Sri lanka yoga retreat side stretch

11 Ways to Make the Most of Your Yoga Retreat Experience

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Yoga class on the beach in Sri Lanka with text overlay Yoga class on the beach in Sri Lanka with text overlay

Yoga retreats and wellness getaways are becoming increasingly popular for not just regular yoga practitioners, but also people who are looking to unwind from the stresses of everyday life, those who want a way to stay active while on vacation and people who want to learn more about yoga and deepen their practice. Earlier this year, I hosted a wonderful group in southern Sri Lanka for a 4-day yoga retreat (click here for 7 reasons why you should attend a yoga retreat in Sri Lanka!) and was blown away by their open-mindedness, dedication and warmth.

Rukgala Retreat near Kandy Sri Lanka yoga retreat

In addition to meeting new people, traveling and taking part in a yoga retreat is a wonderful way to fill your cup and enhance wellness, explore new parts of the world, be a part of the international yoga community and most importantly: immerse yourself in Yoga.

Whether you are a regular yoga practitioner, have never stepped foot in a yoga studio before, have attended a dozen yoga retreats or are considering attending your very first one, I have teamed up with a few amazing travel bloggers who have participated in a yoga retreat to put together this list of 11 tips to help you get the most out of your yoga retreat experience!

1. Give it a go!

I recently participated in my first ever yoga retreat and my biggest piece of advice for making the most of your time, especially if you are new to yoga but want to give it a go, is to put your reservations and/or embarrassment to the side and just focus on what the instructor is guiding you to do. I didn’t have much yoga experience at all when I went to the retreat and during the first couple of classes I felt that I was focusing more on being embarrassed by what I couldn’t do than being in the moment with what I was doing.

Contributed by Katie of The Katie Show Blog

2. And…focus on yourself during class, not anybody else

People on Yoga retreat

I also focused on how everyone else in the class was so much more advanced and all of this held me back from being able to get the most out of the lessons. Once I put that to the side, I was really able to focus on what my body was doing and listen to what the instructor was teaching me and not only did my yoga improve, but I also enjoyed the process a lot more. Don’t make my mistakes and waste those first couple of lessons. Instead, go into the retreat with a focus on your own practice and you will have a lot to gain from your time there.

Read more on Katie’s experience from our Yoga retreat in Sri Lanka here!

Contributed by Katie of the Katie Show Blog

3. But don’t let that hold you back from getting to know your fellow retreat participants!

Drink toasting
Photo credit: Katie M / TheKatieShowBlog.com

Like I said before, being a part of a yoga retreat is a great opportunity to meet like-minded people and be a part of the community. Everyone’s practice looks and feels different so don’t let comparison get in the way of reaching out and connecting with others! Many yoga retreat participants tend to be solo travelers, so it’s a great time to learn about each other’s passions, hobbies, family, pets, beliefs and thoughts – the sky’s the limit!

On the other hand, know that there is still plenty of time and opportunity to indulge in a little alone time, without having anyone judge you for it. Which takes me to my next yoga retreat tip…

4. Get lots of sleep and look after yourself

Partner Yoga pose in Sri Lanka
Photo credit: Katie M / TheKatieShowBlog.com

Is it your first yoga retreat experience? Here’s what you should know: yoga retreats can be intense and often involve multiple asana (poses), breathing, meditation and philosophy classes each day. Now is not the time to push your body (and mind) beyond its limits; instead, aim to play the edge and practice self care by getting plenty of rest, eating well, drinking lots of fluids and taking time to fill your cup.

5. Book some one-on-one time with an instructor

It is amazing what a difference the smallest changes can make to your poses – and your enjoyment of yoga. Most instructors will be happy to spend some time with you – either a quick session before or after a class or a more formal paid session. One-on-one instruction has shown me things like the importance of spreading your fingers wide, how to use your toes in poses and placing your weight under the index finger portion of our hand vs the whole hand. Another key benefit is having the instructor adjust your poses whilst you are in them. This helps your body develop an instinctive sense of how to adjust itself no matter what the pose.

