Vail Living With Vitality column: Relaxing is different from collapsing |

Vail Living With Vitality column: Relaxing is different from collapsing

Julia Clarke
Living with Vitality

Retreat: To withdraw to a safe, quiet or secluded place.

After two centuries of industrialization, we are finally seeing a rise in the value of taking the time to go on a retreat, practice yoga, learn meditation, invest in ourselves and rest.

Or perhaps we are just exhausted.

In his TedX talk, “How to Make Life-Balance Work,” author Nigel Marsh says, “The reality of the society that we’re in is there are thousands and thousands of people out there leading lives of quiet, screaming desperation, where they work long, hard hours at jobs they hate to enable them to buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like.”

“Ha,” I thought to myself, “not in our valley.”

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But then I started to think about it. Although we live relatively free of many of the common stresses of modern life, such as lengthy commutes, traffic jams, office jobs and high crime rates, the unique rhythm of life here carries its own set of pressures: irregular schedules at work; frequent unemployment; high intensity sports and related injuries; and that call to travel as much as possible the moment the season ends.


Globally speaking, it’s a pretty good deal. We enjoy an incredible amount of free time to do fun things in a beautiful setting. But your year in the mountains might look something like this:

Winter: Work hard, play hard, hold your breath until it comes to an end.

Spring: Exhale, travel a lot, play hard, move houses and look for a summer job.

Summer: Work hard, play hard, hold your breath until it comes to an end.

Fall: Exhale, travel a lot, move houses again and look for a winter job.

Lather, rinse and repeat.

You might notice that several regular components of valley life, such as moving and losing your job, are also regarded as some of the most stressful events in life. Add to this the general modern stresses of too much computer use, living far away from our families and toxins in our food and you might say we have a bit of a problem.


This off-season is the first in six years that I chose not to travel. Instead of jetting home to Scotland or to California — often returning sick or more exhausted than when I left due to transatlantic flights and frantic visiting — I just slowly put on the brakes.

I checked out a good book from the library. And I read it. I spring cleaned my home. One day a week I unplugged completely from email and social media.

What I learned was that it doesn’t take much time to recharge your batteries. A week away is great but retreat can take many forms, from an hour a day to a day a week. I realized that relaxing is entirely different from collapsing when it comes to sustainability. The natural cycle of the year involves periods of rest and regeneration and so should the natural cycle of our lives.

With this experience in mind, I created my first In-Town Yoga Retreat, set for May 30 at the Vail Vitality Center. With a 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. schedule, there’s no need for a brutal alarm. Drive, walk or bus to Vail, and spend the day in an immersive yoga setting, with discussion, movement, meditation and community. Get home in time for dinner and have an early night.

My intention is not simply for us to take one day to replenish ourselves and take stock of our lives but to learn how little time we need to accomplish this and yet how vital it is for us to do it regularly. Our evolution depends on it.

Julia Clarke, E-RYT teaches vinyasa flow yoga and anjali restorative yoga. She is the yoga director at the Vail Vitality Center and a certified ayurvedic wellness consultant. Visit

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