Leading your own yoga retreat is a dream just about every yoga teacher has had at one time or another in their “yoga career.” If you live in the virtual world of yoga, its difficult not to find dozens of images crossing your computer screen each day of breathtaking beaches and stunning landscapes dotted with peaceful yogis mastering an amazing pose or resting blissfully in savasana. If you have ever thought to yourself, “That could be me teaching that class…” read on. Here are six ways to create an unforgettable yoga retreat experience for your students.
As much as you want to offer an unforgettable experience for your students, you are also about to embark on a life changing journey leading a yoga retreat in a foreign country. Create clear intentions, goals, timelines for your self right at the start and this will help to ensure you are on track. Intentions and goals can include how many students you need/would like to sign up for your retreat, cultivating the focus for what you want to teach during the retreat, what kind of outside activities you would like to offer your group, etc. From manifesting the over arching “vibe”of your retreat from the day you say go, to knowing all of the details inside and out, this will help to grow confidence and faith in yourself as you set out in the unknown and the more confidence and faith you have in yourself, the more your students will have in you as their guide.
2. Make sure the logistics of the trip are effortless and easy
There is nothing worse than traveling to a different country with a different language, customs, etc. and not have the logistics of your trip organized with every i dotted and t crossed. Planning for scenarios A, B & C is often necessary, as there are times events don’t always unfold as planned. Make sure you have the support you need up front. Organizing your trip with an experienced travel company is important as they have the know-how to predict what could shift during your retreat and how best to put plans in place to keep space you are creating as contained as possible.
We have led, supported and helped to organize hundreds of retreats over the last ten years. No matter how much energy and effort a teacher puts into creating an amazing experience for their students, when they incorporate the element of service into the retreat, the students always go away with that time being one of the main highlights of their journey. Creating a space for your students and yourself to be able to “give back” to the land and people is always a win/win. Do it.
4. Make sure to schedule plenty of “downtime” for your students and yourself!
When we say “downtime” we don’t mean mediations led by you. We mean “nothing on the schedule” downtime where everyone has an opportunity to soak in the experience they are having. And, almost always, you as the teacher will have some logistics to handle, so this ensures that you can take care of business and have plenty of time to swing in a hammock as well.
Strong bonds and friendships will be formed on your retreat. Your students are having a “once in a lifetime” experience. Even in a weeks time, you will find that there is a unique community amongst your group. Making sure you are not tied up with too much logistics or too packed a schedule (see #4) will help to make sure that when you are not teaching or leading the group, you can just enjoy the experience with them as well. Teachers sometime feel like they need to remove themselves from their students if they are not leading a class. Immersing yourself in the sweet moments of the trip that happen “off the mat” will foster deepened teacher/student relationships as well as allow your students to see you being relaxed and, well, just you as you are (without your teacher hat on).
You have planned everything perfectly, your timeline looks great, you have plenty of downtime scheduled, playlists are made, your surfing lessons are scheduled and tomorrow you board the plane to lead your first yoga retreat. (GO YOU!). Take a deep breath and be willing to let it all go. All of this experience is part of your own path as a lifelong student. It is inevitable that, as with life, there will be things that do not go exactly to plan. Be ready to go with the flow, be open minded and just have fun!