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|TBO Article on Yoga Retreats|
Yoga retreats offer healthy indulgence
By DANIELA VELAZQUEZ | The Tampa Tribune
Published: June 22, 2011
Endless margaritas, fried food at every meal and a week's worth of late-night partying can make you wish for a vacation from your vacation.
Or maybe you just need a different kind of indulgent escape to start with.
Like a yoga retreat.
"The whole purpose is that people can unplug and really get in touch with themselves," says clinical psychologist and mindful eating expert Diego Hernandez, who in July will accompany Tampa yoga teachers Dale Morphew and Shelly Happel to Pura Vida Spa Resort in Costa Rica, where they'll help folks recharge with daily meditation, yoga classes and outdoor adventures.
Hernandez will teach meditation and mindfulness techniques to help people soak up their experiences.
"We're able to participate in the adventure, we don't show up to perform and then leave," Hernandez says. "People have access to us -- it's a nonthreatening way to do that; you know, instead of becoming a patient."
But what about those nights at the bar filled with imbibing? Isn't that what a vacation is supposed to be?
"We're a consumer culture, but people find it unfulfilling," Hernandez says. "Living for the moment is just indulgence, but living in the moment is indulgence and participation."
Of course, his retreat team (www.Facebook.com/TampaYogaRetreat) isn't the only one in town offering Zen-filled getaways.
Tampa-based yogi Jen Smith took her love of workshops and retreats and turned it into a members-only discount website called retreatyourselfwell.com.
Smith started the site because she wanted a good experience for yogis from start to finish.
"Many times on retreats, people call a studio, give their credit card to get charged thousands of dollars, and receive very little guidance until the airport shuttle plops them at the retreat location. It can be a little daunting," Smith says.
For $70 for six months, or $130 for a year, members can get discounts on well-researched workshops and area retreats, or find out about far-flung destinations like Bali.
"Retreats allow me to remove distraction and go further on many levels within my practice on and off the mat. I still reflect on a lot of my retreat moments for strength or inspiration in my day-to-day life," Smith says. "I guess you could say that retreating makes me more present when I get back to my 'real life.'"
If you don't have the time or money to send yourself on a faraway yoga vacation, you can you can still make plans at a local retreat or in other U.S. cities, where you can get classes for a discount through the Passport to Prana program.
At www.passporttoprana.com, a $30 passport entitles you to a free class at a plethora of participating studios. Enter "Retreat1" for a special $30 membership discount to Retreat Yourself Well.