10 Yoga Poses for Stress Relief

'Tis the Season

For a lot of people, this time of year means lots of family time, festive music, sweet treats and acts of love. It’s a time of giving, appreciating and, for many, a time of worship and praise- no matter what universal power you believe in. It’s a great time to reflect on the past seasons of growth, hurdles, pain, success, and set personal goals for the coming year.

Now, let’s keep it real. This time of year can also mean many weeks of cold, short days with more darkness than light (in the Northern Hemisphere, at least). It might mean weakened immune systems, less self-control, more indulgence, financial hardship, and stress. It’s easy to become overwhelmed and feel over-worked and under-productive. We’ve been there, too!

Of course, we know that light will slowly start to outstay the darkness and flowers will replace the bare tree branches, eventually. But, in the meantime, let’s make a point to live in the moment, soak up the present and breathe when life starts to feel like a never-ending carousel ride.

For starters, we’ve compiled a list of ten yoga poses that can be especially beneficial during these times of stress, seasonal depression, and stiff joints. While no pose is an instant miracle worker, when done regularly over time, the following poses are known to be extremely beneficial in more ways than one. So, how about taking a few minutes out of your busy day to appreciate every inch of you and breathe in life and appreciation for all that you are? How lucky are we to have bodies that can bend, stretch, flow and carry the weight of our big hearts, beaming souls and (sometimes over-indulgent) bellies? The outside world sure seems a lot more bearable when our inside world is content. Stop being so hard on yourself. Take time to make your heart smile and ease your busy mind this holiday season.

So, here’s to you, yogi- wherever you may be, physically, mentally and spiritually. This is your little reminder to breathe peace in and breathe out stress. Notice how it feels. Hold onto that feeling for a little while.

10 Poses for Stress Relief

Childs Pose- Balasana


Child's pose can be done either with feet together and knees wide, or with both the feet and knees together. Entering this posture sends signals to the mind that your body is in a safe position. Placing the third eye on the ground is known to be grounding and calming for the mind. Child's pose with knees together is also great for digestion, as your knees are able to gently massage the intestines.


Puppy Pose- Uttana Shishosana


Similar to child's pose, placing the third-eye on the ground calms the mind. The deep shoulder and spinal stretch in puppy pose is known to relieve symptoms of chronic stress and tension held in the shoulders and back. 


Leg Up Wall Pose- Viparita Karani

leg up wall.jpg

This restorative pose is great for both the back and legs. The partially supine position can relieve lower back tension while elevating the legs promotes drainage from excess fluid build up. This is a great posture when battling restless leg syndrome, fibromyalgia or varicose veins.


Happy Baby- Ananda Balasana

happy baby.jpg

Happy baby reduces the arch in your lower back, helping ease low back and sacral pain. This carefree positioning provides for an instant mood boost. The infant-line pose opens the hips, releasing stress and calming the brain.


Standing Forward Fold- Uttanasana

Standing forward bends allow you to relax the upper body, while engaging the legs and abdomen. This is a great pose for relieving tension in the spine, neck, and back. The positioning of the upper body can relieve headaches, help with insomnia, reduces stress, anxiety, and depression, over time. It is also known to be therapeutic for asthma, high blood pressure, and sinusitis. 


Downward Facing Dog- Adho Mukha Svanasana


Downward facing dog is a naturally energizing pose that engages the majority of the body. It has been known to calm the brain, help with stress, depression and relieve symptoms of menopause. It is also a great pose for improving posture and relieving neck and back pain.


Bridge Pose- Setu Bandha Sarvangasana


Bridge pose provides an excellent back stretch, reducing back pain and minor headaches, and improving circulation. It can also calm the brain and improve symptoms of fatigue, anxiety, hypertension, osteoporosis, and sinusitis.

Lotus Pose- Padmasana

Lotus pose is a deep hip opener. If full lotus is not in your practice, you may experience benefits from half lotus, as pictured above. In addition to opening the hips (where much of your emotions are stored), lotus is known to calm the mind, increase awareness/attentiveness and develop better posture.


Fire Log Pose- Agnistambhasana

fire log pose.jpg

Fire log pose is another great hip opener. This pose is known to release built up emosion and tension from the hips, calm the mind, relieve anxiety, tension, and stress. 


Corpse Pose- Savasana

Rick Cummings

Rick Cummings

The king of all yoga poses: corpse pose is extremely calming and relaxing. This pose is known to lower blood pressure, reduce a headache and help combat insomnia. Although it is relaxing, when done correctly, corpse pose can also provide a boost of energy and reduce fatigue. 

The Evolution of Yoga: From East to West

As a graduate student of Intercultural Relations who has traveled the world extensively, I wanted to look deeper into the emergence, evolution, and diffusion of yoga from a cultural standpoint. The following is a result of research from a variety of sources that touches on the sheer divergence of opinion, experience, and beliefs about yoga.

“Nearly 20 million people in the United States gather together routinely, fold their hands and utter the Hindu greeting of Namaste — the Divine in me bows to the same Divine in you” at the end of their yoga practice. These words linked to the popularity of yoga in America and it’s disconnect with its Hindu origins sparked a debate with the Indian-American guru and holistic health practitioner, Deepak Chopra. But why?

Yoga in the western world is a far cry from the yogic roots established thousands of years ago in India. Matter of fact, an agreed upon definition of the practice of yoga is not likely something you will find based on yoga’s diffusion across and within cultures. The shift in meanings over the last several thousand years has only aided in complicating matters and stirring up debate. The popularization of yoga in the United States is actually a very recent thing, and has turned what some call a traditional meditative practice into a commercialized business--the yoga industry generates more than $27 billion a year! However, from Buddhism to Christianity, Hinduism to Islam, and Jainism, cultures have practiced elements of yoga (breathwork, meditation, or guided movement) for centuries.

