Retreats are an incredible way to not only take your yoga community out of the studio and into the world, but can also become an opportunity for ethical travel, mindfulness and transformation. While there isn’t an official blueprint when designing and creating your retreat, be it a weekend getaway or a global adventure, here are some common mistakes that are best to be mindful of before you get your retreat off the ground.
- Don’t assume everyone is travel savvy. While some of your students may be used to international travel, not everyone has that same level of comfort when going somewhere new. Part of your role as retreat leader is to ensure that all of your participants feel safe and taken care of before they leave for your retreat — which is why it’s so important to give as much information as possible so that people feel prepared. Collecting information beforehand via an intake form is essential so that you can stay organized and aware of everyone’s travel plans. Another tip, if your budget permits, is to include airport pick up and drop off as it’s usually not too pricey and creates a sense of being taken care of from the moment you arrive.
- You can never do enough research. Education is essential before you lead your retreat; not only for yourself but also for your participants. Travel has a ripple effect. You are going somewhere new and potentially carrying with you pre-existing ideas about the destination, local culture and customs and history. Reading, researching from legitimate resources and asking for cultural sensitivity guides from your retreat center or tour guide is a great way to pass on information so people can have some idea of what to expect. I always recommend that yoga teachers work with local guides as it’s a great way to learn more about where you are going and have someone be a source of knowledge if you have any questions throughout the retreat.
- Change is inevitable. While your itinerary and schedule might be organized down to the hour, it’s best to set the expectation beforehand that things are likely to change once you are on the retreat. One of the amazing things about travel is that we are taken out of our routine and in doing so there are elements that are out of our control. Weather changes might mean swapping an activity out, or a museum might be closed unexpectedly. Creating some content about how travel often equates to fluidity is an important part of leading a retreat as it creates an open mindset.
- Liability waivers + retreat agreements are non-negotiable. Just like you would have a student sign a waiver before taking class, having liability waivers and retreat agreements are an absolute, especially when traveling overseas. While we never want to plan for the worst, ensuring that both you and your students are protected will create a sense of professionalism. This could also include a payment schedule, expectations that need to be met and also what happens if the retreat is canceled last minute due to unforeseen circumstances. This needs to be drawn up by an attorney or law practice in your state or district where your LLC is registered. In addition, I always make travel insurance mandatory for people joining our retreats as another buffer of protection and safety.
- Downtime in your itinerary is a game changer. Oftentimes retreat leaders think more is more when packing in a robust schedule from morning to night. As you will be “on” for the entire retreat and working not only teaching but also being a guide and host, it’s imperative that you weave in some free time into the schedule. Giving both yourself and your participants the opportunity to rest or explore on their own is a great way to ensure that you are also taking time and space for yourself. It’s a lot to be social 24/7 and weaving in some spaciousness into the schedule will ultimately prove to be beneficial for everyone involved.
Learn more about Jordan Ashley, Souljourn Yoga + and upcoming retreat opportunities at souljournyoga.com