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Stay Curious: Retreat Planning for Yoga Teachers

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Social distancing has provided many opportunities for us to get creative and curious about the ways we might stay connected and embrace community. It was one woman from the West End who initiated the nightly clapping at 7pm in support of Vancouver’s Health Care Workers, an event that’s since amassed with folks across the city who gather each night and light up the streets and seawall with their collective music and cheers. Curiosity insists upon a story of inspiration through a path less travelled and events born of the courage, consideration, and sheer determination to move forward despite obstacles along the way. 

As one of millions who lost employment and connection to community with the turn of events in March due to CO-VID, Clara and I came together to create the #PracticeWithClara Podcast, a space to share yoga related content with our community. With no clear direction or end in sight, the ways in which we come together has and will continue to dramatically shift, causing entrepreneurs, community builders, and creatives to change their perception of work and how to maintain and build relationships. It’s an uncertain period and a time to question how we want to appear in the world; a time to develop an attitude of curiosity; and a time to see all the ways we might innovate and bring our deepest desires to light.  

As one who’s passionate about shaping and contributing to the community, Clara provided insight on how to host a yoga retreat and experiences for guests to go deeper into their practice in one of our podcast discussions. From managing guest expectations, to creating a budget and selecting the location, Clara shared her top learning highlights for yoga teachers and anyone who wishes to host events or workshops abroad. Planning a destination yoga retreat may be a ways off given the current state of the world, but nobody knows what the future holds. Sometimes it’s through events and stories of others that we are able to appreciate and discover more in how and what we wish to offer. Right now is the ideal time to investigate what type of value you might bring to your community, allowing the curiosity for what could be to spark new ways for community contribution and inner growth. 

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DESTINATION RETREAT PLANNING 101

List the benefits and features of your retreat 

Frame your retreat in terms of the benefits your clients will receive as well as the features in the pricing breakdown and promotion. You want to give as much information as possible to highlight all of the awesome perks provided through descriptive language and captivating photography. Use inviting language and imagery that’s clear and specifies what to expect to attract the guests that are suited for the experience you’re shaping.  For example, the features of a retreat could be: yoga everyday, lodging and food, additional activities such as hiking. Whereas the benefits of a retreat could be: escape in nature, make new friends, learn and explore yoga in a workshop. 

Create copy around the benefits of your retreat to give more of an incentive for guests to sign up. You might ask: What will guests leave with? What might they discover? Who and what will they connect with? Retreats are a space to go inwards and create a space for deeper conversations, personal revelations, and intimate connections with others that are not possible in a yoga-studio setting. Communicate these benefits to guests so they understand the value in what this experience offers. 

Manage expectations & be clear in your communication 

Get super clear in what you offer during the time breakdown of your retreat. As soon as your guests sign-up, send an email outlining exactly what to expect day-by-day. Clara provides an itinerary breakdown for guests which includes:

  • Time
    The time of day that you’re together on retreat and the time that you’re apart. Clara gives a lot of space on her retreats for guests to explore the area, pursue activities of interest, and time alone to rest and reflect. 
  • Cost
    What exactly is covered in the cost of the retreat and what is not. For example, state clearly if flights, taxi, shuttle, and other modes of transport are covered. Be really clear and direct up-front about the deposit and whether or not it’s refundable, and include a breakdown of additional costs that may/may not arise.
  • Food
    Depending on the destination some meals are covered and some are not. Communicate where and when guests are responsible for covering their own meals and where they can find food off-site. 
  • Yoga
    You’ll likely include several yoga classes on the retreat in the initial cost. You may want to include bonus classes, workshops, privates, or anything else that you may be certified in (Reiki, Thai massage) at an additional cost for clients to book with you. 
  • Extra activities  
    Depending on the destination you may offer time and resources to events in the area such as snorkeling, guided tours, cooking classes, bike rentals, and so on. 
Pick a location and investigate 

Choose a location that you want to explore and/or you love. Clara chooses her retreat locations based on the areas she wants to visit. Before you host your retreat, be sure to explore the area ahead of time (Clara usually goes to the location a few days beforehand) to get a better understanding of where you are and what’s close-by for guests. Useful resources to share with guests ahead of time may include: a map of the area, potential transit and/or car rental, food/bars, shopping, nature hikes/swimming, as well as local airports and hospitals. 

