A Complete Guide to Yoga Retreats


A Complete Guide to Yoga Retreats

Yoga retreats are one of the best ways for someone to reset their lives. These retreats often involve much more than yoga. Yoga retreats are a great chance to delve into a healthier lifestyle and examine one’s spiritual well-being. Yoga retreats also allow people to improve their yoga and general fitness at the same time. 

A yoga retreat is a self-care excursion scheduled at a yoga center. These spa-like facilities are usually located in a natural environment such as a forest, a lakeshore, or a mountainside. At a yoga retreat, visitors often do meditation, take place in yoga sessions, go hiking, and enjoy spa treatments. 

Yoga retreats can be a great way to solidify yoga as a daily practice in your life or to make a new commitment to it as a hobby. Read on to learn more about yoga retreats and what you can expect if you decide to join one. 

What Is a Yoga Retreat?

Yoga retreats are a New Age mixture of a meditation retreat and a luxury spa. Setting yourself up at a yoga retreat can be a short relaxing vacation with a little light fitness mixed in. If you have a hard time setting aside enough time to take care of yourself, a yoga retreat can give you three days (or more) of time dedicated to your personal development, both on a physical and spiritual level.

Because yoga retreats can completely reset a person’s daily schedule, they are a good chance for people to make a clean break from bad habits, such as starting a new nutritional plan or as a cleanse after ceasing recreational drugs or alcohol. 

Alternately, yoga retreats can provide a great way for people to deepen their yoga practice or spend time communing with other people who have the same interest in health and spiritual self-improvement as they do.

What Do You Do at a Yoga Retreat?

The daily schedule in a yoga retreat varies from retreat to retreat, but many of them share a few things in common. Here are a few activities you can expect as part of your daily routine when you’re off on a yoga retreat:

  • Regular yoga sessions: A yoga retreat usually involves several sessions of yoga a day. During these yoga sessions, yoga students can get one-on-one help from yoga instructors to improve their posture during yoga and even learn to perform more advanced poses such as headstands. 
  • Healthy meals: Most yoga retreats focus on holistic health, which means addressing the entire body and not just the muscles or skeletal system used during yoga. To this aim, most yoga retreats concentrate on providing healthy meals that are high in vitamins and nutrients to support daily exercise and to encourage positive daily habits. 
  • Nature walks: Many yoga retreats deliberately incorporate nature into their activities since immersion in natural environments has been shown to have great positive effects on a person’s mental health (Source: U.S. National Library of Medicine). Nature activities at yoga retreats can range from gentle walks to more challenging hikes in mountainous terrain. 
  • Wine and conversation: Many yoga retreats encourage socialization between different visitors during meet-and-greet sessions over supper or during social free time. This can be a good chance for visitors to discuss the things being learned at the retreat and how they plan on applying it to their lives when they leave. 
  • Meditation: Along with yoga sessions, many yoga retreats also incorporate meditation. Meditation has been shown to have many positive impacts on both physical and mental health. (Source: Harvard University
  • Spa treatments: Many yoga retreats incorporate other wellness practices, such as massage or specialized skincare. Spa treatments are performed during down-time around daily yoga sessions and may involve additional fees depending on the services performed. 

Yoga retreats vary greatly in where they choose to place their emphasis. Some yoga retreats have a very robust spa program or outdoor activities program, while others focus more on meditation and quiet reflection between yoga classes. 

If you are planning on attending a yoga retreat, it’s wise to look into several and check out their itineraries so that you can find one with secondary activities that interest you. 

Are Yoga Retreats Worth It?

Many people considering a yoga retreat may wonder whether it’s worth the money, time, and energy to go on a travel excursion dedicated to yoga. After all, isn’t yoga something that can be performed in the comfort of your bedroom with a YouTube tutorial?

While you can learn and enjoy yoga that way, there are many advantages of attending a yoga retreat in person that you don’t benefit from when you’re doing yoga as a solitary practice. 

