Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Yoga Retreats - How to Choose The Right One

As a leader of tropical yoga retreats in Hawaii and Mexico, I’ve researched numerous resorts and retreat centers to find the locations most suitable for the clientele I want to draw. Retreat centers range from the rustic to the luxurious, from mountain to beach settings, and from remote to city center. Below are some considerations for what to look for in your search for the ideal yoga retreat.

Know what you want. Do you want to retreat into yourself or have a social outdoor adventure? Some centers have several groups intermingling at meals, at the pool, dance parties, or are centrally located in a town with street noise, music, etc. Others have space for only one group, or are in remote locations with no cars in sight. Many are in between. I’ve found that even if there are plenty of extra activities offered, one can always choose to abstain, stay quiet, take naps, receive bodywork, etc, as long as the setting is tranquil.
Creature Comforts:
Are you wanting an exclusive resort/5-Star hotel experience, or do you prefer the somewhat rustic or low-budget experience? Yoga retreats cover the full range and are usually priced accordingly. Spend some time researching what is offered and the quality of the accommodations before you sign up.
Is the retreat located at a center that caters to yoga retreats?
If not, they may not be equipped with yoga props or have the familiarity with how to best serve the yoga group’s unique needs.
Is it located at a retreat center or at a hotel?
Depending on what you’re wanting from your retreat, one of these is better for you. Would you rather be removed from the daily distractions of shopping, driving, internet and busy streets, or would you prefer to be in town where you can walk, bike, drive or bus to local attractions? Being at a retreat center where there’s plenty of acreage isolating it from the outside world can be very conducive to going inwards and focusing on your practice, personal well-being, rest and relaxation. Many retreat centers offer both, where you can choose to stay exclusively on their campus or you can elect to attend excursions to explore the local environment and attractions.
Are all meals included
? I have found that sharing meals with my retreat participants is a very bonding experience for the group. It’s a time when we can get to know each other and strengthen our connections. It is also a treat not to have to fuss with money and tips at each meal when it’s all-inclusive. However, if you’re more of the adventurous or solitary type, you may prefer a retreat not including all meals where you can go off to explore the local fare.

Are extra sight seeing trips included in the retreat price? Again, depending on your goals for your retreat, you may prefer extra adventures are included. If they are, you can be sure you’re paying for them, whether you attend them or not. If you want to explore the area around your retreat, then the extra adventures can be a blast and another great way to bond with your group while deepening your understanding of the local culture and environment. On our retreats, we like to make these extras optional and then the participants can decide which trips they’d like to attend and the facility will still offer a reduced rate for minimum group sizes. Some centers may have more than one group staying at a time, and they offer a different adventure each day for whoever wishes to attend.
What kind of yoga is being offered?
There are so many styles of hatha yoga taught these days, that it is important to know what style you prefer in order to avoid getting stuck with a teacher or style that is extremely challenging or unsuited to your nature. Most ideal is if you know the teacher you’re signing up to spend your week with. Next best is if you at least know that you like the style of yoga that they teach.

Best of luck and have a great retreat!

Robyn Smith, E-RYT is a certified Anusara Yoga instructor and teacher trainer from Arcata, California. She offers winter week-long yoga retreats in Yelapa, Mexico and Hawaii’s Big Island, and weekend summer retreats by the rivers of northern California. http://innerfreedomyoga.com/retreats.php