Yoga Retreat 101: 5 Tips for Choosing an Experience

[wp_ad_camp_1] Are you ready to say sayonara to the winter blues? It’s Spring and if you’re not itching to go on vacation, please share your secret. If you are eager to hit up a retreat, here are five suggestions for how to pick a legit yoga retreat.


1. Location, Location, Location

Yoga Retreat 101: 5 Tips for Choosing and Experience - YogaTravel Tree

Just like buying a good piece of real estate, location is key when picking a retreat. While choosing a place you’ve always wanted to go (Costa Rica!) may set the stage for a great vacation, be sure to consider the type of landscape that will most inspire your yoga practice (ie. are you hitting mountain pose at mountain top or digging your Down Dog into a sandy beach?) You should also consider if you want the retreat to be dedicated only to yoga or if you’d like to partake in other activities like surfing, hiking or biking. Choose a location that offers you more of what you want.

If you enjoy...

  • Exploring culture, arts and monuments, think: Tuscany, Paris, Provence or Spain
  • Being on a warm, sunny beach, think: Hawaii, Mexico, Thailand
  • The comfort of high thread-count sheets, gourmet cuisine and a cozy luxurious bed (and let’s be serious, who doesn’t?) think: Sonoma, Prana del Mar, Lumeria
  • Rustic camping trips, think: Montana
  • Surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, think: Costa Rica, Bali


2. Choose a Teacher and Style You Love

Familiarize yourself with the teacher(s) guiding the retreat. Look into how many years of experience they have, both guiding retreats as well as teaching yoga. If you can, go to some of their local studio classes and decide if you like their teaching style. If they aren’t accessible to you, ask for student testimonials to shed some light. Is the teacher super serious or loads of fun? You should be "in like" with your teacher and excited to spend time learning from them and just hanging out.

A retreat can be like a mini "teacher training" so make sure you feel aligned with the style (Vinyasa, Bikram, Hatha) and level (beginner, intermediate, advanced, multi-level) of yoga you will be practicing. If you want a sweaty practice but the itinerary only includes restorative yoga, you're going to be let down. Also consider how much yoga you want to practice while you’re on the retreat. Some yoga holidays may offer only one 60-minute class a day while others offer two classes daily and mini-workshops, life coaching or yoga clinics.


3. Theme and Focus

Yoga Retreat 101: 5 Tips for Choosing and Experience - YogaTravel Tree

Ask yourself what your intentions are for this experience. Are you looking to reset your mind, challenge your practice, heal a broken heart or make new friends? If the retreat is based on life coaching and self-development but you are only looking for exercise and physical activity then it’s probably not the retreat for you. Read the descriptions of the themes carefully and find the one that most speaks to what you are looking for. The retreat's focus will bring together like-minded people so you’ll find it easier to connect with the group, which will no-doubt enhance the experience.


4. Price

Unless the trip information states otherwise, retreats should be inclusive of pretty much everything except airfare. This means you know what your total trip expense will be right from the get-go. Not having to worry about over-spending will help you take a load off and really embrace the experience. Keep in mind that an inexpensive retreat doesn’t necessarily mean it’s cheap in quality (it could just mean that there are more participants, all paying less). Are you looking to be one of 50 or would you prefer a smaller tribe of 15, but pay a bit more? Do your research to ensure your getting the most bang for your buck and there are no surprises!


5. Timing and Duration

Retreats can be as short as a two-night weekend getaway to as long (or longer than) a 10-day trip. Don’t just assume longer is better, sometimes all we need is a weekend away to "reboot." Align the length of the retreat to bank holiday’s like Thanksgiving, Fourth of July, New Year’s to make time away easier on yourself. Also don’t be afraid to be spontaneous and just sign-up last minute if you know you need it now. Sometimes not over-thinking it is the most easeful way to go.

The best advice is to sign-up for a retreat through an organization that specializes in Yoga Retreats or go with an experienced Retreat Guide. You can then be assured that all of the groundwork has been done and it is definitely comforting to know that the hosts can vouch for their retreats before you invest a ton of time, money and precious vacation hours.


If you have a great way of choosing a retreat, or if we forgot a step, we want to know about it! Start up a conversation below!


Images via: @nanda_priya, Acres to Sea, @oscarhguerrero