What even happens on a yoga retreat

"So what even happens on a yoga retreat?"

My roommate asked me this question when I arrived home from a weekend yoga retreat this Sunday. It was a good question, especially since I didn’t share any of the weekend on my Instagram account.

Yoga retreats have exploded in popularity in the last 5 years, likely due to an increased awareness around health but also thanks to social media, like Instagram, which gives teachers and students a platform to share these picture perfect adventures.

But yoga retreats are not just for committed "yogis" - they present awesome opportunities to relax, explore and connect with like minded individuals.

This past weekend I assisted in leading a retreat with my neighborhood yoga studio, Jewel City Yoga. It was such a joy to be a part of this experience, and such a pleasure to see how impactful this weekend was on each and every one of the participants, no matter their skill or interest in the physical yoga practice.

Yes, you can enjoy a yoga retreat even if you're a complete beginner, or if you decide not to participate in the yoga at all.

Today I'm sharing a bit more behind the scenes of this yoga retreat so that you can get an idea of what you might expect should you choose to participate in one in the future.

I'm also sharing three reasons a yoga retreat may be the perfect next vacation for you.

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Why go on a yoga retreat

Before we get into the WHAT, let’s talk about the WHY.

Why might you decide to go on a yoga retreat, versus simply traveling on your own?

  1. You prefer to have someone else take care of the logistics. With most yoga retreats, all of the details are handled with the exception of your flight or transport to the retreat location. You can literally just show up and not have to worry about food or outings or figuring out the best AirBnB to book. This can be especially nice when visiting a new foreign city, or if your life is particularly busy.

  2. You’re into health, wellness and/or self development. As I mentioned above, you don’t have to be an advanced yogi to go on a retreat, but you should have a general interest in health and wellness, or an openness to learning about these topics and yoga. I’ve taught at retreats where individuals opted out of the actual yoga, but they were happy to for the vibe of the trip to be health focused.

  3. You’re looking to connect with like minded individuals. In my opinion, the BEST part of retreats are the connections and conversations that co-habitating with other like minded humans for a week or weekend facilitates. Sometimes the retreat leaders initiate reflecting and sharing moments, but often it’s in the in between moments (in between yoga and brunch, during afternoon free time, in between dinner and bedtime) that conversation is sparked and connections are made. Each retreat will attract a unique set of people, all of which are there for a reason.

It’s definitely good if you like yoga, but there’s so much you’ll get out of a retreat regardless!

What actually happens? (example schedule)

Every retreat is unique, but I want to share this weekend’s schedule to give you an idea of what one might look like. With most retreats, the activities are always optional - you can choose to do everything, or decide to sleep in or spend some extra time with your journal (or hop over to the local winery, or whatever!).

The schedule below is for a weekend. Longer retreats usually follow the same flow, often with an adventure or excursion day in the middle of the trip to switch things up.

FRIDAY

5-7PM Arrive + settle in

7-8PM Dinner

8-9:30PM Welcome, intention setting + evening meditation

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SATURDAY

7:30-9AM Light breakfast + coffee and tea

9-10:15AM Morning yoga

10:15-11:15AM Free time

11:15AM-12:45PM Brunch

12:45-3:30PM Free time

3:30-4:45PM Afternoon yoga

4:45-6PM Free time

6-8PM Cooking class + dinner

8-9:30PM Post dinner discussion (we had a more formal chat about non violent communication, but often this will be additional free time)

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SUNDAY

7:30-9AM Light breakfast + coffee and tea

9-10:15AM Morning yoga

10:15-11:15AM Free time

11:15AM-12:45PM Brunch

12:45-1:30PM Free time

1:30-2PM Reflections, closing meditation + departure

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What do you eat? Is it only salads and green juice?

As you may expect, the food on yoga retreats is typically healthy, but also delicious. Sometimes a private chef is brought in to cook for the group, other times the retreat leader will do the cooking and ask participants to lend a hand with small tasks. If the retreat is held at a retreat center, the food is usually handled by their staff.

Most often meals are plant based.

Alcohol is usually not included, but not always discouraged - it’s simply up to you to purchase if you’d like to have it during your retreat. There was plenty of wine enjoyed this past weekend (not by me personally, but most everyone else had at least a glass or two with dinners).

DO I HAVE TO BE EXPERIENCED WITH YOGA?

The short answer: it depends.

Most often it’s completely fine to be a beginner, especially if you’re excited to learn. The beauty of a retreat is that you’ll get more time with a single teacher, and have the opportunity to ask questions, receive hands on adjustments and personal feedback.

There are some retreats that are geared more towards advanced practitioners and teachers. Likely you’ll know from the website if this is the case. And if you’re not sure, just ask! Get in touch with whoever is in charge and explain that you’re a beginner - would this retreat be a good fit for you?

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How do i find a retreat?

There are tons of companies these days who organize retreats as their full time business. And while you can absolutely find a great trip and have an amazing experience with one of these companies, I do suggest going with a teacher or studio you know if you can.

You’re way more likely to have a positive, enriching experience if you already know you like the teacher’s style (even if you’ve only taken a class or two but were into their vibe). In addition, you’ll meet people who live or work in your local community (which is less likely when going with a big, international retreat company).

That being said… YES, there are absolutely more yoga retreats in my future. Two are already brewing for this year :) Make sure you’re signed up for my weekly newsletter list to be the first to know about future retreat opportunities!




THANK YOU TO FROM THE HIP PHOTO FOR CAPTURING THIS WEEKEND SO BEAUTIFULLY