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According to social issues commentator S.E. Smith:

“For a lot of people in the US, ‘yoga’ is a series of pretzel-like physical exertions done to get fit, usually with some token Sanskrit thrown in here and there to keep things exotic and spicy...The problem is, that’s not yoga. What people in the US are referring to as ‘yoga’ is actually one aspect of a larger spiritual practice...The romanticization of both ‘yoga’--by which people generally mean asanas sprinkled with a bit of breathwork and meditation--and India has created a heady mixture of appropriation and imperialism.”

However, the popularity of yoga in the West has also been credited to the physiological, psychological and biochemical healing qualities of the practice. Yoga isn’t just stretching, but rather a forging together of mind and body to work towards spiritual enlightenment. Practicing yoga consistently can lead to increased strength and flexibility, improved posture, coordination, and balance, as well as a reduction in stress. While not all western yogis take their practice beyond the physical stretching and fitness trend, there are many who do.

The Debate

The debate about yoga as an inherently religious practice has been put on trial, literally. In fact, San Diego Superior Court Judge John Meyer recently ruled that yoga does have religious roots, but that they are as far diluted in American culture much like Christmas. This type of cultural appropriation has generated heated debates and discussions about the emergence of yoga as a purely physical practice.

In fact, about 4 years ago the Hindu American Foundation started a campaign called “Take Yoga Back,” which aimed to address these issues of cultural appropriation. They focused on helping people understand and consider the roots of the practice. This video about taking back yoga will give you a look further inside some of their concerns.

The Evolution of Yoga

Yoga in the United States and yoga in India are very different things. The reasons for practicing, along with the actual practice, can many times stand at opposite ends of the spectrum.

Based on everything I’ve read (which is a ton!), here’s one very basic and abbreviated history of modern yoga:

While yoga is very old, it almost died (so sad!). Luckily, in the early 1900’s an Indian man named Krishnamacharya came along and saved it. He is known by many as the father of modern yoga. He started his yoga practice as a child with his father and eventually traveled all over India studying yoga philosophy. He went on to teach others, including some of the most well known practitioners: B.K.S. Iyengar, T.K.V. Desikachar, Pattabi Jois, and Indra Devi. He revived many of the lost teachings of yoga and also set a precedent by accepting women as his students. He lived to be a 100…(I’m attributing his long life to yoga, naturally!)

Around the time India gained its independence from Great Britain (1947), Indians weren’t taking classes at institutes. Instead they preferred small classes and private tutorials geared to meet their individual needs. Practicing yoga in studios was a western fad, and many Indians didn’t appreciate the way Americans popularized group yoga classes. In fact, “The concept of yoga as a large social trend is foreign to most Indians, as is the American fixation on a particular school or lineage.”

Yoga continued to gain even greater momentum in the U.S. in the 60’s, along with the flower children and The Beatles, who made a trip to an ashram in India for meditation. This contributed to the surge of foreigners traveling to India to practice at ashrams and bring teachings back to the United States. Today, millions of people all over the world practice yoga.

So, what IS yoga?

Yoga isn’t religion. Yoga isn’t flexibility. Yoga isn’t poses.

Yoga is body, mind, and spirit.

Depending on who you ask, the word yoga itself stems from the Sanskrit word, yuj, meaning “union,” “to join,” “bind” or “yoke” (as in oxen). Yoga is said to embody a combination (or yoking together) of the physical, mental, and spiritual practices directed at attaining peace, with the ultimate goal being moksha, or liberation from suffering and ignorance.

A part of this union of practices is outlined in the 8 limbs of yoga (ashtanga) organized in India by Pantanjali over 2,000 years ago: the yamas, niyamas, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyani, and samadhi. Each of these limbs contains a unique part of yoga--from ethical standards to self discipline, postures to breath control, sensory transcendance to concentration, and meditation to ecstasy. When one is able to reach the 8th limb of samadhi, they are in a state of liberation and have reached the end of their yogic path, peace. In The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (an ancient yoga guidebook), yoga is defined as "the stilling of the changing states of the mind"

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What do we think?

Yoga is for everyone.

We agree with the folks over at MindBodyGreen, you don’t have to be flexible, slim, or decked out in full lululemon to practice yoga! Even respected gurus and long time yogis understand that yoga is a path (whether it’s an eightfold path or four paths). There are different stages on that path, and incorporating the physical asana practice may be a start on that path for some.

 Yoga is whatever is right for you.

While the origins of its practice in India might be interwoven with Hindu and Buddhist tradition, a yogi doesn’t need to study or practice those religions to make yoga a part of their life.

Yoga can be used with a variety of goals in mind: fitness, increased flexibility, greater spiritual connection, cultivation of peace & calm, meditation/focus, or whatever you find it providing you.

Here’s our thing: we know the history, but we also like to travel and experience different aspects of the yoga practice as they are made ready to us. We understand the drive of yogis to travel overseas to find their yoga in its birthplace, or at least a beautiful location that offers no distractions. We hope practitioners are mindful and seek to educate themselves about the history of yoga, whatever they believe.

Yoga will continue to evolve. It is, and will always be, a different practice for everyone. And that goes for each time you practice.

When you practice yoga regularly you start to see the world differently. You start to see yourself differently...and more clearly. And sometimes that is the greatest version of peace there is. Namaste.

