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Yoga retreats usually require a significant investment in terms of money and time, so it’s natural to doubt your decision to attend one. Whether you are looking for a more meaningful way to spend your holiday, want to focus on your personal yoga practice or even try out yoga for the first time in life, a yoga retreat might be just the right choice for you – or it might not be.
I’ll share a big secret with you: I’ve never been to a proper yoga retreat myself. When I knew it was the time for me to dive deeper into the teachings of yoga, I had the luxury of spending a few months in India, and that was when I stayed in Mysore to learn what I could from renowned teachers, fulfilling a dream of mine.
It was the time when I quit my job in Berlin and wanted to take a break to focus solely on my yoga practice and self-discovery. I called this journey “a purpose of not having a purpose” and it was a thoroughly planned sabbatical, that truly changed my life. If taking a few months off wasn’t an option, however, I’d definitely consider going to a yoga retreat.
If yoga retreats are worth it or not, is also a question that I’m very often asked by my readers. There is truly no better answer to this question, than the one based on personal experience, and this is why I turned to yoga community for some objective insights about attending yoga retreats.
I asked five long-term yoga practitioners about their honest experience with yoga retreats, and if they think that they are truly worth it. Here is what they shared with me.
- “Even though the experiences were worth it for me, I likely won’t attend another” by Morgan Balavage from Splendid Yoga
Morgan Balavage (E-RYT 500) is a yoga teacher, wellness coach, and intuitive healer trained in a variety of healing modalities, including Thai massage, yoga, guided meditation, and chakra alignment.
I have attended two yoga retreats, both hosted by teachers I knew exclusively through social media (I’d never gone to their classes in person). Even though the experiences were worth it for me, I likely won’t attend another. The first, in the remote southern tip of Costa Rica, was much more rugged than I was expecting (I slept with the lights on to keep the cockroaches at bay), but I made some lifelong friends through the adventure. The host did an awesome job integrating us into the surroundings and creating a safe space for having an adventurous experience in a developing country, and my yoga practice improved exponentially. I didn’t really go in with any expectations, but I came away from it with a tribe
The second, 10 days spent on the beach in Bali, featured much more luxurious accommodations (with the price to match). The yoga teacher had hosted retreats for years, and lacked the enthusiasm of the teacher who hosted the Costa Rica retreat. She asked for requests for yoga poses we wanted to work on, and then ignored the requests and taught whatever she wanted. There were some lovely moments, but I decided I’d rather have more freedom in my travels and now take myself on my own retreats, staying somewhere warm and going to a variety of local yoga studios to get a sense of the local flavor.
Were they valuable experiences, wherein I learned a lot about myself, deepened my yoga practice, made some friends, and had an adventure? Absolutely, in that sense, they were worth it, especially since I feel like I’ve have the experience and don’t need it anymore.
2. “It was after going to a yoga retreat that I really started to understand what yoga could be for me” by Josée Perron from You Choose The Way
Josée Perron is a Blogger and entrepreneur who loves to encourage others to dig inside themselves to help them find their own true life path.
Practicing a few times daily allowed me to go deeper into my practice than I ever had before. It helped me be able to note the subtle differences of how my body feels from one day to another and gave me space and tranquility to connect with those spaces. The beauty of yoga retreats isn’t only about the yoga though. It’s also about the kind of people you connect with there and the healthy food that fuels your body during your stay. When I go home from a yoga retreat, I feel better acquainted with my inner self and ready to take action to make sure I’m living truly in line with that inner me I’ve found.
3. “Each retreat experience has taught me something new but it wasn’t until one specific retreat in Tulum that gave me a new perspective” by Jessica Zanotti from Untethered
Jessica Zanotti is a yoga practitioner with over 10 years of experience. She is the co-founder and creative dorector of Untethered
I have practiced yoga for 10 years and have been on many life-changing retreats. Each retreat experience has taught me something new but it wasn’t until one specific retreat in Tulum that gave me a new perspective on the type of retreat experience that feels most fulfilling; one that is introspective, rejuvenating, and healing, yet lighthearted and fun. Retreats are worth it when curated thoughtfully because they provide a completely different travel/vacation experience. It’s an opportunity to gain a new perspective from the people you’d perhaps otherwise not have met, to explore, and learn/do something new. A retreat is a form of self-care that allows people to reflect, revitalize their natural energy and refuel their inspiration.
4. “Yoga retreats are definitely worth it – as long as you know the teacher or organization hosting it” by Suzan Colón
Suzan Colón is a yoga teacher and the author of “Yoga Mind: Journey Beyond the Physical: 30 Days to Revolutionize Your Practice from the Inside Out”
Before I became a Yoga instructor myself, yoga retreats were a great way for a single person to go on a vacation. You could be in a group or by yourself, have an itinerary of fun things to do or just go off on your own, and you always had someone to eat with. I’d say yoga retreats are definitely worth it; I went on one to Costa Rica and met the man who would become my husband, who was also on the retreat! That was thirteen years ago and we’ve been on many retreats since then.
5. “Whether a retreat is worth it or not really depends upon what you are looking for and getting clear about your expectations” by Barrie Risman
Barrie Risman is a yoga teacher, the Co-Director of The World Spine Care Yoga Project and the proud creator of The Skillful Yogi. She is author of the forthcoming book, “Evolving Your Yoga: Ten Principles for Enlightened Practice.”
Having been involved in yoga retreats as a host, teacher, and a participant for more than two decades, I can tell you that the notion of a yoga retreat has come to refer to a wide-range of yoga-related events, from leisurely vacations with a daily yoga class thrown in to spiritual retreats that involve a full schedule of practices and everything in between.
Are you interested in traveling to an exotic destination with free time for relaxing and sightseeing? Or retreating to a spa or a residential yoga centre for a few days of self-care? Are you looking for a guided, immersive experience into yoga? Or something more relaxed and unstructured?
A few important things to look for when researching a retreat that meets your needs are:
Schedule – What is the balance of yoga time and free time?
Structure – Are you interested in having more time alone or in organized group activities?
Location and Facilities – This includes the accommodations, of course, but also the yoga space – is there a dedicated and well-equipped space for yoga practice? Meditation?
Transportation – Some retreat sites can be very remote, make sure you’re aware ahead of time what’s involved in getting to the retreat and what support the host offers to help arrange transportation.
And, of course, the Yoga – It’s important to find out about your teachers. If you don’t already know them, try and take a class with them personally or get some references to speak with.