Are you a yoga teacher planning a yoga retreat? Here are some tips for you on how to plan a yoga retreat based on my experience leading more than 50 yoga retreats over the last 15 years:

#1 – Ask yourself: is leading a yoga retreat for you?

First, see if you are cut out for this. There is stress and uncertainty in finding students or clients, negotiating with retreat centers, making travel plans etc. If you are a total control person with a high stress level (which I was when I first started leading retreats), you might stress out yourself and the whole group! Ask your heart or true Self if this is your path.

#2 – Plan your yoga retreat in advance

I like to have my international yoga retreats set up a year in advance, and local yoga retreats planned six months in advance. This gives time to set the energy, advertise and spread the word. People often sign-up for international retreats up to a year in advance, along with some last minute sign-ups. People often sign-up for local retreats much closer to the retreat date.

#3 – Choose the right destination

Ideally, the destination is a place you have visited, but not necessarily. The web in general, and TripAdvisor in particular, really help to find venues and communicate details from afar. Look for places with agreeable prices, nice ambiance, good food, a fair deposit/refund policy and clear communication.

#4 – Ask questions and negotiate

Is there noise next door to the retreat center? Are there past guests you can contact? Some people assume the retreat center or hotel protocol is set in stone. For example, ask if you can have your own room free if you bring a certain amount of students. Sometimes teachers can stay for free if more than 15 students paid. Casual hotels are more often willing to negotiate for food and room fees. Also, look for a place where you don’t have to commit a huge, nonrefundable deposit.

#5 – Choose whether to work alone or with a partner

If you are new, a partner can make things more comfortable. Just be clear about details, workload, advertising, payment allocation etc. Be sure the other teacher or assistant can help attract students, has a website etc. Also, take care of yourself. Take time to rest or get some alone time so you do not burn out during the retreat. But do connect and be available when possible.

#6 – Create money clarity

As you set your price, consider all costs: group hotel, food and your own personal costs (like flights, if international). If you have an assistant, factor in his or her travel costs. Do you wish to include ground transport like taxis or sometimes boats? Will any activities be included in price?

#7 – Set a refund policy and release form

Admittedly, mine is kinda wishy washy. I almost never follow my refund policy to the letter, and I try to be as fair as possible with people. There are certain variables involved. For example, do they already have insurance cancellation coverage? Here is my refund policy: the deposit is generally nonrefundable ($300 for international, $100 for Washington state). Three-quarters of other payment may be refunded if you cancel more than 30 days prior to trip, half is refunded if you cancel 15 – 30 days prior to the trip (depending on retreat center refund policy) and no refund under 15 days prior to the trip — unless I can get some money back from the hotel and retreat center.

#8 – Create an advertising plan to attract students

There are now dozens of retreat advertising web options like Retreat Finder and Retreat Place. To be honest, I have not had much luck with many of them, but some are still worth it. Make sure you have a good responsive website (adapts to smaller gadgets). Flyers are cheap and really work. Facebook ads and event listings are good. A monthly newsletter is great. Also, sub teaching yoga classes is a great way to connect face-to-face and mention your retreat.

Editor’s note: make sure to take a look at Seattle Yoga News’ affordable yoga retreat advertisement options to get your yoga retreat listed on the yoga retreat section of the site.

#9 – Good food makes a big difference

People will remember good, or not so good, food. Ask prior hotel guests about the quality of the food. Ask if the hotel caters to gluten-free diets and other needs. Ask all your guests on the registration sheet if they have food allergies or other requests. Provide the retreat center with all the dietary needs, and if the hotel allows it, make requests.

#10 – Create a great yoga retreat

In the meantime, be working on details and schedule. Best not to set things in stone and see how the weather, energy and other variables unfold. I lighten things up near the end of the retreat, as people grow tired. I like to mix inner and outer, so to speak (yoga / meditation with hiking / wildlife / cultural activities). You might choose a theme: 7 days, 7 chakras! It is key to find a balance between organized, yet relaxed and balanced with optional activities. Have fun!

Good luck planning your yoga retreat. Feel free to use the comments section below to ask me any questions you may have.

[Photo by Mikaku – CC BY]

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