Welcome to my refuge from the world.
I was inspired to begin hosting yoga retreats after I was invited to teach at a fitness retreat in 2004. While I was disappointed at the “un-retreat” like weekend – a full schedule with non-existent free time, very little sleep, and highly restrictive meals (no coffee, no carbs, no fun!) – I was also inspired.
Walking my dog after I got home from what I felt was a stressful and disappointing weekend, I allowed myself to dream.
I wanted to create a “retreat like” experience, inviting guests to indulge in some of my (and hopefully their!) favorite things – wine, coffee, chocolate and delicious meals cooked from scratch – all as a complement to yoga, meditation, time in nature and free time to reset.
You can go as far as you dream, think and imagine. ~Lailah Gifty Akita
I hosted my first retreat in October 2004 - with only two guests - my web designer and her best friend. What that taught me is I needed to try harder. I made up flyers and distributed them at my yoga classes.
If you’re ready to pursue your dream I recommend starting with these tips.
When I first started out I didn’t have a budget to pay employees so I did everything myself. From teaching yoga to making meals (from scratch of course) to cleaning the property. I went home after a retreat weekend, completely exhausted, but also completely fulfilled - after spending the weekend with inspiring women.
I started off by offering ridiculously low prices. When the time came to raise prices (only about $50) a frequent guest told me instead of raising the retreat price to hire someone to help me cook I should buy pre-packaged meals at Sam’s. That went against everything I stood for. I refused. Part of my vision was to make a home cooked meal for busy women. I never saw her again, but I have welcomed many guests over the years who love our made from scratch meals.
I’ve had guests over the years tell me we should do this differently or that differently. Sometimes I discover great ideas from our guests' feedback. Other times I recognize change for the sake of change is not helpful. We do what we do for a reason. With almost 20 years of experience hosting retreats you better believe there are several reasons why - in regards to a particular policy or activity.
I think this is the most important one of all! I made the mistake of not charging enough when I first started out. As women, we’ve been told by society that our time and talents are not as valuable as men’s. You and I both know that’s not true. We may make the mistake of not charging enough for our services. But remember, people value what they pay for and we teach people how to treat us. Know your value and let your intention be to get exactly what you’re worth and not a penny less!
The Pandemic was hard on all of us and on many businesses. In the early days, I was lost and completely panicked about everything. I made the decision to host a “Retreat at Home” for guests. I charged $10 for the opportunity to do yoga several times over the weekend plus have a meet and greet on Friday and closing circle on Sunday. All via Zoom. It was a lifeline to a sense of normalcy. Not only to the guests, but to me and Michelle Brazell, one of our Retreat Leaders who also lead the Retreat at Home weekends. Some days you will need to zig instead of zag. Be open to new ideas and people who have a different way of doing things. One thing that is constant is change. We must adapt or we will get left behind.
I can guarantee no matter what else happens along the way, you will make mistakes. Big and small. I’ve made more mistakes than I can remember! But I also learned valuable lessons after making a mistake. Some mistakes I had to make more than once! Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and remember the valuable lesson you learned. Then get right back out there.
Whatever you're dreaming of, know that you have the power to make it come true! As you begin to create your dream, know that things may get tough along the way. Always give yourself permission to pause and take a breather. Dreams can change and evolve - and that's a good thing! That means you're creating the dream that's meant for you!
Most importantly keep going, if you give up now you'll never know what possibilities await you.