Positive Influence Of Retreat vs Holiday

Retreats are meant to encourage healing and self-discovery by focusing your attention inwards, calming your senses and clearing your mind. A holiday does the opposite. It encourages you to open all your senses to experience the world and leaves your mind busy processing all you’ve seen.

Listen to me and Ulli discuss what it means to have a meaningful traveling experience. In this episode of Outer Travel, Inner Journey. We will discuss what’s the difference between holidays and retreats based on our personal experiences. And hopefully it will guide you in pursuing experiences that can enrich your inner self.

Links mention in the podcast

Pocket Quotes

  • “In retreats, I’m forced to sit for hours and hours without doing anything and have some spiritual talks and it goes so deep that even for weeks after I see the results and I see the positive influence it has in my life. Whereas holidays, it’s good, it’s wonderful to relax and don’t have to be in the daily chores. But on the other hand, also I’d like to do my job so sometimes I think do I really need holidays?” – Ulli Helmstetter
  • “Self-care retreats are time where you take time to go deep and use methods to be really clear with yourself.” – Alexandra Kreis

COVID, Science and Sleep

Ana Rakovac, a friend, colleague, and student of Alex is a medical doctor herself who worked in paramedics and emergency medicine, in ICU, and a lot of other different fields within. Her professional journey brought her to study, do research and specialize in internal medicine and endocrinology, and chemical pathology. A lot of the turns throughout her career were brought by circumstances but also by her understanding that diseases have to be approached holistically. To Ana, medicine is about the whole picture.

And this podcast is all about that.

Coming from a respectable and deep scientific background herself, Ana opens up with Alexandra an important conversation about complementing and supporting efforts of different sciences or frames in looking at our health. Especially in this era welcomed by a pandemic.

Here, Ana looks back at her first dive into Alexandra’s ‘world’ of yoga and Ayurveda. Again, it was circumstantial: struggling to keep an ‘eat less, move more’ lifestyle amid the lockdowns and limitations brought by Covid.

The pandemic has affected work completely, especially those like Ana. But to her, it was momentous as the medical community is witnessing something unique; something so huge unfolding for the first time. Scientifically, it was exciting but also very scary. Until she ended up contracting it and got an inner view.

And this moment made her realize and appreciate more the habits Ayurveda has brought in and how one science supports the others. What she learned in the language and lens of Ayurveda are very much the same in her practice, say in endocrinology, which is about balance and finding out which are inappropriately normal. Ana’s medicine and Ayurveda are not enemies.

She realized that what Alex and Ayurveda are teaching her are observational lifestyle interventions that were 5000 years old and are aligned with what she teaches to her patients in her diabetes clinic. It’s all about concepts. And the small things, like rest or sleep, that actually matter and completes the picture

To Ana, it’s high time we wake up to the necessity of observing and respecting the interplay between our own rhythms and the rhythms of the planet and keep being healthy for as long as we can. It’s been so much that we keep healthy in order to be pretty, to be productive, or achieve some other goal. But how about learning to keep healthy to be happy?

Links mention in the podcast

Reawaken your body

Podcast Highlights

  • The Ujjayi breathing exercise I learned from Alex was really instrumental at the peak of my disease. Yoga and anatomy taught us that most of the lung is towards our back. So when you’re on your belly, you use more of your lungs and in Ujjayi breathing, you learn to breathe with your diaphragm. – Ana Rakovac
  • Ayurveda is an observational medicine. Same as the medicine that I practice. It is how we interpret what is causing these observations that differs. – Ana Rakovac
  • What we do not get taught in med school is habit formation. There is this overemphasis on knowledge and not enough emphasis on how to bring the knowledge into practice. – Ana Rakovac
  • This whole one-track thinking of productivity and efficiency being above everything disregards the cyclical way that humans are. We need rest. We need to sleep.  – Ana Rakovac
  • We have to stop fighting each other or pointing fingers, but join hands to teach people how to be healthy. – Alexandra Kreis

Ana RakovacGuest Bio

Ana Rakovac is a medical doctor who worked in paramedics and emergency medicine in the field during the Serbia and Croatia conflict, worked in ICU, and a lot of other different fields in medicine. Her professional journey brought her to study, do research and specialize in internal medicine and endocrinology, and chemical pathology. She runs a laboratory for diagnosis and research and a diabetes clinic.


