A NEW CONCEPT OF RETREATS
What if we reinvented the yoga retreat in France?
If yoga studios offer more and more different formats of yoga/meditation classes (several styles of yoga for example: hatha yoga, ashtanga yoga, iyengar yoga, bikram yoga…), some yogis feel the need to extend the benefits of their practice to a little more than an hour on the yoga mat and to go on a yoga retreat in France
The solution? A stay around yoga! This is typically the need I’ve been feeling on several occasions lately: a ZEN vacation! A vacation where you can enjoy your free time, without running around but incorporating a yoga and wellness dimension to really recharge and reconnect with a healthier life.
But I myself noticed that over the years I wanted to include yoga in my vacations: I couldn’t find my way around the offer and the promises of the different retreats, courses and stays…
Laurianne from Zen Escapes presents the concept:
The rise of yoga: preamble
If yoga has existed for thousands of years and was for a long time practiced by a limited population, it is now a practice that is increasingly sought after. Originally, in India, it was only transmitted between sages of the same caste, which limited its number of followers. Imported into the West at the end of the 19th century, yoga has long been seen as a hippie practice, a little out of place. Let’s be honest: until recently, yoga was associated with very spiritual practitioners and sometimes even on the bangs of the common man.
But fortunately, in recent years, there has been a renaissance of yoga and meditation. While the practice of yoga has remained the same for 2000 years, society’s view of it is taking a turn. There is a general awareness that we need to take a step back, take care of our balance, and find a way out of our sometimes stressful lives. And that’s where yoga and meditation come in! A healthy experience that allows you to reconnect with your body while calming your mind is the answer many have been waiting for.
Yoga is therefore booming! The yoga studios do not empty, the brands of yoga activate themselves to propose an equipment as technical as aesthetic, and the followers are more and more numerous. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned yogi, all yoga practices are possible and the offer is adapting more and more to the growing demand.
So how do you choose your yoga retreat in France?
If you are looking for an intensive and dynamic practice, where yoga is at the center of your stay, then this is the yoga retreat for you. A retreat is generally an opportunity to refocus, to reconnect, to practice yoga for several hours a day and even during the nights, as well as meditation. Some yoga retreats are even practiced in complete silence for several days: Vipassana yoga retreats. If you want to boost your vitality and perfect your yoga, this is the retreat for you because a yoga and meditation retreat will be lighter in yoga classes than a yoga retreat.
If on the contrary you feel like relaxing by the pool or the spa of a magnificent hotel in Chamonix or Hossegor, for a large part of the day, with an option of yoga/meditation classes, it is possible in many dream places! More and more luxury clubs and hotels are offering this type of infrastructure and activities in their packages. You can also find these stays elsewhere than in France, for example a trip to an island (to get away from your home and routine in Paris!), with a complete and varied program of activities (surfing on the ocean, treatments and massages at the spa, nights under the stars…) including an afternoon of yoga and meditation discovery. There is something for everyone!
That said, what I was looking for was a vacation with yoga, detox, cocooning, but not necessarily isolation or too many hours of yoga during the day, nor too strict a discipline (it’s the vacations, after all!) so not a yoga retreat. On the contrary, for me, vacations rhyme with activities and discoveries, so the second option, 100% idleness, did not correspond to me either…
Faced with this realization… I decided to create the yoga trip I was looking for! This is how the Zen Escapes stay was born.
Who are you and what is Zen Escapes?
My name is Lauriane, I am 32 years old and I am originally from the South of France, but I have been living in Lyon for 8 years. I worked for almost ten years in human resources, first in a firm and then in a company. Responsible job, stress, then search for meaning, resignation… and then I found myself, at the turn of a trip, after a month of training as a hatha/vinyasa yoga teacher in Costa Rica. I returned to France after this trip, I thought about my professional reorientation, and putting everything together it was clear: I created Zen Escapes.
Zen Escapes is a concept of yoga and well-being interludes, where everything is in balance. The idea is to escape for a day, a weekend or a week, and to disconnect – or rather reconnect, around yoga and nature. It’s the perfect mix between activities (mountain hiking, skiing etc.) and free time, yoga, meditation and other workshops, a program that is neither too empty nor too busy to relax without getting bored, a dynamic experience to fill up with vitality, and a healthy but never tasteless cuisine. A Zen Escapes stay is the possibility to do other activities than yoga, a stay made to recharge, an experience a little more flexible than a yoga retreat.
Whatever the duration of the event or stay (weekends, weeks etc)In the afternoon, we meet around one or two yoga classes per day, workshops and activities made accessible so that we can then use them at home and make the benefits of the Escapes courses last. Basically, the Escapes are designed as authentic yoga and meditation stays to take the time to enjoy life and boost your vitality!
Where is it?
