We’re incredibly fortunate to have an abundance of yoga retreats to choose from, both in the UK and in more exotic locations. That said, it can often be overwhelming when deciding which one to book…
Helen Morris, yoga teacher and founder of wellness marketing agency Samsara Communications, shares her top tips:
Think about what you want
Do you want a structured approach where you’ll be up at the crack of dawn to practice every day? Are you looking for a jam-packed schedule, or would you prefer a little more down time and freedom to choose? I’m an introvert so whilst I love meeting new people on retreats, I also need my alone time, so I always look for this flexibility.
Consider your intention for the retreat – do you want to rest and reset, shape up, heal from a particular experience, gain clarity or make new friends? There are retreats tailored to meet all needs, so it’s worth spending time to make sure your chosen one aligns with your requirements.
Trish Whelan (pictured above), Kundalini yoga teacher and founder of Soul Adventures offers her advice on choosing a yoga retreat:
“You will hear the calling, you will feel your way into finding the perfect experience for you in that moment.
I like to work with small groups and delve deep, we are together and we are separate so we all have space to process.
We also laugh a lot at Soul Adventures and we eat really beautiful food. We connect and we disconnect. We share an experience together and that can be very powerful.
Bringing an open heart to the retreat you choose will be the most helpful thing. It’s important to allow yourself the space to check in with you and your experience.”
Research the teacher
If you don’t already know the teacher(s), check out their credentials – where did they qualify and how much training have they done? Do you get a good feeling from them? If you send them an email with any questions you may have, do you feel supported and cared for by their response?
It’s also important to find out what level of practice they will be teaching. For example, if you’re a beginner you might not be ready to experience advanced classes. Likewise, if you’re a more seasoned practitioner it may not suit you to go back to basics.
Theme and size of the retreat
Some yoga retreats may be totally focused on yoga, others may include life coaching, holistic treatments, workshops or more. Would you like to solely practise yoga, or are you interested in exploring other modalities too?
Do you want to be part of a big group or a more intimate one? Ask about the maximum number of participants before booking.
Does the retreat have testimonials that you can relate to on their website? It’s also a good idea to check their Facebook page for reviews. Most importantly, go with your gut feeling. If something doesn’t feel quite right, it usually isn’t!
Ask yourself: do you want to lap in luxury or are you happy to compromise? Would you be OK with sharing a room with a stranger? Does the venue look appealing to you? Would you be happy to be somewhere remote, or is it important that you’re near a town and can explore the surrounding area?
It’s vital to check and see exactly what is included in your retreat package – will you have to pay extra for transportation, food, accomodation, treatments or additional expenses?
Take the time to truly switch off
The word retreat means ‘a quiet or secluded place in which one can rest and relax’, but also ‘an act of moving back or withdrawing’. When I’m on a retreat I try and only check my phone once a day – this makes a huge difference to the whole experience because it means my attention is more focused and I’m fully present.
Honour your time away and really give your body and nervous system adequate time to recharge, away from screens.
Food is such an integral part of any retreat, there’s something really special about gathering together to share meals and chat about what’s going on for you. Meals should be lovingly prepared and inspire and delight you – research to see what kind of food will be provided. If you’re a coffee lover, be prepared for the possibility of having to go without it for a week.