Here are a few of the reasons why attending a yoga retreat can be worth it:  

  • You get to spend time with other people who love yoga. It’s always fun to hang out with people before and after yoga class, and a yoga retreat extends that fun into a span of several days so that you have a chance to make a strong connection with the people around you. 
  • You can get intensive help with your yoga poses. Is there an advanced yoga pose that you’d like to master, but you haven’t quite managed to pull it off? Yoga masters at a yoga retreat can help you work your way up to the pose you’re trying to pull off so that you can start taking on those harder poses you’ve been dying to try in class. 
  • You get to practice yoga in a beautiful location. Most yoga retreats are settled in some of the prettiest places on Earth, and signing up for one means that you get to dedicate several days to your yoga practice, and you get to enjoy it in gorgeous surroundings. 
  • You can have some free time for sightseeing and relaxing. Many yoga retreats are set up so that visitors can participate in interesting local activities such as winery tours. A yoga retreat can be a good way to get in a little mini-vacation, along with improving your fitness. 
  • You get to eat some delicious meals. Many yoga retreats schedule yoga sessions around full breakfast, lunch, and dinner breaks, emphasizing healthy cooking. If you’ve been trying to work your way into better eating habits, a yoga retreat can be a good way to dive into a new dietary lifestyle headfirst. 

As you can see, there are many positive aspects of yoga retreats other than just yoga. In many ways, a yoga retreat can be an all-inclusive, laid-back break from daily life. 

How Do You Prepare for a Yoga Retreat?

Many things in a yoga retreat will be provided for you, so a lot of the preparation involved in getting ready for a yoga retreat involves getting your mind and body in the right place. Here are a few things you can do to help get yourself ready for a yoga retreat (Source: Blue Osa)

  • Don’t start doing advanced yoga work. You might want to try out advanced poses when you go off on a yoga retreat but overextending yourself right before a yoga retreat is a good way to sideline yourself with a painful injury. Save any attempts at advanced yoga work for when you’re at the retreat, and you can get some one-on-one help to get you into your poses. 
  • Start looking at your intentions for going on a yoga retreat. Yoga is a great way to get in better touch with yourself and figure out exactly why you’re pursuing a practice in yoga in the first place. This is a good time to start looking at some life goals you can consider during your yoga and meditation practices. 
  • Get plenty of yoga practice before heading off. You don’t want a yoga retreat to be the first yoga you’ve ever done or the first yoga you’ve done in a long time. If you don’t prepare your body by stretching over several weeks before attending a yoga retreat, you may accidentally strain yourself when you’re doing multiple yoga classes a day. 
  • If you plan to give up cigarettes or alcohol as part of a yoga retreat, start your detox well before the retreat. You don’t want to give up cigarettes before spending three or four days with a room full of strangers. The symptoms of nicotine withdrawal will make your vacation much more miserable than necessary. 
  • Make sure everything is ready for you to come home. You don’t want to return from a yoga retreat only to find your house in a state of chaos and your desk buried with late work. Instead, make sure that you are well prepared to be away on a yoga retreat and that everything is in order before you come back so that you don’t immediately find your newfound peace tested. 
  • Try eating healthy for a few days before you leave. Most yoga retreats have a clean eating plan, so you might find yourself going through sugar or carb withdrawals if you normally eat a diet that is full of junk food. 
  • Don’t overpack. You’re attending a yoga retreat in an attempt to lighten your load, and you shouldn’t need a lot of luggage to attend one. All extra luggage will do is weigh you down (both physically and metaphorically). 

Making sure that you’re prepared for a yoga retreat a few weeks in advance can go a long way toward ensuring that you have a great time both while you’re there and once you return home. 

Why Should You Go on a Yoga Retreat?

There are many reasons why you might want to attend a yoga retreat. Here are just a few of them:

