Would you rather go on vacation or retreat? Some may not think there is much of a distinction. They both entail going somewhere different, ostensibly for the purpose of “getting away” from one’s everyday life for a change of pace, scenery, maybe even cuisine. So what’s the difference?
Julien Fruchier, founder of Yoga Retreats & Co. in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, explains: it’s all about the internal reset. “That’s a very good question. We’re not a resort so you’re not coming to a resort, it’s not about sitting by the pool or the beach drinking margaritas. This gives you maybe some mental and physical break but you’re not proactively doing things that provide for a proper reset.”
Have you ever returned after a vacation and felt like you needed… another vacation? From Julien’s perspective, the types of activities offered on the trip make a big difference in whether or not you’ll truly feel refreshed when you go home. “When you come to a retreat, for example, we provide a very good nutritious stance, a very clean menu that enables you to physically do a cleanse. Everything is as organic as possible, everything is as nutrient dense as possible, we really focus on you being able to nurture yourself. We are fully staffed, we have a designated housekeeper and tour guide to each one of the villas so that you’re fully catered and you don’t have to do anything.”
Then there’s the yoga program. Each of the retreats in beautiful Puerto Vallarta offers two classes per day, morning and evening, to offer each visitor the opportunity to really ground and soak in as much as possible from their retreat. “With the help of the yoga classes, it sort of turbocharges your ability to [open up]. We just provide the framework for the teacher to do the work. We put the student in the frame of mind, so everything you’re doing is very focused around the actual yoga classes that you’re taking twice a day when you come to our retreat. It’s creating the environment, creating the setting, and it’s creating the mindset to be open to receiving what you have to receive in class.”
You might even say that a retreat is one part letting go of the stresses of everyday life, and one part filling your tank with fresh energy stemming from nutritious food and the vitality that comes with practicing yoga twice a day in a beautiful, serene setting.
That’s not to say retreat participants spend all day being Zen, says Julien: “The vibe is jungle, very nature, mellow, and it provides a very good opportunity to just have ‘down time’ as opposed to socializing and doing activities. We do offer activities, but all those activities are taking people into nature. We take people cycling, we take people on jungle hikes, we take people on our gift back days where we actually give people the opportunity to give back to the locals by getting involved in social and environmental benefits. Sometimes we take them to help clean beaches, sometimes we take them to hospitals, to schools of underprivileged children to hang out with the kids, maybe do a little painting or whatever is required.”
There’s a theme here: cultivating positivity. Deep self-care. Going inward to nourish, reflect, and give back. Refuel, refresh, rest.
So. Will your next trip be a vacation or a retreat to reset? We know which one we’re craving.
Julien Fruchier is the Founder of Yoga Retreats & Co. in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. You can visit the center's Retreat Guru profile and upcoming events here.