So you’ve decided that you’d like to go on a yoga retreat and you’re now faced with a dizzying array of possibilities. With so many available options, how do you choose which is the right retreat for you?
Here is a guide that will help you to narrow your focus and clarify your intentions for your retreat. With a better understanding of what you’re seeking, you’re more likely to find the perfect fit.
Understanding What You Want
Your first step is to figure out what you are looking for and what type of experience you want. Some folks are seeking an intensive spiritual experience where they truly dive deep into the practices of yoga and meditation. Others are looking for the opportunity to relax and refresh, eat well, and pamper themselves. Still others want the chance to explore a novel location, interact with a different culture, and participate in exciting, new activities.
While these aren’t mutually exclusive intentions, different retreats will place more emphasis on different approaches. Understanding what is most important to you will help ensure you choose the best fit for you.
Narrowing Your Focus
If the most important element to you is deepening your yoga practice, then we suggest placing your primary focus on the teachers leading the retreat, their experience level, and their style of instruction. There are numerous approaches to teaching yoga and you’ll want to make sure that the style on offer is what feels most appropriate for you.
Some retreats offer intense, sweaty classes and workshops that focus on improving certain advanced poses while others concentrate on perfecting alignment and making subtle postural shifts to alter energy flow. Still others place greater weight on the more introspective aspects of the practice – from meditation to breathwork to self-study.
If one of these approaches holds much greater appeal than the others, then it’s important that the intention set by the retreat leader aligns closely with what you’re seeking. Check with local yoga teachers you respect to see if they are planning a retreat or if any of their colleagues – or, even better, their mentors – who share a similar focus will be offering one. A personal recommendation from someone who knows you and your yoga practice can go a long way toward finding the right fit.
Alternately, peruse the descriptions of retreats offered by yoga retreat centers or listed on retreat-specific sites that sound appealing. Read the bios and retreat descriptions carefully to help ensure that what they are offering is what you want. If you have questions, feel free to contact the retreat leader via email or by phone to make sure that it’s a good match.
Finding the Right Setting
If you’re open to experimenting with a variety of different approaches to yoga, then the style being offered may be less central to your decision. It will still be important to check that a skilled teacher is leading the retreat, but their specific emphasis may be less important to you. In that case, the location of the retreat may be the most important factor.
Do you want to escape to the beach? Head to the mountains? Immerse yourself in the jungle? Explore the desert? Tour wine country? All of these options are available and more. If you find a particular setting to be rejuvenating or energizing, then that can be a great place to start your search.
Are you drawn to the expanse of the ocean, the abundant wildlife of the rainforest, the majesty of the high country, or the openness of the desert? Across the globe, you will find options that offer each of these types of experiences. Whether you reside in the Americas, Europe or Asia, you have numerous options anywhere from a few hours away to halfway around the world, depending upon your taste for adventure.
This will also be when you decide between more rustic accommodations or something on the swanker side. Glamping has become a popular option and there are many possibilities for eco-chic retreat centers that are partially open-air allowing you to be more directly in touch with nature. There are also yoga retreats and resorts that offer a higher degree of luxury, complete with many of the comforts and amenities that you would find at a high-end hotel.
As far as comforts go, are you seeking basic, healthy meals or hoping for a true culinary experience? Are you looking to lounge by the pool, soak in the hot tub, or enjoy a hot stone massage? Do you need a pillow-top mattress and high thread-count sheets? There are retreats that will cater to all of these options and more. Expect them to be a bit higher-priced than the somewhat rustic options of more economical retreats, but for some attendees, it’s definitely worth the slight splurge.
Exploring Someplace New
Perhaps you’re open to all sorts of yoga classes and flexible on the location and type of accommodations that you prefer. If you like a good adventure or to learn new things, another consideration might be what other types of activities you’d like to participate in.
Have you always wanted to learn to surf or head out in a small boat for whale watching? Or perhaps you really enjoy sea kayaking or horseback riding or wine tasting? Hiking to the summit of a volcano or witnessing the release of newly hatched sea turtles or taking a jungle canopy tour by zip line or swimming with dolphins might also be on your bucket list. The array of available options is nearly endless.
Some participants want to explore the local area more extensively and truly get a feel for someplace new. Visiting small towns, perhaps meeting resident artisans and craftspeople, and even volunteering in the community can be a great way to forge more authentic connections and deepen the meaning of your experience.
If there’s an activity that you already love or a new adventure that you’re eager to try, you can almost always find a retreat that will offer that as an option. In most cases, in fact, you’ll have lots of possibilities from which to choose.
Piecing It All Together
Once you’ve set your priorities based on the above criteria, you’ll have filtered out a lot of the less appealing retreats and zeroed in on a much more manageable list.
If the practice of yoga was your principal priority, and you found a great selection of teachers whose offering are appealing, you can then sort by the location, the amenities, and the options for excursions. Where do you want to visit and is it easy to get there, how important are creature comforts, and what do you want to explore?
If destination and setting are primary for you, then start with your favorites and compare the teaching styles and the options for adventure of the remaining retreats. Does one teacher’s approach resonate the most with you? Was there a unique adventure or experience available on one retreat that caught your attention?
And if your focus was on particular activities or the option to explore a specific culture, then you can narrow your choices by considering the approach and emphasis of the yoga classes and the offerings and quality of the retreat centers where each retreat will be hosted.
At this point, you’ll have winnowed your list down to the options that are perfect for you. Choose the one that calls to you most and trust that you’ve done your homework and found the perfect fit.
For some tips on how to make the most of your yoga retreat, we have some additional pointers for you on that topic as well: https://pranadelmar.com/2016/11/21/making-yoga-retreat/.
Now, all that’s left is to get excited for a special retreat experience with the potential to be meaningful, relaxing, and rejuvenating.