A Yoga Retreat is a great way to get away and find some zen, but as is the case with all things, you have various types to choose from, so you’ll want to make your selection carefully.
In order to figure out where it is you want to go, you must first ask yourself what it is you want to get out of the retreat.
Maybe you want to deepen your practice and get some training hours to boot, or perhaps you just need to relax and rejuvenate in an exotic destination.
Here’s a short list of different types of retreats to help you narrow down your decision:
Immersion / Intensive:This retreat style is focused on your practice first and foremost, so expect the majority of your time to be on the mat training.Some retreats will also offer Continuing Education Hours with Yoga Alliance and thus you’ll most likely find that many yoga instructors gravitate towards this style of retreat. With that being said, it is thus a good idea to brush up on your downdogs and make sure you are physically prepared to practice for the length of time advertised.Length of immersion retreats can vary as can destination, but we seem to find quite a few out there around 1-2 weeks duration and many options for a Central America think Mexico and Costa Rica escape.Keep in mind that typically there isn’t a ton of time to explore the area, as most immersion style retreats stick to a pretty rigid schedule.When we retreated to Costa Rica last, we found ourselves trying to squeeze a massage into time between 8 hour training days and meals.
Adventure/ Culture:Part exotic adventure travel part yoga retreat.These retreats typically take place in an instagram worthy destination around the globe, and offer a variety of activity options in the itinerary.Many even combine yoga with activities like surfing, SUP, Hiking, and horse back riding.Most will schedule a yoga session in the morning or late afternoon to maximize time to venture off either with the group or on your own, and you can bet that they’ve scoped a picturesque site for those yoga mat hours.When we venture to Bali, Indonesia, our yoga practice space overlooks a local temple on one side, rice paddies on the other, and the jungle is all around.These retreats are also a great way for a solo traveler or couple to see a new area and let someone else do the planning and legwork.And since yoga is not the focus of most adventure style retreats, there typically will be a wide array of abilities, so most active individuals with little yoga experience can most likely find a fit here.
Wellness:A Yoga Wellness Retreat combines a mix of yoga, healthy food, and other wellness treatments, making this a favorite choice for a little indulgence and self-care.Often set in a resort/ spa like destination, just the ambience and environment will begin to melt and ease your stress and worries.Many of these retreats will focus on a more mellow yoga style such as slow flow, restorative, and yin yoga, so that there is ample opportunity for the retreaters to unwind and zen out.There will also be a heavy emphasis on other self-care practices, and it is common to find a healthy curated menu potentially with a focus on raw food, ayurvedic nutrition, and/ or gluten, sugar, dairy, meat free.Some other wellness options might be offered from daily massage, acupuncture, energy work, life coaching, among others.Typically these retreats offer ample time for free time to give participants the ability to fill that time how they choose, think lots of lounging, tea sipping, and book reading.
Spiritual / Pilgrimage:This style of retreat typically centers around making a pilgrimage to India or another spiritually charged destination around the world.Typically you’ll learn about a spiritual/ philosophical path and participate in rituals that follow;however, it is not typically religiously associated, so retreaters of any religious background can typically take part.Expect deep immersion into the local culture and sacred landscape with time spent in meditation and reflection.These types of retreats can be truly transformative, and so will be attractive for the student who is looking to make a life change, reconnect with themselves, and reinvigorate their life.Also, expect excursions to local temples, sacred sites, and potential work with loc al healers.Many of these retreats focus on simple accommodations and a basic vegetarian diet as they follow the tenets of a spiritually inspired lifestyle.
Silent / Meditation:Not necessarily a yoga asana retreat, but certainly on our list of yoga retreats, these retreats incorporate silence and meditation into anything from a 3 to 10 to 365 day retreat.Expect lots of time sitting on your meditation bolster, and often complete silence as you quiet the external chatter and move internally. Many will also set out a strict list of guidelines including no talking, no body gestures, no reading, no listening to meditation, wake with the sun, sleep with the moon… You get.Be prepared to move inward, and expect simple accommodations and a vegetarian or vegan diet, as the focus is on minimizing the distractions that can fill our environment and bodies so that we can reconnect with our inner landscape and Self.One traditional style of Silent Retreat is the 10 Day Vipassana path.Check it out here.
So, now that you have the skinny on the different types of retreats, we’ve compiled a list of questions that will help you find exactly what you’re looking for out of your retreat time.
How much time do I have?
When do I want to go?
Where do I want to go?
How many hours do I want to practice yoga/ day?
What level of practioner am I?
Am I interested in other activities?
Does the destination matter to me, or am I mostly focused on yoga?
How much can I afford to spend?
How much free time do I want?
Does the age makeup of the group matter?
Does knowing the teacher / group leader matter?
Is there a teacher or group that I would like to retreat with?
Do I want all meals, accommodations, and activities to be included, or would I rather have the leeway to explore on my own?
What is the reputation of the teacher or group leading the retreat?
What accommodation options and meal options are offered?
Has the teacher or group been to this destination / led this retreat before?
What is the main focus of this yoga retreat?
Is the accommodation a yoga retreat / wellness retreat destination?
Will there be other people/ groups staying at the destination?
What is my main purpose for going on this retreat?