Tips - How to Choose Your Yoga Holiday. Yoga Retreat or Yoga Vacation, Which Is Best?
Yoga for Strength and Balance
What to Expect on a Yoga Retreat
The two terms yoga retreat and yoga vacation are often used interchangeably, but there is a subtle difference.
Yoga retreats are usually all about the yoga, whereas yoga vacations incorporate yoga into the vacation.
On a yoga retreat expect:
Yoga and lots of it; often invigorating yoga in the morning and more relaxing nidra yoga in the evening.
Meditation - usually a part of the day is set aside for meditation, sometimes self-guided and sometimes yogi guided.
Silence - usually part of the day is spent in silence, often the early part of the day, and often mealtimes. Some retreats are completely silent aside from tutor time.
Eye contact - some yoga retreats advise that eye contact should be avoided if possible.
Teacher time - at some point during the retreat you should expect to meet with the tutor to discuss your yoga practice. This is your time to ask questions and get the most out of your tuition.
Accommodation - this is often simple, but functional. Your room is likely to meet your basic needs, but will have no frills. You may be sharing a room with a fellow student, and some retreats only offer dormitory style accommodation.
Chores - yes! Expect to be assigned chores. As well as looking after yourself and your personal space, you may have care for your fellow yogis, this might involve doing the washing up, or sweeping floors.
Food - most retreats have a chef. The food is usually vegetarian or vegan, nutritious and light in nature and sympathetic to yoga principles. Some retreats may follow Ayurvedic principles.
Treatments - some retreats offer therapeutic treatments alongside the yoga and meditation, such as massage or reflexology.
Alcohol - few yoga retreats allow alcohol.
Yoga Classes for Flexibility
What to Expect on a Yoga Vacation
Yoga - most yoga vacations provide yoga twice a day, usually morning and evening.
Meditation - there may also be time set for meditation, but not always.
Activities - vacationers also expect an itinerary of activity, yoga is often combined with another skill, such as surfing, hiking, boxing, running - the list is endless.
Sight-seeing - expect to have some sight-seeing trips planned into your vacation, taking in local history and exploring the area.
Food - this may cater for more diverse tastes than on retreat. You could expect meat to be on the menu as a choice. The food may well be richer than on retreat, but there should always be a variety of meal options to choose from.
Accommodation - this may well be much more luxurious than on yoga retreat, depending on the cost of the vacation. You would usually not be expected to share a room, unless that was your personal choice.
Treatments - again, there may be therapeutic treatments, but also general spa-type treatments on offer too.
Chores - unlikely; other than looking after your personal space, it's unlikely you'll be required to chip in with caring for others.
Silence - it is unlikely that you'll have to maintain silence during your vacation.
Alcohol - it's highly likely that alcohol will be allowed on your vacation, which means you will have to be prepared to tolerate other people's drinking habits.
Ten Tips for Choosing a Yoga Retreat
- The Tutor. Research your teacher. They should have a reasonable amount of teaching experience within their own style of yoga. They should be running regular classes or retreats and you would expect some presence on social media that supports this. A tutor who also runs teacher-training programmes for yoga would be a bonus.
- Style of yoga. Do you want a retreat that immerses you into one style of yoga, or do you want a retreat that offers a dip into different types? Do you want a yoga retreat that offers additional skills such as surfing, running or boxing?
- Level of difficulty. This is especially important if you are relatively new to yoga. There are plenty of beginner's yoga retreats on offer.
- Focus. Yoga retreat, or yoga vacation? Do you want your retreat to be all about yoga and meditation, or do you want a more relaxed holiday vibe, with yoga as a bonus?
- Location. Do you want a local retreat, or to explore somewhere new? What level of luxury do you need, simple room, shared room, hotel style, room service?
- Benefits. What benefits does the retreat offer? Will there be treatments available? Is all equipment provided, or will you have to bring your yoga mat through the airport? What about airport transfers?
- Price. The cost of yoga retreats varies widely, from a few hundred pounds to a few thousand, depending on what's on offer, location, accommodation, etc. Retreats that are all about simplicity and yoga are likely to be cheaper.
- Duration. The length of retreat is important. Most are offered as a week or ten-day retreat.
- Size. Retreats vary in group size from a handful of people, to large group numbers. Small number group tuition is more personal, but there's nowhere to hide!
- Food. Do you want vegetarian or vegan food, or maybe a detox, yoga weight loss break, or would you like the option of a steak and fries?