However, there is so much that goes on behind the scenes both during the planning process and on the retreat itself. When you organize a yoga retreat, you’re having to juggle so many balls in the air.
That’s why we put together this simple guide to help you know where to start when you want to host a yoga retreat!
What Are The Key Elements of Planning Successful Retreats?
Timeline planning • Selecting your venue • Itinerary & program design • Sustainability considerations • Marketing • Financials & profitability • Legal forms & liabilities • Insurance
How To Organize a Yoga Retreat
- Have you ever been on a yoga retreat? It might benefit you to have a retreat experience from the student’s perspective before you try to host your own. You could even ask your own yoga teacher if you can assist them with their next retreat. Take copious notes on what you do and don’t want to apply to your own yoga retreats.
- Temper your expectations of what a being a retreat leader and hosting a retreat will be like. Talk to other teacher friends to get their advice, or join our Retreat Leader Hub to chat with other retreat leaders about what it’s really like. Even though you may be in an exotic location, leading a yoga retreat isn’t a vacation. That’s why you should make sure to schedule appropriate downtime every day of your retreat. After all, you need to take care of yourself first in order to lead others!
- Expend your energy wisely. How much time, money and energy are you willing to invest? How much do you want to take on vs. delegate to others?
- Personalize your yoga retreat. There are so many yoga retreats out there, you want to make sure that yours stands out. The way to do that is by making sure that when you plan a yoga retreat it reflects your own teaching style and personality. This will also help when you’re trying to decide where your retreat should be located. Think about the places you’ve done yoga around the world and where you felt called you the most.
Select a Retreat Location
Once you decide on a location for your yoga retreat that reflects your style, you’ll have to find a retreat center to host you.
- Create a list of retreat centers that interest you in your chosen location. Check out the Retreat Center Directory to help you out with planning a yoga retreat abroad!
- In the best case scenario, you’ll be able to visit your retreat center of choice beforehand to confirm that it’s a good fit. If you’re not able to do that, at least form clear lines of communication with the retreat center to make sure you know exactly what you’ll be getting.
- The yoga retreat center you choose should be professional, responsive and organized. You have expectations for your yoga retreat that should be met, such as high-quality food and a comfortable yoga space.
- While planning your yoga retreat, keep the retreat center’s perspective in mind. It’s important to them that you clearly communicate your needs prior to the guests arriving.
Price Your Retreat Fairly
Pricing a yoga retreat can be difficult. We have come up with a succinct formula for how to arrive at a fair price when you organize a yoga retreat. Here it is:
- A – price per person from your retreat center. This includes the basics like accommodation, food and a yoga space. It does not include extras like airport transfers or add-on activities. Those will be paid out of pocket by the retreat goer unless you want to factor them into the price of your retreat.
- B – your personal compensation. We know you love teaching yoga, but don’t lead a retreat for free! Think like an entrepreneur when you organize a yoga retreat and you will be successful! You should factor in any classes or sessions you will be missing to go on the retreat as well as your own travel costs to get to and from the retreat center. Time and energy need to be accounted for as well, so come up with an amount based on your pre-retreat organization and marketing. There’s also the actual, you know, retreat leading part.
- C – the result of A+B. Add the figures you came up with for A and B and that will give you your final retreat price!
Create An Itinerary For Your Retreat
Creating an itinerary is an important aspect of organizing your yoga retreat. It will feed through to your marketing as well!
- Don’t plan your yoga retreat down to the minute. Leave room for spontaneity and flexibility.
- Every group is different, so you’ll have to adapt once you get to know your participants. Allow everyone to have their own experience.
- Give your retreat goers downtime between yoga classes. It is a retreat after all!
- Make any non-yoga activities (such as surfing or hiking) optional for those who wish to partake.
- Create a simple sample schedule to give retreat goers an idea of what to expect. Here is an example of how a day could look: sunrise meditation, asana practice (moderate to vigorous), breakfast, non-yoga activity (2-3 hours), asana practice (gentle or restorative), free time, dinner, meditation.
Market Your Retreat
Promotion is key when you organize a yoga retreat for the first time. After a few retreats, you’ll gain a core following of students, many of whom will be repeat travelers with you. With your regular public classes and private students, you have already a great audience to host a yoga retreat. Promote your offering within your personal network and from there, it’s word of mouth. Your students bring their friends and their friends bring friends. Here are some more tips:
- If you don’t already have one, create a mailing list and set up a Mailchimp account. Send out regular mailings including information about your retreat (tip: early morning emails Monday to Wednesday often get the highest read rates)
- Create flyers, site banners, or facebook banners with canva.com or get a PDF postcard flyer when you create a trip with WeTravel
- Create an easy website (either the classic way with WordPress or with ready-made website tools such as Wix or Squarespace)
- Create a Facebook Page for your retreat
- Create a Craigslist ad in different cities to reach yogis that are out of your area
- Find opportunities to teach in studios out of town and even abroad to increase your following
- List your retreat on WeTravel where people intentionally search for yoga trips
Communicate With Your Group
Now that people have signed up for your retreat, you need to communicate with them so they know exactly what to expect. You also may need information from them either for your own records or to pass onto the retreat center. When people register for your yoga retreat, have a registration form for them to fill out. Ask about injuries, dietary requirements, an emergency contact, and relevant yoga experience. When you plan a trip with WeTravel, anyone who registers will be required to supply all of the information you need. As for the information you need to give your retreat-goers, we suggest sending these three group emails when you organize a yoga retreat:
- 1st email – Travel and packing tips. The travel experience of your students will vary, so give them key information like what to pack and things to remember.
- 2nd email – Retreat guidelines. This will help set firm boundaries with your students (e.g., tell them that you want them to show up for every practice on time, talk about alcohol intake; set the tone prior to leaving)
- 3rd email – Retreat schedule and itinerary. This builds buzz and gets people excited for the retreat. Create a Facebook Page so your retreat goers can connect with their fellow travelers ahead of time.
More Tips For Organizing a Yoga Retreat
Now that you have the basics down on how to organize a yoga retreat, here are a few more tips to make sure everything goes smoothly:
- Don’t forget about insurance and liability! Require your retreat goers to get travel insurance before going on your retreat. When students sign up via WeTravel they are given the option to purchase insurance at the end of registration. Have a liability waiver for your participants to sign electronically before the retreat starts.
- Have a clear concept and guidelines for your retreat. This will help you decide what to answer when you field questions (e.g. ‘Can I bring my child?’ or ‘Will there be alcohol allowed?’)
- When trying to decide whether to co-teach a yoga retreat or not, make sure you’re on the same page as far as respective contributions to the retreat. Each of you should take on a specific part of the organization process. Also, make sure you work out a system whereby you ask how the traveler heard about the retreat and credit each teacher’s earnings accordingly. If you’re relying on your yoga retreat to bring in significant income, you may want to host the retreat solo this time. Co-teaching is not a big money maker, though it can be extremely rewarding in other ways.
- Get creative when you organize a yoga retreat. Many yoga retreats have the same formula, so yours will stand out from the crowd if you offer diverse add-on activities. The more thoughtfully crafted and hard-to-replicate the retreat program, the better!
So there you have it, your guide on how to organize a yoga retreat. If you have already led a yoga retreat, do these tips ring true for you? Are there any you would like to add? Leave them in the comments!
If you are new to planning yoga retreats, join our special Facebook group for yoga retreat leaders (or hopeful retreat leaders). In this group, you can learn from those who have more experience. Ask questions, get answers, and form your own community of yoga leaders to help you with hosting your very own yoga retreat!