With the end of the year rapidly approaching, many of us are feeling depleted, drained or completely overwhelmed. In this article, John Ogilvie talks about how he uses this time of year to re-assess and re-charge, and how many still struggle with the notion of taking time to nurture the Self in order to fully function for others. The potent power of pressing the pause button on life to re-energise and re-connect is changing lives – and not just the lives of those on retreat.

John Ogilvie, founder of Byron Yoga Centre, has been running yoga retreats in Byron Bay for over 25 years. He says that he schedules personal time out every year to retreat from the day-to-day and reconnect with his spirit. “I make myself go on retreat at least once a year. Like many of those who come to our retreats in Byron and Bali, I need to leave ‘busy’ behind and rediscover the safe and quiet place within. It can be difficult to accept and embrace the notion that we need to stop what we are doing and nurture ourselves. We are constantly connected to the external world through technology, and taking a few days to reconnect inside is really important.”

Turning away from life’s daily responsibilities and routines around work and family – even for a few days – is a major challenge for some people. John has worked with many retreat guests struggling with the belief that putting yourself first is an act of selfishness.

“The notion of looking after our self first in order to look after others is a new idea for many people,” John explains. “This concept is the essence of the yoga philosophy and shouldn’t be seen as a selfish viewpoint. We can simply be better versions of ourselves if we give ourselves the gift of time to disconnect from the daily pressures that come with our busy lives, and reconnect with our spiritual centre. So what may appear a selfish act, is really helping us live more selflessly.

“Going on a yoga retreat is a great way reset behaviours and habits that don’t serve us well or keep us focused too much on the past or in the future. We can learn the tools, both on and off the yoga mat, to help us live in the present with less anxiety and stress.”

The results after just a few days being detached from the things in life that drain energy and spirit, and focusing on the things that renew and rejuvenate, can be profound.One recent retreat goer, Lorelle, explains that her retreat experience in Byron Bay was life changing. “I arrived stressed and full of turmoil and conflict. The detox, the yoga and therapy sessions have restored clarity and renewed energy. It is so rare to have an opportunity to really shut down from the world and do something so rewarding for your mind, body and soul. It really should be compulsory for everyone to attend.”

Alison, another retreat guest at Byron Yoga Centre, summed it up by explaining the retreat was “just a beautiful experience at a time when I needed it most. I arrived scattered and fragile, and felt so balanced and grounded in just a few days.”

“People like Lorelle and Alison go home after their retreat feeling better, but the benefits don’t stop there,” John says. “Their light will also shine onto family members, friends and colleagues. The rediscovered peace and calm rubs off – in a lovely way – on those around us.”

Byron Yoga Centre has a number of different retreats on offer, in Byron Bay and Bali. The Wellness & Rejuvenation Retreat is a unique combination of yoga, pranayama, meditation, spa treatments plus teachings on nutrition, wellness and Ayurveda – the ancient science of life. www.byronyoga.com