Want to Double Interest in Your Retreat in 7 Days? Join the LIVE Webinar!

Retreat Marketing Shouldn't Be So Hard!

Do you sometimes feel like marketing your retreat is a never ending hustle?

Your students keep saying they'd love to go on a retreat with you...but then when you finally create it...those same people never seem to sign up.

Or you've been promoting your retreat like crazy on social media...but those posts get a fraction of the engagement that your other content receives?

You’re stressed because that non-refundable deposit is due in a few days and you still need several people to sign up in order to break even (let alone make a profit) on the retreat.

Believe me. I’ve seen thousands of retreats come across the Yoga Travel Tree website feeling that same kind of frustration, exhaustion, and fear.

And we struggled with it too - but over the last few years I’ve figured something out.

When it comes to travel, it takes more than some pretty pics and a great idea to get people to jump on board. It requires real connection, real interest, and real understanding about what you can offer and what your community wants.

At Yoga Travel Tree, I launched our first Signature Retreat kind of on a whim.

I wanted to design a yoga experience that featured the transformational power of adventure travel...with a healthy side serving of yoga.

I didn’t want my participants to retreat from the world...I wanted them to engage in it!

And so I created the first Bali Yoga Adventure. And over the course of the next 18 months, I launched 12 more Yoga Adventures on three continents in 7 countries.

Were they all huge successes? Nope.
Did I finally figure out a system that worked to help us fill our retreats with our dream participants? Yep!

I faced some serious challenges along the way. And I don’t want anyone else to be held back the way I was!

That’s why, next week, I’m hosting a free live training to show you how to double interest in your next retreat in just 7 days.

At this free workshop, you’ll learn:

  • Why promoting retreats and travel is different (and more challenging) than any other kind of marketing
  • The #1 marketing mistake most retreat leaders make (and how to fix it)
  • The five critical places you need to be featuring your retreat + creating a wait list
  • How to leverage your raving fans as your biggest promoters
  • PLUS a LIVE Q&A session where I’ll answer all your questions about creating, launching, and leading retreats around the world!


In order to accommodate everyone's schedule, we’re hosting a Tuesday webinar AND a Thursday webinar, both at 7pm CST.  If you already know that you can’t make it to the live show, we’ll be sharing a limited-time recording to those who register! So, make sure to still sign up for one of the time slots, so you can access the recording. You definitely won't want to miss out on this invaluable info.

I’ll be looking for YOUR name in the live chat!

So, here’s to your next adventure! See you at the workshop, rockstars!




So, you’ve gauged your ideal audience’s interest, decided on a killer retreat theme, and selected the perfect destination. Now, it’s time to choose the venue that will compliment your retreat theme and meet your needs to ensure an unbelievable retreat experience.

Personally reaching out to your prospective venues is the best way to determine which will be the best fit for you and your guests. But, what questions are important to ask during the decision making process?

In this post, we’ve compiled the questions that will help you make the most educated decision when choosing your venue. Here are a few questions you’ll want to ask each venue before settling on an official retreat location:

Before you get started, download our Venue Tracking Spreadsheet to keep everything organized in one place! 

1. What does the accommodation set-up look like?

How many people can they accommodate and how is the sleeping accommodation set-up? Will each guest have a private room? Shared rooms? Single beds, bunk beds or double/queen beds? Do they offer private baths or community restrooms? What additional amenities will each room include such as AC, mosquito nets, fridge, TV, etc.? You'll have to determine which of these elements is important to you. 


2. How does transportation to and from the venue typically work?

How far is the nearest airport? What’s the best way to get to and from the airport to the venue? Will getting to the specific region require a domestic flight, train or transport in addition to an international flight? Is any transport provided by the venue? If not, are they able to recommend a reliable service? How much is it or is it included in the price? 


3. What types of meals will be available at the venue?

Can they cater to specific diets and allergies? i.e. peanut allergies, dairy intolerances, vegan diets, vegetarian diets? What meals and snacks are typically included in accommodation packages? Do they provided filtered water and is it free?


4. What kind of housekeeping and linen services are available?

Are all linens provided? How often are rooms cleaned and towels changed out? What about soaps and basic toiletries, if any? What do they provide vs. what do guests need to bring?


5. Are private group spaces be available?

Indoor and outdoor? How many people can each space accommodate? If you're hosting a yoga or fitness retreat, are there dedicated spaces for what you need? If you have some other kind of specialty offering do they have space for you? Will you have to improvise? What about dining, workshops, and meeting spaces? How do settings vary?


6. Do they offer any excursions?

Can excursions be added as part of your package or are any included? What’s the cost? What types of excursions, local tours, events, or adventures? Do any compliment your retreat theme well?


7. What are the financial policies?

How much is the deposit to secure the space? What are the refund and cancellations guidelines? Are they flexible as your group size changes? What’s the timeline regarding payments? Price per person? Opportunity for deals or group discount rates? What about retreat leader discounts? How do they accept payments? Paypal, bank transfer, etc?


8. What have their past retreat-hosting experiences looked like?

Have they hosted group retreats before? Do they have any testimonials? Will any other groups be utilizing the venue at the same time? Will this cause any scheduling conflicts?


9. Is there anything else I should know before making a final decision?

If you can think of any other questions that pertain specifically to your retreat, this is the time to ask! Once you’ve asked all your questions, double check if the venue can offer any further useful information. And remember, you can always call back or reach back out if anything else comes to mind.



