You want to go to a retreat but you have no idea where to start looking?
There are so many retreats out there from yoga, sports, hiking to windsurfing and snorkeling. So ... where to even begin?
Here is a little list of things that I would take into consideration before deciding for a retreat:
Place and Time
What are your interests?
This sounds simple, and it is. It already takes out super many retreats that do not match what you are interested in. You like yoga, pilates and want to also go surfing? I am pretty sure there is something for you that matches with all those 3 criteria.
If it is a combination that is less popular you might need to compromise on one of the interesting areas BUT: there are also many many Facebook groups for retreats. What if you join one of those and ask if anyone is hosting this kind of retreat? The chance that someone is OR will upon your request is pretty high.
Where would you like to go and when?
You might already have an idea of staying in your home country or going abroad to another country for retreating. There are already plentiful retreats in several different countries all over the world. My heart suggestion is to combine. For one, you want to live in the most sustainable way right? But you also want to visit other countries? And that is fine, a lot of people do. I do too. So, instead of choosing a retreat just to be in another warmer country for example, why don't you combine the retreat with some country that is on your bucket list anyway? In German we have the saying "Zwei Fliegen mit einer Klappe" (two flies with one clap), meaning as much as carrying out two tasks at the same time. Or in this case: matching your interest for traveling with your interest to going on to a retreat.
And why don't you just add a few days, even a week on top of the retreat time, so that you can experience and dive deeper into the culture?
That is also what I have experienced and also want to inspire my retreatees to do. This years (2023) Midsummer Retreat in Finland, we had three people joining from Germany and all of them visited Helsinki for a fews days and one even travelled around with here tent in South Finland for 3 weeks before the retreat started.
Did you know in Finland we have the so-called everymen's right? It means you can place your tent every where you like to sleep and retreat (except on private property, but even there if it doesn't bother the land owner).
So joining a retreat in country that you would like to visit anyway at some point in your life is the best way to arrive there, become aware of your surroundings and then hopefully finding time and space to dive deeper into the culture.
Are you interested in Finland, its traditions and cultural activities? All my retreats that take place in Finland are diving into these traditions and you will not only deepen your yoga practice, find peace and relaxation through movement, meditation and breathwork, you will also learn and take with you tools, methods and ways of living that are rooted deeply in the Finnish culture, like sauna, ice bathing, foraging and so so so much more.
From the where to the when ... Of course most of us have a job and tight schedules. If you can choose when to take your break from every day life, perfect. But if you cannot? Well, there are sooo so many retreats out there, you can basically choose your timing. I recommend to not nail down one specific vacation period. Be open. Sometimes the best comes out of being a little bit spontaneous but also by listening to your gut feeling. Which brings me to my next point ...
... Space Holder
Is it your first ever retreat? It's scary to find something that really truly matches what you are looking for and when you find it, how can you make sure that it is the right one for you? You cannot. But I recommend to always listen to your gut and do what you can to find out about your space holders. You might not have a specific yoga teacher that you regularly practice with, you might not have a group of people going hiking in a club, you might not know anyone hosting a retreat. And yes, that can be frightening to trust someone you don't know.
Because how could you? You have never seen this person or these people before in your life. You don't know their personalities, you don't know their style of yoga, you don't know anything about them.
So, first step: find out all the information that there is. Visit classes, read blogs, watch their instagram (don't choose someone because of how many followers they have, choose someone because you feel they are authentic and connect to them on a certain level). If you can write them or schedule a call. Talking to someone in person can already release so many doubts and also answer many questions that you might have had beforehand.
Secondly: 1 person is great 2 people are greater. If this is your first retreat you are going to and its only one person hosting and teaching and giving workshops, chances are high that her or his way of teaching, hosting and just being isn't your type. So, if you don't know the hosts, try to find a retreat where you can actually have at least two different options, so you are not stuck with only one person doing everything. Because, it can be the little things: the voice, the way of speaking, the aura, the humor. And being stuck with that one person for 3 full days or even a week, can mess with your experience.
Thirdly: Be open but trust your instincts. If something feels good for you, do it. But be open to whatever is to come. Don't narrow your vision for something you expect it to be. Or if you have been to retreats already, try not to compare. It is difficult, I know. We humans love to compare things to each other. But as I said, everyone is different and every retreat will be different.
As every person is different interests in schedule and free time are different too
Most hosts will provide at least an example schedule to show you how a day can look like. If there is an example schedule study it and see if it fits your needs. You want more free-time? Maybe choose a retreat with some afternoon leisure. You want to learn and grow through several activities throughout the day? Choose a retreat that already has many scheduled items on the menu.
And if you are not sure, or they don't have any information on their website, then maybe have a call or write to them as this is what you pay for right?
What is your budget and how to decide if it might be too expensive?
How much you can spend on your experience is always based on two things:
what you have (talking about income)
what you actually want to spend (how much is it worth for you)
So some retreats just don't make sense because you simply do not have the money to spend. But remember this: a retreat is an experience that shouldn't even be put into numbers. You will remember it for a lifetime, you will grow from it, you will meet so many likeminded people, you will enjoy your time, you will relax, you will unwind, you will connect to yourself and others, you will expand your knowledge, you will take time for yourself and yes you will retreat!
If you chose your retreat and the number is just too high, there is always the option to ask for some support. Either in form of installments or maybe even discounts. But remember (I can only talk from my own experience here), hosting a retreat is not something one pays from their savings. For a lot of people it's still their income and they need to and should be payed for their work. And it is not only the time during the retreat, it is also the time before, organizing and preparing to make the experience whole for you, and it is the time thereafter like helping you to integrate and so on.
So the costs of the retreat do not and should not equal the price of the retreat.
And again, look at the country you are going to. What are the average costs for accommodation and food? Your hosts won't be able to make it much cheaper than what the actual living costs are in that country. In addition to that you can look for:
1. What food do they serve? How often? Is it organic, two or three times a day?
2. What do they offer in terms of activities? Is it a full schedule or are you off on your own for most of the time?
3. Do they offer equipment or do you have to bring yours?
4. What about transportation? Is it included?
And to that, remember that there might be additional costs for flights, transfers, etc. So keep that in mind when choosing your retreat as well.
I think the most important consideration is the space holders. It can also be the most scary one. But if you have that settled, you will have a comfortable feeling choosing from their offers and you most likely will feel held and good about your experience if you can connect to the person guiding you.
Do you have something to add? Let me (or us) know in the comments.
And here you will find all my retreats for 2024: rikasyoga.com/events