how to pick a yoga retreat



yoga retreatsWe just can’t stand the rain any longer. We've spent the past few weeks drooling over travel sites and now we're ready to take action. We asked adventure junkie, admitted yoga addict and University Village ambassador, Silvia Mordini, how to pick a legitimate yoga retreat when it seems like everyone and their dog are hosting them.

how to pick a yoga retreat 

beach - yoga - retreats - travel

1. location, location, location

Just like buying a good piece of real estate, location is key when picking a retreat. While choosing a place you’ve always wanted to go (Paris, merci!) may set the stage for a great vacay, be sure to consider the type of landscape that will most inspire your yoga practice (are you hitting mountain pose at mountain top or digging your Down-dog into white sandy beach?) You should also consider if you want the retreat to be dedicated only to yoga or if you’d like to partake in other activities like surfing, hiking or biking. Choose a location that offers you more of what you want.

location tips

if you enjoy: exploring culture, arts and monuments
think: Tuscany, Paris, Provence or Spain

if you enjoy: being on a warm, sunny beach with a bucket of Coronas
think: Hawaii or Mexico

if you enjoy: the comfort of high thread-count sheets and a cozy luxurious bed (and let’s be serious, who doesn’t?)
think: Sonoma, Napa Valley or the San Juan Islands

if you enjoy: rustic camping trips
think: Montana

wheel pose - yoga retreats

2. choose a teacher and style you love

Familiarize yourself with the teacher(s) guiding the retreat. Look into how many years of experience they have, both guiding retreats as well as teaching yoga. If you can, go to some of their local studio classes and decide if you like their teaching style. If they aren’t accessible to you, ask for student testimonials to shed some light. Is the teacher super serious or loads of fun? You should be "in like" with your teacher and excited to spend time learning from them and just hanging out.

A retreat can be like a mini "teacher training" so make sure you feel aligned with the style (Bikram, Hatha, Vinyasa etc) and level (beginner, intermediate, advanced, multi-level) of yoga you will be practicing. If you want a sweaty practice but the itinerary only includes restorative yoga, you're going to be let down. Also consider how much yoga you want to practice while you’re on the retreat. Some yoga holidays may offer only one 60-minute class a day while others offer two classes daily and mini-workshops, life coaching or yoga clinics.

meditation - yoga retreats

3. theme and focus of a retreat

Ask yourself what your intentions are for this experience. Are you looking to reset your mind, challenge your practice, heal a broken heart or make new friends? If the retreat is based on life-coaching and self-development but you are only looking for exercise and physical activity then it’s probably not the retreat for you. Read the descriptions of the themes carefully and find the one that most speaks to what you are looking for. The retreat's focus will bring together like-minded people so you’ll find it easier to connect with the group, which will no-doubt enhance the experience.

4. price and timing

Unless the trip information states otherwise, retreats should be inclusive of pretty much everything except airfare. This means you know what your total trip expense will be right from the get-go. Not having to worry about over-spending will help you take a load off and really embrace the experience. Keep in mind that an inexpensive retreat doesn’t necessarily mean it’s cheap in quality (it could just mean that there are more participants, all paying less). Do your research to ensure your getting the most bang for your buck and there are no surprises! Retreats can be as short as a two-night weekend getaway or as long (or longer than) a 10-day trip. Don’t just assume longer is better, sometimes all we need is a weekend away to "reboot."

sunset - yoga retreats

5. do your homework

Make sure you register with a legit organization. Companies like The Travel Yogi or Alchemy Tours travel to potential locations to ‘feel it out’ before hosting a retreat there. It is definitely comforting to know that the hosts can vouch for their retreats before you invest a ton of time, money and precious vacation hours. If you want even more info, MindBodyGreen has a great summary of worldwide retreats.

Don’t know about you but we’re ready to say sayonara to the winter blues and eager to hit up a retreat. Check out our top five picks or share your personal recommendations below!

*Photography from Big Island Hawaii Yoga Retreat and Prana Del Mar Eco-Yoga Retreat, courtesy of Alchemy Tours and Ellie Tonev Photography

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29 Comments »


Thank you it is very helpful, special website we can trust to book our travel.

Comment by Annie — January 26, 2012 @ 6:20 pm


This is an awesome article! I paid for my first yoga retreat today & I’m so pumped, even though it’s not to somewhere warm & tropical. If I was investing more than the $400 that I am to go I would totally need some guidelines to help pick a good one. Thanks!

Comment by Kristin Overton — January 27, 2012 @ 12:38 am


Thank you so much for this post! We love helping our participants decide what retreat would be best for them. It’s an important process that we think deserves an article written about it like this one. Thank lulu!

Comment by Solyoga Trips — January 27, 2012 @ 9:25 am


This is great information. If you’re interested in an upcoming retreat, OM by Oliver Marshall has a retreat scheduled for April. It’s all about wine and yoga hosted in a tranquil setting in Sonoma wine country. Stay tuned!

