Discovering Ibiza and my first retreat experience:
As I sit on this Ryanair flight back from our yoga & surf retreat in Tagazhout (Morrocco) to my home Ibiza I feel inspired to share some of my thoughts and feelings about retreats both as a teacher and a retreater (my name for peeps on retreats)
My retreat virginity was taken 13 years ago..... I was newly single and left with two options, another drunken girls holiday which i was really not feeling or some ME time doing what I loved yogering! I chose the latter...my first experience of Ibiza and indeed the world of retreats was Ibiza yoga a chilled out hippy boho, slightly shabby retreat centre in Benirras, located in the north of Ibiza. I chose it as it was
a) very affordable
b) away from clubs & temptation at the time I loved a party
c) not too regimented (I was not looking for a daily schedule...
I just wanted to deepen my practise & chill a bit and escape from my hectic advertising life.
It was everything I wanted 2-3 hours of am yoga followed by a simple rustic brunch then beach o clock.
I would mingle with the other students then escape for some me time. It was free and easy and bit crazy and wild and I got to meet lots of Ibiza characters who I loved. We were left to your own devices a lot but I kind of liked that.
I went back for three years running, although I must confess the second time it was hijacked by naughty mate and by day three her post yoga aches & moans drove me down... and off to Pacha we went! We were the bad yogis dipping back to the villa only to change our clothes and head into the night again.
For me the freedom of coming and going when I wanted and focusing on the physical asana practise worked for me at that time....there was little focus on the spiritual practises of yoga.
What do retreats give me as a teacher,
So fast forward 10 years I'm now a teacher on retreats so wanted to share my experience from the other side. Teaching on retreats is a big responsibility and is bloody scary when you start! Whether you are a winger (don't plan classes) or a planner (I'm the latter) holding space daily for 2-3 hours plus is a little daunting. People were spending a lot of money for my pearls of yogi wisdom so I had to rock it out.
For a teacher retreats are the ultimate we can indulge ourselves and go deeper taking students further physically and spiritually. For me to convey some of the yoga philosophy and beautiful yoga stories and allow my students to connect to mantra is a rare treat that sadly we are rarely afforded in the modern yoga class. The opportunity to bond and connect with your students and share is so beautiful and most of my retreatees I now consider good friends. My retreats are a far cry from my early experiences and Ive yet to lose students to partying at Pacha, although I do try to ensure there is a balance of yoga workshops and ME time as I do think this is key.
My top 10 tips to picking the perfect retreat:
1) The teacher /teachers - I like collaborating not only is this great for me creatively I feel it gives our retreaters more options and learnings. Ideally you will know the teacher or get recommended from someone. It's important that you connect...you might follow her on Instagram and check out reviews if you haven't been taught by her/him. Feel into him or her take a little time don't just look at her pics read what she says too.
2) Recommendation is king (toughie for first time teachers!) but if someone recommends and has experience of that teacher and her yoga vibes then listen. Does the teacher have a community you can connect with maybe videos available?
3) Do you get an automated response, does the response you get feel warm, can you chat to the teacher. Do they respond to questions you have...are you feeling the personal touch? In my opinion this is important you want to feel special because you are!!!!
4) Can you chat to the teacher or even better Skype them and ask about their style? In our modern age sometimes a good old chat is key to seeing if you have a rapport (your committing a lot of money don't be afraid to ask)
5) The style of yoga - don't be scared to ask what style of yoga the retreat is, most of us teachers are used to talking about our trainings ..so ask away. Nothing worse than expecting a daily power vinyasa and arriving to a slow Hatha retreat.
6) Location...what do you want? If you want to be walking distance from the sea ask for a pin drop of the villa and check. Many retreats in Ibiza are not waking distance from the beach, however they may be out of this world? have a stunning infinity pool in the most tranquil setting...but accept you may have to get cabs to the beach or car share?
7) Check approximate time spent yogering and in workshops, retreats differ and when you factor in eating and pampering time will this leave you adequate sun bathing & exploring time. Do you want morning and evening yoga and workshops or is just a morning session enough for you.
8) The food - As a self proclaimed food lover for me this is sooooo important and a huge part of the retreat experience. The food should be inspirational and full of colour tasty, filling and bloody beautiful! In my opinion be a talking point. I love to see our retreaters eyes widen after yoga and listen attentively as the chef explains the lovingly tendered dish and what it contains. Im lucky two of my besties are magicians in the kitchen which shines through in the treats they create.
9) Pampering - treatments on offer and prices - These are rarely included on retreats and can vary massively in price so make sure you check this and have money as these are often booked in advance (we are sending ours out shortly) if not they are often announced on the first day. It's worth finding out what is available and prices often if you want a bespoke treatment we can arrange it but in season therapists are busy so I recommend booking in advance (day 3 is normally an achey one on retreats where hamstrings & shoulders need love)
10) Get a gauge of numbers do they limit numbers or could your group be really small - some people would hate a big group others love it and for some people an intimate group of 4-5 is perfect - don't be afraid to ask about previous retreats and how many guests are booked how many they expect minimum & maximum... This is a tricky one as many people book late but we can usually guesstimate?
To add to this check rooms and if shared and make sure you see photos, also check if can request a room or if allocated on arrival and ensure if your travelling alone you ask about single supplements (these generally apply)
My final tip is trust your gut not your wallet - if you find a retreat and teacher who you think you connect with follow your instincts - there is a perfect retreat for everyone so do your research take a moment and breathe and embark on one of the best adventures of you life
If you would like to come on my retreats or ask me any of the above questions
Pop me email either via this site or firstname.lastname@example.org
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