Running a yoga retreat is a dream for instructors. It's almost synonymous these days that yoga teaching and yoga retreats are part of a bigger picture of how yoga teachers view their careers.
Many yoga teacher friends have said to me, “I’m running my first retreat!! I’m so excited! I’m getting a paid vacation to _________ I’ve always wanted to go there!” But running yoga retreats is NOT a walk in the park, and the students/retreaters' needs come first.
Here are a couple yoga retreat tips for yoga teachers, retreat leaders, and retreaters to help maximize the experience.
For Yoga Teachers
First let me say this to all the yoga teachers out there aspiring to lead retreats of their own: If you’re thinking of this as a paid vacation, you are doing it wrong.
When yoga retreats run smoothly, the guests have no idea what goes on behind the scenes. So remember this: from the moment your guests arrive to the moment they leave, you are ON. You need to provide a sacred space, attend to their needs, teach yoga and host the group.
If you are not doing this, your retreat will not run smoothly. In addition, attendees put a ton of weight into their yoga retreats. Most expect their lives to drastically change in a week.
It is a huge amount of pressure and great responsibility for the yoga instructor or retreat leaders to provide spaces that are conducive to that kind of healing and growth.
For Retreat Leaders
Hey yoga retreat leaders! Have you ever visited the property or been to the country where your retreat is being held? You should! I never do retreats site unseen. It is so important to have a feel for a space, see if the energy vibes with the vision of the retreat and if the managers, owners and staff jive energetically with my business sense as well.
It is EASY to make a place look great in photos! Pictures are not necessarily an accurate representation of a space. Also staff plays a huge role! Friendliness, cleanliness, efficiency — these are all extremely important.
Invest in checking out the spaces. If teaching yoga is your full-time job, treat it that way. A yoga retreat isn’t your chill out time. If you want a vacation, take one without your students.
For Students and Retreaters
Thinking about going on a retreat? Do your research! Who is the instructor? Do you like their style? Have you taken their classes before? Do you know anything about their personality? You should, because you’re going to be spending loads of time together.
For me personally, almost 100% of my retreaters follow me on Instagram. Most only know me on this platform. Should I be worried about that when they haven’t met me face to face yet? No.
My Instagram is completely transparent, honest and authentic. It is not sensationalized or overdrawn. The words are all written in my voice and from my perspective. I don’t quote others (usually) and if I do I expand on it. So when my retreaters show up, they kind of know me already or at least have an idea what I'm about so they know what they are getting and they know what to expect.
This is a good idea for students to at least check out photos or videos of the teacher/s' practice so that you can have a general idea on your would-be teacher's voice — as a teacher, student and friend.
If the teacher you’re following online has an amazing Asana practice but always uses quotes from others to express their thoughts and practice, how do you know their voice or teaching style? You don’t.
Whether you are thinking about leading a yoga retreat or going on one, it is imperative that you spend time and thought deciding on if it is the right decision for you. Not every yoga teacher out there should be running retreats and not every yoga student should be taking retreats as their vacations.
Try not to get sucked up in the hype and marketing of yoga vacations in your decision making. Figure out what you need, get an idea of what to expect, and most importantly — be true to you.