Don't forget that the venue is offering you a service as a customer. Pay attention to how well they address your questions, respond to emails in a timely manner, provide personalized information (instead of form emails), and generally make you feel confident about booking with them. 

If they aren't responsive, seem extremely disorganized, and lack quality customer service you should assume that it will be the same experience on the ground. That's why talking to references and others who have hosted an event in that space is extremely important. In your Venue Tracker (download below), give them a rating 1-10 (10 being awesome) on their general customer service. 


Now that you have a guideline for getting to know potential venues better, download our FREE retreat venue tracker spreadsheet and get to work! Good luck, rock stars!



Use this spreadsheet to stay organized when deciding which venue is best for your retreat!

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Back in the fall of 2014, as I was adding hundreds of retreats to the Yoga Travel Tree directory, a very harsh and sudden realization came over me.

I didn’t want to go on ANY of the retreats I was seeing.

It wasn’t because they weren’t great experiences. They seemed amazing! I just simply wasn’t their target market. I'm someone who loves to travel and explore above all else, who loves to weave within the local culture, who gets her hands dirty in local projects and issues, and who loves yoga, too.

These retreats just weren’t for travel-loving yogis like me. I wanted travel with a side of yoga. Everything I saw was yoga with a side of travel.

First Bali Adventure May 2015

First Bali Adventure May 2015

I wondered if there were more yogis out there like me - who wanted an incredible travel adventure that incorporated yoga into the daily experience.

And with that thought, my first Bali Yoga Adventure was born. Over the next several months, I worked with local travel companies, transport providers, hotels, tour operators, guides, restaurants, and more to put together the ultimate Bali experience. My goal was to give my participants a once in a lifetime experience - assuming that my ideal participants would potentially only visit Bali once in their lifetime.

I was able to sell out that first retreat within 3 months from the launch date-- and I didn't even start with a solid audience already wanting to travel with me or YTT! I went on to create 12 more Yoga Travel Tree Adventures (and one destination teacher training) over the course of 18 months. 

Not all of those retreats were successful. (It reinforced what I already knew - but needed reminding - about knowing your audience and what they want before going all in on an idea.)

After leading retreats to five countries and three continents over the past 18 months, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to successfully create, launch, and sell out a retreat that not only earns a profit for your business but also provides an amazing - even transformational - experience for participants.

Combining my retreat experience with over a decade of experience in study abroad and adventure travel management (my pre-Yoga Travel Tree career), I’ve created a 4-part series all about designing, marketing, and delivering an incredible retreat.

I’ve made some mistakes and had some huge successes with my retreats. And, I want to help you find fast success too--unless you want to go the trial-and-error route yourself, then by all means ;).

In this 4-part series, #myretreatbiz, I’ll show you the step-by-step process I’d take to launch a retreat if I were to do it all again.

Here’s what to expect from this series:

  • How to Create and Prepare for Your First Retreat (This blog post, right here!)

  • How to Prime and Grow Your Audience for Your Retreat - coming soon!

  • How to Create a Sales Page and Start Selling Your Retreat - coming soon!

  • How to Launch and Market Your First Retreat - coming soon!

So, before we dive into the “how,” let’s talk about the “what.” What exactly is a retreat? In this series, I’m defining a retreat as 6-25 participants, spending at least 1-10 consecutive nights away from home. These can take place locally, within a couple hours drive of your home, or an 18-hour international flight away. The "where" is completely up to you!

The big distinction we need to clarify is between a retreat and a festival/conference. Once you start working with more than 25 people (which is already pretty big), we’re getting into festival territory which is an entirely different planning, promotion, and delivery experience. Retreats tend to be smaller and have more opportunities for time with you as the teacher and building a cohesive community among all participants. Think of a small, cute clothing boutique vs. a huge department store. We’re going for the boutique experiences here.

Here are some retreat examples:

  • 3-Day Silent Mountain Meditation Retreat in Colorado

  • 7-Day Surf & Yoga Adventure to Costa Rica

  • 6-Day Intuitive Eating Journey to Paris

  • 5-Day Amateur Photography Tour of Alaska

  • 10-Day Heart of Yoga Tour of India

Related: Check out the Heartland Yoga Festival in Kansas City! I’m one of the co-founders! 

Before we get started, download the Retreat Planning Workbook that we've created to help you work through this blog post and start taking some serious action planning your next retreat.

Okay, now that we know what a retreat is (or at least how we are defining it here), let’s dive into the key steps you need to take to create and prepare for a retreat.



As wanderlust seekers ourselves, it can get easy to think of a retreat as our own personal vacation planning experience.

Often times, retreat leaders will think about where they want to go, what they want to do, when they want to go, etc. without really considering if that matches up with the where, what, and when is desired by their community.

Before you dive head first into planning that 5 day hiking, camping, and meditation adventure to Mongolia, let’s make sure that it’s an experience your audience really wants (and not just a bucket-list item of your own).

Here are a few questions to think about before you begin planning:

  • What’s my typical client/student demographic? Younger, older? Financially established or just getting by?

  • Are they beginners or more advanced? Well traveled or not so much?

  • What’s happening in our community/world and how will this experience serve my students and help them face what the world is throwing at them?

  • What do my students tend to look for in terms of retreats and workshops?

  • What am I known for in my community; what’s my secret-sauce, my zone of genius?

  • What kind of training/growth/transformation do I want my participants to have during this experience?

I highly recommend you put together a simple survey using free tools like Google Forms, Survey Monkey, or TypeForm to send out to your community and better gauge what they're looking for. Five major questions to ask would include: what kind of retreat they’d be interested in, where they want to go, what’s the best time of year, what are they hoping to get from a retreat, and most importantly, what would stop them from going on a retreat with you.

