Before I made a commitment to my own health and well-being, I was a stressed out corporate executive using my yoga to keep me somewhat balanced. It took going on a yoga retreat, to a place I always wanted to visit, to reboot my life. I went not only because I needed a vacation, but also to find clarity and direction. My health was suffering, my heart was uncomfortable and I knew I had to choose a way of living that would keep me on the path to growth. If you feel the need to refresh your spirit, reignite your passion for living, and rediscover balance in your life, then a yoga retreat is what you need.
There are 5 key considerations when choosing a yoga retreat.
1. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION:
Yoga retreats are offered all over the world. Choose a favorite place you love already or go to a place you're interested in discovering. Consider if you're more of a city person or a nature person? A beach person or mountain person? If you enjoy exploring culture, arts and monuments then consider places like Tuscany, Paris, Provence or Spain. And if you enjoy being on a warm, sunny beach then choose to go to locations like Hawaii or Mexico. Equally, if you don't like bugs or humidity, don't go to the rainforests of Costa Rica. If you truthfully enjoy the comfort of high thread count sheets and a cozy bed consider Sonoma, Napa Valley or the San Juan Islands or Wine Country of Pacific Northwest. If you don't like camping then don't go on a rustic retreat. Think about how exotic you want the location to be. Will landing in a country where English is not the primary language like Brazil or Greece make you uncomfortable? If so, then there are plenty of options in the United States. You should also consider if you want the retreat to be dedicated to yoga or would you like other activities such as hiking, cycling and mountain biking, skiing or surfing? Then you need to choose a location that offers you more of what you want. (My favorite thing to do is build in a few days on either end of the trip to explore on my own).
2. TEACHER GUIDES:
You should familiarize yourself with the teacher(s) guiding the retreat. Know how many years of experience they have both guiding retreats/vacations and teaching yoga and don't hesitate to ask for client testimonials.You can gain a great deal of insight from those that have been out and about with this teacher before. If you already know the teacher from your local studio or the workshop circuit, consider if this is someone you want to learn from while away from the studio environment. Do you feel safe, supported and cared for? A retreat can be like a mini "teacher training," so make sure you feel aligned with the style of yoga you will be practicing (Anusara, Ashtanga, Baptiste, Bikram, Forrest, Vinyasa, etc). You should also make sure the level of yoga (beginner, intermediate, advanced, multi-level) meets your needs. For instance, if you want a sweaty practice but the itinerary only includes restorative yoga, set your expectations. Also consider how much yoga you will practice while on retreat. Some yoga holidays may offer only one class a day while others offer 2 classes daily and mini-workshops, life coaching or yoga clinics. You should be "in like" with your teacher and excited to spend time learning from them.
3. THEME OR FOCUS OF RETREAT:
What are you looking for? If the retreat is based on life coaching and self-development but you are only looking for exercise and physical activity then the fit won't meet your expectations. And if you are looking for tranquility but the schedule seems heavy with constant physical activity then keep looking. Ask what your intentions are from this experience: e.g., get your life direction in order, weight loss, let go of old emotions no longer serving you, make new friends, etc. Read the descriptions of the themes and/or workshops carefully and find the one that most speaks to what you are looking for. The retreat's focus will bring together like-minded people so already you will find a sense of connection to others and that will enhance an already incredible experience.
Unless the trip information is very clear, retreats should be inclusive of pretty much everything except airfare. This means you have awareness of what your total trip expense will be. It is easy to overspend if your lodging is not included or if meals are in addition to the trip cost. The challenge is that you will have less knowledge of how much this will really cost by retreat end. Don't let yourself get intoxicated by the cheapest price. There could be reasons for this besides whether everything is a la carte. It could also be that the size of the retreat will be 20-35 clients all paying less. Also, in relation to trip cost, think about the length of your retreat. You can choose anywhere from a 2 night weekend, to longer than 10 days. This flexibility allows some sort of getaway approachable for most people. Just don't assume that longer equals better. Sometimes what we need is a weekend getaway to "reboot." If you want to plan for something 11 months from now, I applaud you. However, if things in your life are falling apart now, don't wait to start healing. Get happy now; go now.
5. DO IT FOR YOU:
In applying these guidelines, it is important to know what you are saying YES to, as well as what you are saying NO to. The one key thing that is not on this list making sure that you are not basing your decision on what everyone else wants you to do, or even the availability of your partner. Do this for you. How do you best choose a yoga retreat? Choose based on what you want. From there, the foundation will be set for your most incredible experience!