The Challenges of Organizing a Yoga Retreat (And How You Can Overcome Them)

Bruce Chung
The Challenges of Organizing a Yoga Retreat (And How You Can Overcome Them)

Yoga retreats combine the love of yoga and travel to create a unique travel experience that provides bona fide R & R. They are becoming increasingly popular as “travel packages” and can be found/are held in nearly every corner of the world. Leading a yoga retreat can be a rewarding experience. On the organizational side of a retreat however, it can be an overwhelming task.

The following are a few of the challenges that can arise with the inception and organizing a yoga retreat, and tips on how to overcome them.

The Challenge: Choosing a Location

Ever feel lost when a restaurant has a menu that can double-up as a small book? Deciding on a retreat location can be just as difficult because with the world so big, options are endless. Add to the difficulty factor of deciding a location is the selection of a venue.

How to Overcome It

Consider how far the majority of your students will have to travel. Some locations are more popular for yoga retreats than others and that might work in your favor. Furthermore, estimate how much travel costs will be for retreat participants to reach your destination. A good location is a place that is well-known and can be reached within a reasonable time and budget.

When it comes to deciding on a venue, you may not always have an opportunity to do a site visit before the actual retreat. Do your research on the venue, reading reviews on travel sites, or emailing teachers who have led retreats there in the past. You might also ask yoga teachers that have experience hosting events where they would recommend you to lead your yoga retreat.

The Challenge: Setting A Date

Everyone has different schedules, and it's hard to pinpoint a time of year when all of your co-teachers and students will be available.

How to Overcome It

Consider overlapping your retreat with a bank/statutory holiday weekend so your students who work don’t have to take off as much paid leaves. This can often influence someone’s attendance or not. Also, unless you are specifically holding a New Year's retreat, avoid December as it tends to be busy with the lead up to Christmas. January is also tricky as people are typically feeling the pinch of the holidays.

When you hold your retreat will depend on your demographic. If your target student is a parent, it might be better to hold during the school year rather than when school is out.

Depending on the length of your retreat, I would recommend setting a date that gives 4 to 6 months lead-in time to promote. Some teachers plan 8 to 12 months in advance. The more time you give to students, the more the student is able to arrange their schedule to attend your retreat! Gauge when the majority of your community is more flexible to taking time out of their schedule for R&R.

The Challenge: Weighing the Financial Risk

Most retreat venues require a deposit of 20 to 30%. Securing your space with a deposit is daunting as you assume a financial risk—if you are forced to cancel the retreat due to unforeseen circumstances, you lose out on your deposit.

How to Overcome It

Putting in a deposit for your retreat requires part faith/part research. But let’s focus on what you can do practically: Have you chatted with your yoga community about the need for a retreat? Is there a demand for, or interest in it?

Put your feelers out and estimate the amount of interest in a yoga retreat there is within your immediate community. And, as yoga teachers typically aren’t in high-income brackets, well-ahead of your retreat, take into consideration how much is required for your venue deposit, and start saving. Although it might seem like a large amount of money to part ways with, think of it as an investment (in yourself, and your community). Besides, the success of your retreat will return your deposit and hopefully a profit.

The Challenge: Setting the Retreat Price

Setting the price of your retreat can be tricky as you want to find a balance of covering your costs while generating a profit, and also keeping it within the purchasing power of the majority of your target student.

How to Overcome It

Calculate your retreat costs such as advertising, your travel expenses, and your forecasted lost income from the classes you’ll miss while you’re on your retreat.

Next, tag on a teaching fee to the cost per student. Let’s say you are teaching 2 classes a day on a 5 night retreat, and you decide you will charge each student $15 per class. That’s $150 per student.

Ideally, if there are meals and activities as part of the retreat, write them into the overall price, so your student’s only additional expense is their travel costs. This might be additional work for you, but you’ll have a better response when you minimise the amount of work the student needs to do in their planning.

Organizing a yoga retreat is a big undertaking. It requires a lot of research, feedback, patience, and organizational skill. While it is a lot of work, it is also an incredibly fulfilling experience that will strengthen your relationship with your students. As long as you stay true to yourself, and let the best parts of you shine through your programme, your retreat will be a success and provide both you and your participants with a trip that will be remembered for years to come.

Image credit: Paige Yeaton