This will majorly help guide your planning, position, and promotion of your retreat.



At Yoga Travel Tree, we see a lot of retreats come across our website and most of them lack a critical piece to help them attract the perfect travelers and sell out their events.

That critical piece is a niched-out theme. Announcing you’re leading a 6 day yoga retreat to Greece isn’t enough in this crowded market. 

The easiest way to tease out your retreat theme is think about who the retreat serves, how it serves them, and some kind of quantifiable element. Here’s some examples:

  • Le Femme Restore and Renew 6-Day Retreat to Greece for Female Corporate Hustlers

  • Bust Out to Bliss Out: 5 Day Meditation Adventure to Belize for Bliss Seeking Entrepreneurs

  • 7-Day Yogalicious Bootcamp in Tulum for Yogis Ready to Master the Practice

  • 7-Day Ultimate Adventure to Bali for Travel-loving Yogis

Why do you need a theme? Because, when you read any of the titles above, you immediately know if this is the right retreat for you. Are you a corporate hustler who needs some downtime? Are you an entrepreneur who needs to find some zen? Are you a serious yogi who wants to take her asana practice to the next level? Are you a traveler who likes to adventure and could use a little yoga, too?

Each of the examples above speaks to a specific audience and promises a specific experience or outcome: restoration, bliss, bootcamp, adventure with a side of yoga.

Who does your retreat serve, how does it serve them, and what is the transformation?



Now that you know what your audience wants and you’ve figured out a theme for your experience, it’s time to start thinking about the logistics. Where, when, how much, and what will go into this retreat?

Based on your community feedback and your own desires and schedule, you should be able to narrow down your 'where' and 'when.' From here, you can start finding possible retreat centers, hotels, resorts, etc. that would be a good fit for your retreat theme and style. Remember: you want to match the destination and location with the theme of your retreat. If you’re promising bliss and renewal, then central Beijing may not be the best location choice.

Also, consider market saturation. In other words, think about how competitive your chosen destination might be, especially in the yoga industry. For instance, Costa Rica and Mexico are the top two destinations searched in the U.S. While there’s a lot of demand, there’s still a lot of competition. Consider a destination that is in a similar region or climate, but maybe not quite as popular.

Once you've zeroed in on a destination, begin reaching out to possible hotels, etc. and asking about group rates, facility options, etc. (We have an upcoming post all about how to reach out to venues and what to ask. Stay tuned!)

While you wait for venues to respond to your inquiries, start mapping out your day-to-day retreat itinerary. We recommend using a spreadsheet and organizing the cells by hour. Be sure to account for transition time (driving to excursions, walking across a large resort, etc.), meals, group activities, personal time, SLEEP, and welcome/farewell elements. Ask yourself, is there a good balance between scheduled group activities/time and personal free time? 

How you design the itinerary will largely depend on the theme and type of retreat you’ve created. If this is a restoration and relaxation retreat, scheduling a daily ashtanga practice, followed by an intense volcano hike, followed by a spirituality group discussion and reflection might be too much for the body and the brain.

But, if you’ve designed a yoga body bootcamp experience, your participant might be disappointed if each day only involves a 60 minute practice followed by 10 hours of free time.

Make sure your schedule matches the vision and theme of the experience.



Okay. It’s time to make sure your gathering all your retreat interest into one dedicated email list. 

Now, if you’re one of those people who hasn’t started an email list yet (even in a spreadsheet somewhere), this is where I give you a little “tsk tsk” and wag my finger at you (with love of course). 

Having an email list for your business is crucial!

I know some of you will tell me: “But Brooke, I have 1 billion followers on [insert social media platform here]! Why do I need an email list?” or you’ll say: “I don’t need an email list. 50 bazillion people show up to my yoga in the park events every single day.” 😜

Hey...if that’s you, then good job! You’ve done amazing work building your community...but sadly, you’ve built that community on someone else’s property. You’re basically renting that community from Instagram, Facebook, your local yoga studio, etc. And I don’t want you building your business on borrowed platforms. I want you to have your own.

You should absolutely be using social media to grow your brand and business! But, you should be leveraging it to bring people into YOUR virtual house via your website and email list.

Remember the good ‘ole days when someone liking your Facebook page actually meant that they would see your content...or when Instagram feeds were chronological and people actually saw your beautiful images? Sigh. Those were the days. But in the blink of an eye, those companies changed the algorithm and now THEY decide what people see.

This is why you need an email list - to protect yourself from platform changes that you cannot control.

So if you don’t have an email service provider (ESP), it’s time to pony up and get one. I recommend starting with ConvertKit* or Mailchimp. While Mailchimp is free up to 2,000 emails, the features you’ll need for the larger retreat marketing campaign are limited. I strongly encourage you to invest in ConvertKit from the start to make sure you’re optimizing your email reach and engagement from the beginning. (That’s an affiliate link, by the way. I love and use ConvertKit, but just want to keep it real here).

If you already have an ESP, well done YOU! You need to create a separate list (like in Mailchimp) or a tag (like in ConvertKit) to help you identify and separate those in your community who are interested in traveling with you.

It doesn’t have to be fancy. Just a simple “Retreat Interest” list or tag will do. If you see yourself doing a lot of retreats in the future, you might create tags/lists based on possible destinations and/or retreat themes.

So, go make that happen. Sign up for your chosen ESP and create a separate list/tags for your retreat.

Bonus: If you already have email collected from people who are interested in traveling with you, make sure you add them to your system and add them to the correct tags/lists.