  • To reconnect with personal values and beliefs. Yoga and meditation can be great ways to refocus in life and connect with the things that mean the most to you. So if that’s a part of your life that you feel has been lacking, a yoga retreat might help you put things in perspective. 
  • To get some “me” time. Many people in life are chained to their obligations, both social and professional. This can end up feeling like a serious emotional and mental burden after years of bearing under it. Yoga retreats can provide some much-needed self-care to people who feel like other people’s drama constantly hassles them. 
  • To get better at yoga. If you are already into yoga and want to start getting serious about a daily practice, going on a yoga retreat can be a motivating way to dedicate more time and energy to your yoga practice. If you are experienced at one type of yoga, a yoga retreat can also help you learn a completely new style of yoga. 
  • To do a cleanse. Yoga retreats are a great way to heal after undergoing detox from various things, such as drugs, alcohol, or even animal products. The yoga and the change of scenery help break ties with old vices for those who want a relaxing way to downshift into a new healthier lifestyle. 
  • To travel someplace new. Choosing to attend a yoga retreat in an exotic locale such as Bali can not only provide you with a beautiful backdrop to practice yoga; it can also help open your eyes to a part of the world you’ve never had the privilege of experiencing before. 
  • To connect with other like-minded people. People rarely get the chance to have serious conversations in public about things like “inner children” and “chakras” and some of the other terminology associated with guided meditation and yoga. Going to a yoga retreat means immersing yourself in a group where you automatically share a common interest with everyone around you. This can lead to easy bonding with others on your yoga retreat. 
  • To gain spiritual insight or nourishment. It is very easy for people to neglect their mental and spiritual health when dealing with the struggles of daily life. A yoga retreat can help remind a person of their spiritual goals and give them a boost toward exploring those goals in a proactive way. 
  • To have a chance to relax. Many vacations that people take are just as harrowing and chaotic as their work or home lives—these are the people who come back from vacation complaining that they “need a vacation to recover from their vacation.” On the other hand, yoga retreats are relaxing interludes where the normal burdens of traveling are largely set aside.  

People go on yoga retreats for different reasons, but there are plenty of great reasons to attend one if you can manage it. Even if you squeeze a yoga retreat into a larger vacation, this relaxing interlude can help give you some downtime before your next big adventure. 

How Do You Choose a Yoga Retreat?

If you’re planning a yoga retreat, it’s a good idea to note several potential retreats to do some comparison shopping since these retreats are rarely cheap, and you’ll want to get the best one for your money. 

Choosing a yoga retreat that’s right for you can depend on several factors, such as: 

  • Price: A yoga retreat price can run anywhere from around $500 to three thousand dollars or more, depending on the activities available and the length of stay. (Source: Do You) Price is a limiting factor for many people on which yoga retreat they decide to attend since many yoga retreats require travel expenses. 
  • Location: It can be difficult for yoga students to find yoga retreats nearby in some geographical locations, resulting in several hours of travel either by car or plane. This extra travel time has to be factored in when deciding how much vacation time to take for your retreat. 
  • Length of stay: Many yoga retreats are only a few days (2-4 days), but some yoga retreats can go on for a few weeks. The longer a yoga retreat is, the more expensive it is likely to be, and the harder it will be to make accommodations to be away from personal obligations. 
  • Additional activities: The additional activities available at a yoga retreat are a major attraction of the retreats. Individuals will want to choose a retreat with other activities—such as spa treatments or forest bathing—that they would enjoy participating in.  
  • Type of yoga performed: There are many different kinds of yoga retreats available, with some yoga retreats focusing on beginner types of yoga and others focusing on more advanced techniques or schools. It’s a good idea to find a yoga retreat that features the type of yoga you enjoy or want to learn. 

The best way to choose a yoga retreat is to do an Internet search on nearby yoga retreats and do some comparison shopping to see what kind of prices and amenities they offer. It doesn’t hurt to look at yoga retreats that are a bit further away, too. Sometimes it is worth the extra time and expense to attend an out-of-state yoga retreat that offers all the activities you want, rather than settling for a less satisfactory yoga retreat closer to home.

The easiest way to narrow down your search is to set a general budget for how much you intend to spend on your yoga retreat (be sure to include travel expenses) and then exclude any yoga retreat that is more expensive than your budget permits. This can greatly reduce the number of yoga retreats you have to wade through to find one you want. 

After eliminating the obvious, go through the yoga retreats left one by one, write down their names, and take notes on the itinerary elements that call out to you, such as mandala crafts or nature walks. These amenities will be your deciding factors when it comes time to choose a final retreat to commit to.  

