Yoga Retreats: 8 Things to Know as a Teacher or Student: by Soojin Kim

Posted in retreats |
Yoga Retreats: 8 Things to Know as a Teacher or Student: by Soojin Kim

Dreams do come true.

As far as I can remember, when I started teaching yoga, the desire to lead retreats was a deep intuitive whisper. My experience as a teacher has given me the pleasure of leading at least 10 different yoga retreats all over the world. I wanted to invite you into the portal of experience, known as retreats. And yes, I did use the world portal because they can be powerful, potent and transformative. I honored patience, resilience, and time to learn all the ways I could continually show up as a space holder.

It's an absolute honor and privilege to hold space as a teacher and facilitator. This honor expands exponentially on retreats.

I'm delighted to share some important things I've learned along the way as you may be contemplating leading a retreat or attending one.

As a Teacher

  1. What's your intention?

    Get clear on why you feel called to host a retreat. Yoga retreats create intentional pockets of space where you devote time and energy to connect to higher values with like-minded humans. My most recent retreat in Mexico weaved the continual thread of “Nourish Your Spirit,” the name and intention of the retreat. Another all-encompassing intention I hold with devotion is creating a safe space and a brave space for every retreat.

  2. To lead alone or co-facilitate?

    Leading a retreat solo is extremely powerful. You are space holding for the entire group and this is a very important responsibility that should not be taken lightly. From logistics, to admin, to teaching; every detail must be curated to the unexpected whoops of problem solving on the fly.

    Co-facilitating is a gift, as this is an intimate experience. Finding a complimentary teacher who is respectful and supportive is a special decision. Do your values and intentions align and complement each other? It's important to remember you'll be holding space for each other. Check in with communication styles, needs and ways to support each other while also communicating boundaries in a safe and healthy way.

  3. Create the Itinerary.

    Depending on the length of your retreat, you will want to balance morning and evening practices with enough space for retreaters to not feel so busy and full of doing. It's important to honor free space for rest, getting creative, exploration, and connect to the inner landscape. As far as class types, remembering the intention of the retreat, the level of the students attending and making the experiences as inclusive as possible for all levels and body types of those attending. It's also important to connect to the land, people and culture of the place you are visiting.

  4. How many Students?

    The size of the group creates the container and energy of the experience. If you're solo leading, it is helpful to host a more intimate group so you can hold space for each student while also holding the group. If you are co-facilitating, check in with the other teacher to discover how many students is appropriate to maintain integrity, presence and energy.

As a Student:

  1. What is my intention for going on a retreat?

    To understand your why will guide you to the most aligned retreat and teacher. Getting specific as to the inspired nudge from your spirit and intuition can really help clarify the best experience for your current season of your life. Are you seeking a more asana based retreat? Perhaps something more holistic, connecting you to the body, mind and spirit? Check in with your current season in life and what your intuitive spirit is needing and wanting to remember.

  2. To go solo or not?

    If your decision rests solely on having a friend join you, go for it anyways! Make the empowered decision to go alone. You would be amazed at how healing and transformative it is to travel solo and meet so many wonderful humans on your journey. You will find space to truly connect to yourself, your needs, values and dreams. So many insights come through when you step into discomfort and meet yourself on the other side. Learning to have tea with discomfort and fear is a catalyst for infinite possibilities.

  3. Which teacher?

    Connecting to the teacher or teachers is important. What draws you to the teacher leading? Is it their messaging? How they hold space? Their knowledge and experience? Do they inspire you and how? These are just a few key questions to reflect on when choosing a retreat leader. Send them a message on social media or email them to get a better feel for what they are offering. You could even set up a zoom chat or phone call to make it more personal.

  4. Make the commitment.

    We are creatures of habit and often operate from the unconscious mind. Retreats are like a breath of fresh air. They help to create new neural pathways to get out of our own way and inspire change. As Audre Lorde said, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” It's a beautiful gift to invest time and space to support your mental health, body, spirit and of course heart. That time, money and energy always come back in the most regenerative ways.

Learn more from Soojin, follow her here.

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