Comment by Adam — January 27, 2012 @ 10:59 am


My teacher, Jim Bennitt, has his annual winter retreat coming up — March 17-24 — it’s one week in Aruba with a deeply knowledgeable and enjoyable yoga teacher. If you’re looking for a well-rounded yoga practice that involves breathing practices and meditation in addition to physical postures, he’s a great fit. I couldn’t recommend him more highly. Just thought I’d contribute to the conversation:
http://www.jimbennitt.com/retreats.php

Comment by Adam — January 27, 2012 @ 3:17 pm


So much good info in here Silvia! Particularly love the location trip suggestions.

Comment by Amy — January 28, 2012 @ 12:16 pm


After a lot of thought and consideration, I’m going on my first yoga retreat. It’s great to know that many of my favorite things fit well with the planned trip.
This is great information along with the article in regard to packing that I read as well.
Thank you Silvia

Comment by Jill — January 29, 2012 @ 7:22 am


Wonderful article Silvia! I’ve learned that there are many options out there for yoga-getaways. Your tips will give me the self-confidence to book that first trip. And the next trip! I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship :-) Me and yoga (you too)

THANK YOU! LeAnn

Comment by LeAnn Vargo — January 30, 2012 @ 3:44 pm


There are also hot yoga vacations! Visit us at hotyogavacations.com. We have trips in february april and may in Mexico… Contact for more information.

Comment by martina — January 31, 2012 @ 6:06 am


Thank you SO MUCH for this article…it couldnt come at a better time. One of my intentions for the new year is to attend a yoga retreat :)

Comment by Jessica — January 31, 2012 @ 6:33 am


Thank you for the great article.  Via Yoga also sponsors an incredible yoga retreat to Sayulita, Mexico, offering yoga combined with other optional activities.  What started as our Mother-Daughter trip has now come full circle; she is now a featured Teacher!  Brigette, also a St. Louis Lululemon Ambassador, has a retreat March 18, 2012; sand, sun, sea and great yoga!

http://www.viayoga.com or http://www.southtownyoga.com for more info

loving yoga and Lululemon in St. Louis,
Dawn Niedringhaus

Comment by Dawn Niedringhaus — January 31, 2012 @ 6:41 am


Step 6: do a surf and yoga retreat:

http://threejewelsretreats.com/

Cant go wrong….

Comment by Thomas Morgan — January 31, 2012 @ 10:38 am


Why does Lululemon not host retreats – seems like an obvious opportunity!? :-) I would definitely be interested in teaching at one! (am a personal trainer and group exercise instructor). You should get on board and start Lululemon Retreats! :-)
Gail Brooks

Comment by Gail Brooks — January 31, 2012 @ 12:58 pm


Hi Gail,

I’ll share your thoughts for a lululemon retreat with our team! Where do you think would be the best place to host one? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Siya
GEC Online

Comment by lululemon athletica GEC — January 31, 2012 @ 4:26 pm


Join me for a 4days “Sun, Kite/Surf and Soul Yoga Retreat” in Cabarete, Dominican Republic the
From: March 29th to April 2rd 2012

New York winters can send chills down your spine even in April, so join us as we retreat to paradise for some sun, surf, and soul in exotic Cabarete, on the beautiful island of the Dominican Republic. The island is a short 3.5-hour plane ride from New York City. Join Audrey Meyer, Dina Pappalardo and Kristina Curbrilo for daily lessons in Vinyasa Yoga, Surfing and Stand Up Paddle Boarding and kitebaording. All activities are optional so feel free to try everything, or just choose your favorites. Additional excursions such as Kite Surfing and Horseback Riding can be booked for an additional fee, as well as a plethora of amazing spa treatments including Thai Massage.

More info here:
http://www.blossomretreat.com/yoga-sup-and-wellness-retreat/the-kite-adventure-yoga-sup-retreat

Contact us to Book Your Spot Now
The introduction is specifically for those who want to try something new and exciting. It is about raising awareness of each one of us to develop self-confidence, to be focus and fearless in any situation.

Get your 1st feeling of flying a kite, standing up on the board and riding.
This high quality Kiteboarding introduction, ~brought to you by Professional & certified kite instructor ~, offers you the opportunity to develop your kiting, built your self-confidence and develop your inner athlete.

This fun and lively option of the Blossom Retreat is 3 afternoons (3X3 hours) of 9 hours in total of kiteboarding activities taught by certified kites instructors, with top of the line Cabrinha Kite equipment.

The kite lesson is supervised by Audrey Meyer who was ranked 5th best female kiteboarder on the PKRA (Professional Kite Rider Association) World Tour in 2008 and got crowned “2010 Master of the Ocean”, a windsurf, kitesurf & surf triathlon in the waves. She enjoys to motivate and inspire other people to achieve their individual Health, Fitness and Mental Goals.

This is not JUST A kite course !
Get beyond your fears and try what you always wanted to do.

Audrey will help you to push your limits and release your inner Wonder women.

This is a life experience !

Comment by Audrey Meyer — January 31, 2012 @ 6:20 pm


If interested in a life changing Yoga & Surf Retreat, check out http://www.threejewelsretreats.com, hosting luxury retreats in Mexico and Costa Rica. Ommmmmm my goodness what a way to spend some time in paradise.

