How to Plan Your Yoga Retreat

Men doing yoga in a forest
Yoga in Thailand. Matthew Wakem/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Most people take a vacation to get away from it all, but students of yoga are increasingly using their hard-earned holidays to deepen their yoga practices by combining travel to exotic places with intensive yoga programs.

If you are considering going on a yoga retreat, these tips will help you know what to expect and ensure that you will have a great, relaxing trip.

Picking a Yoga Retreat

  • Go With What You Know: One of the best ways to pick a yoga retreat is to sign on for one led by your local studio or regular teacher. Running these retreats, often to tropical locales, has become big business for studios and independent teachers, so they will go out of their way to make sure that everything goes smoothly and you get good yoga instruction.
  • Reach for the Stars: If you sign up for a retreat with one of yoga’s star teachers or well-known studios, you will undoubtedly be treated well. Again, these teachers have a vested interest (their reputations) in making sure you have a good time and get your money’s worth. In addition, many studios run their retreats as yoga teacher training programs. If you are at the point in your practice where this makes sense, it can be a great way to earn your registered yoga teacher (RYT) certification while on vacation.
  • Get Fancy: If you can afford it, many luxury spas have yoga on the menu. This is a great way to relax, be pampered, and do some yoga on the side. Going this route may result in a sacrifice in the quality of yoga instruction, so this option is for those who just want a little yoga with their mud baths, seaweed wraps, and hot stone massages.
  • Stay Stateside: There are many excellent retreat options in the United States, the majority of which are on the east coast and in California. 

What to Expect 

  • You Get What You Pay For: If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. So, if you go the bargain basement route, expect rustic accommodations. If you are OK with living conditions that are closer to camping facilities than a hotel, this can be a good way to save some money. Some retreats will offer shared or dormitory-style rooms at a discount.
  • When you book a yoga retreat, be aware that the housing can range from shared cabins to luxurious private rooms. Make sure you check it out ahead of time.
  • Food is almost always included in the price of the retreat and usually features healthy, fresh, local cuisine.
  • Airfare is almost always NOT included, so make sure to consider this when budgeting.
  • Daily routine: Yoga classes will usually be offered in the morning and evening. Other activities will vary according to the focus of the retreat but often include meditation. Some retreats organize a lot of extra activities, which -- depending on locations -- may include things like hiking, native dancing, or even cooking classes. It is a good idea to clarify ahead of time whether these extras are included in the price of the trip.
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