As a yoga teacher and lover of travel the idea of traveling and getting paid to teach yoga seemed like a no-brainer. I am writing this blog to speak out to my fellow teachers and to offer my experience leading yoga retreats: the good, the bad and the enlightening.
Here are my top 3 lessons.
1. Be ready to be on 24 hours a day
First, I have to start by saying that leading a yoga retreat can be a truly transformative experience for everyone involved, the chef, the students and yes the teachers. We all know that each time you teach yoga there is an energy exchange that occurs. What I did not anticipate when leading my first week long yoga retreat was that on a retreat, the energy exchange is 24 hours a day 7 days a week. You remain the teacher even when not in a class and everyone wants your attention. Students are often having breakthroughs and processing life’s big questions while on retreat and you as the teacher happen to be the conduit of this transformation. Realization number one leads me to lesson number two . . .
2. Bring your support network
As the teacher it is incredibly important that you have a support network while on retreat so that you can keep going and do not get completely drained while lifting everyone else up. As the coordinator you will be leading the yoga classes and essentially running all of the daily operations associated with the retreat. You are the common thread that everyone shares, which means you will often feel pulled in a million directions while still trying to be a grounded and insightful yogi. On my week long retreat I had my best friend come along as my assistant and a wonderful chef that is a friend whom I had worked with in the past. I honestly do not know what I would have done without these two. By the end of our week I was so drained that I felt as though I had nothing left to give. My last piece of advice to fellow teachers contemplating and preparing for a retreat is this . . .
3. There will always be last minute costs
Despite how thorough your preparations, there will always be last minute costs and changes that arise. That is the nature of planning a huge event with a number of participants. I am always very price conscious when planning retreats because I want to make sure that my students feel as though they are getting a good value and I also want to properly compensate anyone that I hire to be part of the retreat. That being said, each retreat I lead I make sure to increase my “buffer” money because it always seems like costs come up last minute.
Leading a yoga retreat you will work extremely hard if you are focused on taking care of most of the details yourself, and if you are the only yoga teacher and facilitator. You will also be able to experience an amazing depth of practice with your students that cannot be achieved in the studio. Each time I lead a retreat I learn new lessons and get better at managing the “event”. And yes, you make some money, but that truly depends on your set up, the accommodations, number of students etc. For most yoga teachers they merely break even or make the same wage that they would if they were at home teaching yoga for a week.
I have led a handful of retreats both short and long and will definitely lead retreats again in the future. I hope that my experiences may offer some insight for those of you considering taking the leap and asking yourselves to retreat or not to retreat.
Allie Purdy has been sharing her passion of yoga with thousands of students for over 15 years. She combines her knowledge of yoga therapy with her passion for dance and rhythm in dynamic flows designed to open the body. In addition to teaching group classes, Allie is a yoga therapist and mind body medicine practitioner. She holds MS in Health Studies and has focused her research on the healing affects of yoga therapy on individuals living with paralysis. She also works as a Health Instructor at Portland Community College.