There are one million yoga retreats out there. Well, maybe not that many but there’s a lot to choose from and it can be overwhelming to decide on one. By knowing exactly what you’re looking for, and by asking yourself some questions in advance, you’re likely to settle on the retreat that’s best for you. When your goals align with those of the retreat organizer – pure bliss! Get the most of your time in paradise by reviewing the following topics. Are we missing one? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
First things first: THE YOGA
Yay! You’ve decided to go on a yoga retreat! There are plenty of ways to enjoy an amazing vacation that don’t include yoga. So hopefully, the yoga is what has brought you to this point, and it’s therefore the yoga that should take top priority on your retreat. Are you in search of a particular style of yoga? A certain teacher? Are you looking for active and challenging power classes, relaxing Yin and restorative practices, or a combination of both? Would you be happy with one class per day, or are you seeking an in-depth yoga experience filled with workshops, day-long sessions or a teacher’s education program?
These are not rhetorical questions, but real ones you should be asking yourself, and you should know the answer to these questions before you sit down to do your search. The Yoga portion of your retreat should not be compromised! Read teacher bios, review the daily schedule, and email your questions to the instructors if anything needs clarification, especially if your retreat is for a teacher education program.
THE INTENTION. To learn, to rest, to disconnect, reconnect, or what?
The vibe of your yoga retreat can range from the quiet, isolated experience of a Yin retreat with a no-cell phone rule, to the up-all-night craziness of a power Yoga-optional retreat adjacent to a night club in Ibiza. Second in importance to the style of yoga your retreat offers, is your intention.
Are you looking to learn more about the asana practice, yoga philosophy or yourself? Would you like to learn about food, nutrition, or how to surf? Are you seeking an off-grid adventure that keeps you from checking emails or looking at Facebook? Are you hoping to meet like-minded individuals, or are you happy keeping to yourself at a silent retreat?
Get clear about what’s driving you to take this time away, and visualize what you’d like to be doing when the yoga classes aren’t in session. Hammock time, adventure time, or both? You may not find something that offers EVERYTHING on your list, (you might) but when you’re clear on what you are most passionately seeking, or seeking to avoid, you’ll get close.
THE DESTINATION: A retreat center, culture, or nature?
Destination is a huge consideration for any yoga retreat and involves a lot more than wondering what you’ll be staring at when you’re lying supine in a yoga class. As you choose your destination, consider if you’ll be confined to the retreat center 24/7 (and this could be exactly what you’re looking for!) or if you’ll be able to get out and explore.
If exploring outside of the retreat center is high on your priority list, will there be group activities and transportation available? Or are you entirely on your own? Which do you prefer? Are you looking for a guided culture or nature experience, or will you be just fine if left to lounge around on the beach?
If group activities are offered, clarify whether or not these are included in the cost of the retreat, and clarify whether or not time is allotted for these activities, or if you’ll have to miss a full-day of yoga sessions to explore those Mayan ruins.
As you consider destination, consider the cost of getting there, and measure it in both time and money. Some of the world’s most gorgeous retreat locations are far off the beaten path, and they may be nowhere near an affordable airport, public transportation, or even within a day’s reach. Factor all this in to your planning. The best retreat organizers will include airport transfers into their cost, and make sure you arrive safely and on time.
Finally, do the DUE DILIGENCE.
Once you’ve narrowed down your selection based on style of yoga, the emphasis of instruction, the destination and additional activities, it’s time to consider the less-than-glamorous details.
- How much does the retreat cost, and what exactly is included?
- What’s not included? (always good to look at this from a positive & negative angle – don’t miss a thing!)
- Who are the instructors and what do you know about them? Do they have online reviews, individual websites, or are they from a certain school or lineage? Can you take one of their classes before you commit to their retreat?
- What will your lodging look like? Do you have a roommate? Are all meals included, and if not, where will you get your own? How expensive is this?
- Does this retreat group have any online reviews or testimonials, photographs from past retreats, or a social media presence? What has been the experience of others?
- Which portion, if any, is refundable if you have to cancel your plans? What happens if the retreat organizers cancel the retreat?
- In case of the above, should you purchase travel insurance?
- Have you read ALL the small print everywhere regarding this retreat?
Finally, with the trip booked and your research behind you, take a big exhale breath and let it go. Allow yourself to enjoy. Even the most thoroughly researched travel will not look exactly like you thought it would, that’s the fun part of travel! If you show up with an open mind and an open heart, you just might notice that everything is perfect.