Are you thinking about taking your yoga practice to an exciting new and even exotic locale? A yoga retreat can be a great investment, because it’s a no-excuse, wellness-focused and yoga-centric environment where you get to concentrate on being your best self.
When you have the right elements of people and place, a yoga retreat can be a truly magical experience. You'll learn some much about yourself — your physical and mental capabilities, and even unlock new potential.
As a yogi who’s been on a few of these excursions, here are some tips to consider when you’re trying to select one that's right for you.
1. Know that the instructor can make or break your trip, so choose wisely.
If one of your current teachers at your regular studio(s) isn’t hosting a retreat, you can ask your fellow practitioners for recommendations. It’s not just about their ability to lead you through a few yoga sessions — their personality and attitude can set the tone for the entire getaway.
What is their intention for the retreat and what is it you're hoping to gain from attending? Do you want something serious, or fun, or a little bit of both? Are you aligned with this person's teaching philosophy, or can you at least identity with it?
2. Do some research to ensure that the teacher hosting the retreat is qualified.
If you are eyeing a teacher who you don’t know personally, check to see where they studied and with whom, and how many hours they earned for their certification. The minimum qualifier to teach legitimately and safely is 200 hours, as recognized by Yoga Alliance. Yoga can either heal, or hurt you — especially in some foreign countries where you may find certain teachers who have a loose definition of what "proper training" is.
Just make sure you are comfortable with the person who will be guiding your practice. The last thing you want is to sink a bunch of money up front, and receive sub-par guidance or a bad experience.
3. Make sure you're comfortable with the style(s) of yoga being taught.
Most retreats are held for up to a week, some even more, and you’ll probably practice two or three times daily, so it will be intense! If you enjoy various disciplines of yoga (Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Hatha, etc.) you may want to consider which one will be the best method to help you to sustain the duration of your stay. Or perhaps you would prefer an offering that has a mix of styles, paired with restorative classes, so you can recharge.
4. Find out how many people will attend the retreat.
How intimate of an environment are you comfortable with? If a group is really small, you may receive more personalized attention. Also, 20 to 30 students is not necessarily a bad number because you can meet more new people and mingle, but still wander off on your own for some quiet time. One thing is for sure, chances are you will be surrounded with like-minded people, making it a great opportunity to make new friends!
5. Know where the yoga classes will be taking place and at what time of day.
Obviously, you should be excited about the location of the retreat, but you may also want to get a sense of the schedule. Do you want to be outdoors with the sun glaring in your eyes or do you want to be in a covered hut-like area in the shade? If you’re looking to replicate a hot yoga experience, the sun might be perfect for you! But if you’re new to yoga, maybe you will find the element of practicing in the shade a little more enticing.
6. Have a clear goal in mind of what you'd like to accomplish for yourself.
You have a week to invest in yourself. What do you want to achieve? Do you want to work on the physical postures or are you looking to immerse yourself more in the philosophy? Do you want to detox your body and mental clutter, or do you simply want to be outdoors in nature?
Yoga is a powerful, multi-faceted conduit that helps anyone to recognize the undiscovered, infinite potential in all of us. So listen to your intuition and go for whatever is calling you!