What if Someone Gets Sick or Injured on Your Retreat?

So you’re a few days into your yoga retreat and all is going amazingly well. Then all of a sudden one of your retreat students comes down with the flu.

What do you do!?

Or one of your students “over does it” doing yoga and ends up in a back spasm for the rest of the retreat.

Or maybe you’re hiking through the waterfalls and one of your students slips and sprains her ankle. Oh no!

These are the nightmares of any retreat leader. But things like this CAN and DO happen. They’ve happened to us.

So, should this keep you from leading a retreat?

Heck no! Accidents happen EVERYWHERE! People get sick and hurt themselves in the comfort of their own homes. So it’s totally plausible that injury and illness could happen on a retreat.

We don’t bring this up to scare you but rather so you can prepare for these possibilities. If you are prepared, you will be better able to help your students in times of need.

But also, being prepared will help to protect you from liability when things go awry. So let's go over:

 8 ways to prepare for the possibility of injury or illness on your retreat


1. Yoga Teaching Insurance

First of all, as a teacher you know you definitely need to have yoga teaching insurance. You should have this already, but if you don’t, it's time to get it. Make sure you shop for an insurance policy that both fits your budget AND covers you wherever you teach yoga (including while on retreat!)

If you already have yoga teaching insurance, make sure your policy covers you while on teaching on retreat, especially if you teach abroad. 

You can ask your insurance provider:

  • Will they cover you when you are teaching on retreat?
  • What circumstances do they cover?
  • What do they not cover?
  • Up to what amount does the policy cover? What does the coverage include and is there a deductible?

2. Secondary Insurance

If your yoga teaching insurance only covers you WHILE you are teaching yoga, check with your insurance provider to see if they offer a supplemental policy to cover you as a retreat leader and when traveling abroad.

Some insurance companies have special event policies that may be a great option.

3. Travel Insurance

We highly recommend that you encourage your students to purchase travel insurance for international retreats. You can even put it right on your retreat registration page that travel insurance is suggested. 

Travel insurance can cover things like travel delays, bad weather, lost luggage and medical emergencies in foreign countries. 

Legal Stuff

4. Liability Waiver

Students should sign a liability waiver BEFORE the retreat begins. In this waiver, you can state that all yoga and other activities are done at the sole discretion of each participant. The waiver can also state that students assume full responsibility for any injuries or illness that may occur during the retreat, both on and off the mat. The more specific and clear you are the better.

5. Cancellation Policy

What if someone gets sick or has a family emergency before the retreat begins and can't make it. What do you do?

Well, here's when a good cancellation policy comes is key. You need to have a clear cancellation policy that students agree to BEFORE the sign up and purchase your retreat.

That way if they need to cancel, they already know what to expect and there are no surprises... or angry emails.

Examples of what you can specify in the cancellation policy are:

  • Is there cancellation fee? 
  • Who has to cover the online transaction fees if they cancel?
  • Do you offer partial or full refund?
  • Do you have a time limit to your partial or full refunds?
  • Is the deposit non-refundable or refundable?
  • Is the package transferable to another student?
  • Is the amount of the package transferable to a later retreat if they don't get a refund? If so, what portion?

Before you write your cancellation policy for each specific retreat, make sure you check the cancellation policy of the retreat center or your accommodations. Will they offer you a refund if someone cancels last minute? This should be your guide when drafting your retreat cancellation policy.

Also, it's a good idea to consult with an attorney regarding any legal document you intend to provide to your students.

And again, if your students have travel insurance, their insurance might cover an unexpected trip cancellation. 

More Ways to Prepare

6. Communicate with your venue

Talk to your retreat location about what to do in case of an emergency. Is there anyone on staff available to help? Do they have a first aid kit? If you are staying at a house, find out about the nearest hospitals and medical clinics.

7. Are you CPR certified?

If you aren’t, this is another important skill and certification to add to your role as a teacher and retreat leader.  

8. And one last thing: Life happens!

People hurt themselves and get sick. This is part of life. Students may fall ill during your retreat, and it may NOT be your fault at all! 

But what you CAN do as retreat leader is be there to offer support and hold space for that person while they are going through challenges. As a retreat leader you are more than just a teacher. You are a guide throughout your students' retreat experience. 

Want to learn more in-depth about how to plan, market and lead amazing yoga retreats?

Hope you found this helpful!


Paloma and Renee

PS. If you are craving a community where you can get retreat inspiration, support and guidance from a like-minded yoga teachers? Come on over to our free private Facebook group TRAVEL, TEACH & THRIVE and request access to join!