Monday, 24 October 2011

8 Tips to help you choose a Yoga Holiday

So, you're thinking of taking a yoga holiday but little unsure about how to choose the right one?   You've done your research & discovered there are LOADS of yoga holidays out there, so how do you choose the best one for you?    

We've organised and run Yoga Holidays in Spain for 7 years & have immensely enjoyed meeting many, many people some of whom have become firm friends.    So, as yoga holiday organisers, we thought you might find our knowledge useful when deciding which Yoga Holiday out there is the best one for you.   Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.  Happy holidays!

1.  How long can you get away for?  
 If you don't have many days available to take a holiday, you won't want to spend too much of your precious holiday time travelling.

Long haul destinations might seem attractive, but don't forget the jet lag "factor" - you don't want to waste time adjusting to a new time zone on your arrival or "re-entry" back home.   Don't be fooled into thinking all Europen yoga holidays are easy to get to either!   Some yoga holiday venues are many kilometres from an airport or, the nearest airport is a "local" one with limited - often expensive - flights from your country.  Which leads me onto Tip Nr. 2

2.  How far is the yoga holiday venue from a main airport?
Ask how far the venue is from a main airport & what options you have to reach the holiday venue.   Some venues are remote with irregular or lengthy public transport options.   You'll want to keep your travelling time to a minimum, so find out if the holiday organisers offer an airport transfer service to take you directly & quickly to the venue. 
Top Tip!  If there is an airport transfer service, ask what time their transfers operate so you can book your flights around these times ... why wait at the airport for longer than necessary?

3.  What is your Budget for the holiday?
An obvious question!   But its worth checking exactly what is & what isn't included in the holiday as you may need to factor in extra costs such as single supplement if you don't want to share a room, drinks, lunches or the cost of optional activities or therapies you might like.  

Your budget will be a major factor in helping you decide which holidays are within your price range.   But be cautious.   A holiday is only cheap because they don't include the same quantity, quality or facilities, as those that ask a little more.   Be honest, are you happy sharing your bedroom with someone you don't know, or wandering back & forth to communal bathrooms?   If your accommodation is going to be a tent, ask yourself - seriously - do you really want to spend several nights under canvas?  "Glamping" sounds romantic but how do you feel about midges & creepy crawlies, the possible lack of space, the heat in the middle of the day when you might want a rest or, heaven forbid, if it rains?
Top Tip!  Ask to see photos of the accommodation that you would be staying in.  Don't have any surprises when you arrive,

4. The Yoga
Being as this could be the main activity of the holiday, it's important you are 100% happy with it.   Find out how much yoga is included in the programme, what level it is aimed at and where it takes place.  

If you don't practice yoga very much now - or at all - find out how many sessions are in the programme and if you can opt out of a session or three if you need to take it easy.    Ask about the typical guests that book the holidays - their age and level of experience - so you have a better idea of who could be sharing the space with.   

It's very wise to check the experience & qualifications of the teacher/s too - especially if you are a beginner.  A good teacher is able to modify the yoga postures so that everyone - regardless of experience - can participate.  Qualifications & insurance are very important for your safety.   Don't be afraid to ask for the qualifications of the teacher/s - you can check if they really do hold those qualifications by contacting the organisation they say they have trained with.    Sadly, we've heard from past guests of other yoga holidays they've taken where the teachers seemed to have little idea on class safety, how to structure a class properly or even bother to engage with the students.    What a shame.

Ask where the yoga sessions take place.   If it's somewhere different from where you will be staying, how long does it take to get there, is there protection from the elements (wind/sun/rain)?  If yoga is on the beach - is it a public beach? perhaps there will be families/children relaxing nearby, will this disturb you?  Why not ask to see photos of the yoga practice space?

Top Tip!  If your holiday includes 2 yoga sessions a day & you worry whether you'll be able to keep up, ask them to recommend some yoga dvd's you can practice with at home before the holiday to help build your stamina.

5. Do you want a holiday somewhere remote or within easy walking distance of a local town / the beach?
Somewhere remote might seem idyllic, but in our experience, by day 3 guests are going stir crazy to leave the "complex" and see something of the local culture.    So if you choose a remote yoga holiday, do they have bikes you can use (is there a hire fee?), is there a bus/train station nearby? Or, do they offer optional activities that give you a chance to explore locally?

6.   What does the Itineray look like?
Are you happy with the amount of free time in the programme? What optional activities/therapies are available?  What time are the yoga sessions?    Are there any talks or workshops to help you develop your learning?

7. The Food!
As well as finding out how many meals are included in the holiday price, you might also like to ask what type of food is served.  Traditionally, yogis follow a vegetarian diet as it is cleaner on the digestive system and easier to digest.    If you don't think you can manage to be a veggie for the duration of the holiday, ask if there will be any fish or meat options.    What about alcohol?   Some yoga retreats are strict and do not offer any alcohol - or caffeine.    Are you happy to go without?   

Top tip! If you have a special diet or want to avoid certain foods for the holiday, ask if they can supply what you need - ie. dairy free, wheat free, sugar free - or, if you can bring a small supply with you.

8.  Look at their Reviews
At the end of the day, you're going to choose the holiday that appeals to you the most but do pay attention to what previous guests - or the press - have said about the holiday, if you like what they say, chances are, the holiday is right for you.

We hope these Tips help you decide which yoga holiday is the best for you and that you enjoy your yoga holiday experience.     Nicole & Gary, Yoga Breaks in Spain

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