10 Tips for Organizing a Yoga Retreat
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Have you ever dreamed about organizing your own yoga retreat? Vacations on the beach, teaching one or two yoga sessions per day and earning good money – what could go wrong? What a lot of yoga teachers don’t know is that the organizers of such retreats carry a significant financial risk. A small mistake can jeopardize the success of the whole venture.
Therefore, it is crucial to plan your retreat carefully. By following these 10 steps, you can get closer to the dream of your very own yoga retreat.
1. Choose your dream destination – with heart and mind
Maybe the most important thing: A beautiful place that inspires you, but also your participants. Your feelings are your first decision-making aid. You can ask yourself: Does this place appeal to me emotionally? Do I feel inspired? Because only if you feel inspired, will it be possible to transmit this inspiration to other people.
However, your second step should be to use your mind. In order to assess your dream destination critically, the following aspects are crucial:
- Accessibility: Is the place easily reachable by car or do participants have to fly there? What kind of costs does that generate? How far is the retreat centre from the next airport? Is there a connection with public transport?
- Yoga facilities: Do you like the yoga facilities? How many participants do they accommodate? Is there some equipment (yoga mats, blankets, straps, blocks)?
- Climate: What kind of climate can you expect during which season?
- Price: What will be the price per participant? How much does the rental of the yoga facilities cost? Will there be a minimum number of participants? What will be the booking and cancellation conditions?
- Food: What kind of food options are there? Are there vegetarian and vegan options?
Maybe you already realize that organizing a retreat can be quite complex. Considering that reality is often far behind the pretty pictures on the internet, I would never book a place which I have never visited personally before.
2. Who do you want to participate? – The target group
By now there is a wide range of yoga retreats being offered. Thus, a crucial question that you should ask yourself is who your target group will be. Who do you want to participate? What do they get on your retreat what they do not get anywhere else? If you have never thought about your position as yoga teacher, the following questions might help you to become aware of your strengths and the direction of your offer.
The ironic thing is: as teacher you obviously would like to address as many people as possible; but in order to reach that, you need to limit the target groups. Instead of offering a yoga retreat “for everybody”, it might make sense to target beginners or advanced students. Or you teach a certain yoga style, or maybe you have a unique personality. You need to ask yourself: what is it that makes my yoga retreat especially good and unique?
3. Determine the right price
To determine an adequate price for your own work is quite challenging for most yogis. If you are too cheap, you might sell yourself short. If you are too expensive you might risk putting off some of your potential participants.
Also in this case I would advise you to take the decision with heart and mind. Which price does intuitively feel right? What would you be willing to pay for a similar offer? Afterwards, you can use your mind to examine if that price makes sense. What are your own expenses (travel expenses, accommodation, food)? How many participants do you need at least in order to be able to cover your costs?
Additionally, I can give you the following tips for the determination of your retreat price:
- Detailed prices: if possible list the prices for classes, accommodation and food separately. That makes your offer more transparent. The ideal case would be if participants would only pay you for classes, and pay accommodation and food directly to the retreat centre.
- Early bird price: a good way to finalize a booking is to offer early bird prices. In that case retreat participants receive a discount if they register AND pay before a certain date.
4. Successful marketing – use multiple channels
One of the most important steps for your own yoga retreat is successful marketing. I would advise you to use several channels:
- Mouth-to-mouth recommendations: Let your own students know about your retreat and talk before and after class enthusiastically about your offer.
- Poster: design a poster that you put up in your yoga studio.
- Flyer: Make a flyer or ask a graphic designer to do it for you.
- Website: Advertise your yoga retreat on your own website, facebook and/or online travel platforms like BookYogaRetreats.com
- Email: mention your yoga retreat in your newsletter – and not only once. If you offer for example an early bird discount, it might be a good idea to remind your readers about your offer when the due date comes close.
5. Be nice and communicate clearly
How do you treat potential participants? The way you communicate with your participants – also and particularly before the retreat – is a crucial factor in order to make your retreat a success. Be friendly and try to meet the expectations of every participant as well as you can. Try to address individual wishes, worries and requirements.
However, at the same time you should be aware about what you can offer and what is not possible. When I organized my first retreat I promised all participants to pick them up at the airport, and ended up waiting for delayed flight late at night, although I had to teach a class early the next morning. I would not offer that service again.
6. Set up general conditions and a contract
Being clear means for me to set up the most important conditions of my retreat, for example the cancellation policy and disclaimer, within valid terms and conditions, or in a contract that all participants have to sign. I hope you will never need it and in 99% of the cases it is not necessary. However, as organizer it is important for you to insure yourself beforehand.
To keep in mind on-site:
7. Energize yourself
Try to arrive relaxed and, if possible, one or two days before your participants. That enables you to get to know the place, to leave the stress of the trip behind and to be fully energized at the beginning of the retreat.
Further, you should also take breaks during your retreat – for your own practice or just to be alone for a while. This way you will be able to stay alert, friendly and present throughout all classes and common activities.
8. Take each participant seriously
Image credit: Drishti International Yoga
Every participant is different and has different needs – especially during the yoga sessions. Particularly during retreats it might be that there is a wide range of different levels – from absolute beginners to participants with several years of experience. Be careful to always prepare different options for your class.
Moreover, participants might also have different needs during their free time: some participants may want to spend time with the group, while others prefer to be alone and to discover their surroundings independently.
Always be in contact with your participants and try to support each one of them as good as you can. Don’t make the program too full, and leave enough space for individual activities. On the other hand, try to organize at least one activity for the whole group (for example hiking or sightseeing).
9. Deal confidently with criticism
Image credit: Naturalsoul Yoga
Be prepared that there will be participants that will criticize you. Yogis are humans and humans have different moods. My experience is: you can be at the most beautiful place on earth. During the first one or two day everybody is happy. But the latest on the third day somebody gets bored, sore muscles, doesn’t sleep well or whatsoever.
As group leader I try to actively address problems – preferably directly with the person – and avoid this way that the bad mood of one affect the atmosphere in the whole group. Try to help that person as much as you can, but also distance yourself consciously from unjustified criticism, and above all do not take it personally.
10. Collect feedback
It doesn’t matter if it is positive or negative – feedback is for you as organizer always valuable. You might for example use particularly positive feedback when advertising your next retreat, because nothing convinces more than the statement of a satisfied participant. Negative (I prefer the term ‘constructive‘) feedback helps you to grow as a person and a teacher and to improve your offer in the future. In order to get honest feedback, use not only personal conversations, but also an anonymous survey.
The organization of a yoga retreat needs a foresightful, clear and long-term planning, good marketing, and a friendly, but also professional communication with your participants. On-site you should be flexible, and address the individual needs and wishes of your students. However, at the same time you should be aware of your own energy level, in order to avoid being stressed out.
» Want a step by step guide to organize a retreat? Check out this infographic that illustrates how to organize an awesome yoga retreat in 10 steps.
Want to learn more before you organize a retreat? Join a 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training!