Hosting a Yoga Retreat: Creating Harmony Through Community

Hosting a yoga retreat is akin to opening a door to a world of new possibilities, both for you as a teacher and for participants eager to deepen their practice. Imagine a peaceful, serene setting where the daily hustle and grind is replaced by tranquil harmony, where every meal, practice, and sharing opportunity knits your community tighter. The best part is… hosting a yoga retreat needn’t be a distant dream — it can be a tangible reality waiting for you to bring it to life!

Set aside the overwhelming details and logistics for one moment and picture the profound impact such an experience often has. It can be beautiful, magical, and sometimes transformative.

Before you book a venue or promote your event, take a little time to discover your “why”: What are you looking for, what is it that you need? Before you can dive into helping others, figure out what is it you want for yourself:

Professional Growth and Diversification: 

Hosting a yoga retreat offers you the opportunity to expand your professional portfolio beyond the confines of studio classes. It's a chance for you to explore and experiment with different styles of teaching, develop new and innovative programs, and refine your skills in a setting that's deeply immersive. This kind of professional growth not only enhances your teaching style but also broadens your expertise.

Deepening Relationships with Students: 

Retreats provide you with a unique setting to connect with your students on a deeper level. Away from the in-and-out of a one-hour class, you have the opportunity to engage more personally with participants, understand their individual yoga journeys, and provide guidance that's tailored to their specific needs. This deepened relationship not only fosters a loyal student base but also cultivates a strong sense of community, enhancing the overall experience for both you and your students.

Personal Fulfillment and Inspiration: 

Hosting a retreat can be an incredibly fulfilling experience. It provides an opportunity to share your passion for yoga in a more profound and holistic way, often in settings that naturally lend themselves to peace and introspection. The success of leading a group through a transformative journey can be immensely rewarding and inspiring for you, fueling your own passion and commitment to your practice even further.

Financial Opportunities:

Hosting retreats opens up an additional revenue stream and can prove to be more lucrative than regular classes, particularly if your retreat gains popularity and starts attracting a larger number of participants or repeat attendees. This financial aspect, while secondary to the experience itself, can be a significant advantage for you as a teacher. And more importantly, you should feel no embarrassment about this financial motivation — after all, everyone needs to eat, and the additional revenue earned through retreats can help put you and your studio on a more solid financial footing.

Expanding Reach and Reputation: 

By hosting a retreat, you can expand your reach beyond your local studio or community. Retreats often attract participants from new locations and other studios, helping to build a broader network and reputation. This increased visibility can open up new opportunities, such as invitations to teach at other retreats or events, collaborations with wellness brands, or even international teaching opportunities! 

With your whys defined you’re ready to sketch out what your retreat will look like. You’ll need a checklist or worksheet similar to this one. (Note: we also have a digital version available for download.)

  1. Define Your Vision and Objectives: What is the theme and focus of your retreat? Is it for relaxation, deepening practice, exploring new styles of yoga, self-care, relaxation, time with community, hands-on activities, journaling and introspection, or something else entirely?
  1. Choose the Right Location: Do you want participants to fly to your chosen destination, or be able to drive there on their own? Will you host in another country, another state, or somewhere closer to home? If you choose to host in another country, keep in mind that there will be issues involving vacation time, currency exchange, language barriers, passports, visas, and vaccination requirements, so lead times of six months to a year (or more) are common. How will you handle meals, which is an issue closely tied to your chosen venue? Will meals be made communally? Will they be provided by the venue? Will you be bringing in a chef? How will you handle vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, diary-free, Ayurveda, kosher, halal or other requests? Do you want common areas where your participants can gather and hang out when not in session? Will you want assistance with the hosting and support with your programming, or do you want to do everything yourself? Do you want seclusion, peace, nature walks, access to the outdoors? These and many other questions will dictate the location of your retreat.
  1. Budgeting and Pricing: Do you want your retreat to be perceived as an incredible (and perhaps costly) once-in-a-lifetime adventure, or do you want your retreat accessible to a variety of budgets? Does the price of your venue allow for you to also charge enough for your time? As I said earlier, you're in a for-profit business — there is no shame in that!
  1. Picking a Date: If your chosen venue is relatively close, a date 3-6 months in advance makes sense. If your venue is overseas, however, your students will likely need lead times of at least 6 months to make all of the necessary arrangements and to save up the required funds, but a year is more likely. In both cases, steer clear of family holidays and school-year milestones.
  1. Programming: What will your retreat days look like? How will you build in down-time and free time? How can you help participants create connections for being seen and heard? How will you make each and every participant feel valued and special? What are some really special retreat-only activities you can build into your programming? (At our retreats we offer a Make-Your-Own-Yoga-Mat experience which is an absolute highlight.)

As we move from the practicalities of planning your retreat to the wisdom of experience, it's invaluable to consider the insights of those who have walked this path before. The journey of hosting a yoga retreat is full of learnings that often come to light only in hindsight. Here’s some collective wisdom from seasoned yoga teachers, and the things they wish they had known before embarking on their first retreat. These reflections offer a unique perspective, helping you to navigate your retreat with foresight and confidence:

1. Stick to your schedule and let go of when people actually show up — don’t scold them for arriving late. They have retreat-brain, they’re off the clock and excited to choose their own adventure. 

2. It’s easy (and tiring) to feel “on” all the time, so it’s great having help with the hosting and tending. Find a retreat venue that prioritizes helping you.

3. Offer varied content: plan a walk, offer guided meditation, share journal prompts, have a craft, star gaze, schedule down-time, offer optional services like massage. Your students are away from their daily responsibilities it’s helpful to come up with fun and relaxing activities to do in the in-betweens.

4. Be where your students are hanging out. Be willing to share space without the expectation of having to do something. Chatting and relaxing and sharing stories is the best way to build connection with your students. 

5. Make sure no one is left behind — check in to make sure your quiet folks are feeling seen.

6. Take care of yourself: Eat, sleep, rest, and find really good partners to help you. Find a venue that takes care of you so you can take care of your students.

7. Have something waiting for them in their rooms — prepare something to leave for them on the last day. Do as much as you can before you arrive.

8. On your registration form ask lots of questions about dietary restrictions, allergies, meal preferences, and accessibility to ensure your venue can accommodate.

9. Find a venue with really great meals — so much community-building happens at meal times!

10. Let your participants see you having fun. Smile, laugh, engage, be present. Leave your phone in your room and encourage your participants to do the same. Prepare everyone to connect in real life after the event ends.

Hosting a yoga retreat is definitely within your ability, especially when you have the right venue to make things easy on you. With the right guidance, planning, and a touch of inspiration, what may seem like a daunting endeavor can become an enriching and achievable reality. Remember: Every great journey begins with a single step, and your venture into hosting a yoga retreat is no different. Armed with the insights and advice shared by those who have already navigated this path, you're well-equipped to make your retreat not only a possibility but a resounding success. Embrace the challenge, trust in your abilities, and embark on this rewarding adventure!

Any retreat will be life changing for your students if you make it a priority to see each one of them…where they are and for who they are. 

To help with your planning we have free downloadable resources: Sample Schedules, Planning Worksheets, Journal Prompts, Craft Directions, and Sample Menus. For more information on booking retreats at Big Raven Farm click here


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