If I was to organise a retreat....
My upcoming solo practice/study retreat to Santorini has got me thinking.
Most retreats and workshops tend to revolve around a well known teacher. You go there to learn/benefit from the teacher's experience, to have your practice tweaked, your alignment perhaps, get some help with postures your struggling with, perhaps be given new 'poses'.
Then there are workshops that focus on a particular aspect of practice, floating, back bending, arm balances etc. I'm going to one of Richard Freeman's workshops myself later in the year that has that kind of a format, I'm looking forward to it.
On the 'holiday' I'm going on next week though, the idea is just to have more time for my practice. On my regular day off I get to practice longer, I tend to practice for around three or four hours in the morning (this includes full pranayama etc) and then another two or three hours in the evening, the rest of the day I tend to read/study or perhaps work up a more detailed blog post that I've had in mind, it's a kind of a yoga day. The idea of the holiday is to have time to practice like that, not once a week on my day off but fourteen days in a row ( a month, three would be nice).
I don't have to make compromises in my practice, I can take as long as I want in postures, repeat them, do variations and still have time for long shoulder stands and headstands, longer savasanas and full sessions of pranayama, a decent sit. In the past, in the evening session, I tended to do a mini 'home workshop' session on back bending or arm balancing, tic tacks say or something else I wanted to work on separately from my regular practice.
I can chant for a while and take the time to improve my regular meat and veg chants or work on/learn new ones. I can get stuck into an area of the sutras I'm not as familiar with or different commentaries and compare them or some other text. And I can take more time and thought over what I'm eating.
It got me thinking...
What if there was a retreat like that.
Say I booked two rooms somewhere in Greece say (this is purely hypothetical) , one of the islands perhaps a larger practice room and then a quieter room, not for 'finishing' but for pranayama and meditation.
We have the rooms available all day, all night. there are no 'practice times' you go in and practice when you want for as long as you want then practice some pranayama and or meditate, again for as long or as often as you want or not, entirely up to you.
There could be some optional reading groups, pick a text or two at the beginning of the retreat, decide on the time best suited to everyone to that would fit around each others practice and just meet up and read through and discuss the text.
Perhaps some pranayama and practice groups where we could look at different approaches to pranayama, meditation that we might like to try out in our own practice.
Perhaps a discussion session at the beginning on practice where we could offer the odd hour here and there to lead a 'regular workshop' session on some aspect of practice. I could offer something on Vinyasa Krama variations , you might be good at back bending and happy to offer a mini 'master or rather peer class'. Sid might be happy to offer something on pranayama, we could all lead a session in how we approach meditation.....is this getting too hippyish?
Rest of the time you could be sociable or not, 'quiet' tables where you could eat in silence and others where you could get together...perhaps a quiet reading room.
I like this idea
Feel free to add and develop this idea, maybe we or somebody else will set it up sometime.
Or what if it wasn't a retreat, but a yoga shala, a nondenominational, kind of Mysoreish space where anyone could come along and practice what they wanted for as long as they wanted, how they wanted....