I’ve been running international retreats for nearly 10 years now, so it’s safe to say that I’ve learned a thing or two over the last decade. Glow Yoga Retreats certainly has its own specific style, signature classes, and unique additives that students have come to know and love. So much so that they keep coming back year after year.
Don’t worry, this entire post isn’t just going to be me tooting my own horn. I just think it’s important to illustrate, right off the bat, how important a good yoga retreat itinerary really is. Trust me, when you’re making your next itinerary for your yoga retreat, this is not an area that you want to just glaze over.
This post will start by covering 4 key components of your yoga retreat, and then will go into a detailed explanation of how to build out the perfect itinerary based on your 4 components.
If you’re feeling a little lost about where to begin creating your next yoga retreat itinerary, don’t worry! You’ve come to the right place. This is going to be fun 🙂
4 Components to Identify in Your Yoga Retreat
Chances are, you already have an idea of where your next yoga retreat is going to be. Heck, you might’ve already booked the venue. Which means it’s really important to start building out the itinerary next, because you’ll want to publish the itinerary when you publish the retreat.
People generally want to know exactly what they’re going to be getting for the price they’re paying. Rather than just generally listing inclusions like “yoga classes” and “excursions,” get specific with a full itinerary visible on your website. Publishing the itinerary is transparent and ethical marketing, plus it helps your future clients get excited for what’s ahead.
You need to have a really clear picture of who your demographic is, first and foremost. This will help you determine price, inclusions, styles of classes and so much more.
For example, if you know you want to offer something super luxurious, then this will likely mean you need to have more money upfront to get the best venue, food, and variety of bougie activities. Versus if you wanted to do a more backpacker, budget retreat- where you’d probably go on different excursions, and stay in a very different accommodation than the luxe folks.
Get clear about who you’re selling to, so that you can build out the best itinerary for your future students. You’re selling so much more than your teaching, or a single yoga class. You’re selling an experience. And that experience needs to be clear from start to finish.
Now that you know who you’re selling your yoga retreat to, you can establish a budget. I just gave the two extreme examples of luxury and backpacker, but the truth is, most yoga retreats are somewhere in between. And the good news is that there will be plenty of accommodations, yoga retreat centers (cough cough like Still Salty Escape), and activities that will fall within the midrange budget, too.
Your budget will impact your itinerary, because the more excursions you plan, the higher your budget will need to be. Also, the more excursions you book, the higher your retreat tuition should be in order to cover your costs.
This means that while the bougie retreaters go on a sunset yacht, the midrange people might do a turtle release, and the backpackers are doing a sunset beach clean up and meditation. All of these activities have very different price points, and they’re catered to the audience who will be participating in them.
Environment and Climate
Each retreat will have very different activities available based on the environment, climate, and environment. An obvious example would be a seaside retreat, compared to a mountain retreat. Clearly you can’t surf in the forest, so that activity would be out.
Perhaps a little less obvious would be the consideration of weather and climate between the two settings. If you’re doing a retreat at Still Salty Escape in Nicaragua, you’re not going to want to plan a major excursion or class in the middle of the day, because it’s quite hot. Whereas, when I hold retreats in Peru, the mornings can feel almost TOO cold to get motivated for a yoga flow.
If you’ve never been to the area where you’re holding your retreat, ask the manager of the venue where you’re booking the best time of day for the activities that you’re interested in adding. They’re the experts, they live there, and they won’t lead you astray.
Yoga Style and Theme
I’d suggest teaching the yoga style(s) that you’re the most confident and comfortable with. Remember, you need to really WOW your students in a retreat setting. This means they’ll be getting a class that’s has a little *more* than your regular studio classes.
One of the best ways to give the retreat an extra special feel to it is by having a theme that carries throughout the entire experience. This theme can also help to inspire the creation process of your classes, too. Side note, if you’re stuck on theming and sequencing, highly suggest my online 100 hour course YTT for this. Yes, it’s Yoga Alliance certified.
Your yoga style(s) and themes should complement the activities, food, and environment that you’re in. The yoga classes and theme will also be something that you know will resonate with the demographic at hand.
How To Create The Best Yoga Retreat Itinerary
Now that you have the 4 important components to consider before you start building your yoga retreat itinerary, you’re ready to go. I’ve built many yoga retreat itineraries over the years ranging from tropical Zanzibar getaway, to Safari Kenya, and Surf and Yoga in Nicaragua. As different as they’ve been, they’ve had a few underlying similarities that have given them cohesion, brand recognition, and success.
