Choosing the right yoga retreat has become something of a work of art in this wonderful expanding industry.
Yoga retreats now come in all shapes and sizes and can fit most budgets and individual expectations. The key to getting into the best yoga retreat for you is much the same as getting to where you want to go in life. Know yourself, and be realistic in what you can tolerate outside of your desires. For example, are you a person that absolutely needs 5 star luxury to be comfortable, or can you tolerate a little less luxury? You need to be asking yourself alot of questions before you start shopping.
The universe will provide everything you ask for, but first you must ask.
What are you hoping to get out of the Yoga Retreat?
Some would think that rest and relaxation are the only thing a person would want, but yoga retreats these days offer so much more. You can lose weight, create art and get inspired, or go exploring in the wild, you can experience a little culture, or deepen your practice. Write out exactly what you want from your yoga retreat. That way you stay focused when you’re shopping. For example, if you desire weight loss, make sure you’re sticking to that when shopping. Perhaps looking for a cleansing detox retreat close to home is your best option, instead of a retreat halfway across the world with an instructor who’s passionate about self-acceptance.
How serious are you about your yoga practice?
If you generally practice a couple times a week and are not that serious about it, don’t want to become serious about it and just want something a little fun and relaxing- keep that in mind as you do your research. Some retreats have 6 hours of yoga per day, some have only 1 hour. Know how much yoga you want to participate in and make sure to get a sample daily schedule. Also make sure to inquire whether the yoga classes are optional or not. Some of the larger retreat centers basically run the center as a yoga studio with accommodations, so you can pick and choose which classes to take and enjoy as much free time as you wish. Other retreat centers run mandatory yoga classes and even karma yoga-where you volunteer part of your day to either the yoga center or the community.
If you’re serious about your practice and want to deepen it, look for retreats that offer multiple classes throughout the day. Many retreats offer a morning meditation and pranayama on top of the asana classes. Also many offer an afternoon or evening restorative yoga class. Some even go as far to offer afternoon or evening talks, discussions and workshops on other aspects of yoga. If you already have a solid asana practice, these other classes (meditation, pranayama, discussions and workshops) are a great way to strengthen your commitment to yoga.
How early are you willing to get out of bed?
This seems like a pretty detailed question, doesn’t it! But it matters, trust me. If you’re exhausted and looking to get restored the last thing you need is a 5am yoga class every morning-unless you’re willing to spend your free time napping or going to bed super early. This goes back to knowing yourself and understanding your needs. Where are you in life? Are you burned out from working alot or running after a party of children? Are you well rested and craving adventure? There is a yoga to retreat to suit both, but you need to evaluate where you are before you can narrow it down.
How far are you willing to travel?
If it’s just yoga you’re after there are many options global that can support that. However, if you want to explore a different culture you need to be willing to put in a little extra time to get away. Again, if exhaustion is plaguing you maybe now isn’t the time for the exotic yoga retreat, if it involves two days of travel just to get there. However, if you travel for two days and end up at a wonderful supremely relaxing yoga retreat for three weeks it would be worth it. So in that case ask yourself- how much time can I afford to give myself. The more time you can afford, the closer you can get to that far away paradise of a yoga retreat. Also you need consider your relationship with travelling. Huh? You say, what the heck do I mean? We all have a threshold for how much stress we can handle at different points in our lives. 5 years ago, spending a day in an airport to fly 500 kilometers wasn’t a big deal for me, because I wanted the best deal on airfare I would tolerate the hours of waiting. Nowadays not so much, I enjoy travelling but I need to get to where I’m going as efficiently as possible. Travelling can be stressful for some and you need to be completely honest with yourself about how stressful you find it. Do you worry about delays and making the next connection flight? Or are you relaxed and confident knowing whatever happens it’ll all work out for the best? If the stress of getting to your retreat is more than you can overcome during the actual length of stay it may be a better idea to seek a retreat close to home. If you’re an experienced traveller who is great at entertaining yourself in an airport, I say go for it- get out of your comfort zone and go experience the world.
Kristie Eccleston began yoga in 1997 and in 2003 she obtained her yoga teaching certificate while working as a massage therapist for University of Alberta. Eventually she attended a yoga retreat and after spending many hours researching, she saw a need for a website that had all the information all in one place. She launched www.youryogaretreat.com and continues to attend, research and reviews yoga retreats.