Step 5 - Create and promote a killer teaser/lead magnet

Now that you have your email system setup, it’s time to fill that baby with eager potential retreat participants. The key here is to tease out the benefits of retreat with a lead magnet.

Basically, a lead magnet (also known as a opt-in bribe, content upgrade, bonus opt-in, etc) is a simple download that people will get when they sign up with their email. They are paying with their email address to get your amazingly useful piece of content, PDF, discount code, cheatsheet, etc.

A great example of this that we’ve used at Yoga Travel Tree is our “Ultimate Guide to Paying for A Yoga Retreat.” In the guide, we outline dozens of ways to come up with the funds for a yoga retreat or teacher training. We created this particular lead magnet because in a previous survey with our community, they said that cost was the biggest factor preventing them from going on a yoga retreat. So we created a solution that could help them round up some or all of the funds to go on a yoga adventure or get their training certificate.

The key to a lead magnet is to address a problem or need of your audience and it must relate to the retreat you plan to launch. Think about a quick and simple thing that would entice your community to give you your email in exchange for this piece of content.

Here are a few lead magnet ideas for you:

  • 7 Minute Meditation for Super Crazy Busy People (access to an audio download)

  • Limited time retreat discount code (email with the discount code)

  • 5 Small Daily Shifts to Find Relaxation in Your Busy Life

  • 10 Minutes to Handstand Challenge (series of videos to help students nail a handstand)

  • Quiz - What kind of yoga traveler are you (provide email to get results)

  • Checklists, cheat sheets, templates - anything that helps people get from point A to B quicker and more easily.

Whatever you create, it has to be a no-brainer. You want your community to think: “Well, of course I want to download this!” Easy button! 😁

It should also relate to the theme of your retreat. Meditation audio is a great lead magnet for a meditation retreat. A handstand challenge would work for a yoga-bootcamp style retreat. You get the deal. Remember...our goal with the lead magnet is to grow our retreat interest list. If they like the lead magnet then they should be interested in your retreat theme because it aligns with their interests, needs, and desires.

Try to avoid epic lead magnets like a 12 month yoga plan or 100 page ebooks. You want quick wins that seem manageable and actionable for people with a busy schedule and full inboxes. You need the offer to be simple and irresistible.

Inside your lead magnet, this is where you want to also talk about how you’re planning an upcoming retreat (or tell them about your planned retreat) that takes what they just experienced to the next level.

Think about this process like dating...first, you flirt a little with your website and social content...then you go on a date with the lead magnet...then you get really serious be talking about traveling together. You’d never walk up to a stranger and say “Hey, let’s travel to exotic destination together!...by the way, what’s your name?” 😉

Speaking of lead magnets...you can download our retreat planning workbook right here!



Use this workbook to brainstorm and plan your next retreat!

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You can use Google Drive or Dropbox to host your downloads and share a link once someone has opted into your ESP. Both Mailchimp and ConvertKit can automate this for you. [We share more trainings and info about this inside our epic upcoming training: Retreat Rockstar]


Step 6 - Create opt-in forms and landing pages for your lead magnet

Now that we have an email list and an irresistible lead magnet, it’s time to make sure your optimizing your web presence to start growing that list of interested travelers.

You need to put yourself in a retreat lead generation mindset! This means your website, social profiles, and your in-person interactions need to highlight your upcoming retreat.

And I know that this can be hard for people...especially yogis. We want our work and teachings to speak for themselves. We don’t want to “sell” or “market” our offerings and talents.

But here’s the hard truth: If you don’t share your gifts, talents, and offerings with the world, you are robbing them of an experience, a teaching, a gift that may change their life. Don’t be scared to share who you are and how you can help. The world NEEDS you!

So, now that I’ve got you pumped up to share your goodness with your community, what does that actually look like.

First things first, let’s put your website in “Retreat Mode”. This basically means that you want to be promoting your lead magnet (that irresistible freebie) all over your website. It might seem like overkill, but remember that most people only see a fraction of the things you post and share. And a lot of people need to see something 7-12 times before they take action on it.

It’s up to you to give your audience every opportunity to find what you’re sharing.

On your website, you want to create a call to action/opt-in form (CTA) in the following places:

  • announcement bar area
  • navigation
  • header
  • sidebar
  • footer

You should also create a dedicated blog post about why your lead magnet is so freakin’ amazing with an opt-in form there as well.

After that, you want to update all of your social media profiles to direct people to your lead magnet. When you’re posting all that great content on social media and people click your name to learn more...you want to direct them to your best work, that also happens to be super valuable for them! So, whether you have a meditation download, a quick start guide, a quiz, or whatever, you want to put that front and center.

Entice people to come into your home and get to know you better!

Step 7 - Get to work planning the details of your retreat

Boom! You’ve officially started laying the foundation for a badass retreat specifically tailored to your community and audience.

And now your website and social media platforms are lead generating machines, building your retreat interest list even while you sleep! Now, we're talkin'. 

While that’s working on autopilot, you want to be busy planning out all the logistics of your retreat from creating the sales page, payment systems, liability waivers, refund policies, onsite logistics, gathering testimonials, etc. [We’ll be covering all of this in Retreat Rockstar...opening again soon!....get on the list below.]

Whew! You guys. I’m getting excited just thinking about all the awesome retreats you’re going to create. Seriously. SO EXCITED. In the next part of this series, I’m going to be explaining a step that most people miss when describing how to launch a retreat: how to build a community. I've seen first hand that growing an authentic, engaged audience that trusts you is absolutely vital to creating retreats that sell out. 