Contributed by Amanda of The Boutique Adventurer

6. Ask lots of questions

A yoga retreat can become an immersive experience if you allow it to be. More often than not, our practice at home is limited to 1) self practice or 2) a group class at a studio and in both instances, you don’t always have the time or opportunity to ask your yoga teacher any burning questions. First time on a yoga retreat? Take advantage of the opportunity to ask the teacher questions you may have on your mind: they can be as simple as “what yoga mat do you recommend?” and “what books on yoga philosophy should I read?”, to “what props should I use if my hamstrings are really tight?” and “how can I better understand the 8 limbs of yoga?”

7. Keep an open mind and just listen

Beach Yoga shala in Sri Lanka

The mister and I just came back from a mini yoga retreat this past weekend. We had no idea what to expect before going- he doesn’t even practice yoga on a daily basis (or at all, for that matter!). It turned out to be an amazing experience and we can’t wait to go on another. I think the most important thing is to keep an open mind and just listen. Listen to your instructor, listen to your surroundings, and listen to your body. Breathe, and let go. We left feeling extremely rejuvenated and inspired!

Contributed by Ivy of Kollecting Koordinates

8. Explore your surroundings

Regardless of whether you are traveling to the yoga retreat destination by plane, train, car or even foot, during your downtime, make the most of your experience by getting out and exploring what the area has to offer. Be it temples in Thailand, rice paddies in Bali, the beach in Mexico, nature trails in Canada or a safari in Sri Lanka, discover the local sights!

9. Be patient

It’s common to have high expectations before & during your yoga retreat. After all, you’re paying a lot of money to go on your holiday! When things don’t go quite as expected, this is the perfect opportunity to practice patience, contentment and letting go. If the schedule isn’t exactly as planned or your food is taking awhile, remember to come back to your breath. When you’re consciously breathing, it’s easier to focus on what you can control. If pesky insects decide to join your savasana, guess what? It’s the perfect opportunity to pause and seek gratitude for your yoga retreat.

Contributed by Jenna of The Exploring Yogini

10. Remember why you’re there

Yoga class in Sri Lanka

Everyone has a different reason for participating in a yoga retreat. Maybe you want to deepen your practice, get in touch with nature, see a new part of the world, remove yourself from daily habits and patterns, relax and de-stress or maybe it’s a combination of all of these reasons. Before the retreat, take some time to think about what you want from the experience; after the retreat, set some time aside to reflect on your retreat experience and contemplate what you learned (or didn’t learn but wish you did!).

11. Last but not least, take some of what you’ve learned and incorporate it back home

Yoga shala in south Sri Lanka

The yoga retreat experience does not have to be detached from your everyday life at home. Everyone takes away something different from a yoga retreat: from how to modify a pose or a new breathing or meditation technique, or perhaps it goes a bit deeper and you discover more about yourself, your practice and your priorities. Find ways to integrate your new skills, knowledge and realizations into your life.

You might also enjoy these yoga-related reads:

Have you ever been on a yoga retreat before? Do you have any other yoga retreat tips for how to get the most out of the experience? Share it with me in the comments section below!

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39 Comments

  1. Your health is really what’s being worked on when you go on one of these retreats. It’s not just a physical health, but a mental one too! Being in balance with your health and taking care of yourself, like you said, is so important to enjoying your experience.

  2. Thank you for sharing great information. it’s really very helpful for all people. Retreat is the best way to fit our health. i would like to join a yoga retreat.

  3. Yoga Wine Travel? Sounds like we’ll be friends. I’ve always wanted to do a yoga retreat but I never really looked into it. Now I think I’ll have to! Great guide. This is super helpful 😀

    1. Thanks for checking this out, Richelle! Let me know when you make it on a yoga retreat, I’d love to hear all about it!

  4. I really enjoyed this post! I’ve been seeing more and more about yoga retreats lately, but I’ve yet to go on one. With these tips (especially #5,8) I know it’ll be an awesome experience

  5. I’ve been seeing yoga retreats pop up more and more! I’m glad this post touches on not being afraid if you’re a beginner. I’m definitely a beginner and I would be so self conscious! Will definitely look into your upcoming retreats!

