Tuesday, 5 October 2010

How to choose a yoga holiday.

A yoga holiday or retreat is a great opportunity to enhance your yoga practice or immerse yourself more fully in it for the first time. There are, though, some questions you need to ask yourself to make sure you end up in the right place, with the right teacher, at the right level of practice.

Holiday or retreat?

A yoga holiday is essentially an activity holiday with 2 – 4 hours yoga a day and plenty of free time as opposed to a more intensive yoga retreat where most of the day will be organised around yoga practices. It is wise to check what the typical daily schedule is and that it accords with how much yoga you want in relation to how much holiday.

Who to book with ?

Small specialist yoga centres generally understand yoga student’s requirements better than large holiday companies – you probably don’t want to end up staying next to a large outdoor nightclub. There are plenty of these smaller operations around the world and they ought to be happy to talk to you directly if their website doesn’t answer all your questions.

Accommodation and food

Standards of accommodation will be reflected in the price. Food is usually vegetarian. If you have specific accommodation or dietary requirements then check this thoroughly in advance.

Choosing a teacher

It is also important that you find out about the teacher leading the holiday as one or two weeks is a long time to be practicing something you don’t like or is at the wrong level for you.

If you are going with your regular teacher then you know what you will be getting. Otherwise a personal recommendation is always good when possible, though this can of course depend on how well you know the person doing the recommending. Alternatively you could start by checking teacher's websites and give them a ring with your questions, they should be happy to talk to you. If practical, take a class or workshop with them.

Style and level

If you are unfamiliar with the style of yoga on offer then it is wise to check that out and make sure that you understand what it involves. Some styles of yoga are very demanding while others are more accomodating of individual student needs.

It is also important to check that the teaching on the course is appropriate for your level of experience, you don’t want to feel either out of your depth, or under challenged. Again, teachers ought to be happy to talk to you on the phone about your interests and experience and what they teach.

Travel alone or with a friend/partner?

Many people come alone to yoga courses and of course you will automatically be introduced to a group of like-minded people. You would need to check the accomodation situation if you don't want to share a room. Coming with friends, family, partner or spouse generally works best if you are both interested in yoga or if the non-yoga-doers are happily self contained.

What to bring

Yoga mat, loose clothes/shorts as appropriate to the climate and an open mind!

Getting started with your research

There are a huge range of yoga holidays available these days often but not always tied in with seasonality.
I run three courses in on Dartmoor in Devon a year, and some years I have an option to travel abroad; see http://www.nevyogamassage.co.uk/yoga-holidays-retreats/