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8 Tips For Running A Yoga Retreat Or Holiday

Ruth White
Jul 16, 2019 9:35:25 AM

You may be a yoga teacher organising your first retreat and some of my previous experience may be of help.  Offering a wellness retreat or Yoga Holiday is a fantastic way to see the country and world.  It’s a great way of taking some time to cultivate your regular class and attract new students.  It is also possible these days to offer the retreat as a corporate teambuilding retreat, network with local businesses and see if they would be interested in a long weekend retreat, to rejuvenate, unwind and inspire their staff.  Giving them the edge on staff wellbeing!

Offering them a unique holiday to de-stress and space to do some self-reflection.  However, you do need to be organised and think about the logistics, space: is there adequate space for the yoga practice and a suitable venue, i.e. adequate shade if it’s a hot country. Think about other logistical items food, dietary needs, transport, money.  Confirm and reconfirm the timing of activities.  It can be helpful to have someone there to help you organise finances, hotels, activities, make people feel welcome.  If you haven’t been there before you may want to go a few days early to connect with staff and the area.  When you feel connected to the venue and the staff there is a community spirit that brings a natural welcome home feel which is a valuable element to any yoga holiday. 

Act from a place of gratitude and plan ahead don’t leave things to the last minute.  Teach from the heart, you need to create a safe space an environment that everyone feels comfortable in so they can truly relax and come out their shell.  Make sure all your guests feel taken care of, listened to and safe.  Don’t be afraid to use your imagination around the language you use to create different options around your holidays or weekends call them: an adventure, or a trip or an escape so that people look forward to it.  Keep the fun going after the trip ends emails, hashtags and photo sharing are all great ways to keep in touch and create a strong sense of community.

For me my journey into teaching was organic I never had to take an exam or test to become a teacher.  In fact, I never intended to teach, synchronicity invited me in! experiencing chronic back problems I just seemed to fall at the feet of a Master, namely BKS Iyengar.  He was holding small yoga classes in London in the 1960s and it was here that he showed me how to work and be free of pain.  So, inspired by his teaching I followed him to India.  After training with him in Pune I returned to England to set up my first yoga centre.  Try and keep your teaching organic and let that flow into your retreat.  Everything you give to the Universe will come back to you it’s a universal law.  It may not be in the same form but it will come back to you so practice with a clear intention and teach that way too.   The first retreat I held was forty-two years ago, at Park Place a convent, in Hampshire the cost for the weekend was £12.00!! Folks came back year after year some of my students have been with me for over forty years.   Over the year’s retreats grew and spread abroad, Mexico, Australia, Japan and India. 


Here are a few of my Do’s and Don’ts which you may find helpful;


  • Don’t shut the door until all your chicks are in
  • Don’t give students to many choices when offering bedrooms (apart from ensuite options) it can cause mayhem with your bedroom list
  • Don’t talk all the time when teaching allow headspace
  • Don’t be on a pedestal
  • Remember 0% Force, 100% Focus


  • Give your complete attention and wait until the movements have died down and hold the class in stillness.
  • Practice
  • Be approachable
  • Come of any “pedestal” by suggesting the students could do better than you.
  • Instruct without negatives i.e. “Don’t Slouch” replace with “Stand Up”


People ask me how many retreats I have taken I have no idea a typical year I was surprised to find that on counting I had taught in Twenty-four countries.  Japan was wonderful but different, there is no eye contact it’s very disconcerting. 

You may even want to email or place on your website a few handy tips for your students to help them prepare and get the most out of the retreat.


1. Get in touch, whether you are a fist time practitioner, regular class attendee, Teacher in Training or a Yoga Teacher looking for rest and recuperation.  Get in touch with the Yoga Teacher holding the retreat this helps the teacher really know how to take care of the group’s needs.  Are you injured? Or working on something specific in your yoga practice? The more you are in touch with the yoga teacher the more you’ll get out of the experience.


2. Head Space, it’s a fabulous holiday if you’re travelling on your own.  Yoga retreats are a great place to find new friends, meet likeminded people find peace and quiet, explore nature, broaden your horizons.  Start making space in your mind by taking care of all the details that clutter your head. 

    • Tell people you’re going away on holiday, put an auto-respond on your emails, set boundaries and tell people you won’t get back to them until after your back. 
    • Think about having a device-free weekend or week see how much attachment you have to your computer/phone devices.
    • If travelling abroad, make sure your passport is valid
    • Contact your credit card company to tell them you’re going out of town.


3. Set your Intention, spend time thinking about what you would like to get out of your holiday, what do you want to work on with your practice, is there anything you want to relinquish from your life? Are you constantly striving for “control” do you need to trust and let go? Maybe you want to sleep better, or just simply recharge the mind-body and spirit. First set your intention and now, expect that change on your arrival the mind cannot hold conflicting beliefs, for example, you can’t be tired and wide awake you can’t be miserable and elated so when you set your intention expect it!

4. Pack Well, make yourself a list well in advance, create that headspace! Yoga mat! Sunscreen, water bottle, small towel (helps you if you start to slip off your mat!) sunglasses,  Journal ( breathing deeply, having headspace and an open mind, feeling calm can all help you think more clearly you may gain insight so it’s helpful to have somewhere to jot a few notes, observations or thoughts). Yoga props, yoga clothes, swimsuit, positive energy (think about that headspace and positive intention be ready for this new adventure). 

5. Research where you are going, there will be a time when you’re not doing yoga and you may wish to explore. Here is a short YouTube video link giving a lovely glimpse into Molyvos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JS6DVxvma0o&feature=share
6. Travel Kindly, think about taking an extra day’s holiday so you can have a day off on your return from your trip to help you settle and absorb all the good energy you have created for yourself.  Be kind to yourself give yourself time.  Know your travel itinerary for flight times etc get to the airport in plenty of time remember this is a holiday, not an ordeal so set your headspace to deal with any delays or queues.
7. 0% force 100% effort keep that kindness flowing embrace the holiday and your positive mindset.  Set yourself up for success in mind, body and spirit not only will you have improved physically you will have a new openness that allows you to take on future challenges with a new zest and vibrant energy ready for the adventure of life, this will be with you long after the suntan has faded.  You may even find you want to undertake a teacher training course and find out more about the philosophy and practice of yoga.

Ruth teaches training courses, find out more here https://www.yogawithruthwhite.com/teacher-training

8. Pass it on, yoga weekends and retreats can be a way of rediscovering and reconnecting with ourselves, creating space and lifting barriers that prevent us from embodying who we truly are.  Cultivate a mindful meditation that you will take your new spirt with you and integrate it back into your daily life.  Go with the flow experience your true self and keep in touch!

Ruth white retreats https://www.yogawithruthwhite.com/residential-events

Ruth White

Ruth is a dedicated student of philosophy and meditation, practising Advaita under the late Shankaracharya Saraswathi for 12 years at the School of Economic Science in London.  Reflecting on her teaching career and her interest in philosophy Ruth has been inspired to write her book, PRESENCE The Truth of Yoga, because she believes we are on an important beginning.

‘Fifty years ago one could barely talk openly about enlightenment, meditation and spiritual awareness but now the picture is quite different people are ready to move on to a wider level of awareness.  We are all waking up’

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