In the mean time, start taking actions on the steps in this post. I’m rooting for you, friend! Leave a comment below to let us know which step you’re on or if you have any questions. If you share this series (and your progress!) on social media, then use the #myretreatbiz hashtag so that we can all follow along. Yeehaw!

Keep learning! >> Check out the next post in this series: How to Prime and Grow Your Audience for Your Retreat (coming soon!)



Use this workbook to brainstorm and plan your next retreat!

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There is no shortage in breathtaking yoga retreat locations around the world. We’ve led our fair share of retreats to Bali, Costa Rica, Thailand, and Mexico, so we know first-hand how great these locations can be. There are, however, so many more destinations that may not immediately pop into your mind when planning your next retreat. So, here are our top 9 locations for stepping out of the box and soaking in a well-rounded, relaxing, rejuvenating retreat in 2018.


Photo credit:  Raghavvidya, Flickr

Photo credit: Raghavvidya, Flickr


Okay. Okay. This might seem like an obvious choice, but India is still not a top 10 destination for yoga...yet. Practicing yoga in India is the epitome of spirituality. The ancient practice started here in around 5000 b.c. and still thrives across the country. Deeply devotional people, elaborate temples, and peaceful ashrams make India a unique location for retreats. While it’s certainly not the most luxurious location on our list, the culture and experience of retreating to India is sure to challenge you to deepen your spiritual and internal relationship to a fascinating degree. There’s nowhere quite like it.

While India is best known for Rishikesh, we’d recommend heading to Goa, Mysore, Varanasi or Manali, each offering their own exceptionally unique experience.

Best time to visit: November-February


Photo credit: magical-world Flickr via Compfight cc

Argentine Patagonia

It would be a true challenge to find a more intensely beautiful, surreal, and diverse area of the world to retreat to than Patagonia. From the immense glacial fields to the green alpine meadows scattered with wildflowers and the Cobalt lakes to the snowy mountain tops, the natural beauty here is truly boundless. Relax your mind and body on the mat and spend your free time engaging in sustainable volunteering or exploring the exotic yet peaceful environment around you.

Best time to visit: December-March


Photo credit: -Visavis- Flickr via Compfight cc


Oh Canada, a source of so much serenity, beauty, and fresh air! Looking for a bigger city retreat scene with an abundance of historical and architectural influences? Check out Toronto, Montreal, Quebec, or Ottawa. Looking for a more peaceful, scenic getaway in nature? Head to British Columbia or Alberta. Hi, Banff Lake! Honestly, no matter what atmosphere you’re looking to retreat to, Canada more than likely got you covered.

Best time to visit: May-October


Photo credit: Tomislav Bilic Flickr via Compfight cc


Croatia is a beautiful eastern European country with quaint islands in the Adriatic sea. The water is crystal clear and bright blue. Hvar island and the Istrian peninsula are perfect retreat destinations, boasting surprisingly fertile coastal plains, freshwater springs, beautiful beaches, and many hours of uninterrupted sunshine. It’s the perfect getaway without straying too far from comfort!

Best time to visit: May-June & September-October


Photo credit:  Boris G, Flickr

Photo credit: Boris G, Flickr


Nicaragua is the largest nation in Central America, yet it remains the least visited. With a stunningly diverse display of mountains, volcanoes, lakes, forests and beaches, this country makes for an entrancing retreat. Spend a week relaxing on Big Corn Island or combine yoga classes with surf lessons on Costa Dulce.

Best time to visit: November-April


Photo credit:  Mac Qin, Flickr

Photo credit: Mac Qin, Flickr


Have you ever heard of more inviting, crystal clear seas than that surrounding Maldives? We imagine it would be a challenge to find. Ocean lovers, this location is for you. Retreat to the ethereal paradise where nature and sea live in harmony and experience marine life like you’ve never seen before. Whether you’re looking for a rejuvenating getaway to Malé or want to combine yoga with surfing or diving, you’ll find it here.

Best time to visit: November-April


Photo Credit:  Trip Creator

Photo Credit: Trip Creator


Iceland has a whole lot more to offer than arctic temperatures and glistening glaciers. This country offers an abundance of thermal baths, such as the well-known Blue Lagoon, rare wildlife viewings and nature like you’ve never quite seen it before. If you’re lucky enough, you might even experience nature’s light show, the northern lights. Now that’s something to write home about.

We’re quite partial to Reykjavik and Akureyri when it comes to combining yoga and adventure, but, of course, we’re never opposed to stepping off the beaten path, either.

Best time to visit: June-August


Photo Credit:  Destino Perfeito

Photo Credit: Destino Perfeito


Retreating to Tanzania offers you a chance to experience some of the world’s most untouched combinations of culture, wildlife, and scenery. Spend your entire retreat relaxing on the beaches of Zanzibar, mix in some diving and sea exploration, or combine yoga with safari adventures. You’re bound to leave here with an open mind and plans for the next African getaway!

Best time to visit: June-October


Photo Credit:  Vuela a la Vida

Photo Credit: Vuela a la Vida


Looking to experience a laid back culture filled with striking architecture, white sand beaches, and crystal clear waters? Well, luckily for Americans, visiting Cuba just got a little bit easier. That means now is the perfect time to visit before the crowds start to discover the magic they’ve been missing. Relax and retreat to Havana, exploring the capital city’s rich culture or head off the beaten path to breathe in the fresh mountain air of the Sierra Maestra.

Best time to visit: November-March

Check out some of our favorite upcoming retreats, teacher trainings and venues to get started on your next yoga adventure!

