How to Pick the Best Yoga Retreats, What to Pack, + More!

Costa Rica Yoga Retreat

Oh my goodness, this is a very requested post. I have gotten so many yoga retreat questions! Today I am going to try and answer all of your questions.

Who should go on a yoga retreat?

Anyone! When I went to Costa Rica this past time, the age range was literally from age 23-75. There were students who were in great shape (yoga teachers taking the retreat), students who were just starting out, and then students in between like me who’d only been practicing a year or so. You do NOT have to be in great shape to go on a yoga retreat. Of course it helps, but it’s not necessary.

I would say that you should probably have had a consistent practice for about six months just so that you know what you’re trying to work on and maybe already have a relationship with your teacher. I say this mostly because a yoga retreat is expensive! It would feel like a waste of money to me otherwise… just go on vacation instead!

Costa Rica Yoga Retreat

How to Pick The Best Yoga Retreats

I get asked about this at least once a week. I will be really honest, I can’t even imagine spending the money on a yoga retreat if I had never taken class with the teacher leading the retreat. I know that a lot of you don’t have a regular studio / do yoga online so that probably is not helpful so I am going to give you all of my personal favorites.

The best reason for doing a yoga retreat is to bond with your favorite teachers and deepen your practice. In all honesty, retreats can be pretty expensive so if I weren’t doing a retreat with one of my favorite teachers I would rather just book a vacation to a pretty destination that also has yoga classes.

So if you take one thing away from this, try your best to find a teacher that you really love who leads retreats. If you’re in LA or NYC I got you with recs, see below.

Go with your studio/favorite teacher.

This may be more of a chicken/egg thing. If your studio does not offer retreats, find one that does.

I am not sure if it’s a New York / LA thing but every yoga studio I’ve ever gone to offers retreats. If you can’t find a teacher who offers retreats I’m listing my personal favorites below!

My Favorite Yoga Retreats

  • Sky Ting – this is the yoga studio I go to every day. I love all of their teachers, and they have really incredible retreats!
  • Three Suns – this is my favorite Sky Ting teacher (Christopher Golden)’s retreat company. I took his retreat in Sag Harbor last summer and went to Costa Rica with him in April.
  • Yoga for Bad People – my first ever yoga retreat was with YFBP! Heather Lilleston is amazing and has such great energy. YFPB definitely takes a lighthearted approach to retreats. The yoga is serious, but they have a lot of fun in between.
  • Sacred Fig – this is Anton Brandt’s company and he is AMAZING. Whenever he’s in New York teaching at Sky Ting I make a point to get to his class.
  • Love Yoga – full disclosure I’ve never taken a Love retreat BUT they are Sky Ting’s “sister studio” of sorts in LA, and I know they team up with Sky Ting quite a bit for retreats.

glitter sunglasses // rainbow bikini top // rainbow bikini bottoms // black one piece // green pareo

What to expect on a yoga retreat

What to expect on a yoga retreat

I think it’s important to do your research and figure what kind of a retreat you are looking for. Are you looking for a full on detox (no booze, strict meals, etc)? Are you looking to do yoga but also explore a new city and sneak in some nightlife? I personally love Christopher’s retreats because we have the same philosophy – we both love good food and like the whole “two drinks and then home to do my skincare and bedtime routine.” I’ve been on retreats where there was no alcohol and I’ve been on retreats where there’s a lot. I prefer something in between.

I’m sharing a typical day below but note that it’s totally different if you retreat in a city (like Havana). When I went to Cuba our whole day was scheduled (which was really cool!) because we were running all over the city and learning about Cuba’s history + culture.

A typical day on a yoga retreat:

  • 7am – wakeup, answer emails, check in on work stuff.
  • 8am – breakfast
  • 9-11am – practice (yoga + meditation. Usually we’ll sit for a longer time, about 30 minutes, followed by 90 minutes of yoga.
  • 11-12:30 – free time (usually work!)
  • 12:30-1:30 – group lunch
  • 2-5 – free time to go to the beach, relax, read, work.
  • 5:30-7 – evening yoga
  • 7:30 – dinner. On most retreats, dinner is at the property but they usually have 2 open nights so that you can get out and explore/eat somewhere new!
  • 9pm – free time. On some retreats this means going out, I personally usually end up home to answer emails/do a little work and then read and be asleep by 11!

