You’ve made the amazing step to give yourself some real me-time and you’ve booked a yoga retreat.
Whether you are embarking on your first YTT course or are heading to a regenerating retreat, we have put together our pro tips and tricks for yoga gear that give you the best start to make the most of your yoga adventures.
Although we practice yoga by just being present, having a few essentials in yoga equipment and clothing can make the world of difference.
Yoga retreats essentials: yoga mats and towels
The advantage of booking a retreat is that you don’t need to think about anything but your practice. Just turn up at your chosen paradise and start. Most retreats supply you with a mat, props, and the yoga blocks you need during your practice. So a yoga mat might not be something that you need to consider packing. Nevertheless, many of us just love to practice with our own mat.
For this reason, it’s recommended to travel with a lightweight mat, giving you the flexibility to practice outside the retreat Shala. The best yoga mats for traveling are Manduka PRO Travel or our eKO Superlite mats - both are lightweight, foldable and easily packed. Our eKo Superlite is made from sustainable tree rubber perfect for your temperate travels.
Be careful: we don’t advise you to travel with the natural rubber mat if you’re heading to the tropics. The intense heat and the natural materials (rubber) don’t mix well and can all get a little sticky and decay faster than you want.
One of the great parts of embarking on a retreat is that you get to travel, explore and practice in places that you only ever dreamt about. Make these adventures as easy as possible by taking a yoga mat carrier, something that keeps your mat away from the dust and dirt, with enough room for daily essentials. The Manduka Go Light Yoga Mat Carrier is perfect with an adjustable shoulder strap and carrying handle, you’ll be as comfortable with your mat hanging off the back of a chicken bus as when you are walking through idyllic gardens in paradise to your next practice.
Yoga mats can be slippery! As you often book retreats around a location trying to escape the cold winter and feel more that tropical sun on our skin, it means that your practice is usually warmer than you’re used to and we find ourselves sweating more than at home. Mats get wet, and your hands and feet begin to slip.
Avoid this by packing a hand yoga towel and a yoga mat towel. Manduka’s Yogitoes Mat Towel and eQua Hand Towel are the perfect travel companions absorbing any moisture, as they stop your mat getting a slippery mess mid-practice, and keep you grounded and focused. Yoga mat towels are perfect to lie out on at the beach watching the waves roll in and the sun goes down.
Small additions that make a big difference: accessories
The smallest things can make the biggest difference to our practice. For those of you who cant live without your yoga props we recommend packing our new mini yoga blocks that take up just a small about of space in your luggage. Add to that a yoga strap and you are good to go.
After a sweaty mid-morning flow, you’re going to want to clean your mat, regardless if it’s your own or one from the retreat. Water sprays are usually supplied but these won’t be enough to clean your mat properly to be ready for the evening session. Make sure you have a Mat Wash & Refresh Travel Spray to clean away sweat and bacteria.
You’ll find yourself drinking a lot more than you would at home in these warmer climates, so try to limit your plastic footprint by not buying 5 plastic bottles each day. Instead, pack your reusable water bottle and fill this up from your retreat water fountain. Always check with the staff if the water is safe for drinking.
These trips are for your physical, mental and spiritual education. Capturing these moments is key. It’s easy to think at the time “yeah, I’ll remember that”, but once you get home life can be a little less straightforward and far more full than it was back in paradise. Keeping a notepad and pen close-by is a gift that never stops giving.
An A5 pad is perfect as it fits into most bags. Convenient to carry on your travels and, best of all, it’s easy to leave in your bag when you’re home. Jotting down a couple of thoughts whilst up in the lush green jungle takes just a moment, yet rereading those thoughts back at home on your way to work can transform your whole week!
What to wear on and off the mat: outfits
Some of us travel with a catwalk show worth of outfits stuffed into our bag. We have found over the years that simplicity gives us the most freedom. Making sure you have the right pieces is the key.
Bringing two outfits to your yoga retreat is usually perfect. For the ladies, one ultra soft Essence Legging + comfy Essence Bra for calm, restorative practice or meditation and one active Evolve Legging + matching bra for energizing flows. Drop a couple of loose easy to move yoga tops in your bag for easy cover up when necessary. It’s great to have an outfit that doesn’t have a tight elastic below the bust. Loose flowing garments will make your Pranayama sessions a breeze.
Our travels often take us to different cultures where we need to show a level of cultural appropriation and therefore we recommend that everyone travels with a lightweight shawl. They're easy to throw over your head and shoulders or wrap around your waist whenever the situation requires it. Plus, it’s always great to have your comfort blanket wrapped around you during your meditation or waiting in the airport lounge for a connecting flight.
Remember not all of these adventures are easy on the feet! Whilst your flip flops are the go-to for in and out of the Shala, a pair of comfortable lightweight trainers will be your best friend when hiking the mountain for a sunrise meditation.
Moving between locations is often quick and busy. It’s easy to leave the small things behind, make sure you bring an easy medium to large tote bag quick to grab everything and throw it all inside.
The final thing to remember is that this a journey and hopefully a beginning to a new stage and life adventure. Be open to what you encounter, absorb what is useful, leave behind what is useless and add what is uniquely yours.