Sure, they’re not NECESSARY in order to have a great time. But they do tend to take “just another yoga retreat” to another level, helping your retreat to stand out.
As a yoga teacher who’s owned my own retreat business for 10 years now, and who has led dozens of retreats across the world- I wanted to dedicate a post on how to theme yoga retreats based on my observances and experience.
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Ways To Theme Your Yoga Retreat
As yoga teachers, we know how important a theme can be. Truly, themes can really transform a typical yoga class as we know it.
No, themes aren’t necessarily traditional when it comes to the yoga practice as a whole. However, you can certainly weave traditional elements into your classes to elevate your class experience.
Plus, themes have the power to give yoga asanas (yoga poses) a bit more depth, beyond only a physical work out. Yoga instructors from all different styles and backgrounds can certainly appreciate the importance of a theme in order to improve students’ knowledge of yoga overall.
1.Yogic Philosophy & Practices
Simply diving into yoga philosophy ALONE will open up enough theme ideas to last you a lifetime of retreats.
To give you a few ideas of the most simplistic: Niyamas (each day focuses on a different one), Yamas (same idea), the 8 limbs of yoga (perfect length for a week-long retreat). Check out this post for a deep dive on the 8 limbs of yoga.
Now for additional practices, you can focus on things like: Ayurveda (each day focuses on a different dosha), the 5 Elements (one day devoted to Earth Element, one day for Water Element, etc), or the 7 Chakras (also perfect for a week-long retreat).
Learn more about the Root Chakra HERE.
Check out my 21 Day Chakra Reset.
Like I said, the options are really endless here. Have fun with it!
2. Time of Year Or Seasons
As simple as this sounds, it can actually be quite profound. Think about it, different seasons usually come with an onslaught of emotions, mental and physical needs.
For example, you could create a Spring Clean Retreat that focuses on the importance of decluttering during this transitionary season that is Spring.
Or, you could host a Winter Retreat that really celebrates the natural tendency to hibernate in winter, through dedicated silence (during meals, for instance), and journal prompts for deep introspection during free time.
Focusing on the time of year can also mean a celebration of particular holidays, or astrological occurrences. GYR hosts Solstice retreats for this exact reason!
Once you know where you’re going to host your retreat, I’d say leaning into what the location has to offer can be one of the easiest ways to create a theme for your retreat.
This might be really obvious if you choose to plan your retreat at Still Salty Escape. Or if you go to similar locations like Bali, Costa Rica, or Portugal in putting together a surf and yoga retreat.
It might also look like offering a plant medicine retreat in the jungles of Peru, or a hiking adventure retreat in Patagonia.
Look at what your surroundings have to offer, and lean into nature as your greatest muse here. My Nature Therapy Retreat in Nicaragua was created from this method exactly, and it’s my favorite retreat to lead in this country, because of it.
4. What’s Needed in the World
Okay, this sounds like a big one. Let me be clear in saying I don’t expect you to solve the world’s problems through your yoga retreat (I mean, that would be pretty cool, but let’s just take it one step at a time). What I mean is either looking at the world at large, or at YOUR world (your community) to understand what the need is.
Think about how we all felt (and still feel) coming out of Covid. You could create a retreat that’s simply called The Connection Retreat, aiding people in heart opening and coming together in community again after years of isolation. Almost like a big team building event.
There’s always the option to zoom in tightly on your community, whether that’s in your state, your town, or even within your studio. Notice if there’s something that could use a little bit of intentional healing in the retreat space, and work with that.
5. Ask Your Students
Piggybacking off of the last point, this one can be really valuable if you don’t feel comfortable ASSUMING what people need. I’m not saying to ask them what to theme your retreat. I’m saying to ask people what they need.
Whether that means throwing a question box on your Instagram stories, or asking your students after class every day for a week- notice if you see any reoccurring themes in the feedback you receive.
Remember, who cares if you teach someone how to stand on their hands during your retreat, if they didn’t walk away feeling kindness, forgiveness, and compassion in their heart?
Themes help to provide depth to the superficial nature of asana, which in turn, creates the kind of experience for your students that won’t be soon forgotten.
Most importantly, done is better than perfect when you’re launching your first retreat. You can always make little tweaks along the way depending on what life (and your students) throw at you.
Let me know which theming option stuck out to you the most in the comments below.
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