Not long ago, a friend and fellow yoga teacher asked: “You’re always traveling to awesome yoga retreats, and workshops, and always seem to find really great courses and trainings. How do you do that?” I thought about that question. Nowadays, if you want to find something, you simply type your query into a search engine like Google and come away with thousands of hits (which can be extremely time consuming to weed through). The same is true in the ever-growing yoga arena. With so many retreats, courses, workshops, and trainings to choose from, how do you know which offer the value, knowledge, and quality that you want and deserve, and how do you know which teachers and groups will be a fit for you and your needs?
• Start with what (and who) you know. Look at schedules of those you’ve taken previous trainings with (and enjoyed). Although teachers do change their teaching and focus as they grow and evolve, if you’ve had a good experience with someone, chances are that you’ll enjoy training or learning from them again.
• Research your specific area of interest. There are many different types of yoga and many workshops or retreats will focus on one or more areas or activities. Get specific. For example, my last retreat offered a combination of yoga and surfing, but my next one is for yoga, diving, and island tours; activities changing with each retreat location. Note the names that come up frequently in your search. Listen for buzz teachers. Check the studios that host those teachers, even if you can’t make those dates. Usually, these are the studios that offer a variety of workshops with other similar teachers. A couple of my favourites: Altamonte Springs Yoga (in Altamonte Springs, FL), Gudang Gudang Yoga Studio (in Jakarta), Space & Light Yoga (in Singapore)
• Sign up for studio or teacher specific newsletters, or join social media groups to get announcements in a timely manner. There are invariably a lot of other people who are interested in the same trainings, workshops, or retreats as you are, so finding these like-minded people can assist you in your search. Teachers love to post about their offerings in their own newsletters or on social media (join FB groups, follow twitter, or instagram), so it’s easy to get into email overflow. Be sure to limit your sign ups to those you truly want to hear from.
• Search for a specific location. I often try to combine work, play, and travel whenever possible. Taking workshops or trainings in areas that I’m traveling in is always a fantastic way to make connections in those locations. If you have upcoming travel plans, reaching out to the local yoga studios or teachers in that area beforehand can also help with planning your other activities or finding a place to stay. Choosing a workshop or retreat in another destination is also a great excuse to explore a new location.
• Know what you want. Try to make your search as specific as possible by first identifying what it is you want to learn, activities you want to do, and/or the experience you want to have. Be specific about what you are looking for so that you can prioritize those opportunities that best fit your needs. Things to consider include:
o Who you know/group size – do you have friends or others that you know will be attending, or in the area? Are you looking to meet new people, or would you prefer a quiet retreat with a smaller group?
o Dates and length of workshop or retreat – does it work with your schedule?
o Location – do you want to practice in a warm, hot, or cooler climate, or are you interested in the cultural aspects of the area? Is it convenient for you to get to?
o Teacher, studio or company reputation – consider training and experience in your focus area as well as in leading groups and traveling
o Training topic – what specifically will you learn or do? Can it be tailored to individual needs?
o Level of training – is this workshop or retreat suitable for beginners, intermediate, or advanced students?
o Training format/program – how will the workshop or retreat be experienced? I.e. is it hands on, presentations, group work, homework assigned…? Will you have a lot of free time?
o Cost – consider the cost of the program (what is included?), meals, travel, accommodations, any required books or special requirements
• Ask those you trust.
o Just like my friend did, ask people you know who might have connections in the areas you are hoping to study, or who have had really great experiences.
o Read reviews (and write them to help others who might be looking for similar experiences).
• Take a chance on someone new. We all have to start somewhere. Benefits of going on a retreat with a newer, up and coming instructor include smaller groups, a greater focus on relationship building and one on one attention, greater flexibility (these instructors are often more accommodating to special circumstances or individual needs because they have a smaller group to deal with, and also have a higher need to attract more students/clients/customers), and personalised services.
Looking for something specific? Let me know if I can help!