Planning a Yoga Retreat in the Caribbean

I wanted to put together a post that I could share with people planning their first yoga retreat. I have planned or been part of a team that planned 3 Bikram Yoga Retreats with Siri Om, 1 Yoga and Chanting with Siri Om & Mirabai Ceiba, 3 US Sat Nam Fests, 1 Sat Nam Fest Mexico, the  11.11.11 Kundalini Yoga Festival in Rishikesh, India, and Snatam Kaur retreats in Mexico and Costa Rica.

In my events, the group sizes have varied from 6 to 600. Regardless of the size or the location, I have followed this similar process. The only way I have found to enjoy these events has been to have excellent organization. The more you can prepare in advance, the better the experience will be for everyone. If you can sell your event, the chances are, you are a great yoga teacher. That’s the hard part but the following items have to be done correctly to make for a truly enjoyable experience.

 

1) Schedule

This can vary based on your style but I encourage youto post your schedule in advance for your attendees and note that it is subject to change. Do your best to stick to the schedule as your participants will appreciate you delivering on what you promise.

Here is a general schedule that we used for a recent Bikram Yoga Retreat.

Sunday

4: 30 PM Arrival

5:30 PM Yoga

7:30 PM Dinner

Monday

7:30 AM Yoga

9:15 AM Breakfast

10 AM

beach time, massage, snorkeling, shop in town

4 PM Yoga

6 PM Dinner

Tuesday

7:30 AM – Yoga on the pier overlooking the Ocean

9:15 AM – Breakfast

4 PM – Yoga

6 Pm Walk to dinner in town

Wednesday

7:30 AM Yoga

9:15 AM Breakfast

Trip to Cenotes, under water caves

4 PM Posture clinics and special yoga workshop

6 PM Dinner

Thursday

7:30 AM Yoga on the pier overlooking the ocean

9:15 AM Breakfast

4 PM Yoga

6 PM Dinner

Friday

7 AM  Yoga

9:15 AM Breakfast

Visit to Mayan Ruins

Saturday

8 AM Yoga

10 AM Breakfast

11 AM Departure

 

2) Menu & Food

Regardless of where you are staying, you want to review the menu. As I work events, I am a perennial worrier. I am always asking what can go wrong. I have been generally lucky to work with fantastic presenters, so that leaves only food and lodging to ruin things.

Let’s talk food. If its a “yoga” place, they generally have experience in what your people will want. If it’s not, it becomes even more important if your group wants vegan, gluten free, and other healthy options. If you sense you are a working with a newbie, you want to be detail oriented down to the purchase order that the facility will place with their vendors for your food. In the first festival I did with 300 people, I contractually agreed on the menu with the facility. The facility owner, however, never reviewed the costs of the food until the day of the event. Seeing the cost of “healthy vegetarian food”, he threatened to turn back the food truck “and serve everyone macaroni and cheese” unless I paid him $3,000 more. Fearing the worst, we settled on far less. As I learned the hard way, the venue is your partner in your event, and choose your partners wisely.  Clarity in your menu can avoid most of your problems. In hindsight, I should have said to the owner in advance, “read my menu because its going to be expensive and you’re a macaroni and cheese kind of guy”.

3) Rooms

Now that you have your food and menu taken care of, take a written layout of your space and where everyone will sleep. I find most people assume they will be in a double room private bath. If that is not the case, be sure to explain it. I have found myself in uncomfortable situations for overselling a space. The rule I have come to live by is to be very upfront with what you have and people will be happy. In an event I did in India, I had many rooms in an ashram, that were well, a bunch of rooms in an Indian ashram. People weren’t properly briefed on what to expect but if they had been it would have been fine. Once they were settled, everything ran smoothly, but I wished I had been more clear from the get go. Don’t make that mistake.

4) Pick ups & Drop Offs at the airport

The final item of importance in your logistical planning is how your participants will get to your venue. It’s easy if you leave it to them. If you are dealing with a foreign country though, I would encourage you to handle the pick ups from the airport. I find it to be a nice touch to have someone waiting for the participants at the airport and to ensure that they arrive safe. The drop offs as well can be a nice way to say goodbye.

5) Email confirmation

As soon as your participants register its nice to send them a welcome note with a list of items to bring. If you want your particpants to do any homework, additional classes, or prepare in any way, when they register is the best time because you have their attention.

6) Liability

Finally, you want to cover yourself with some form of liability waiver. Get a lawyer to make a form for you because you never know what could happen.

 

 

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