Yoga Business

Organizing a Successful Yoga Retreat or Holiday

Many yoga teachers dream of taking a group of people to a beautiful destination to teach them yoga while enjoying a relaxing and wonderful holiday. What better way to make money and have fun whilst doing what you love? If you’ve been contemplating running your first yoga retreat, here’s how to get started:

Plan Well Ahead 

You should start to plan your yoga retreat at least 6 months in advance, so that you’ll have plenty of time to advertise. It’s also important because most people don’t suddenly decide to go on vacation in the next few weeks — people plan their holidays many months in advance.

It’s best to choose a place you’re already familiar with so you can easily lead the way. While an exotic, far-away place like India might sounds appealing, you should avoid running a retreat somewhere you’ve never been before. Your familiarity with a location will help your clients relax.

Once you’ve zeroed-in on a region, you’ll need to research the different retreat centers in the area. You can easily do this on the web. Make sure that there are direct and inexpensive flights to the location you have chosen. Check the flight prices for the dates you have chosen. Certain times of year are a lot more expensive than others. Try to find a place that is within easy reach of an airport. It’s not so much fun to have to travel more than an hour to get to the location.

Know the Venue

If possible, go visit the place ahead of time so you know how to talk the place up to your clients. Tip: Many retreat centres will offer you a free night if you are going specifically to check out the place. This allows you to be sure you have made the right choice, ask all the questions you want, check out travel options and, above all, it gives you the ability to talk from experience.

Usually retreat centres will also have their own websites that you can direct your students to. Check their website; it should be appealing and professional. If you’re able to visit the place (again, strongly recommended), take lots of great photos to help you advertise.

To find a suitable venue for your retreat you can also use the YogaTrail Host Finder, a resource especially built to let you explore available venues by country, dates, budget.

Pick Your Clientele

As you choose a place, it’s important to consider the profile of the people you expect to sign up; you won’t be able to attract everybody, so it’s best to focus on the needs of one group. Young, adventurous people who are on a budget may prefer to stay in tents or cabins. But if your clients are older and more affluent, they’ll prefer more luxurious accommodations.

Cheaper isn’t always better. If you’re able to find a place that offers different levels of accommodation for different budgets, things might be easier, but if not: choose your target and keep them in mind while you plan.

Plan for Reasonable Numbers

When booking with the retreat centre set your numbers lower than you hope to get. Ask what their free teacher policy is — there often is an offer of one teacher free for every 10 clients you bring. Perhaps plan on 10 so you get a free place, but dream for 20 plus. It is better and more uplifting to add, rather than to take away!

To confirm your booking, you’ll need to give a deposit to the retreat center, and it might be between 10-20% of the whole booking. Find out what their cancellation policy is to avoid nasty surprises. Be aware that you’ll probably lose some of your deposit if you cancel or don’t make your predicted numbers, so assess whether that is a risk worth taking.

Partner with Another Teacher

Consider the possibility of running the retreat with another teacher, who also has a good following. Remember that in order to get two free places, for both of you, you would probably need to get 20 clients. Look for a popular teacher to work with with, that way teaming up will be much more valuable. 

Get the Word Out with Your Network

Unless you’re really famous, most of your clients will likely be people who know you already, so you’ll have a head start if you already have a following that provides a pool of potential clients to join your retreat.  Use your network! You can then supplement the bookings from your own following with additional clients you may pick up from online advertising or from YogaTrail.

Make a cool poster, or an attractive flyer to put up in places where you teach. Hand them out at the end of every class and talk it up. Don’t be shy: announce your retreat at the end of every class!

Promote Your Retreat to New Clients 

You can and should use social media to promote your yoga retreat, of course. Post photos on FB and Instagram. It’s also a no-brainer to publish your yoga retreat or holiday on YogaTrail. It’s probably worth setting aside a budget to boost your event on YogaTrail with a promotion, and it may be more cost effective to upgrade your profile to a premium listing while you’re advertising your retreat.

Offering an early bird special is definitely a good idea. This will encourage people to sign up early. You can also offer a discount if two people come together, so your students will be encouraged to invite their friends or partners. Allow partners to come for the holiday with no obligation to attend yoga classes.

Lastly, don’t forget to stay in touch by email with the participants – keep them excited!

Set Your Price, Deposit, Booking & Refund Policy

It’s important to collect a deposit from each participant, as soon as they sign up. Ask for 50% up front and 50% the week before the holiday. You can decide on your own refund policy, for example: you might refund 35% of their 50% deposit up until one month before the holiday. After that you might refund only 20% of the deposit. A week before showtime, they should forfeit the entire deposit.

In extreme cases, such as when the person becomes unexpectedly very ill or injured or a close family member dies, do consider returning their full deposit.

Create a Great Program for Your Yoga Retreat

The first day of your retreat, take time to introduce the students to each other, to you, to the retreat center and to the surrounding area. Of course you should be well informed yourself about everything before doing this.

You’re the host! Hang out with your students, care for them well, check in with them about their goals and desires. They’ll really appreciate your attention. Ask them for feedback and requests for the classes you are teaching during the week, so you can make sure you are fulfilling their needs. Be willing to give some one on one instruction to anyone in the group who wants to work on something in particular.

A typical yoga retreat schedule usually offers two yoga classes per day. The morning class might be between ninety minutes to two hours long, and could be more vigorous. Then, before dinner, a more gentle, restorative or Yin style class is generally enjoyable. Sometimes, meditation is a good additional option.

It’s also great if you can offer excursions to your students while they’re there, so check out what the retreat center offers. Get your students excited about the activities that are offered!


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Vidya Jacqueline Heisel

Vidya Jacqueline Heisel leads outstanding Yoga Teacher Certification Courses in exotic locations such as Bali, Costa Rica, Thailand, India and at the Suryalila Retreat Centre, her home in Southern Spain. She loves warm weather and beautiful nature, and gives her trainees an experience of a lifetime! Connect with Vidya on YogaTrail
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