Words by Nid Ra
Retreats have become overwhelmingly popular as a form of holiday. They can be a route to travel alone yet with like-minded people, so that a vacation is not lonely. With such variety how is it best to pick what retreat to join? We put together some tips to help you select the perfect break.
What kind of vacation do you want?
First, establish what kind of vacations you enjoy. Helpful questions include:
Location, location, location
Never been on a ‘retreat’ before? What intrigues you or puts you off a retreat?
Is the location important to you? Where are you willing to travel?
Is the venue important? Is the quality of bed sheets and air conditioning vital in humidity?
Do you want to be in nature or a city?
How much of a ‘package’ do you want to pay for? Some include accommodation, meals and transfers, others are essentially a class a day only.
Do you want to see local culture and community projects? Cultural excursions?
Is the food important? Are there dietary considerations?
Is travel a consideration? Length of flights and transfers for how many days you can take away.
Timetables and People
Do you like a theme? If yes, what kind of theme?
What if you have never done the activities on the holiday offered?
Do you want to have lots of choice or a simple timetable of not too much?
What kind of people go on this retreat - are they your kind of people?
What size of retreat - 5 or 30 people?
Some examples of styles of ‘retreats’ that I have worked on are:
When I taught at Talalla Wellness in Sri Lanka and Healthy Options in Greece, many clients had never tried a ‘retreat’ before. They just wanted a healthy holiday. There are mixed classes and activities for all to enjoy, which are all optional.
At Gracious Living Oasis in Nicaragua the clients attend because they knew and wanted a drastic change in their life. They needed a ‘reset’ and were eager to learn how to make dietary changes to heal themselves. Often the retreats have themes from the special guest leader of a week.
Omega Movement use different locations but all their retreats are designed to reflect that a vacation is to restore us back to ‘neutral’. The retreats are easy-going and fun to allow each person to receive what they need from the holiday.
I have seen that often what a client expects from their retreat is influenced by their ‘at home’ situation and stresses. Once clients settle into the retreat there is a shift in mood and what they ‘do’ on their vacation becomes another reality.
Follow your Teacher
A simple approach is to attend a retreat of a local teacher that leads classes. This can be yoga or Crossfit or any other activity you enjoy, provided that your teacher is offering a ‘holiday’ package then this is the simplest option.
You know that you like them.
You enjoy their teaching, so expectations from that perspective can be met.
Perhaps there are a couple of class attendees going away, so you already slightly know some of the group.
You can ask lots of questions about the retreat before you go.
How they behave in a vacation setting may not be the same as what you expect from drop-in classes back home.
The venue may not be what you expect from the studio that you attend.
The teacher may be wonderful as a class teacher but not an expert at holding space for a retreat.
Trial a Mini-Retreat
Weekend style retreats are a great way to sample a venue or teacher. Perhaps your local teacher is not running a retreat or you do not have a local teacher. Maybe you seek a new immersion into a practice and this is an introduction. These retreats do not have to be designed for locals, but often would expect more ‘local’ attendees to reduce travel.
Great way to sample a teacher and venue.
Potentially less travel to the venue.
More practical to fit into a busy schedule.
Get to know a local teacher that only offers long courses and retreats.
It’s just not enough time to get a deeper ‘reset’. You’ll want longer!
Being close to home can stop you from ‘switching off’.
Maybe you bump into someone local that you weren’t planning to.
In the world of easy online testimonials it should be easy to find a retreat with reviews. Booking platforms are abundant and newly released, plus endless websites that are paid by retreat companies for prime placement in their ‘independent reviews’ sections. Traditional word of mouth is always a great way to get a recommendation that is likely closer to your tastes.
With retreat venues that offering rolling holidays, approach testimonials more akin to a hotel or package holiday:
Read and watch testimonials on retreat websites. Get the vibe of the clients.
Consider the angle that someone’s review is commenting on.
Has the retreat leader or venue replied to the comments? If yes, what do you think of their response?
Find reviews in magazines and online blog sites about the venue.
Retreats sold by a teacher at a third party venue require more trust in the teacher as a person. The approach is about investigating the person and the venue. Use the venue tips above and then add on:
Does the retreat leader offer a call to connect with them? You can get your own idea of whether it will be a match for you when you speak to the retreat leader. This is an opportunity to ask questions that might not be in their marketing materials.
If you know a style of practice that you enjoy then this will help narrow the choice.
Google search the teacher and see what other information there is about them.
Style of training and teaching - is it suited to what you enjoy or are interested in learning?
What kind of person are they?
How might they lead the holiday and provide a safe space for you to deeply relax?
What other offers do they provides? Are they consistent in what they share?
Take a Plunge
Sometimes we can be too precious about an experience. It is a holiday. Some holidays are more fun than others. Yes, the people could be odd, you might hate the classes and the food could be a bit funky, but if you prepare for any foreign travel and sickness properly you will be fine. It is only a couple of days in your life if its not perfect. You might discover something new and wonderful about yourself.
A vacation alone will always have the worries of others judgments and if you will get on with anyone. If you go with a friend or partner, then try not to argue all of your holiday.
Open your mind and heart to this opportunity. Sometimes the best way is to set a date, a location and budget - then Google search and book it! I have met many who have done this and their present moment approach that followed their gut instinct has left them so open to receive a wonderful holiday.
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Nid loves all her incarnations as an energy healer and coach, massage therapist, teacher of mind-body movement through yoga and Pilates, and blog writer. She is a passionate messenger on how to find your truth and live in alignment with your soul. Her work attracts people going through major life changes, long-term pain or health issues to discover how to live life with joy in mind, body, and spirit. She can be found working on retreats and online worldwide at https://www.omegamovement.org/
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