7 things everyone should know about retreats
From packing fails to phone etiquette, Love Yoga's Sian Gordon gets real about wellness vacays.
“We did a retreat in Ireland and I literally packed like I was going to Downton Abbey,” recalls Sian Gordon, co-founder of Love Yoga (the cult-fave Los Angeles studio that leads several retreats a year). The suitcase full of dresses and boots? Yeah, not so necessary. “I ended up wearing the same pair of sweatpants the whole week,” she admits, laughing.
Retreat fails are real (even for pros who lead them multiple times a year). But whether it’s deciding what to pack or figuring out what the hell a retreat even is, it doesn’t have to be so complicated. And that’s kind of the point: Once you book your spot and grab your plane tickets, there’s not a whole lot of planning you need to do (packing included).
“You’re basically escaping having to get dressed and present yourself to the world for seven days.”
“Most yoga retreats are just about turning off from the world,” says Gordon. “You’re doing yoga, you’re in nature, you’re reading…. You’re basically escaping having to get dressed and present yourself to the world for seven days.”
Here, Gordon explains the 7 things everyone should know about organized escapes.
1: Retreats are the feel-good vacation you always want to have
“It’s so much better than going on a regular vacation! You get to go to a fantastic place where you know the food’s going to be healthy and really good, and instead of just lying by the pool and feeling stagnant on your vacation, you’re exercising. You’re nourishing your spirit, your soul, and you’re on vacation on top of that. Hopefully you have a teacher you really, really like, so you’re also learning. For me, if you’re going to take one vacation a year, that’s the vacation you should take.”
2: Or it’s the summer camp experience you wish you had
“You become family in one week—everyone ends up feeling and acting that way by the end of the retreat. You just become close to everyone. It’s like summer camp, which might be appealing to some people.”
3: Dudes can retreat, too
“We’ve had dudes on our retreats. Guys have a great time. It does change the dynamic, but people seemed to let go of the rigidity of having to look perfect every day. Even with hot guys around, there was a release of sorts because you’re on retreat.”
4: Pack your comfiest workout clothes…and not much else
“You’re sweaty, you’re gross, and you’ll just throw on the same shit. [When you’re on a retreat], you don’t care—for me, it’s just a bra, a pair of shorts, and flip flops. No cute shoes. Maybe one outfit in case there’s a night out.”
5: You can bring your phone, but try to take a break from it
“It’s so nice to make the decision at the beginning of the retreat to not be on your phone, to set that intention for yourself. Maybe put it on airplane mode and take it off half an hour a day; deal with your texts or emails and then put it away.”
6: Def pack a book or journal for all that down time
“When you don’t have your phone, it’s amazing how much you want to read—and how much you do! I highly recommend bringing a book. I don’t journal, but I know people like to do that—I like AllSwell because they have one side for writing and the other’s for drawing.”
7: Go as hard or as low-key as you want—as long as you’re open to change
“We want people to have a fantastic time and not restrict themselves in any way; for them to feel like they can become more themselves by stripping away what their daily life is, or what they think it is. But we do emphasize a turning inward, rather than going out and getting drunk at night.”