Yoga Retreat Name
Use the theme to give your yoga retreat a name. This will also help it stand out from being “just another yoga retreat.” I suggest keeping the name relatively short and sweet. You don’t need to tell your whole life story in the title, ya know. The name and the theme will be the North Star keeping every day, class, and activity on the same track.
One Continual Class
I’d like for you to think of the yoga retreat as a whole as just ONE class, rather than a week-long event with many individual yoga classes. Imagining the retreat as one full experience will help you to build it more effectively. What I mean is, I don’t ever do the 3 hour Handstand Workshop on Day 1 or Day 2, because we need a solid warm up to get there.
I also usually offer a Partner Therapeutics class on all of my retreats, which is a fan favorite, but also quite intimate. This is something I usually save for one of the last days, because people are so close, and have no discomfort touching one another.
I’d like for you to think about your itinerary this way too, so that you can create a cohesive, safe, and thoughtful experience. You know how you create a single yoga class from the ground up? You’ll do the same thing with the yoga retreat! Don’t forget, this experience is not ONLY physical. So you’ll want to maintain that building approach for the mental and emotional elements of the yoga retreat, as well.
Arrival Day and Ice Breakers
It’s important to remember that arrival day is usually a half day, because check in tends to be between 2 – 4 pm, depending on the hotel. You’ll also want to keep in mind that many people, yourself included, have likely traveled to get to where you are. This means you won’t necessarily want to knock their socks off on day one. Give them a moment to acclimate. In fact, I know plenty of teachers that don’t do a class at all on arrival day, but prefer only an opening ceremony, instead.
Assuming you’d like your retreat to have a bonding, community focus, you’ll need to ensure that you have some sort of “ice breaker” or “get to know you” experience towards the beginning. There’s nothing worse than forced intimacy. And you can’t get people to be vulnerable if they don’t feel safe. It’s up to you as a teacher to cultivate that safety in the beginning moments of the retreat.
Bonding and Community
I know there are plenty of retreats that are more focused on the travel component, or the location, and less about the touchy feely friendship stuff. Glow Yoga Retreats is not one of those businesses. We love curating events that people come as strangers, and leave as lifelong friends.
Something as simple as shared, included meals- as opposed to eating out- is one of the best ways to cultivate more group bonding. I’m not saying don’t ever go out to eat the entire week. I’m just saying it’s nice to have group meals throughout the week, because then you’re able to talk and connect in a way that you simply can’t when you’re in a yoga class.
Activities and Excursions
I personally like to go a little lighter on the excursions, which means more free time and lower retreat tuition. This way, the people who WANT to do every single last activity in the area can book extras without breaking the bank after already paying for the retreat.
There tends to be about half the people who love doing all the things, and half the people who like to lounge by the pool and get massaged. I like to have space for both. I like to prioritize freedom, given that the retreat is essentially a holiday. I also tend to see even the people with the highest energy start to poop out at some point, so jump packing the schedule would only add to burn out. And no one wants to leave a yoga retreat feeling exhausted!
Quantity of Yoga Classes
The number of yoga classes you offer will ultimately depend on YOU, your energy levels, the style of the retreat, and your specific student-base. A yoga retreat that also offers continual education hours might have several hours of lecture and workshops a day. While a relaxing fun in the sun type of experience might just do an hour of morning yoga only.
My preference is to have something planned for mornings and evenings/afternoons. However, many of the afternoon or evening classes we offer are either not physical or asana at all, or they’re very gentle yoga/Yin. If I teach a 2 hour Backbending workshop, and people went surfing the day before, then I’ll probably do a meditation for the evening session, instead of something else too physical.
I think it’s important to have something special planned for the final night of the yoga retreat. Remember, the retreat is one bib class. Think about the yoga classes you’ve been to that have such a killer savasana that you cry your eyes out. That’s what we’re going for here.
I tend to also teach a class the final morning of the retreat before check out, but the real finale is the night class before. Why? Because you’ll be surprised how often people have to leave a day early, or their flight time changes and they can’t come to the morning class. Even if they are in the class, most people are thinking about packing up the rest of their stuff, and their airport checklist. The energy is just a little more rushed, compared to the night before.
Look at you, you did it! You planned your next yoga retreat itinerary from start to finish. I can’t wait to hear about how it goes.
As always, feel free to check out my exact itinerary (link to Peru retreat itinerary) for inspo.