    1. It’s totally understandable for people to be intimidated but I promise that Yoga is not just about being able to touch your toes and bending like a pretzel! If you’re unsure you can always speak to the teacher ahead of time to see if they are able to provide props and guidance re: modifications.

  6. I would love to join a yoga retreat. It sounds exciting and a lot of fun. I like that the bloggers mentioned about being patient. I struggle to do yoga poses because my lower back is not that flexible yet. I feel intimidated when I see women who are able to do all those yoga poses that I want to do. However, it is important to just pay attention to yourself and not compare. After all, a yoga retreat is all about learning.

    1. I couldn’t have said it better! It’s all about learning and non-comparison. It’s also important not to compare with what your body felt like yesterday, the day before, or a month ago. Our bodies change on a day-to-day basis so it’s important to focus less on how “far” you can go in a pose!

    1. Some hotels will have nannying services, or even better – find a retreat that’s designed for families with teachers who are qualified to teach kids yoga!

  7. Really good tips! I’m going to be teaching dance and cooking for a yoga wellness retreat soon and these are really good tips to keep in mind! (Pinned)

  8. Thanks for sharing this. I’ve been thinking about moving beyond the basic yoga classes at the YMCA. This is something I’m certainly interested in getting into.

    1. It’s a great way to spend your vacation, Kellyn! Many retreats have relatively flexible schedules so that you can go sightseeing and relax as well.

  9. Yes, yoga retreats are becoming very common now. I have not gone to a retreat before, but I’m sure the travel, exercise and community make it a wonderful experience. I’m sure I will try one at some point.

  10. Yoga retreats are surely one the best getaways for the mind and body. You have listed all the aspects so well. And if it’s a place like Sri Lanka it becomes all the more inviting! 🙂 haven’t been to a retreat but I have been practising yoga and know how beneficial it is:)

    1. You will be amazed how much you can deepen your practice in a retreat setting – I hope you get to participate in one soon!

  11. Awesome post. Appreciate the loads of information provided, as well as the great pictures! Thanks for sharing!

    ~Jo Jo

  12. So I’ve always wanted to try yoga, but have just never gotten around to it! I always thought a yoga retreat in an exotic location would be amazing, but kind of assumed I’d need some level of experience before going. I was happy to read that is not the case!

    1. If you’re not 100% sure, you can always attend a few classes before signing up for a retreat; however, many retreats are also suitable for those who have never practiced yoga before, just speak to the teacher hosting the retreat so that they can offer modifications! 🙂

  13. I’ve had to put yoga on hold for about six weeks because of a shoulder injury. I didn’t realize I would miss it so much! 2 more weeks and I should be able to go back.

    1. While you’re taking a break from physical asana you can focus on the other aspects of Yoga if you wish! You can practice breathing techniques and meditation and others – if you’re interested you can look up the 8 limbs of yoga!

  14. Thanks for including my tips! I wasn’t sure what to expect when I signed up for your retreat and I was so nervous but it was such a fun experience that left me with so many good memories. Now reading this makes me want to do another one!

  15. Fantastic tips for going for a yoga retreat! The insect joining during savasana needs more work on my part.. I’ll freak out! Can’t wait for a good chance to go for another one, regardless.

  16. To be honest if I was there with you girls in Sri Lanka I wouldn`t mind being a part of your group. I always thought that yoga can help me a lot and I know that as a fact but I am so lazy to do it. Have to change my attitude I guess.

  17. Not gonna lie, I’ve never been a yoga enthusiast but after reading your blog, I’ve seriously been contemplating about joining a yoga retreat. I’m such a city girl tho and I’m used to rushing to places all the time. #9 is gonna be a hard one!

    1. A retreat will help you slow down, Jas! When you’re looking up potential retreats make sure you research the style of yoga asana that is being taught and the background of the teacher. You should definitely also ask if it is suitable for “beginners” or those who are new to yoga!

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