Plan a year ahead & budget 

Give guests ample time, especially if you’re going out of the country, for people to accommodate for the time off, get child-care, and/or save money. A lot of retreat centres require a deposit well in advance to save the rooms and accommodation which means you’ll be putting quite a bit of your own money down up-front. Clara’s first retreat twelve years ago she paid out of pocket. Some tips in terms of budgeting for your retreat:

  • Accept that you might not fill up all the spots and/or  break even, and that you may take a loss on your first few retreats in terms of making money. 
  • Assume that your first few retreats will have low(er) registration and decide if you have a minimum number of participants to run your retreat. Clara’s rule of thumb is to never cancel your retreat, no matter what! 
  • Anticipate hidden/unknown costs and have the money saved to manage such uncertainties so you’re not surprised or burdened with unwanted debt.

One way to build momentum for your retreat is to host your excursion around the same time each year so your guests can count on the trip year after year. Returning customers is ideal to keep building community and momentum as you learn. 

Co-teach with a fellow teacher 

You’re the host of the party, you have to be ON the entire time and present for questions and conflict should they arise. It may serve to collaborate with a fellow yoga teacher who shares your passion and can assist in holding space for your guests. It may also benefit to buddy up with a co-host who can offset your strength and skills to provide an experience that’s diverse and well-rounded. It supports the teaching community as an entirety when we promote each other and hold each other accountable in all that we do! 

VIRTUAL INVITATIONS: WAYS TO CONNECT

The broad selection of online platforms available has provided many ways to stay connected regardless of physical obstacles. More so than ever before, we’re able to provide value, engage, educate, and entertain through online platforms where content is easy to distribute. Virtual classes, workshops, teacher training, and similar experiences allow individuals to stay connected and consume media at their own pace and time. 

As destination retreats may be on-hold. for the rest of 2020, the #PracticeWithClara Community has gathered in a variety of online spaces to stay connected and learn from each other. Below are some of the ways you can find Clara online, which may also spark some incentive or idea for you to bring value to your online communities. 

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Practice with Clara Online 

There’s a bevy of online spaces to market and share yoga content with platforms like YouTube and Vimeo where you can create a channel for free. Clara’s YouTube Channel shares highlights and yoga content from her platform: Practice With Clara. You can access Clara’s content anywhere, anytime via desktop, android, iPhone, Apple TV, and Roku. One of the perks on the phone apps is the download feature that allows you to watch the videos offline. With yoga styles including Vinyasa, Hatha, Restorative, Prenatal, in addition to videos on mantra and meditationyou can try for 7-days free

NEW CLASS : Spice It Up 

In this short and spicy vinyasa yoga class you’ll get your heart pumping and blood flowing to build heat and burn off any excess energy and tension. Clara guides practitioners through total-body movement as you shake it out from head-to-toe with Alejandro. 

#PractiveWithClara Podcast 

Start a podcast or launch a video-series where you discuss a topic of interest that provides something of value for your community to engage with. You can listen to the #PracticeWithClara Podcast where we discuss yoga and related philosophy, unpack the business of yoga, answer questions, and lead experiential/guided meditations. Watch past discussions.   

 Facebook Group

Facebook Groups are a great way to amass community members and create an archive of content that can be shared and commented on. The #PracticeWithClara Facebook Group is where we share the latest videos, podcast sessions, blog posts, and other resources with our community members. We invite our community to post questions and feedback, and drop journaling prompts to be shared and discussed. Connect with us on Facebook to connect to like-minded peers across the globe. 

Instagram Live 

Instagram Live has quickly become one of the top spaces for individuals to create and share a variety of videos including topics in fitness, cooking ,and beauty. Clara and I host the #PractiveWithClara Podcast on IG Live to engage with listeners before turning it into a video series to share on YouTube and as a Podcast. We’ll be back on Instagram Live with the #PracticeWithClara Podcast on Monday, May 4th @11AM PST! 

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