Behind the Scenes of 2017 with Yoga Travel Tree


With 2017 already one quarter over (what?!), I'm excited for what the next 9 months will bring. Here's a little summary of the goings on around here:


I spent most of the last three months completely rebuilding YogaTravelTree.com from the ground up.

After dealing with not one, not two, not THREE, but FOUR site crashes while I was traveling in India, Tanzania, and Bali last year, I knew that something had to give.

So I hunkered down, turned off all notifications and distractions and got to work. Let me know what you think!


A brand new website AND a new logo is completely coincidental. I didn’t set out to basically rebuild my company brand face from the ground up...but here we are. ;)

After 3.5 years of adorable little “fire cracker hands stick figure yogi” logo, I was ready for something a little more modern, a little more sleek, and a lot more attractive.

The irony is that I designed this one myself while enjoying a glass of wine in about 2 hours. The first logo took about 2 months to settle on after paying for multiple options from a designer, asking a committee of friends and mentors their opinions, and asking myself “how will this logo make people feel?”

One important lesson entrepreneurship has taught me over the years is that your fonts, colors, and logo are secondary to the voice you use to communicate your message, how you treat and connect with your ideal clients and customers, and the general mojo you put out into the world.

All of that is your real brand - the way people will talk about your company when you’re not in the room - not the colors, fonts, and graphics.

I feel really great about the core Yoga Travel Tree brand, so it was time for a little year 4 spring cleaning and pampering. And boy does she look good.



In 18 months, I built 14 retreats and teacher trainings and delivered 9 of them myself.

It was an amazing 18 months traveling the world, learning so much about the retreat business, building meaningful + transformational travel adventures, meeting inspiring travel and yoga lovers from around the globe, and even getting to travel with my mom for the first time...ever.

But it was also exhausting. So I've decided to take a break from retreats in 2017, but I have a feeling they'll be back. ;)

Sign up below to be the first to know when they return.

Here are a few highlights from our 2017 adventures to Thailand... Bali... Tanzania/Kilimanjaro... and back to Bali. 



The past 18 months of successful (and some not so successful) retreat planning, promotion, and delivery PLUS my 12 years of experience in the educational travel industry have taught me a lot about about what makes a SUCCESSFUL retreat.

And after leading 9+ retreats in just 1.5 years, I’m asked all the time “how did you do it?” especially by people who’ve been struggling to get even one retreat off the ground.

So I'm excited to get back to my roots and help more yoga teachers and other business owners create, launch, and profit from their own retreats through my step-by-step course: Retreat Rockstar.

Retreats have been game-changing for my business and I know it can be for yours as well. If you want to learn more about this, click here and you'll be the first to know. :)




I’m extremely excited to be working with two fellow yoga badasses (Angela Cronk of Hagoyah Studio and Lauren Leduc of Karma Tribe Yoga) to bring an incredible yoga festival to the heart of the US!


The event is happening in Kansas City June 2018 and our deeply discounted Founders tickets will go on sale soon.

So if you’re a midwest yogi or interested in traveling to the heartland for an amazing event, head over to Heartland Yoga Festival and get on the early-bird Lovers List!



Over the years, I’ve played around with all kinds of marketing packages and options for yoga teachers and training organizers. And finally, I think we’ve found our sweet spot.

Our mission is to connect travel-loving yogis with the best fit yoga travel experiences out there.

In order to do that, we have to earn revenue (this is a business after all). Crazy, I know! ;) Therefore, we now offer ONE simple way to market your retreats, trainings, venues, and events on our site: The Better Package.

The Better Package gets you a year-long listing on our site (or until your event ends), promotion in our newsletter, promotion across all of our social media platforms, and a beautiful+detailed listing all about your amazing yoga offerings.

One package, one price - everyone gets the same exposure. Clear, simple, clean.

If you’d like to get your upcoming yoga retreat, training, venue, or event in front of our kick ass yoga community, learn more here.

Okay! That's a wrap! Thank you to everyone who has supported this crazy yogapreneur journey so far. I can't wait for everything that's to come! 






Job Opening: Virtual Assistant + Outreach Coordinator

Busy Entrepreneur (Brooke Roberts) Seeking...

Virtual Assistant + Outreach Coordinator who...

  • Loves yoga, travel, study abroad, craft beer/wine, sarcasm
  • Is hyper-organized and motivated (Seriously, you get excited about getting shit in order)
  • Can help wrangle all the projects and priorities in the Yoga Travel Tree business (and also understand my other businesses as well)
  • Excited about sending and answering hundreds of emails
  • Will avoid rolling her/his eyes at repetitive tasks (like emailing potential clients)
  • Can get all my Google Drive/G Suites properties out of chaos (if you don't know what I'm talking about this isn't the job for you)
  • Loves figuring out tech glitches and will always GTS (Google That Shit)
  • Experience with SquareSpace, webinar platforms, email marketing (preferably ConvertKit), social media schedulers, Asana and Canva
  • Appreciation for branding, marketing funnels, and list building
  • Eager to suggest solutions and ideas
  • And down for other awesomeness as assigned

Note: This is not an internship. If any of this made you think "what is she even talking about?" then this gig likely isn't for you. I'll definitely be teaching you a lot, but you need to have a handle on a lot of things coming into the position. 

You'll be working with me on Yoga Travel Tree primarily.

Requirements: Must be available for a weekly meeting with me during regular business hours.

Pay: Commission-based 

How to apply: Email your resume and why you will be awesome at this job to brooke at yogatraveltree dot com