By Melisse Gelula and Alexia Brue of WellandGoodNYC.com
1. Test-drive the teacher
It might sound obvious, but the most important aspect of a yoga retreat is the teacher—not the exotic location. So if you can, take a class with him or her first. Spending $2500, plus a flight to the Caribbean, for an immersion week with someone whose yoga style you hate is not a test drive.
2. Don’t be wooed by just any spa
Spas very often cater to first-time yogis, and instruction can be seriously uneven place to place. In fact, if you have a regular yoga practice at home, you may know more than the spa’s resident or on-call yoga teacher. So look for a spa or resort that proudly provides teacher bios, has a regular schedule of yoga classes (often it’s for local members), or a great visiting teacher, like all the ones mentioned in our article.
3. Consider that you may be star struck
You have her DVDs, and everyone at your studio sort-of secretly worships this yogi, who lives in, say, Los Angeles. Go, but know that big names can equal big price tags, and you may be one of 100 students on the retreat. Be sure to ask how many guests the retreat allows. And beginners take note: unless the retreat is targeted to basics, you’re better off finding one that is.
4. Don’t expect alone time
Most of us aren’t used to traveling with groups of relative strangers. So realize that togetherness is a big part of the retreat lifestyle (4 hours of yoga a day, plus meals at group tables, etc.), and that you won’t always be able to do your own thing. Ask yourself, are you interested in making new friends? Or are you really interested in a silent meditation retreat?
Melisse Gelula is co-founder of Well+Good. She is the former editor-in-chief of SpaFinderLifestyle.com, spa beauty editor at Luxury SpaFinder Magazine, and travel editor at Fodor’s Travel Publications. She has an MA in English Literature from the University of Toronto and has completed six years of training as a psychoanalyst. Melisse has written for such publications as Departures, Martha Stewart Living, Organic Spa, and Budget Travel and has been featured as an industry expert in the New York Times and on CNN.com, the Travel Channel, E! News, and more.
Alexia Brue is co-founder of Well+Good. She was a contributing editor at Luxury SpaFinder and Spa magazines and is the author of Cathedrals of the Flesh: My Search for the Perfect Bath (Bloomsbury). She has an MA in arts & culture journalism from the Columbia School of Journalism and has written for the New York Times Magazine, Vogue, and Conde Nast Traveler among others. Alexia has appeared on the Travel Channel, NPR’s All Things Considered, BBC Radio, and more.