5 Steps to Curate a Holistic Retreat
I experienced a nightmare retreat 3 years ago and was reluctant to run them. Now, I have lived teaching retreats for the last 18 months over 4 continents for several award-winning venues. The range of focus varied from purely yoga to nutrition or a fitness holiday. Omega Movement’s journey has gone from 0 to 5 retreats in under 11 months with 75% returning clients. Through this experience I have crafted a way to design retreats that is a holistic journey that creates profound and genuine connections with others. Now as teachers ask me how to design retreats, I thought I would share a bit on how I design retreats.
1. The ‘Right’ Venue
It is vital to select the venue that you will be comfortable in. As the leader, you must feel safe and secure to hold yourself, and then hold others. My priorities are:
- Located within nature
- Healthy, organic, local foods – ideally vegan or vegetarian with gluten-free for me!
- Easy access from airports
- Simple additional activities
- Space for treatments like Reiki and massages (provided by venue or me)
- Compassionate, peaceful and caring venue and staff
Who are your clients? Mine are very broad in age, experience, skills and life situations. Often we have over 3 decades of ages, beginners to movement, retreat virgins and people with long-term health conditions. My approach – pick what I would like, what I enjoy and what I would pay to experience. If I enjoy the venue then my clients will too!
2. Duration of Retreat
I witnessed that everyone takes until day 3 to ‘drop-in’ to the relaxation of the space. A shorter retreat is a fabulous break but will not take you beyond a quick glimpse of what you could have. My preference is 7 days 6 nights. When there are 6 nights you can make shifts and be ready to go home at the end with joy. Factors that impact my decision include:
- where in the world the venue is and where the clients are coming from,
- remoteness and isolation of the venue, and
- shorter retreats are practical mini-breaks for local clients to enjoy respite.
3. Your Theme: Alignment and Chakras
One of my skills is detailed alignment in the body and its energies. This covers themes around the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual energies. Whatever your beliefs are about souls and spirits, my experience is one that sees this in everyone. I can only teach from my experience so I work at all levels.
Chakras arise in yoga and Reiki. They are similar to energy centres in other traditions too, so with 7 days the 7 chakras fit easily as a structure. It also reflects the need to ground before we can work more esoterically. I weave the different perspectives in my classes of yoga, Pilates and meditation. Yoga nidras are bespoke designed to the theme and group’s needs as the week progresses.
Your theme must weave in all your choices and messaging throughout the retreat. Consistency in delivery of the journey to your group will provide a full experience. You must know where in your theme may arise challenges to prepare to handle what can arise.
This fuller experience improves retention because your clients see your love of helping them. It demonstrates your open-hearted and heart-led work. They share this with others and through the pebble effect we spread healing love throughout the world and not just on a retreat.
4. Balance of Activities
The longer the retreat the more ‘other’ activities you must offer. This can very depending on the venue and location. Local and cultural activities are the best to offer because it encourages another perspective for your clients. Research and learn about what there is to offer locally.
Balance your retreat lessons with workshops and treatments. Treatments and privates offer solo time with each client to speak with them in a more personal nature. You can tap into their needs and wants for the retreat, deepen your connection with each person.
Workshops should match your overall retreat theme, but also the needs of your group. I never design workshops until I have received the pre-retreat questionnaire and can see the themes of the clients. Then I match their needs to the retreat theme to design a workshop for that group.
Opening and closing activities are important. Some may roll their eyes are setting intentions and burning notes, but these moments have power at a deeper level to maximise the experience for everyone.
5. Holding Space for Others
It is in my nature to take people to their edge. It is only when we step out of our comfort zone that we grow. Healing is growth and often requires us to face our fears. The journey of the retreat is to allow time to rest, restore and heal. This does not mean that for everyone or every time a client experiences a break-through. However, shifts occur for everyone at some point on a retreat because there is a break from the ordinary routine of life. This gives you space to shift your perspective and open up possibilities.
Only you can know as a retreat leader how much you can hold a group through a healing journey. You can only offer what you can hold without compromise to yourself. My time living on retreats has taught me the important of self-discipline in my routine to nurture and fill myself up.
I must constantly explore my own ethics and morals in my work. Where do my actions come from? Are they to serve others on their path? I discovered the power of this work is not me, or my ability to teach, but is my role to hold space and allow my clients to do the work that they wish for their life.
Want to join us on retreat?
We are in the process of finalising our retreats for 2018 through 2020, but this list below gives you an idea of what we are curating!
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- Toronto 16-18 August 2018 - Realign for Joyful Living workshop series with Nid, Saida & Megan
- Andalusia 18th-23rd October 2018 - Breathe into Alignment with Molly
- Tulum, Mexico November 2018 - Your Aligned Rhythm with Nid
- Costa Rica May 2019 - Align with Flow with Nid & Diana Stobo at the luxury venue The Retreat Costa Rica!
- Kent, May 2019 - Aligned with the City with Molly & Nid
- Vassiliki, Greece June 2019 - Within Alignment with Nid & Karen
- Sacred Valley, Peru September 2019 - Manifest Your Magic with Nid & Molly