Looking forward to a yoga retreat means something very different for organizers than it does to retreat guests. If you’re putting together a yoga and wellness retreat, your yogis’ expectations are at the front of your mind, and this journey has the potential to be more stressful than it is stress-relieving for you. Or not.

Where you decide to hold your retreat will underlie your guests’ every experience—and your own. Some venues will make your job harder, and some will make it easier. But so what if you’re stressed; it’s not about you, right? Of course, it’s about you! Your students will sense the tension in your voice, feel it as you give adjustments during classes, and absorb it as you spend days together immersed in what was meant to be an expansive, relaxing getaway.

How to Plan a California Yoga Retreat with the Venue on Your Side

Right out of the gate, the huge number of available yoga retreat centers and other venues throughout Northern California can be overwhelming. You’re looking at locations from urban hotel settings to coastal and mountaintop venues and everything in between. It’s a popular event destination, and the cultural and natural energies lend themselves well to our individual and collective dharma practices. So don’t neglect your own benefit from this supportive, heart-warming California vibe: choose a retreat location that will align with your intentions and your needs. Keep these four considerations in mind (and affirmations at heart) as you narrow down your venue possibilities.

  1. Find a Retreat Center That Is Genuinely Committed to Your Success

Every venue has its bottom line in mind, but some are more conscious than others of the fact that your happiness as a client is the most important factor for their bottom line. You want to go with a venue that has that level of awareness; even better, you want to go with a venue that is genuinely interested in adding to their clients’ happiness and passionate about creating one-of-a-kind, life-changing experiences. Again, think: a venue that is in line with your intentions.

You also need to be able to trust that they have things under control, that you’ll be able to lean on them during the planning and the retreat itself, especially if you’re leading this retreat on your own or if it will be a big group with a small leadership crew. You don’t want to be running around double-checking that everything is in order and working as you need it to be; you want to be free and present with your responsibilities to your yogis, who are coming because of what you have to offer. So, look for a venue with an on-site coordinator whose job it is to shoulder some of the planning, setup, and troubleshooting responsibilities. And then, as you start to dig a little deeper and reach out to places, look for situations where clear communication is likely and where you can trust in the staff’s authenticity and reliability.

Affirmation: All hands on deck are authentically aligned with this retreat’s highest purpose.

  1. Go for a Comfortable Venue Your Guests Can Really Sink Into

You might be thinking that it’d be really romantic to lead your yogis out into the wild for some down-to-earth camping, meditations on non-attachment, and asanas that invite oneness with the dirt. Northern California has a generous supply of inexpensive campsites in beautiful locations. But chances are good that the majority of your potential guests want to consider this retreat as a break and a vacation, as well as a chance to immerse and get deeper into their yoga practice. Plus, people may have been stressing out trying to get themselves to this retreat. If they’re taking time off of work, they may have been working extra hard over the last week or two to overcome the deficit. They may have been scrambling to make sure the kids or the pets would be well cared for without them. When they arrive at the retreat site, you want them to be transported away from those concerns.

Ideally, this is a safe space where people can be themselves and be vulnerable: from there they will tap into true experiences of awareness and transformation. Not only will people be distracted by their discomfort if they’re sleeping in sub-par accommodations, but they’ll also be distracted by other people and groups that are common for most campsites and even hotel settings. You can’t create a safe, comfortable space out of a retreat center that isn’t inherently safe and comfortable. Look for an exclusive location that can promise you private use of the venue during your entire stay. Look for a setting that will welcome heart-opening asanas and long meditations without distractions.

Affirmation: We are free to open our hearts and minds together.

  1. Hold Out for the Idyllic Natural Setting That Participants Will Definitely Remember

While a campsite may not be the best location for your yogis to unwind, don’t underestimate the value of a gorgeous environment rich in positive, life-giving energy. This type of setting really will do some of the work for you toward creating that peaceful space where your yogis feel safe and welcome to open up. In fact, it might even help you in planning and leading the retreat program.

Look for a retreat center that is off the beaten mat, so to speak. You want people to be able to sink even deeper into their familiar asana and meditation practices but also to expand beyond what is familiar, to tap into fresh perspective and insight. Holding your retreat in or around one of California’s trendy city studios puts your participants into a box of what is already expected there, however wonderful. Instead, holding your retreat among the trees and the open air, there is no limit to the growth and transformation potential. Plus, the distractions are at a minimum. Here, people are more likely to unplug from the digital attachments that serve to disconnect body from mind from heart.

Affirmation: We are connected to the earth’s natural peace and wisdom.

  1. Look for a Venue with Built-in Activities for Enrichment

Your retreat goers are going to want to do a lot of yoga, no doubt, but holistic growth calls for diverse adventures and ways of interacting with oneself and the sangha. If you choose a retreat center that already provides the spaces and ways for people to stretch their imaginations and their comfort zones, there is less you have to create. You might want to plan group activities into some of these features: There are Northern California venues that offer ropes courses for personal challenges and team-building exercises. If there are hiking trails nearby, you could guide a yoga and meditation hike with out-of-the-box asanas along the trail and opportunities to connect deeply with present, undistracted experiences.

Since your guests will need opportunities to decompress and recharge, you can invite them to explore any other amenities on the property during their free time as well. This is likely to inspire organic bonding and connections among the retreat participants in a way that you couldn’t plan.

Affirmation: Laughter and play are some of our best opportunities for self-love.

The Retreat Setting Is My Ally

You’re not on your own organizing this retreat if you and your venue are on the same page. Especially in Northern California, your options for a well-rounded yoga retreat center are generous, because the landscape itself is generous and the venues have learned from plenty of experience what makes the best event. With all of your potential stressors, don’t let the location be one of them. Follow your intuition and the affirmations that characterize this retreat as you narrow in on the perfect setting.

Kennolyn is committed to offering a supportive, comfortable, beautiful, engaging setting for personal and wellness retreats of all kinds. If you’re curious whether our Stone Creek Village might be the right place for your yoga retreat, get in touch and we can explore the creative possibilities together.

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