A yoga meditation retreat usually involves a stay in a serene setting where groups of people can practice yoga and meditate without interruption from the outside world. The retreat may last a single day or continue for days, weeks or longer. Food and lodging generally are provided during the yoga meditation retreat. The time spent at such a retreat center may be spent meditating, practicing yoga, taking in the scenery or participating in ayurvedic health practices or holistic healing.
Nearly any tranquil place may be used as a yoga meditation retreat. Popular locations for centers include the mountains, beach, rainforest, desert, lake and even rural farmland. The main qualification is that the setting should be relaxing and encourage the participants to practice yoga and meditate.
A yoga meditation retreat generally will run the course of a weekend. Many retreat centers also allow people to participate in one-day workshops. Some centers also offer yoga meditation retreat programs that last for several weeks.
In most cases, meals and lodging are provided during the course of the yoga meditation retreat, allowing the participants to focus on their yoga and meditation practices. The meals are commonly vegetarian, or free from meat. Meals sometimes are set according to the ayurvedic body type of each participant, making each meal part of a holistic plan. For example, people who are considered to have a kapha body type may be served plenty of beans and lentils but not dairy and foods high in oil, such as avocado. Lodging may include private rooms with private bathrooms, private rooms with shared bathrooms, shared rooms with shared bathrooms, or camping tents.
Much of the day at a yoga meditation retreat is spent practicing yoga or meditating. Although retreat programs vary widely, many include a morning and evening meditation circle and yoga class. Other classes may include the retreat center's surroundings in the practice of yoga and meditation, such as would be found in a contemplative or meditative hiking class. People may take time during the hike to meditate, stretch and soak in the serene setting.
Some people may have the option of participating in a yoga mediation retreat program in silence. Silence is considered by some people to be a deeper form of meditation. Other people may mediate on certain areas of the body, such as energy centers known as chakras. Many people chant or silently meditate on Sanskrit phrases known as mantras. Meditation and yoga often are done in combination, either in a group or private setting.