The Difference Between a Vacation and a Yoga Retreat


Why do we go on vacation? For many, it’s a combination of taking a break from work, exploring new places, relaxing, and just changing things up. But too many vacations leave people feeling exhausted, sluggish and unprepared to return to “real life” instead of rested and rejuvenated. What if there was a holiday you could take that had all of the relaxation, sight-seeing, adventure and newness of a vacation but left you ready to take on your life back home with renewed energy and strength?

Enter: The Yoga Retreat. It’s a chance to get away and relax, but in a way that supports your physical, mental, and spiritual health. Retreats avoid many of the common pitfalls of standard vacations, leaving you feeling more grounded and restored. These are just a few of the key differences between retreats and ordinary vacations.

Retreats improve your health and wellness.

Going on vacation is fun and relaxing, but it’s not always good for your health. In fact, for most people, vacation means more junk food and alcohol, less exercise, and an inconsistent schedule. By the end, you might feel out of shape or find you’ve gained weight, and you may experience bloating, fatigue, moodiness, and anxiety among other symptoms.

On the flipside, one of the central aims of a retreat is to enhance health and wellness. The best Yoga retreats include regular yoga, meditation, and sometimes other exercises and provide healthy, balanced meals in a supportive and dynamic group setting. Stricter retreats might also limit or outright ban alcohol, tobacco, and even caffeine with the goal of assisting you in getting back on a healthier track. Some begin early in the morning and enforce a lights-out time at night to help participants adjust to a schedule and time zone with more ease. Instead of an excuse to overindulge, a retreat can act as a reset button and help jumpstart a healthier lifestyle.

Going on a retreat can be truly transformative.

Vacations offer chances to learn new things and get out of your comfort zone, but that’s usually not the focus. Retreats, however, are designed to be transformative. They’re an opportunity to learn and reflect, to question your beliefs, and to get to know yourself better. After just a few days on a retreat, you might notice that you’re starting to feel more clear on your values, your aspirations, and who you want to be.

Retreats are generally community-oriented.

Most retreats are a chance to live for a bit among a group of like-minded people. Going through such a meaningful experience together, it’s hard not to form bonds with each other. Many retreats also include things like partner activities or sharing circles, designed to help you connect with your fellow attendees. If you’ve been feeling lonely or struggling to meet people who share your interests, a retreat might be the perfect place to find a sense of community.

The benefits last long after you go home.

Retreats introduce experiences and ideas that are new to many attendees, including different forms of yoga and meditation, chanting, breathwork, personal development, and spiritual teachings. You’ll go home with a new toolbox of ways to improve your well-being and cope with daily life. Plus, you just might discover a new practice or modality you really love.

Are you interested in going on a retreat instead of a typical vacation? We offer a variety of retreats at Vikasa all year long, so come join us and experience the magic for yourself!

About the Author


Jennifer Ambrose

Jen is a freelance writer, blogger, and yoga teacher who left her office job in Boston to travel the world with her husband. She previously worked in international development and academic research, and served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Rwanda. Some of her biggest passions include promoting responsible and mindful travel and helping her students develop their personal yoga practice.