Styles of Yoga Available at Yoga Retreats

There are many different styles and schools of yoga that are available at yoga retreats. Here are a few of the yoga disciplines you are likely to run into while shopping for a yoga retreat (Source: Yoga Medicine)

  • Kundalini yoga: This style of yoga focuses on life force energy and involves a lot of songs, mantras, chants, meditation, and poses combined with breathwork. Kundalini is a good form of yoga for those who enjoy vocalizing during meditative practices and who would like to enjoy a form of yoga that emphasizes spiritual growth. 
  • Vinyasa yoga: Vinyasa yoga—also known as “flow yoga”—is based around the concept of flowing from one yoga pose into another as smoothly as possible. In Vinyasa yoga, breathwork is emphasized so that the movements and poses performed are in perfect sync with the breath. Vinyasa yoga is a good form of yoga for people who prefer to remain moving throughout most of their yoga session, rather than meditating in place. 
  • Hatha yoga: Hatha yoga is often considered a “beginner’s yoga” and incorporates yoga poses, breathwork, and meditation. There are several yoga styles, such as ashtanga and Bikram, that are considered Hatha style yoga. Hatha yoga is a good choice for those who aren’t as advanced in their yoga practice and would like to undergo a less strenuous daily practice at their yoga retreat.
  • Ashtanga yoga: Ashtanga yoga is a yoga form that focuses on only six moves performed in a specific sequence over a few hours. Unlike other forms of yoga, ashtanga yoga does not incorporate chanting or music. It is taught in silence, making it a much more grounded practice that forces the student to focus on the connection between the body and the mind. 
  • Yin yoga: Yin yoga is a very slow form of yoga where individual poses are held for up to five minutes or even longer. Yin yoga is a great choice for yoga students who want to improve their flexibility, circulation, and general fitness. 
  • Bikram yoga: Bikram yoga is also known as “hot yoga” and is performed in a heated room with high humidity. Bikram is one of the more physically intensive types of yoga, so being familiar with it before going on a Bikram yoga retreat is advised so that new students aren’t overwhelmed by practicing in the heat. 

No matter what type of yoga you practice, it’s likely that you’ll be able to find a yoga retreat that specializes in it. Even if the yoga retreat you’re visiting doesn’t specialize in the type of yoga you usually do back at home, just having some general familiarity with yoga as a practice can help you work once you go on your retreat. 

How Long Do Yoga Retreats Last? 

Yoga retreats are set for various lengths so that people can work them in according to their schedules. Here are some common lengths of stay for a yoga retreat:

  • Three-day retreats: Many yoga retreats are designed as a three-day weekend, which is convenient for professionals who find it difficult to get away from work or family obligations to spend time on themselves. 
  • Five-day and seven-day retreats: Week-long retreats can be a great way for yoga students to delve deeper into their yoga practice. These longer retreats are also a good way to fit in secondary activities like the spa or sightseeing. 
  • Fourteen-day retreats: For those yoga students who are truly dedicated, some yoga retreats offer stays of two weeks or even longer. These extended retreats can be expensive, but they can also provide a great break from daily life.

There are a few different options for you to schedule a yoga retreat when it comes down to how long you want to stay at the retreat, but at the end of the day, your choice is entirely up to you and your personal goals as a yoga student. 

Best Yoga Retreats

When it comes to which yoga retreats are the best, the answer is a bit subjective. Since everyone has individual preferences, it is a case of beauty being in the eye of the beholder. But several yoga retreats have managed to garner a strong reputation over the years for their beautiful settings, informative classes, and appealing activities.

Yoga retreats are very personal because not everyone has the same schedule, budget, and preferences. I recommend using a website like Tripaneer to find the perfect yoga retreat for you.

It’s important to remember that space is limited in many yoga retreats and reservations usually need to be made well in advance to ensure that you receive a spot, so check on potential retreats a few months ahead of time to get the best selection of options.

Yoga Retreats Are a Great Way to Deepen Your Yoga Practice

While you might have been content to do yoga either at home or at a local gym, these experiences don’t hold a candle to the enjoyment and peace you can potentially get from attending a real yoga retreat so that you can focus on your practice. The number of yoga retreats available means that no matter your preferences, you’re sure to find something that’s right for you.

Yoga Teacher Training Certification

If you are looking to deepen your yoga practice even more and become certified, then our recommendation is My Vinyasa Practice. Michelle Young is E-RYT 500 registered with Yoga Alliance, and provides a real passion for teaching her students. The online certification is completely online and self-paced so you can take as much or as little time completing it as you’d like.

Happy learning!

~Namaste

Dakota Carroll

Yoga have been a part of Dakota's life for 10+ years. Her practice has helped her grow stronger, more flexible and fearless. Dakota encourages her students to be creative and challenge the body. She seeks to inspire every student to feel refreshed, nourished and balanced both on and off the mat.

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