Monday, December 12, 2016

My Experience Running My First Yoga and Meditation Retreat

Running My First Yoga and Meditation Retreat

Mid of March 2016 I had the opportunity to teach yoga and meditation at a retreat in Kerala, India. It was a great experience; it opened my mind to new possibilities and it gave me the confidence that I needed in order to take the next step, to organize my first yoga and meditation retreat.

Running my own yoga retreat was something that I wanted to do for a long time but I had no idea how to even start. I was scared to do it on my own but I knew that sooner or later this was something that I had to do.

I know very well that if there is something that makes you feel scared or insecure because it pushes you out of your comfort zone, then that probably means that this is something that you are meant to do.


Starting small, taking baby steps

On my first visit to Hinterland Village, the retreat in Kerala, back in March 2016, I had no idea how everything was going to be. I thought that I was just going to teach hatha yoga, but because of the interest of the guests I ended up teaching a full program including not only yoga asanas but also pranayama and meditation.

You can read everything about that experience in New Beginnings: Teaching Yoga at a Yoga and Ayurveda retreat

This is exactly what I needed to experience at that time. From that moment on I started thinking seriously on organizing one retreat on my own.


Facing my fears, taking the leap

Unni, the owner of Hinterland Village, had told me that if I wanted to run my own retreat the best time would be end of November, and I also knew that if I was going to do this I needed to start promoting it at least six months in advanced. So I had no choice but to hurry up, face my fears and take the leap.

By the end of May, just two months later and after discussing all the details with Unni, I started to promote this retreat; a 7 nights Yoga, Meditation and Ayurveda Retreat set to start on the 23rd of November.


Logistics and promotion

It was all actually a very natural process. Unni and I had stablished a good relationship, so we easily reached to an agreement. Hinterland Village would take care of the food, accommodation and ayurvedic treatments so that I could focus on promotion and the yoga program; and luckily I didn't have to take any risk.

I had no fixed costs, no need to worry about a break-even point, but I still had my fears, very common among yoga teachers I guess: what if nobody signs up? What if they don't feel satisfied with the program? What if they don't like what I have to share? What would others say then?

I know... that's not my business, my job is to share what I've learned regardless of the outcome. Easier said than done though; I guess I'm still only human.

For the first four or five months I had only two bookings but luckily everything turned out all right and before the retreat started in total seven people had signed up. That was perfect!

My First Yoga and Meditation Retreat Group


My motivation and intention: why a yoga retreat?

Organizing yoga retreats are a great source of income for yoga teachers, but the main reason why I wanted to organize my own retreat was because I wanted to create a program with a daily plan where I could share valuable life skills based on the teachings of the Indian yogis, focusing mainly on dhyana yoga, meditation.

My intention was to have the same group from beginning till end so that they could learn these skills in a systematic way, day by day. I wanted the guests to be able to take back home a wonderful experience and these valuable skills that they could incorporate into their daily routines.

I wanted them to learn how to relax, how to breath, how to concentrate, how to meditate, how to deal with challenging emotions, how to move the body with mindfulness developing self awareness, flexibility and core strength; and a lot more.


Manifesting my intentions: the retreat program

And that's exactly what we did!

We had three classes a day. One hatha yoga class in the morning including pranayama, deep relaxation and a 12 - 15 min final meditation; a second hatha yoga class in the afternoon also including a deep relaxation and meditation; and another one hour class before lunch.

Practicing Eagle Pose at Yoga Retreat

The class before lunch was different every day. They were like mini workshops were we did some special exercises to learn how to breath properly and where we talked about many topics like the basics of meditation, how to develop a home meditation practice, how to develop a home asana practice and a lot more.

We talked so much about meditation and mindfulness, and there was still a lot more that I would have loved to share, but we did cover the most important lessons. By the end of the retreat the group had enough to assimilate and a variety of practices to choose from.

Pranayama and Meditation Class

And in this retreat we also had the opportunity to complement the daily program with ayurveda, another one of India's greatest gifts. It was the perfect combination, helping the body to detoxify and relax with daily ayurvedic massages after practicing hatha yoga.


Giving and receiving: feeling gratitude

At the beginning of the retreat I had my usual fears and insecurities but by the end of the retreat I started to feel very grateful to have had the opportunity to share everything that I've learned on my path. I felt really good, I felt as if I had done something positive. It was a great honor and a blessing to have such an opportunity.

The group was super nice, including people from Spain, Holland, Germany and Australia. We had a great time hanging out during meal times, and they all stablished a nice connection. Some of them decided to travel together after the retreat, something that I was I was expecting even while I was planning the retreat.

Yoga Retreat Fantastic Group

The first photo at the top of this blog post was taken by Irantzu, a lovely Spanish girl that was my student while I was teaching yoga in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. I'm so happy that she decided to travel all the way to India to join this retreat.


My vision: this is just the beginning

Of course this is just the beginning, now I'm back in Mysore practicing with my teacher but I'm already planning some amazing future yoga retreats, so please subscribe by mail here to be sure you'll receive all the details about my future retreats.

If you are a yoga teacher planning your first yoga retreat then I hope you'll find some inspiration after reading this post. If you like it please feel free to share it with your friends. Thanks for your support!

4 comments:

  1. Marco. Algun retreat en Ecuador? O alguno que me puedas recomendar cerca de Guayaquil?
    Saludos

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    1. Hola Michael! Oh lamentablemente aun no he planeado nada en Ecuador. Espero en un futuro no muy lejano hacer algo por allá. Si se de algún retiro te lo dire. Saludos.

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  2. A feedback from a student!!!!

    Its 22nd of November and I am getting ready to take the plane that will take me to Kochi, the place I will have my deserved break from all the craziness of the mega city I am living in. Excited for the yoga retreat I am heading to.
    I recall a very pleasant flight and thinking of what is going to be like there.
    I arrive in Kochi. Its quite early in the morning and I am picked up by the taxi that will take me to Hinterland where the retreat will happen.
    Marco was expecting us, waiting for his crew to start the takeoff.
    I only remember smiling faces in that place when I arrived, Marco and the staff from Hinterland (i arrived really sick after a crazy taxi driving from the airport) so not capable to recall many details. After a while I was ready to hit the yoga mat. And we did.
    We officially started the retreat that afternoon with a introductory yoga class. The feeling was awesome!!! Doing what I like the most , yoga, in such a amazing setting in the middle of the Keralan jungle.
    Days passed by really quick. Yoga classes, meditation, ayurvedic massages and some spare time to spend swimming or walking around.
    Marco was always open to a conversation. A really approachable guy who always shared the experiences that led him here.
    His classes were always enjoyable and nurturing.
    What I really like that most was he taught us how to take all what we were learning back to our daily lives. It is easy to be relaxed and do yoga in a retreat but what happens when we go back to our places? Grey and hectic cities where there is no time for almost anything?
    Marco gave us tips and taught us how to build a routine to practice yoga and meditation. Simple and easy steps to achieve the goal, get closer to ourselves through yoga.
    I have not enough words to thank my time there. I enjoyed every minute and I would recommend anyone who wants to experience and learn genuinely about yoga to go and enjoy Marco's teaching.
    I hope I can do another retreat very soon!!!
    Thank you so much Marco and wish you all the best Life can bring you!!!

    Namaste!!!!

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    1. David! Wow, thank you so much for sharing so openly and honestly your experience. It's beautiful to read. And thank you so much for the positive feedback. I do hope that I'll meet you again in the near future! Abrazos fuertes desde la India :-)

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