The History of Men’s RetreatsThree years ago yoga instructors Andrew Bathory (Montreal) and Adam Bolton (Toronto) were invited to teach a men’s retreat in Oaxaca, Mexico. They were both hesitant about what the feeling of a men’s only dynamic would be, but were blown away by both the potency and healing that became possible through their practice together on the beach. Inspired by the trips success, after returning home the duo launched Men’s Retreats for gay yoga lovers. This past year Andrew and Adam expanded their team to a trio with the addition of Antonio who is apprenticing in the teaching department in addition to coordinating surf camps and tackling other adventure activities such as hiking and biking. I had a chance to chat with these three gents about the evolution of Men’s Retreats. Here is their story.
What is Men’s Retreats?It’s an ongoing, sustainable and supportive system of gatherings all over the globe that provide men the opportunity to make their gay holiday adventurous. Each trip offers a meaningful exploration of our beautiful planet with the intention to provide a space for inner exploration that offers peace and understanding. We offer gay yoga, meditation, and movement practices for men of all levels of experience and ability.
Who Should Sign Up for Men’s Retreats?We aim to appeal to gay yoga practitioners with a real interest in going deeper in their personal practice and also to anyone just looking for a place to get started. We want our guests to be able to use their gay holiday time to explore the beauty and wonder of the natural world, while understanding the importance of using that time spent out of stress and hustle of life’s demands to reset, to recharge, and re-calibrate. Our retreats are opportunities for both fun and adventure, and also serve as a deep reflective pause – a time to reconnect to the inner compass.
Why Did You Create a Wellness Program for the Gay Yoga Community?Men all over the world are awakening to a feeling of stepping into a more conscious brotherhood. As we do so, there is a need for support and connection with one another. We believe we are all unique and that in sharing our truth in community we discover the freedom of expressing our whole selves both strong and vulnerable. We believe in supporting the expression of truth and stepping outside of our comfort zones to experience ourselves without judgement or limiting beliefs of how we can or have been allowed to be as men. We celebrate diversity and inclusivity and invite all individuals who identify as men to explore the various expressions of brotherhood and give ourselves and each other permission to shed the belief that to be a man means to exist in one way.
What Does a Typical Gay Holiday Look Like With Men’s Retreats?We specialize in everything from restorative/therapeutic gay yoga to vigorous functional strength training so regardless of your experience on the mat, there’s something for everyone in the studio. Outside of the retreat we also offer a program called Yoga for Stiff Men which is available Monday nights throughout the year at Lululemon’s new Community Studio “The Attic” on Queen Street in Toronto. It’s a great class for just getting started. Whether you are nervous and have never tried yoga before, or are dealing with injuries that may prevented you from getting to class, YFSM teaches basic beginner alignment principles, introduces breath techniques, and will get you starting to meditate. We incorporate therapeutic and restorative yoga, basic core stability, and mindfulness meditation to get you feeling great in your body, build strength and flexibility, and will empower you with the tools to reduce the effects of accumulated stress and tension in both the body and the mind.
What Style of Accommodation is Offered on a Men’s Retreat?Gay holiday guests can expect a range of accommodation choice, from private luxury suites, to simple dorm style – so that regardless of your preferences or budget limitations we’ve got something for you. Sharing a room is also a great way to make new like-minded pals, especially if you’re travelling solo, and many men’s retreats ‘roommates’ have stayed close buds over the years.
How Do You Scout Out Locations?There are so many incredible places we want to go to, but mainly we look for simple, quiet, calm, peaceful settings typically a little off the beaten path to avoid any heavily populated touristy spots. And somewhere where we can count on an exceptionally delicious and healthy local menu. Since we launched the company we’ve offered healthy gay holiday programs in Oaxaca Mexico and Muskoka Ontario. We’re really excited about our upcoming retreats in new hot spots like Prince Edward County Ontario, Praia do Rosa Brazil and a special Summer Solstice retreat in Iceland.
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