Costa Rica - What to pack for a yoga retreat?

What to pack for a yoga retreat?

This was a funny discussion on my last retreat. Of course you want to pack the standard stuff for a vacation (bathing suit, comfortable walking shoes, all of the sunscreen and bug spray galore!) But how many yoga outfits should you pack!?! I like wearing clean clothes every time so O generally pack one outfit per class (which means 10-12 yoga outfits, which is a LOT of laundry and also rather cumbersome to pack).

There were students with different views. You can rinse your clothes out after and hang them in the sunshine; that definitely saves room. I rinse mine out anyway bc I hate packing stinky sweaty clothes. It’s really up to you – everyone takes a different approach!

As for actual yoga outfits, I am usually in Outdoor Voices or Girlfriend Collective. From OV I love this bra and these leggings.. from Girlfriend I love this bra and these leggings. I do a lot of matching sets that can easily mix and match.

You should check with your instructor ahead of time about props – most retreats should have mats, blocks, etc. I’ve had to bring my own mat a few times and love this foldable travel yoga mat.

What to pack for a yoga retreat? Beach in Costa Rica Yoga retreat in Costa Rica Yoga retreat in Costa Rica Best Yoga retreat in Costa Rica Sunset in Costa Rica Best Yoga Retreats

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Comments

  1. A yoga retreat sounds just like the thing I need! Slogging day after day at my day job… zzz…

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

  2. Lisa Autumn says 3.21.19

    Oh I want to go to one so bad! Thank your for the tips girl!

    x Lisa | lisaautumn.com

  3. Marta says 3.21.19

    It’s not like I’m planning on going on a yoga retreat anytime soon but I found this post very interesting because I had no idea what a yoga retreat was. It seems like a very cool thing to do and it must be so relaxing.

  4. Allie says 3.21.19

    I will be bookmarking this for the future 😀 Thank you!

  5. Rebecca says 3.21.19

    Oooh, I love this guide! I started doing yoga in late 2018 and I love it. I’m definitely looking into the different retreats you linked to.. Thanks Grace! 🙂

  6. Betsy says 3.21.19

    My favorite yoga instructor doesn’t do retreats anymore since she had kids, but this post inspired me to look into some semi-local retreats and so many look amazing. I’m inspired! Thank you!

  7. Em_c_nola says 3.21.19

    I would love to check out an “official” yoga retreat. I’ve done an “unofficial” one to decompress after planning a huge event – booked an Airbnb near a bunch of yoga studios in LA, went to yoga at least once everyday, went out for healthy food, meditated (I.e. stuff I don’t have time for in daily life.)

  8. Shana says 3.21.19

    Great post and things to consider. I especially like the comment about going a retreat that is like minded or similar to your style. For example the dinner and two drinks and then home to do your skin care regime – yes that’s me!! The best part of yoga and meditation is the peacefulness that welcomes good sleep mmmmmm 🙂

  9. Rebecca says 3.21.19

    Did you know others going this time and book rooms with them or did you have your own room?

    • grace at the stripe says 3.21.19

      I always get my own room! I really don’t like sharing hotel rooms whenever possible.

  10. Laura says 3.21.19

    Thank you for this info! Did you find it hot or uncomfortable practicing in an outdoor platform? Did you need to wear sunglasses while practicing?

  11. Katie says 3.21.19

    Do I get your abs at a yoga retreat tho

  12. John Boof says 3.22.19

    This article is for those who are looking to stay in their comfort zone and want to mix fun with familiar asanas and meditation at an exotic destination. It is vacation advice, and everyone needs vacations. However, if you are really looking for a more immersive experience with potentially transformative growth opportunities, there are abundant retreats and trainings that can provide such challenges. So really the first decision is whether you are seeking a vacation or a challenge.

  13. Ashley says 3.22.19

    Thanks for the tips! Just finished my teacher training with Y7 and retreats are definitely the next thing on my radar

    xo,
    Ashley
    mixtapeyogi.com

    • grace at the stripe says 3.23.19

      Oh good! So glad it was helpful – and congrats on finishing TT with Y7; that is amazing!!!

  14. Abby says 3.25.19

    Do most people go on these retreats by themselves or with others?