did yoga retreats get caught up in this kind of vision?
One reason could be the effect of social media. This is something that we have seen explode over the past decade or so. The world of social media, usually a world associated with aesthetic beauty, self-image and subtle addiction, is now being used to beam Yoga content all around the globe. You can see the clash of values and principles here that’s seems to be getting things a bit mixed up. But on a good note there some really great yoga influencers out there that are keeping it real, here are 2 that we really like like…..
The Buddha, the world’s great meditation teacher encouraged people to take the middle way, a balanced approach to life that was neither to far towards extravagance or renouncement. The buddha also teaches us to let go or detach from worldly desires and attachments because they lead to a state of constant craving and agitation in the mind. Yet we continuously see the yoga retreat world as one full off infinity pools, gourmet food, designer fashion and aesthetics. It’s quite the paradox. It seems this kind of marketing plays on our basic human impulses to seek fulfillment outside of ourselves, instead of looking for our true worth within.
Any way back to the topic at hand, so why a 5 star yoga retreat might not be that good for you? let’s explore.
if you just want to get away from your everyday life, chill by the pool, do a bit of stretching, indulge in some gourmet food that’s perfectly fine. Just know that it’s not a recipe that pushes you to grow, learn or look within. when you go home, back to reality nothing much will have changed. It’s likely that you will fall back into the same habits and patters that you were in before. Which begs the questions, was that 5-star yoga retreat really that good for you?
What’s missing? The transformation, the wisdom, the discipline, the exploration outside your comfort zone. These are the elements of a yoga retreat that can give you real lasting growth and breakthroughs. If we put ourselves in an environment of luxury and pampering, where we can click our fingers and get whatever we want, we won’t learn a thing about ourselves.
One of the main teachings of the Buddha is that untamed craving is the path towards suffering. Craving for sensual experiences, for worldly objects or even for things to be a certain way, sets us up in the direction of misery and unhappiness. This is because whatever we have, experience or obtain is not permanent and will not last. So, if we base our happiness on getting what we crave and keeping it, or we get into the habit of always having things the way we want them, we are actually setting ourselves up for misery rather than happiness.
Many of the authentic Buddhist monasteries throughout Thailand purposefully create conditions where attendees are forced to face their craving and desires head on. Like sleeping on a hard wooden board instead of a mattress, eating only once or twice a day and engaging in daily chores. Although these practices might seem extreme to some people, they are aimed at assisting us in soften our own cravings, desires and attachments.
We believe a simple and authentic style yoga retreat offers the perfect environment to explore and practice philosophical concepts such as this in balanced and accesible ways.
No need to sleep on a wooden board, but perhaps you can share a room with another retreat guest and let go of that craving to have private accommodation for yourself. Maybe you can go without the air conditioning for a few days and soften that desire to keep cool. Or You can decide that its really not that bad being woken up by the early morning rooster.
These are all the little things that you miss out on in a 5-start yoga retreat. They may not seem like much, but they are the start of your journey towards softening your cravings and desires, letting go and moving in the direction of lasting happiness.
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