The most Important Question to help choose a Yoga Retreat (and a few others)
By Sylvie Lacourcière
If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’ve already started to explore the yoga retreat options out there. And if you’ve done that, you know just how many there are. Deciding which one is right for you can be intimidating. Part of what we learn being on retreat is remembering how to trust our gut. Here are some questions to ask yourself to tune in to your intuition when deciding upon a yoga retreat.
The first question is the most important, and is the umbrella under which the answers to the remaining questions must fit. You’ve likely heard many a yoga instructor guide you to this same inquiry at the beginning of class:
What is your intention?
Intention being your aim for attending a yoga retreat. What need within you brought the idea of a yoga retreat to your conscious awareness? What are you looking to accomplish by attending a yoga retreat? Write it down.
For some it is the tiredness in the bones that craves rest, quietness, or peace. It could also be a need to escape monotony—a need for vacation, or for some soul brightening fun. Others may feel a need to improve their habits, and are looking for the structure within which they can cleanse their bodies (and minds). The aim could also be deepening or expanding your yoga practice, getting fit, or perhaps you’re getting the internal message it’s time to peel back some layers—investing attention in self-discovery.
This question is important because it is your why. Now that you know why you’re going on retreat, make some additional choices that support it. We begin where we are, and how we are, and move in the direction we would like to grow.
Would you like to drink (or eat meat)?
Choosing a retreat that follows the traditional yogic (Ayurvedic) diet will mean no—or at least a very limited amount—of meat will be served. This also means no alcohol will be offered, and the consumption of which will also be discouraged.
For those looking for more of a vacation, this may not be the best option. However, for cleansing and self-discovery, this type of limitation is constructive—arguably necessary.
What about the yoga?
How much yoga are you looking to do? Do you want the option to skip a class in favour of a sleep-in without feeling bad about it? Do some research on the instructor you’re considering, and get a feel for what kind of yoga they will teach. Some retreats are very structured, with morning and evening classes as well as workshops, and others advertise a relaxed schedule—prioritizing rest and personal choice.
If you’re looking to deepen your asana practice, look for a retreat that offers asana workshops in addition to regular classes. For those wanting to increase their fitness, look for a loaded schedule, or a retreat that combines activities.
What type of environment?
A huge part of the fun of a destination yoga retreat is visiting somewhere new—where have you dreamed of going? Do you crave the beach, something secluded, or cultured? Accommodation ranges from luxury to eco/rustic, so make sure to browse the accommodation photos, and even visit the retreat centre’s website.
Those looking for an internal journey may be better supported in a peaceful secluded environment, whereas others may prefer the option to have a glass of wine.
What other interests do you have?
The beauty of variety is that the combinations are endless. Many yoga retreats offer more than just yoga. You’ll find yoga combined with surf, writing, culinary experiences, and spa days. There are retreats dedicated to self-discovery, others offered for women only, and some which offer tours of historical sites. Take a moment to consider what else you might like to experience.
Getting clear on why you're seeking a retreat experience guides you towards which retreat is the best combination for you. Expect to be taken to a place within yourself that you have never been before. Whichever retreat you end up choosing, have faith it is the right one—trusting you've given yourself exactly what you need.