I am based in Lyon, France, so Escapes by the day usually take place there. For a long weekend, it is in the region: Alps, Burgundy, South of France… and for yoga stays longer than a weekend, everything is allowed! Whether in France or elsewhere. The watchword is to be as close as possible to nature (mountains, ocean…) to allow you to enjoy the great outdoors, without compromising on comfort.
Who is it for?
Everyone! Whether yoga is for you a discovery or a regular experience, you have your place on the Escapes from the moment you want to disconnect, while ensuring you spend an active vacation, around a good table or a friendly aperitif. The idea is to desacralize the prejudices about yoga retreats that are necessarily reserved for experienced, vegan and ultra-spiritual yogis, at vinyasa yoga levels high. Whether you come alone or with others, whatever the case, you will find people with the same spirit as you!
You want to leave Paris for a weekend to recharge your batteries? Beginner in yoga, you are looking for yoga and meditation classes in a healthy and detox atmosphere in the middle of nature to change your home? Don’t want those intensive courses with 6-hour nights to maximize the dynamics of the retreat and its hatha yoga classes? Does a hike in the heart of nature, in the mountains or on the ocean appeal to you more than a spa and shopping trip in Chamonix? So: welcome to the Zen Escape yoga and meditation stay!
Who are the Escapes guests?
On the spot, it is me who welcomes you, animates the workshops and gives the yoga classes. For some specific activities, I work with specialized people: naturopath, mountain guide, aromatherapist… it depends on the theme and the program! And of course, the team is completed by the owners of the place, who welcome us in their home for the yoga stay! Everyone is there for you to enjoy, trusting that everything has been thought of behind the scenes so that you can enjoy your yoga experience!
So what is the philosophy of Zen Escapes?
It is to reinvent the concept of retreat / yoga course. While respecting the philosophy of life of yoga, the concept of Zen Escapes is to offer moments to recharge but not completely break with our usual lifestyle. If the gap is too wide, not only will it take you days to break your habits, but you will have a hard time declining the benefits and teachings of the yoga stay when you get home.
Simple example (and real life… oops): if you spend a week on an ultra-strict diet during the yoga retreat, breaking away from your usual diet, then as soon as you get home, all you’ll want to do is jump on your favorite comfort food. Whereas if you choose a healthy cuisine but indulge yourself (let’s say, without excess) during your yoga stay, you will only want to continue!
What does a Zen Escapes actually look like?
Whatever the length of the yoga stay, or its location, one will always have the same overall environment. Already, the groups are limited (12 people maximum) to share convivial moments while guaranteeing calm and particular attention to each one. Then, we always choose a comfortable, cosy accommodation in the heart of nature, with a healthy and greedy food [cuisine végétarienne], organic and local as much as possible for a 100% detox course.
As for the program of the yoga stay, it revolves around 4 pillars. The first one, without surprise, is the daily yoga: hatha yoga [doux] or vinyasa yoga [dynamique] in the morning, yin yoga [stretching] or nidra yoga [sommeil] in the evening, to vary the pleasures. Then, nature activities: hiking in the mountains, stand-up paddle on the ocean, snowshoeing, skiing… depending on the season and the program of the stay! Thirdly, wellness workshops: it can be an initiation to ayurveda, aromatherapy, the making of organic cosmetics… And finally: time for yourself! It’s vacations after all: nap, walk, meditation in the middle of nature, discover the surroundings of the place of stay… the choice is yours!
Can we say that this is an à la carte vacation?
Yes ! As long as you respect the others and the place, everything is allowed during this stay. You are under no obligation to participate in any of the activities and courses offered. If you need a nap after your hike in the mountains, a lie-in to recharge your batteries or a meditation session instead of yoga: go for it. It is precisely the ultimate in letting go of the past that we are looking for in this type of experience! If we can listen to ourselves enough to do what our bodies and minds need, rather than following “I shoulds”, then we have it all figured out.
On the Escapes yoga stays, we offer a global yogic approach during the stay (detox of the body as well as digital), but it is your experience: our main objective is to allow you to find a balance that suits you in order to perpetuate it after the yoga stay, to keep this healthy approach. Nothing very extreme here, forget about performance at all costs, the watchword is and will always be to enjoy your stay and recharge your batteries!
Are there other things that Zen Escapes offers?
If the heart of the activity is the organization of events and stays in France or elsewhere (and I said stay, not retreat), Zen Escapes also offers stay solutions for companies. So if you like the concept, it can be adapted to a company seminar, or an intervention in the form of a workshop, for a day, a weekend or more.
If you are a private individual, you can also privatize an Escape! weekend Birthday party at the ocean, EVJF, family reunion weekend in the middle of nowhere… everything is possible and can be customized.
So if you too have the desire to integrate Zen into your vacation or weekend without daring to embark on an intensive yoga retreat, a Zen Escape stay is bound to await you. You can find the full schedule of upcoming Escapes stays at www.zen-escapes.com, and news / info on Instagram (@zen_escapes) or Facebook (zenescapes.yoga).
See you soon for a detox yoga & nature break!