A yoga retreat can be a life-changing experience to remember for years to come. It can be a good time to relax, connect with your inner self, deepen your practice and go back home feeling rejuvenated. That sounds great, but as much as we would like it to be perfect every single time, the reality is that sometimes things just don’t go as planned.
As with anything else in life, a yoga holiday could also come with with some unpleasant surprises. The good news is that these unfortunate experiences can generally be prevented by preparing in advance and researching about your upcoming yoga vacations to know what to expect from them.
We want to help to avoid any bad experience during all stages of your trip, from choosing the program, to the time spent on the retreat itself. That’s why we’ve listed 10 uncomfortable situations that can be easily prevented and get the most out of the yoga retreat.
- “My body hurts after several yoga classes and long meditation sessions.”
If you are not that experienced in meditation, it is quite possible that it won’t be easy for you to sit for a long time without your back and bottom hurting. Or if you’re learning Vinyasa Yoga on a retreat and you were used to a milder style, you might have troubles keeping up the pace.
Prepare your body! A yoga retreat is very relaxing, but it can also be demanding. If you know that the program includes lots of meditation, then make sure you get used to sitting for a long time by practicing at home one or two weeks prior to your trip. If you think you will need conditioning to take full advantage of the yoga classes, do some daily stretching to prepare your muscles.
- “The other participants are way more experienced than me and I can’t do the same poses.”
If you’re just starting with yoga, make sure the retreat you’re attending is suitable for beginners. Before making a reservation, review the schedule, see what type of yoga will be taught, and ask the teacher if the sessions will be suitable for participants of all levels.
If for some reason the whole group is way more advanced than you, then see it in a positive light; you might have a lot of teachers there who can help you improve your practice really quickly!
- “The travel time is too long for just a few days of retreat.”
If you live far away from the yoga center and want to take advantage of the long flight, many organizers offer the possibility to extend your stay. Ask in advance if the venue has this possibility. Often times they even offer special rates for returning customers.
If staying at the same place isn’t possible, ask for recommended hotels around the area or do a research in advance to get good prices and guarantee the availability of a room. It’s the 21st Century, so it shouldn’t be hard to find nice accommodation online.
- “I don’t have time to explore the area around.”
First of all, you must be clear of your intentions of the trip. Understand that you booked yourself to a yoga retreat and not to a touristic tour, which means most of your time would most probably be spent at the retreat center. That said, if you have chosen the destination because you also want to visit the local attractions and see the monuments, you should check that there is free time on the itinerary or that it includes excursions around the area. If that’s not the case, reserve additional days prior or post-retreat, so you can satisfy your wanderlust.
- “I don’t want to make my payment online, I’m afraid of credit card theft or money fraud.”
It’s understandable to have hesitations when giving your credit card information to a stranger. But nowadays there are various tools you can use to be reassured that you won’t get robbed. You might want to use a verified system like PayPal or make sure that the website is certified for safe transactions.
If the organizer asks you to make a deposit or a transfer and you don’t entirely trust him, you can also book through reputable websites like BookYogaRetreats.com, which evaluate and verify that each one of the retreats are trustworthy.
- “It was really hard to find the retreat center and I missed the first day of activities.”
No matter how certain you are that you can make it without directions, we highly recommend that you have the directions on your GPS or Google Maps to be certain that you’re going to be able to arrive smoothly. If you are going to a foreign country, there might be limited data on your phone, so don’t forget to download the map to have it available offline.
Another option is to ask the organizer for possible transfers from the airport, train station, etc. Sometimes this is even a complimentary service for their customers. And if you are already lost and didn’t follow the previous advice, don’t be shy and ask for directions from locals!
- “I don’t like my room, it’s not what I expected.”
This can be a very common problem if you don’t know where you’re going to be staying. Be careful when you book and check that you are paying for the accommodation that will make you feel comfortable. Often times the cheapest prices are for single beds in a dorm or even in tents. Therefore, if you don’t like to sleep with company, pay a little bit more to get your own room.
Finally, to be totally sure that you will enjoy your retreat, ask the organizer to send a picture of the exact same room (or a similar one) where you’ll be staying.
- “The food doesn’t align with my dietary restrictions.”
As with most of the problems on this list, you can solve them by asking the organizer in advance. However, unless you have a really specific diet, it’s really rare that the retreat doesn’t offer vegan, vegetarian or even gluten-free options. On the other hand, your problem might be that you want to eat some meat because you’re “starving” out of eating only vegetables; well, if you really, really need it, you can probably negotiate with the organizer, just let him know before your visit so they can have special meals for you.
- “I didn’t pack proper clothes.”
This is a general rule of thumb for any kind of travel: Before you go on your retreat, research the location, at least have an idea about the geographical aspects of the region and its weather. This way you will be prepared rain or shine. You should also consider all the things available at the venue. For example, you might want to bring a bathing suit in case there is a swimming pool or a beach; or shorts and a t-shirt if there is a tennis court.
- “My retreat got cancelled.”
Thankfully this is not as common, but there is always the possibility that things go wrong. Maybe a hurricane hits the retreat center, Godzilla attacks the city, the aliens invade the Earth, or something less dramatic than our examples forces the organizer to cancel the event. For that reason, you should always read the policies before making the reservation and confirm that you would get a refund if a catastrophe occurs.
In general, the most important thing you should do to lower the possibilities of having a bad experience, is to research the organizer and read the reviews from previous customers. Check how was the experience of previous participants and you can even reach out to a couple of them to ask for more details about what they liked or disliked.[Photo by: College Outdoors | CC BY]
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- 10 Bad Yoga Retreat Experiences and How to Prevent Them - Jan 5, 2017