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How to host the perfect Yoga Retreat

Rukgala Retreat, Sri Lanka’s top 7 tips on how to host a yoga retreat.

How to host the perfect Yoga Retreat

Our Top 7 tips


Confused about running a Yoga Retreat in a foreign country? Here are our tips for becoming an incredible host!

best food in sri lanka at yoga retreat easy hosting nature setting

 

  1. Create a theme

 

What’s your groove? Goat Yoga? Chakra balancing? Yoga & Ayurveda?

The best retreats take you on a journey from start to finish. We’ve had everything from transformational Women’s retreats to sound-healing journeys and plant-based cooking retreats. Having a theme encourages your retreat-goers to delve deeper on their yoga journey. Whatever it is you’d like to offer, go for it! With any luck, there’s a group of yogis out there with similar interests.

We love mixing it up and combining different activities with yoga - hiking, running, wild swimming and dancing!

Create a goody bag that reflects this theme so that guests have something beautiful to open when they arrive. Why not make or buy your guests some Mala beads for meditation, give them a treat from your favourite skincare brand or a reusable water bottle for hiking with?


A snap from Rukgala Retreat’s open weekend back in 2018 - a retreat for Yoga teachers around the Island.

A snap from Rukgala Retreat’s open weekend back in 2018 - a retreat for Yoga teachers around the Island.

 

2. The perfect venue

 

Ask as many questions as possible in the run up to the retreat, if you can’t physically visit it – ask the venue to take some videos so you can get a feel of the place. Remember, there are no silly questions, so if you’re unsure about anything just ask the venue.

Main points to consider

Location

Price

Size

Equipment

Climate 

Is there enough space for your group? Where is the retreat, what is it close to, how do you get there?

It can take a long time to find the perfect venue – take your time and make sure it’s right for you. There are more and more retreat specific venues opening, supporting the smooth running of your retreat.

Rukgala offers an off-the-beaten-track purpose built retreat centre (with plenty of character).

 

Remember to factor in plenty of lazy afternoons by the pool - it’s guaranteed sunshine (almost) all year round in Sri Lanka!

Remember to factor in plenty of lazy afternoons by the pool - it’s guaranteed sunshine (almost) all year round in Sri Lanka!

3. Planning

 

Transfers? Flights? Room Set-Ups? Schedule? Packing lists? Insurance? Payments?

We know there’s a whole heap of planning that goes into organising retreats. Our advice is, be organised from day one. Spreadsheets are your new best friend – I promise! Most venues have public liability insurance and can help with transfers. There are plenty of sites that help with collecting payments such as We Travel and Book Yoga Retreats. Try to find out as much information from your guests as early as possible!

This is some important information to collect from your students:

Contact details

Arrival information (train/plane/bus time)

Transfer information / do they need transfers arranged

Dietary requirements

Injuries / health conditions

What kind of room they would prefer (sharing / private)?

We recommend putting together a schedule for your retreat and sending this to your venue as soon as possible – that way there will be no surprises when you arrive. Even better if you can send this to guests in advance so they know what to expect and you can answer any questions beforehand.

 

A schedule that has worked well in the past:

7:30am – Yoga

9:30am – Breakfast

*Free time

1pm – Lunch

*Free time

4:30pm – Workshops / meditation / restorative

7pm – Dinner

*Chants around the fire-pit after dinner

A snap from Luuna Collective women’s retreat, a cacao ceremony led by Herbiraw. Photo by Luka Alagiyawanna.

A snap from Luuna Collective women’s retreat, a cacao ceremony led by Herbiraw. Photo by Luka Alagiyawanna.

  

4. Food

 

Often this is all arranged by the venue. At Rukgala we have a vegetarian and a flexitarian menu which can be altered depending on what needs your group has.

At Rukgala Retreat, we work with veg-focused and seasonal menus.

 Sometimes retreat venues require you to bring your own chef, we recently had Luuna Collective host a women’s retreat who partnered with Herbiraw, serving up plant-based deliciousness daily.

Remember to ask the venue so you can plan accordingly! 🌿

Green Goddess salad by Tanita Boswell at Herbiraw

Green Goddess salad by Tanita Boswell at Herbiraw

5.   Activities & excursions

 

Hiking? Stand-Up Paddle boarding? Holistic health? Culture? Tea Estates? Mountain trips? 

Sri Lanka has so much to offer that it can be overwhelming deciding what to do. As a general rule of thumb, we recommend one day trip and maybe a half-day activity for week long retreat. Less is more! You can always factor in free-time for the more active guests to arrange their own activities.

 

Our favourite activities close to Rukgala include:

A day trip to Ashburnham Tea Estate

A Half-day hike to Bambaragala Cave Temples

A full-day hike in the Knuckles mountains

Stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking in the lake (season dependent)

A Half-day trip to the Kandy botanic gardens

 

Remember to ask your venue for their recommendations for activities, they will know what is achievable and can support you with the logistics! If there’s something you’d like to do but the venue hasn’t suggested it - it doesn’t mean it’s impossible, just ask and there may be an easy way to make it happen 🌸

sunset knuckles mountain trekking yoga hiking fun explore sri lanka things to do

  

6. Your squad

 

Don’t be a one-man show! You’re more likely to burn out if you try and do everything alone. The most successful retreats we’ve seen at Rukgala usually have at least two, sometimes three people to help with smooth running.

We would recommend a team that looks a little like this: 

One or two yoga teachers
It’s always a nice idea to bring in a second yoga teacher, many new or younger teachers are looking to volunteer and gain experience in retreat leading.
Why not take someone with you to assist and or teach a few of the classes.

An ‘organiser’
Someone who can deal with logistics, money, transfers, and any other unexpected hiccups along the way. This might be your partner or bestie!

Masseuse or other specialist
This is totally optional but can be a nice touch. We’ve seen everything from Ayurvedic consultation specialists to sports massage therapists.
Anything extra you can offer your guests is always a nice touch.
 

Make sure to bring people you enjoy working with and can have fun with. Running a retreat doesn’t have to feel like work J

Luuna Collective hosts - Jas & Ems

Luuna Collective hosts - Jas & Ems

 7.   RELAX & enjoy

 

The best advice we can give you is to relax and trust. Expect the unexpected – things do not always go to plan, in fact things rarely go to plan. Be open to change and trust that your students will have an incredible time regardless. Focus on running good quality yoga sessions and holding a safe space for everyone attending.

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We’ve created a retreat hosting FAQ / info doc for rukgala

- read it here