“This was the most amazing experience, I can’t thank you enough!”
As a yoga retreat leader, that’s music to our ears.
We know our job is to make our retreat students happy. To have them leave the experience feeling full of life and shining with joy.
After all, they have entrusted us with their time and hard earned money with the promise of experiencing something really special and unique.
You may have promised them renewal and health, or maybe adventure and exploration, or self-discovery and an opportunity to dive deep into their yoga and meditation practice.
Regardless of what your retreat offers them… once they sign up, it’s time to deliver.
It’s important to think about your retreat not just as a one time effort, but as a way to help you build a strong yoga community + retreat tribe.
When your create a retreat experience that really resonates with your students, you not only make your students happy, but you're also building your retreat kula. This kula has the potential to be loving and loyal retreaters that will want to keep coming back for more.
And they’ll want to bring their friends, family and loved ones because they’ve had such an amazing and transformational experience.
That is, if the retreat experience is up to par and can deliver on it’s promise.
So how do you craft a beautiful retreat experience that leaves your students happy and wanting more?
There are so many layers to creating a beautiful experience for your retreaters … and the gold is in the details.
Here are 4 super important elements to remember in order to deliver the best retreat experience possible:
1) Be a leader before, during and after your retreat
Your retreat actually starts the moment your student signs up.
This is fundamental to establishing trust and connection with your students so that they’ll feel guided and supported leading up to the retreat. If you’ve dropped the ball and failed to communicate appropriately with your students before your departure, your students might feel disappointed even before you arrive at the retreat center.
If you think about your retreat experience from a holistic point of view, all the pre-retreat interaction you have with your students is a way to build upon the retreat experience.
The impression they have from all of your interactions “outside of your retreat” will have an impact on how they feel about the retreat too.
So, we advise you to step into your role as a retreat leader during all 3 PHASES of your retreat experience: pre-retreat, during your retreat, and post-retreat.
Phase #1: Pre-retreat.
Is when you build the trust, community, and excitement and anticipation for the retreat.
Phase #2: During your retreat.
Where you get to hold space for your students both on and off the mat and deliver on your "retreat promise."
Phase #2: Post-retreat.
How you maintain and nurture the relationships you’ve cultivated with your students, so that you can build a thriving and expansive retreat kula that keeps coming back for more.
If you want to learn more about how to step into your role as a retreat leader in each of the 3 phases of your retreat experience, we have a little somethin' for ya!
2) Weave your retreat theme into every aspect of your retreat
When we say “the gold is in the details”... here’s where this concept truly gets to shine.
A beautiful retreat experience starts with a carefully crafted retreat theme. The theme is the focus of you retreat and the essence of what you want your students to experience.
Here’s a simple example. Let’s say your retreat theme is “Mind, Body and Soul Renewal” and you are serving middle-aged career women with hectic lives and stressful careers.
How can you infuse renewal into every aspect of your retreat?
How can you incorporate your theme into the food, yoga, extra activities, special workshops, retreat gifts, and gathering circles at your retreat?
How can your theme be a red thread that ties your entire retreat experience together?
Be sure to be intentional about how you weave your theme into ALL the retreat details, down to the quotes you give them in a welcome card, and the intentions you set in the morning meditation.
3) Create a balanced retreat schedule
When planning your retreat, you may feel inclined to add lots value for your students… and you may think that means to add “more."
You may be tempted to pack your schedule with hikes, talks, yoga classes, and workshops to make sure your students feel like they're getting what they deserve. (And what they paid for!)
But, more is not necessarily better at a yoga retreat. A beautiful retreat experience is a balanced one. In addition to all the fun activities and time with the group, you also want your students get plenty of breathing room between activities and time to explore solitude and silence.
When you think about your day-to-day retreat schedule, think about adding space between activities, both for your sake and the sake of your students.
Allow your students to take a break from their rushed and busy lives. Instead, offer them what they rarely get to have: precious time to slow down and be present. This also gives your students time to process and savor what they experience throughout the retreat.
A balanced schedule is what determines whether your students will feel rested and fulfilled at the end of the retreat, rather than needing a vacation from their vacation.
4) hold Space oN and OFF the Mat
As you may already know, leading a retreat is vastly different from teaching a 90-minute yoga class.
When you decided to lead a retreat, you made the decision to step into your role as a leader that goes way beyond just teaching your yoga classes.
During your retreat, it’s crucial to know how to hold space for your students not only during the yoga classes, but also during all of the other retreat activities.
A few things to keep in mind when you step into your role as retreat leader:
- Be present for your students beyond the mat, and for longer periods of time. That includes being available to listen and talk n between yoga classes and during meals and other activities.
- Clearly communicate the boundaries and expectations for your students right from the beginning of your retreat. What are the general guidelines that will apply for all of you? Are people allowed to leave and come back to the retreat center at any time? Are people able drink alcohol during the retreat? Are you inviting students to be silent each morning? The expectations you set at your retreat are there to help everyone feel more comfortable and at ease.
- Expect the best but be prepared for whatever can arise. How will you handle it if someone gets food poisoning, or is experiencing a lot of emotion after yoga, or has a disagreement with another student during your retreat?
- Carve out time for yourself. You’ll need to take time to recharge in between classes and activities in order conserve your energy and be able to continue holding space for your students. This is essential to you showing up from a more grounded, nourished and authentic place. Make sure you carve out time during your retreat schedule so you can practice some self-care and prepare for your classes and activities.
Stepping into your role as a confident retreat leader will allow you to craft a beautiful retreat experience that truly serves you students.
As a confident and prepared leader, you’ll be able to guide your students through a transformational yoga and travel experience that will leave them excited and ready for more.