Best Podcasts on Books

Annika LindbergSense of Yoga 

Annica started a blog in Swedish about her yoga journey. She wrote whenever she felt so alone in her practice and wrote almost every day for 10 years. Through her blog, she got connected to other people, gained friends despite practicing yoga at home (her teacher was online and her friends were not with her. She shared with readers and friends the struggles she stumbled upon in her practice, who later encouraged her to write a book. 

Her self-published book gained a lot of attention and respect and attracted followers. It was a thoughtful narration of getting herself to the mat which is not a natural thing for her all the time and how that struggle led her to discover her center. To Annica, those small situations in a person’s life are what showed her that she’s into something else now. 

“The more I trust the things I do, the more I get what I need.” 


Sonja RadvilaFears and Desires 

Sonja lets us into the back curtains of writing the book. Some parts were difficult for her to write. One of the characters even came out after all of the struggles of telling the story in a more interesting way.  

”The book is like a strange universe—Sonja specifically wanted the characters to have universality but also a creation of intersecting realities of India and other places Sonja loved.” 


Priya BasilBe my Guest: Reflections and Discussions While Sharing Food 

For Priya, we live in a time where food has somehow become an identifier, a part of the statement of who you are and how you want to be seen in the world. For me, my eating—being a vegetarian and leaning towards vegan—was an ethical choice. For others, it can also become oppressive and restrictive. But there’s joy, the possibility for connection, and discovery in food. And so the book was about celebrating those and the possibilities that give us the chance to talk about bigger issues of how we live together and share while acknowledging that there should be a sense of responsibility in our choices. 

To Alexandra, this book and the author have so many guts to tackle an important topic and open a sensitive discourse. It takes tremendous openness and clarity to bring these thoughts out to a broader audience. But to Priya, she approached the difficult aspects of this book by confronting her doubts and struggles. 

”Take the steps that are possible for you at a particular moment. Recognize that we don’t always get it right completely but encourage ourselves and others to keep making better choices.” 


Links mention in the podcast    


Jessica SandersLove your Body 

Jessica wrote the book from her deep involvement and passion for Body Positivity a movement started by lesbian women to acknowledge the body in its truth. It’s about combating fatphobia in our culture and the shame it creates in individuals that could be potentially a very damaging thing for an individual. 

But Jessica is not only about it, but self-acceptance of all kinds, promoting kindness and self-care, and emotional resilience. And these important themes brought out her second book for teens and young adults and possibly a third book specifically for boys and male adults. 

“I’m just trying to be as intuitive as possible because I think that is when the best stuff happens.” 


Elisa Marie CollinsBecoming a Super Ager 

Elisa, in her book Super Ager, bravely explains how pervasive individualistic culture made us think that older people are useless. Looking at the form, the fire element (the competition), and just what we see on the surface, makes us think that older people are useless. And this is in contrast with the wisdom that older adults actually possess and impart—the wisdom of seeing the bigger picture. 

In this podcast, Elisa walked us through the intriguing Blue Zones, or the places where there is a higher concentration of super-agers, and unboxed the phenomena in these places so we can adopt the habits for a fuller, longer life that super-agers enjoy. 

“We don’t necessarily have to isolate ourselves to become a super ager, but we could set things up where we’re supporting each other.” 


Gianna ShamoneBecoming a Writer 

To Gianna, her writing flourished because she was just letting it flow. Forget about the pressure of being ‘good enough’, of targeting to get published—when a thought or feeling or even a question pops in and triggers words in her head, she would just grab a pen and paper go with it. 

But she so believes that writers are born—and that happens when one feels the want of writing. Her advice was simply to learn to have the confidence of just doing it. Because she strongly believes that we are all able to write because we are all able to communicate. It’s just when we start overthinking that it blocks us to do it. 

“Finding peace in the moment is a new favorite thing of mine. 

It makes me feel more alive than anything else—calm, steady. 

Only my breathing and my heartbeat remind me of the physical shell I chose this time. 

Everything else flows and hovers around me. 

And I can feel the energy flowing.”