This blog post was written by Sharon Russell, a regular student of the school, and describes her experience of attending a recent retreat.

I attended the Central Yoga school retreat at Bamarang in October 2016.  I’ve been a student at the school for about 5 years (2 or 3 classes a week) and I’ve been on two other retreats.

The retreats are usually 3 day duration, with 3 yoga sessions per day.  Accommodation is on the Shoalhaven River in beautiful timbered shared rooms.  At mealtimes and in the evenings, everyone gathers in the big communal kitchen and living area (with a great outdoor fire pit) to relax together.  And to dispel your fears, the retreats are not silent, you can bring your own coffee and the vegetarian food is always plentiful and fabulous.

To be honest, going to my first retreat, I was concerned about my abilities – whether the classes would be too advanced and just whether I could physically make it through that much yoga in the short time period.  On the second day, I was a bit sore and sorry for myself and that translated into crankiness.  Fortunately I remember on that day listening to a reading about the obstacles we should be trying to overcome in our practice and finding it very reassuring.
Whether you’re a beginner or have been practicing for years, I can guarantee you will leave knowing something more about your practice or yourself.  This comes about because:
– You are focusing solely on your yoga without distraction.  Your environment is serene- surrounded by bush, birds and wombats, a morning swim if you’re brave and the traditional breathtaking bushwalk on your last day.  You’re pretty much out of phone reception and you don’t have to shop or worry about food.
– The pace is slower and the classes longer, which allows for different or more detailed instruction and demonstration, more repetition or a closer breakdown of an asana.  Sometimes a question is asked that prompts a discussion or another way to approach a pose that is difficult for you.
– You are surrounded by fellow students of all ages and walks of life who are on the yoga journey with you.  There is time to get to know them and be inspired by them – to observe their practice and find out how and why they started.  You don’t get this opportunity when you’re running in and out of the Surry Hills studio.  The retreats are a friendly, supportive environment.
On this retreat, we returned often to handstand (which is a problem for me) and I brought home a renewed focus on my hand placement and weight balance.  I got frustrated but I kept trying, and on the last day I got up!
Come with a curious mind and a positive attitude.  Come prepared to listen to some readings on yoga philosophy and practice, and watch some videos of Mr Iyengar attaining the seemingly impossible (and take from all of this what you will).  Come regardless of what you think about your level of skill.  But definitely come and enjoy the time and the peace to culture your practice, whatever stage it is  at.
For more information about our next retreat click here.