Ommmm-nipresent: Yoga’s Many Incarnations

More than ever, it’s hard to disconnect and unwind. That’s why planners are increasingly building in “me” time for attendees, and yoga and meditation are big trends in people’s lives. Experts agree both can do wonders for mental clarity and performance enhancement. Health is the mainstream now, it’s the new ‘it’ lifestyle, with juice cleanses trending, fitness Instagram accounts having hundreds of thousands of followers and workout attire flying off the rack. Not to mention the countless number of fitness apps.

You know that feeling after a hard work out, or when you wake up early and have your cup of tea watching the sunrise—that indescribable feel-good feeling, as if anything the world throws at you is going to be hit out of the park? For a growing number of people, that feeling can be accessed through yoga and meditation.

Yoga’s benefits are said to range from strengthening immune systems and improving energy to balancing metabolism. Meditation reduces stress, improves concentration and can even increase happiness. No surprise, then, that yoga and meditation retreats are more popular than ever, and have become a major player in hotel health and wellness packages. From just barely touching your toes to a full handstand scorpion pose, yoga classes and retreats can help you in more ways than you might imagine.

Here’s a sampling of offerings, each with different goals.

A Relaxation Vacation, Or Not

Some resorts, such as Miraval Resort & Spa in Southern Arizona, are themed for relaxation. They feature classes and workshops designed to indulge, challenge, renew and improve guest’s well-being, both physically and mentally. Including cooking classes, cardio drumming classes, a tightrope course, mountain biking, floating meditation, Himalayan sound baths, restorative and aerial yoga classes and many more. Miraval is a resort that leaves it up to guests to choose what they want to do each day and how they want to try and improve themselves.

Companies such as Yoga For Bad People take their retreats on the road, traveling to locales such as Nicaragua, Cuba, Portugal and Italy. Think relaxing vacation with yoga incorporated into the day. Instead of having free time in-between yoga or mediation sessions, Yoga For Bad People emphasizes yoga in-between free time. It incorporates the local culinary scene and nightlife into the retreat.

Then, at the other extreme—remember the final scene of Mad Men where Don Draper is meditating by the beach?—are retreats such as Hoffman Institute. It offers an intensive, seven-day retreat that helps participants identify negative behaviors, moods and ways of thinking. There are no cell phones allowed, no internet is available, and retreaters fully immerse themselves in learning how to live via the positives in their lives.

World-famous Esalen Institute in Big Sur hosts a number of three-to-five-day retreats, ranging in topics from Arts and Creativity, Meditation and Spirituality, Nature and Sustainability to Relationship and Self. Esalen describes itself as “an integral learning environment devoted to pioneering deep change in self and society; in heart, spirit and bodymind.” This is a retreat where “seekers serve seeker, and the veil between what is actual and what is possible is as thin as mist.”

Learn and Stretch Together

Not only does yoga build confidence, but it allows participants to be challenged individually and as a team. Working through various poses and techniques, and seeing other people break down mental and physical barriers, can be excellent team building.

But going for a full-on, multiple-day retreat isn’t the only way to get your stretch on. One can find that internal balance from just an hour break in the day. A lot of yoga studios and companies such as YogaWorks offer on-call instructors who will come to your group or business and lead a class.

So, if you are looking for an activity for attendees for your next event, roll out those mats and light that sage.

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