In the meantime, I just want to point out that all my fellow yoga teachers out there can probably relate. It can be hard to prioritize filling our own cup, when we’re so used to pouring outwards.
I’m not saying this as an excuse. Because, trust me, we can all do better in the self care department as teachers.
The other very real component for yoga teachers when it comes to joining yoga retreats as a student is that they can be pretty pricey for a yoga teacher salary. Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean that yoga retreats aren’t worth it. Because they 1000000% are. All I’m saying is that a lot of teachers making studio salaries will likely struggle to pay for a yoga retreat tuition.
How Do You Know When You’re Ready To Teach Your First Yoga Retreat
I taught my first yoga retreat less than one year after my 200 hour YTT (not saying I recommend this for everyone btw, it’s a pretty bold…and borderline stupid….choice).
I was still in that phase of teaching where I was so terrified before and during my classes that I would literally black out with fear the second I stepped in front of the class. Truly, I remember going for a walk before my class, trying to have a little me-time to get grounded before my workshop. I remember stopping to sit on a rock on the beach in Mexico with knots in my stomach so intense, I thought I was going to lose my lunch.
I squeezed my eyes, taking deep breaths, and thought:
What can I possibly do to get out of this?
Do I think I was “ready” to teach my first retreat?
Honestly, probably not.
The good news is that I planned it in a way that aligned exactly where I was as a teacher, and used it as a way to push my comfort zone and growth edges as a teacher, as well.
How To Teach a Yoga Retreat as a New Yoga Teacher
What I mean is that I led the retreat with two other teachers. Collaboration is the name of the game. I swear, you can go so much farther together than you can alone. Assuming you’re working with the right people, that is. But that’s really a whole other post, isn’t it?
The two teachers I worked with had both been teaching for a few years longer than me, and one of them had led a retreat before, which was really valuable.
Although they had more teaching experience, I was the one with years of travel experience under my belt. Plus, I’m kind of a rare breed of yoga teacher that’s also super Type A and organized, rather than an etheric floaty kind (no shade, I love my little fairies, I’m just not one of them).
The retreat was very much mine in the sense that I paid for everything, and then paid out the teachers as hired contractors. Your ears should perk up here, because this is a big differentiator. If the retreat flopped, only I would’ve lost money from it. I was taking on all of the risk from the business side of it.
I knew right off the bat that it was vital to have incredible teachers. Afterall, people are paying for an *experience.* Not just a one off yoga class. Because I was such a new teacher, I didn’t feel qualified to lead people through the kind of experience that I was pricing it at, so I collaborated with other yoga teachers to make sure we had a quality offering.
This meant I handled 100% of the organization, the travel, the planning, the guests, the food prep, the activities, and the class schedule. The retreat was only 3 nights, 4 days- so we all taught 2 full classes. This felt a lot more manageable for me rather than trying to organize an event of this size, teach every single class, and socialize with guests outside of the classes.
All three of us were responsible for leading the event. Meaning, beyond our two classes each, we were leaders of the experience, rather than students. We were there to serve or help our guests however they needed, whether it was a classroom setting, or not.
How Did I Plan My First Yoga Retreat if I’ve Never Been on One
This is surprisingly simple to answer. Remember, I had years of extensive solo travel experience under my belt at this point- so I was at least comfortable in that department. I had also been practicing for 15 years at that point, so although I was a new teacher, I was an advanced practitioner.
The way I planned my first yoga retreat without ever having taken one myself was simply creating an experience that I would want to go on. Granted, this didn’t mean that everyone was going to like it, but that’s also true of every retreat, right?
All retreats will have their own definitive style. Are they luxurious, or more rugged? Are they adventurous, or super relaxing? There are so many directions to take your retreat, whether it’s a standalone experience, or it becomes its own brand and business. The important thing is to decide on something, and stick with it consistently.
I personally love having freedom when I travel, which is one of the reasons I’ve never joined a group travel experience like a retreat. So, I wanted that freedom to be present in own retreats moving forward. Sure, the experience was catered from head to toe, and we’d hand hold you as much as you needed until you walked through the door.
However, our itineraries are never going to be booked out every hour on the hour, because I like guests to have the choice to stay at the resort and chill by the pool, or book every activity under the sun. This also means the retreat tuition is a bit lower, because we only include two group activities (in addition to all the classes, of course), which I found appealing, as well.
Next up, the class flow. I didn’t want to bombard them with a 3 hour handstand workshop on day 1, ya know? Similar to a regular, single class- there needs to be a build with your event. Don’t jump into something that’s super intimate right away if you haven’t done something more introductory, or ice breaking.
And finally, connection. I’m all about deep connections, and the only way to facilitate those is to create and hold the space for it. Rather than forcing anything, I like to let the natural build of the classes and activities foster a safe space for an organic opening and bonding to occur. Although freedom is important, so is community.
This is the reason that we eat most meals together (some retreats we have lunch free to go out and explore, but it really depends on the location). I find mealtimes to be some of the best components of the retreat. Especially from teacher to student, because suddenly the relationship is TWO ways, instead of just talking at them like you would in the classroom.
Learn From My Mistakes
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve definitely made my fair share of mistakes over the years. I learned everything from trial and error. Like throwing pasta at the wall, and seeing what sticks. I’d take what works, and leave the rest- until I finally created a solid itinerary and activities schedule that works.
Want to learn from me?
Try my How to Plan Your Own Retreat masterclass before you dive head first in organization mode. It’s a small investment to make for a really big return.