How I Launched My First Retreat that Sold Out in a Flash

One of our students, Yesica Rodriguez of Yes Yoga, recently took the big leap and said “YES”  to making her retreat dream happen…

AND (drum roll please!) it sold out and went to a waiting list! Amazing success to start.

She implemented the 3 Essential Steps to Retreat Planning we have been talking about on our blog: Know Your  Students, Have a Website, and to grow your yoga tribe with Email Marketing.

We are super inspired by her success, and so proud of her following her dreams and working hard to get all her {retreat} ducks in a row.  We truly hope Yesica's story will inspire you too!

1. Why did you you want to plan a yoga retreat?

After assisting some retreats and expanding into teaching more classes and workshops, I felt leading retreats was the next logical step in my career as a yoga teacher. I felt ready to do something on my own, without the safety-net of a yoga studio.  Plus, retreats are lots of fun!


2. What was your initial retreat vision and how long had you been thinking about doing it?

My original retreat vision involves several days in a beautiful island getaway. It is not something I have done yet but it is something I intend to do someday.  I have probably had the idea of leading a retreat in my head for a few years now.

3. Was anything holding you back from making it happen?  

I have 2 small children and no family in the area besides my husband, which makes leaving for a long time a bit challenging. I also felt that planning a retreat that includes air travel, overnight stays, yoga, excursions, etc was a bit more than I was ready for and it didn’t feel right for me yet.

4. Tell us about the turning point that helped you change your retreat dream into a reality?  

With guidance from Rock your Yoga Retreat, I started to think about my students and what they want.  I made a simple survey and sent it to them and I got some feedback.  

Many of my students are parents to young children like me and many don’t have family in San Diego, making it extra challenging to leave home for several days.  But just like me, most of them love the idea of going on a retreat but don’t have the budget or time to do it.  

One of the things I love about yoga is how inclusive it is. Yoga can be modified to fit any body in any condition. Why not think of yoga retreats in the same way?

5. You decided to start small with a one day retreat. Tell us more about how that seemed right for you and your students.

For one thing, San Diego is a beautiful city with a ton to offer, people come here for vacation, so why not take advantage of this amazing city we live in?  

Also, with my survey and from talking to my students after class, I realized they were a lot like me, parents with very young children who want and need to get away and fill their cups, but feel that typical retreat getaways, as magically wonderful as they are, are not easily accessible to them.  

I came up with my Staycation Yoga Retreats as a way to create that amazing retreat feeling without breaking the bank and leaving town for several days.  The surprising thing is, not only did lots of Mamas sign up, I got people from all walks of life so this tells me that it is something that is needed in our community.

6. How was the planning process for you once you set your plan in motion? Were there any obstacles/ challenges? What were some of the tools that helped you along the way?

For my first retreat, I gave myself a lot of time to plan and it motivated me to work on my website and grow my e-mail list.

I had already been using Mailchimp but teasing my retreat helped me grow my list. I used Mailchimp a lot throughout the process. I was able to visit the location and take pictures and include those pictures in my e-mails about the retreat so that people could get an idea of what to expect.

I was also able to create a registration form on Mailchimp and link it to my website so I could collect important information from my students.  I also used Facebook, and I did invest in a Facebook ad.

My biggest challenge was that I’d never done anything like this before!

I honestly would not have even known to do much of this (such as the registration form) if it hadn’t been for the guidance of Rock Your Yoga Retreat.  I look back and think of all the mistakes I would have made if I hadn’t used this program.  

From marketing my retreat to planning the schedule for the day, to deciding what I would charge, things came together so smoothly and naturally, as if I had been doing this for years but really, it was because of Rock Your Yoga Retreat.

7. And of course we’d love to hear about the big day! Tell us about 3 highlights from the day of the retreat.

So, the week before the retreat I was pretty nervous but at the same time, there were no fires to put out and things were going smoothly.  

One of the most successful parts of the day was how smooth and effortless the transitions from one activity to another were.  

Nothing felt forced and people seemed satisfied and ready for each transition. I made all the food (with help from my own Mama who came out for the retreat), this was a lot of work but people loved it and we hardly had leftovers so that is always a good sign.

Finally, there was a magical, retreat feel to the whole day. I think everyone, including me, was a bit blissed out by the end of the day. My goal was to create a retreat experience in one day and I feel that I met that goal.  

An extra win is that, not only did my retreat sell out, I had a waiting list. It doesn’t get much better than that.

8. What are three learning lessons you had planning your first retreat and how would you apply this to  your next retreat?  

First of all, I don’t think I will do the cooking next time.  Although I love to cook, it just adds a lot of stress and work that I could pay someone else to do without a huge cost.  

My next lesson is that I had help! I had another teacher to help with sign-ins and demonstrations/adjustments during the yoga class and I had 2 people to help with food. I will continue to have help and treat my helpers with lots of appreciation and love. Things would not have gone as well without them.  

My third lesson is to get a photographer for the retreat. Although I have lots of great pictures that my students were kind enough to share with me, having a professional photographer to take photos is so important.

9. What plans do you have for future retreats? Will you be doing retreats on a regular basis?  

I already have my next Staycation Yoga Retreat planned for April 23rd and another one for this October. I want to continue with my Staycation Yoga Retreats because I can see how they are needed in our community.  

My vision is to hold 4 of these retreats per year, each one being a different theme. I have expanded the idea of Staycation Yoga Retreat to include our amazing local business community.

San Diego has a thriving small business community. I am going to get small businesses involved by making a swag bag for everyone who attends my retreat. This swag bag will contain special samples and coupons from small local businesses. I really want to embrace the idea of community and abundance in my Staycation Yoga Retreats.

10. We’d love to know how this first retreat impacted you on a personal level and as a yoga teacher, and the impact on your business.   

Wow is the first word that comes to mind. Having a first, successful yoga retreat has had a very positive impact on me. First of all, I have gained confidence in myself as a teacher, as a woman, as a business woman. I can do this.

This experience has also really helped me hone in on my dharma or purpose as a teacher. I want to bring community together.

I want to be a business woman but do business with an open heart, with compassion and in tune with the abundance that surrounds us all. I have received so much and I realize that if I’m not afraid to give back, I will continue to receive.

I feel very passionate about building relationships with small local businesses and deepening my relationship with my students.  It is a beautiful feeling and someday, I will host that retreat on some beautiful place by the beach.

You can learn how to incorporate successful and transformational retreats into your yoga business? All you need is guidance and a clear step by step process!


Yesica Rodriguez is a yoga teacher, mother of two beautiful boys, and loves to spend her free time playing the guitar and cooking delicious food for her friends and family.