If you’re a yoga teacher looking to expand your offerings to include yoga retreats as part of your business plan, there’s good news for you. Understandably, wellness travel is on the rise post-pandemic, and yoga retreats fit neatly within this box. Global Wellness Institute is projecting that “wellness tourism will grow rapidly… with the market reaching $1.1 trillion in 2025.”
And yet, making the leap to host your first retreat is still a big decision and commitment — I know — I made that leap.
I also wouldn’t have had such success had other yoga teachers not been so forthcoming with their advice. So, I made notes of all the little lessons I learned the hard way over the last few years of hosting retreats in the U.S. and abroad and am sharing my top level advice with you below.
Questions to ask before you start yoga retreat planning
The first step to take before you get into the nitty gritty of yoga retreat planning is to ask yourself a few questions:
- Do you actually WANT to host a yoga retreat? It’s a lot of work. If your answer is that you want to BE ON a yoga retreat, you will end up letting yourself and your attendees down. But if your answer is that you do want to hold space for your community through the outlet of a retreat, then keep reading!
- What kind of role do you WANT to play when it comes to “host”? There are lots of ways to step into the role of host at a retreat. Do you want to teach yoga at an already-existing retreat, or do you want to curate the experience? These are questions that will direct you to the type of research you’ll do next.
- What kind of experience do you want to create out of your retreat? This will help you sort out your niche so you know who you’ll be offering your retreat to. If you’re solely interested in yoga morning, noon, and night, that will attract a different crowd than folks who might be interested in other activities or adventures during their time on your retreat. I like to envision how my retreat attendees will leave their retreat experience on the final day. How will they feel? What will their takeaway be? This will help guide the offerings I carve into the itinerary.
If that first question was a no-brainer, and if your answer to the second question was that you wanted to create more of your retreat experience rather than assisting/teaching at an already-existing retreat, then keep reading! Your thoughts that you jotted down in the third question will help you as you envision more of the nitty gritty coming to life from the below.
Considerations about your yoga retreat location
Although wellness travel is on the up and up, it’s still a good idea to consider where your clientele will likely be coming from. What’s the travel experience like to that location? What are the available flights like and how are they generally priced? This could ultimately affect the overall price you set per spot.
Considerations about the retreat center
There are many retreat centers abroad that are ready to receive guests for a yoga retreat. They also book up quickly, and you’ll want to check their websites to see if they run their own yoga retreats or if they’re open to you bringing your guests and running your own.
The upside to locations like this is that there will be props for you to use and a yoga shala or studio space easily available (which is, well, kind of key if you’re hosting a retreat focused on yoga!). If you go for a more unique spot like a private villa, you’ll want to talk to the host about the available space to practice yoga.
Considerations about your retreat itinerary
Remember that question you asked yourself about how you envisioned your guests feeling when they leave your retreat? This will come in handy as you plot out your daily itinerary.
While I’m a big proponent of letting each day flow to a certain degree, I do believe it’s important to be buttoned up on the back end so you can flow within a framework. What kinds of experiences outside of yoga do you want to have, if any? Will your offerings be focused on personal growth, connection, community, adventure, simply unwinding, or something else? AND, depending on the activity and the level of comfort your attendees will need to have in participating, where and when will that activity be scheduled?
One final note about planning versus leaving space for free time: If you’ve ever done anything in larger groups, you know it takes a little longer to do, well, everything. Budget extra time for transitions to and from activities. That way if you do want to have free time, nothing will encroach on that.
Considerations on budgeting
I could write a novel of lessons learned about budgeting and offer a course on the topic. What I hope you take away from reading today is to remember to honor your time in both holding space during the retreat and the prep work leading up to it. After you put together your list of estimated fixed and variable costs, make sure you include the cost of your time to come up with the total cost of the retreat.
(Another story for another day: There are lots of little costs that come into the equation that are hard to foresee, so be on the safe side when estimating budgets and give yourself a bit of a buffer.)
Ultimately, a yoga retreat is very expensive to host. If you think it’s likely you won’t be able to cover your costs, you’ll need to ask yourself if you’re comfortable with that outcome. One way to solve this is to start with a weekend retreat or even a one-day retreat in your home city. Test the waters and get a feel for the kind of environment you want to cultivate in your retreat atmosphere.
The final word on yoga retreat planning
Remember, when you know what you want to offer and you have a clear outline of how you’re going to bring that to life, the right people will find their way to you. The clarity behind your intention will not only help you make decisions about where to budget your time and money, and who to partner with along the way, but it’ll also result in building long lasting trust with your attendees.
And one last tip: Always remember to come back to why you’re doing this and who you’re doing it for. Stay true to you and things will align as they should.