Beginners guide to Yoga Holidays

Holiday or retreat?

You may have been doing yoga classes for a while and decided you want to take yoga a bit further or have decided that a yoga holiday might be a good way for you to try yoga.

Before you book up it worthwhile establishing whether you have booked up a yoga based activity holiday or whether you are going on a yoga 'retreat' as there can be a big difference!

Generally yoga holidays are like all other sports based break doing a couple of hours of yoga a day whilst the rest of the time can be spent relaxing like any other holiday. Many yoga holidays lay on other activities for the non-yoga partners and non-yoga based activities in the afternoon between the yoga.

Yoga retreats are more intense than just a couple of hours of yoga exercise a day and may well include hours of meditation and silence during the evening hours. Some retreats expect you to do a degree of 'karma yoga' - helping with the gardening, cooking or running of the location.

Food and Drink

Often the food on yoga holidays will be vegetarian, locally grown and organic. Good wholesome fresh dishes usually in plentiful supply. Whilst there is usually no menu to choose from there should be a good selection - often buffet style of dishes. There are yoga holidays that will offer a detox at the same time so its worthwhile checking what the food style is rather than assuming. Depending on the location alcohol may or may not be available (it rarely is on a retreat). Where local wine is provided it will generally be included in the price. Yoga holidays are usually all inclusive with all meals included though often this will be a late large brunch and an evening meal rather than three meals a day. Dietary requirements such as vegan, dairy or gluten free are usually catered for.

It is worthwhile remembering that meal times are generally communal for the whole group, often eaten around one large table with guests expected to clear their own plates and help themselves than being waited on.

Communal Living

A yoga holiday is one break that can be as enjoyable on your own, with your partner or with a group of like minded friends. Much of the activity time or asana work will be in groups often with everyone working together.

Traditional yoga holidays will have a degree of communal living, sharing meal times and rooms and often bathrooms and toilets. Increasingly single en-suite rooms are being offered but it is worthwhile checking if you want this rather than assuming! If you travel on your own you may well be allocated a room with another single traveller don't assume you will have a single room.

It is also worthwhile checking whether towels are provided or whether you are expected to bring you own on some more basic yoga retreats you may even be asked to bring your own bedding. If you room is not ensuite remember to bring a bathrobe to make covering up between rooms easy!

What type of yoga

The holiday description should give you a lot of background about the style of yoga being taught and how involved the teaching is. If you are an experienced yoga student you may want to go and experience a new style of teaching, but those less experienced may want to opt for a holiday where there approach is a more hands and supportive style of teaching.

What to bring

Comfortable clothes!

Yoga mat and any other equipment you may need or use for your practice.

Lotions, potions or oil to pamper yourself - you'll feel so relaxed after all the yoga it's the perfect time for a good pamper session.

A good book, magazines, paints or others activities to occupy the hours between your yoga.

An iPod or walkman as many yoga based holidays don't have TVs or radios or you may be happy to have some silent time.