Let’s face it, time is our greatest commodity. There is no greater gift than giving time to others and no greater reward than giving time to yourself. Going on a yoga retreat of is often a top bucket list item and finding the right one is sometimes a gamble. They can be costly and often you are not even sure who is taking you there. What is clear is that there are retreats for every lifestyle and your retreat gift can be the best gift you could ever give yourself. But how do you know what to choose? Start by reducing your stress in choosing a retreat and consider a few good pointers:
Start small. There are plenty of one day retreats that can give you the much needed detachment from your everyday hamster wheel of life. If you have an instructor that you currently like, join them or ask them to consider hosting one. It is rewarding for both the person attending and giving. It will give you a great taste into what a longer retreat would be like. And you likely don’t need to travel far.
Your instructor: it’s a personal thing. Do your homework on the main instructor – you’ll be spending a lot of time with this person. Look for references or better yet, try to attend a class with them first. And yes, while yoga will be the main attraction, think of retreats that offer other topics, particularly if over multiple days. Nutrition talks, food demos, health related workshops, nature walks, jewellery making, vision boarding are just a few added bonuses I’ve had the pleasure of including. And think of retreats where there are more than one instructor or guide. If you are spending multiple days, it’s refreshing to have other perspectives and voices to listen to. Do your homework and find out who else will be a part of the day.
It’s the best girlfriend get-a-way EVER. This will be a scene where the dressiest you’ll get is a pair of yoga pants or flip flops. I recently had my best high school friends join me after years of trying to get together. It reminded me of the carefree girl inside of me that I still have access to. There is no magic greater than the re-connection of those that hold fond memories in your heart. If having fun with your besties with some drinks is your jam, make sure whatever you choose is not a silent retreat without a bar. (The silent ones are a dessert all in their own!) I had a friend attend a retreat where she snuck out to get banned chocolate and wine in the nearest town.
De-tox with good food and a break from the digital world. Nourishing ourselves is a way to reset what is important to us. Most retreat centres have amazing cooks and are extremely aware of dietary needs. One retreat centre that we were had the most incredible vegetarian menu where even my “meat-a-terians” were impressed enough to hardly notice we had no meat. From a digital perspective, removing ourselves from our “likes” “shares” and “comments” allows us to look inward and towards connecting on the most basic level – the human level.
Research your destination and agency. If going the long haul, consider a retreat that combines a few extra days touring or connecting with friends abroad. Country? City? Pool? Sea? There is no end to the possibilities, and just like any vacation, you really need to look for places that suit your style. If you are paying money to join a group trip you should always deal with a travel agency that has consumer protection mandate. (In Ontario it’s referred to as a “TICO” number from the Travel Industry Council of Ontario). This protection that will hold the agency accountable. Be sure to read the terms of your booking particularly with respect to deposits (can they be returned?) or cancellation.
Whether you travel with the girls, or decide that you and your partner could use some rekindling, a way back to the basics could easily be part of your yoga retreat. You are guaranteed to be around NICE people, a serene setting, and it’s a great way to turn your attention to YOU.