Comment by John — February 3, 2012 @ 12:51 pm


My personal yoga picks:
Ashiyana, Goa: http://www.ashiyana-yoga-goa.com/

Kaliyoga, Spain: http://www.kaliyoga.com/yoga-retreat-detox-retreat-spain/

Comment by ariadna — February 23, 2012 @ 5:06 am


Some awesome info here…would love to save up and take my wife somewhere tropical so she could do her yoga.

We live in NYC and several of our friends started doing “Hot Yoga” recently and are absolutely hooked on it!

Comment by Healthy Living — February 29, 2012 @ 1:27 pm


Great article Silvia.

Our company Yoga Sherpa believes that point number 2 (Teacher and Style) is particularly important. We are a yoga travel company that specializes in helping groups of yoga friends and their local teachers plan amazing experiences at the best retreat centers around the world. Traveling with your friends and local teacher is a great way to build lifelong friendships and community.

You can learn more at http://www.YogaSherpa.com For students, if you recommend a teacher that leads a group retreat, we’ll donate $250 to a non-profit where the retreat is held.

Om Shri Om

Comment by Bear Peterson — May 12, 2012 @ 7:08 pm


There’s a new website that offers great a great way to compare retreats. RetreatPlace.com. Its just focused on US and Central American retreats, but it looks new and hopefully will expand soon to other parts of the world.

Comment by Ben — July 8, 2012 @ 1:28 pm


Over the years we have gotten a lot of people who don’t know what they are looking for in a retreat, only to find the retreat they signed up for wasn’t really appropriate for them. I he teach yoga and meditation retreats in northern california. Mostly in the Kriya Yoga lineage. Check that link if your interested in that format.

Comment by Michael — July 15, 2012 @ 4:45 pm


I just got back yesterday from leading a retreat in Hawaii, and it’s hard to believe I only have one more retreat for 2012! Join me at Prana del Mar, Baja Mexico Dec 8-15, 2012. The theme is about dissolving our obstacles so we can get clear on designing our best life ever in 2013!
“Believe in yourself. Dream big dreams.
Set important goals. Take action on those goals.”
- Jonathan Lockwood Huie

Comment by Silvia Mordini — October 22, 2012 @ 5:34 pm


nice tips for the person searching for yoga retreat..

Comment by featheredpipe — February 1, 2013 @ 10:10 pm


This was a great article that gave some through tips on how to select the right yoga retreat. I think destination, yoga instructor and dates are the biggest factors that come into play. I went on my first yoga retreat in October of last year to Bali, I would highly recommend it to anyone. It was a magical place to visit and practice yoga.

Comment by Nicole — February 7, 2013 @ 9:22 pm


Ms. Mordini,
I suggest you give Kim Fuller, the writer for GaiamLife who produced an earlier (2011)and shorter version of this list in her article, “Is a Yoga Retreat Right for You?,” credit for her contribution.
Specifically, credit for her list 1. Location, 2. Style, 3.Price and Timing.
http://life.gaiam.com/article/yoga-retreat-right-you
I’ve been doing a lot of research on yoga retreats and the similarity of your list and Kim Fuller’s is too great for coincidence.

Comment by Anne Sheehan — April 1, 2013 @ 2:30 pm


Europe is amazing. Ideal settings w/interesting day trips.You should be interested in style of yoga the teacher offers and the location. Also, check to make it matches what you are looking for. Do you want half the day doing yoga or prefer more time to enjoy area? Check out http://www.huzurvadisi.com in Turkey best of both worlds.Like surfing too, how about surfmaroc, Morocco

Comment by Erin — April 29, 2013 @ 11:00 pm


Thank you Anne Sheehan for your note, sounds like Kim Fuller has found perhaps either like inspiration from her life experience of retreats or she has read my writings.

I have been writing about all things yoga for over 9 years, teaching for 15 years and over 10,000 hours, and have a ton of public articles that I hope have inspired many writers.

My writings about yoga predate 2011. I never read this article you mention nor was influenced by it. My first time on GaiamLife website was the link you gave above. You can research and see dates on my personal blog as proof along with the 10 retreats I lead per year that gave me the life experience to share this information.

Thank you kindly. Sat Nam and Peace in all ways.

Comment by Silvia Mordini — May 14, 2013 @ 10:00 pm


Thank you by following your advises I picked a tourism and yoga retreat in Peru huanchaco beach with http://www.welcomeyoga.com It is amazing for just 1500 dolars room, meals, touristic visits and yoga classes in front of the beach from November 8 to 15 2013.
Thanks and good luck.

Comment by mia santos — August 21, 2013 @ 12:04 pm


If you are looking for a gentle, therapeutic retreat that allows you honor yourself deeply – consider the Big Island in Hawaii…this November. I have led several retreats there and in Thailand – and love returning and hearing stories from participants on how the retreat has allowed them to grow and flourish in ways they did not expect.

Comment by Julie — October 30, 2013 @ 3:13 pm


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