Often the best way to ingrain something into our lives is to immerse ourselves in it. Why not take the same approach with our health?

re•treat: an act or process of withdrawing especially from what is disagreeable; a place of privacy or safety

Name a discipline and there is probably a place to escape and envelop into it. Commonly referred to as retreats or camps, such programs are available around the world. We can attend by ourselves or with loved ones. We can stay for days, weeks, months, and maybe longer. We can learn as much as possible or leave it all behind.

More Than a Vacation

When surrounded by individuals with a similar focus we create an environment to encourage change. We learn from our teachers and from each other. We learn what we can teach one another. We learn how to make our lives healthier. This extends beyond the physical. Immersion also involves mental and emotional strengthening.

Sound intense? It can be. When our entire world feels structured and planned we may crack. This is good. Part of learning to love ourselves is to identify and remove the barriers that restrain our growth. There’s nothing wrong with the way we are now, however there’s always room for enrichment…if we want it. Let’s not forget, we’re striving to enjoy life by focusing on enhancement, not repair. Wherever we are is where we start.

Take the example of yoga retreats, one of the most popular types of fitness retreats. Sitting here in a villa in Bali, Indonesia, I have removed myself from the conveniences and culture of western society. My bungalow is little more than four pillars and a roof. In an open air bathroom I shower under the stars every night. I only eat food that is grown and prepared locally. I practice yoga twice a day and study a little in between.

This is not as extreme as it sounds. While some programs maintain a meticulously planned agenda, I have chosen one that has afforded me time to scuba dive, hike a volcano and participate in various other activities, as well as get in a few massages. This is balance.

Thanks to unreliable Internet and no desire to pay international wireless rates, I have unplugged from my world and have been forced to rely on what is real in human nature. This is living. There’s a unique strengthening from exposure and vulnerability. I’m learning a lot about myself.

Self” Study

Besides the increased internal self-awareness I’m discovering how my body responds to true natural living. As I mentioned above, I am only consuming food grown locally using traditional, labor intensive methods.

For example, the rice fields behind the villa are irrigated from lakes and rivers, use ducks for pest control, are harvested by hand and the grains are dried in the sun. Every meal is cooked from fresh, raw ingredients. I feel like a heavy cloak has been ripped from my body. My digestion is smooth and regular, energy is consistent, my head is clear, and I sleep soundly through the night and wake refreshed. I feel like King Kong!

Yoga in Bali is not the only option. I could have chosen another discipline and I didn’t have to choose to travel halfway around the world. There are other fitness modalities, and some are even local. Nearby resorts offer health and wellness packages that include classes on exercise and nutrition.

Don’t feel overwhelmed with the commitment. None of these should be viewed as a regular exercise regimen. They are tools to break through plateaus, a way to learn something new, and let go of what no longer serves.

Excitement stems from discovering how our bodies can be revamped. Not just learning about it, but actually experiencing the distinction. This is lasting reinforcement. It’s easier to maintain what we have than build something new.