I have yet to meet a yoga teacher who hasn’t at one point in their career expressed keen interest in leading some kind of yoga retreat. Be it big or small, there is something magical and powerful about having that time to be with your students outside of the yoga studio, exploring yoga and unique travel experiences together. It is a natural progression for any teacher’s yoga business.
In my years of working with yoga teachers, I’ve come to find three main elements in answer to the question: “Am I ready to offer a yoga retreat?” These are: the yoga/teachings; the teacher as a person; and the business. In this 3-part series, I describe these three elements with practical wisdom and manageable tools that help you determine whether it is good time to launch a retreat.
Part 1: The Yoga / Teachings
The type of yoga you teach will drive the type of retreat experience you create. The basis for any yoga retreat is your intent. What do you want your students to experience during your time together?
Why the Intent is Important
Before even beginning the planning for a yoga retreat, it is essential to have a clear idea of what it is that you, as a teacher, want your students to experience. Just as a good yoga class guides students through a specific intention or reflection for that given practice, most good yoga retreats do the same only on a longer and larger scale. Without having a clear vision to guide the planning process, it becomes much harder to guide your retreat participants in a coherent way once the retreat begins.
How to Determine the Retreat Intent
Here are some quick questions to help start the process of determining the retreat’s intention. Use this as a brainstorming session. Jot down anything that comes to mind.
- Your Teaching Wisdom — What are your core teachings, and how can you go deeper with your students in those teachers? Is there a particular piece of yoga asana or philosophy that you want to expand on – that you don’t have time for in a regular class. Is there a series you would like to teach? The focused community feel of a retreat enables the time and space to go deeper with your students in their practice. Consider what type of retreat will resonate and support your style of yoga and teachings.
- Your Passion(s) — What are you passionate about? What do you want to share with others? What you want to share is a large part of the experience both on and off the yoga mat? This could be yoga-related or not. Maybe you love the outdoors and camping. Or maybe you are passionate about wine. Passion is the one thing experience can’t teach. So find what lights you up and make that a part of the experience of your yoga retreat.
- Your Students’ Interests & Demographics — What do your students participate in outside of yoga? Are they outgoing people or meditative? Outdoor enthusiast or foodies? What are their values, and where do they spend their time and money? Know your demographic and keep it in mind while determining the intent of the retreat.
Matching the Environment to the Experience
Once you have a clear vision of your intent, you will more easily focus your search for a setting for the retreat. Since your intent for the retreat determines the student’s experience, that intention should also determine the location of your retreat. For example, if you have a more contemplative student group and your teachings are meditation and yoga, and your intent is for a silent retreat, then you would seek out a venue that could accommodate silent meditators. If most of your students attend Buring Man, and love to go camping and partying, then a yoga & hiking retreat in a national park would probably be well received.
Retreat planning isn’t necessarily linear, as there are many variables to juggle. But the starting point is to get clarity on your intent and on what experience you want your students to have. Be sure it resonates with what you are passionate about. Passion will drive your enthusiasm and your enthusiasm will drive the retreat experience. You can start with a few options for retreat ideas. Review each option with the students who you think would attend. Choose the retreat idea that gets the highest marks for resonating with both you AND your students. From this foundation, you can gather ideas for location and start formulating what the retreat might look like on a day to day basis. Most of all, have fun with the planning process. Be open to all possibilities. And keep all the ideas for many future retreats to come.
Lynann Politte’s unique approach, years of experience, drive, and vibrant enthusiasm provides the guidance and tools for wellness experts to manifest their revolutionary ideas into a real world reality. Lynann works with yoga teachers and authors to form strategies that integrate and expand the reach of their message, taking their business to the next level. Her support, management, and connections are the catalyst for the potential held in the wisdom and skills of each client. She is founder of Yoni Speaks and creator of Balancing the Elephant online business course for yoga professionals.
Find more info about Lynann on her website: yonispeaks.com.