Why thinking of the worst can help you prepare for the best

In just a few weeks I’ll be taking a group of yoga students to the tropical island of Bali for a one-week retreat and immersion in yoga and storytelling. We’ll be practicing twice daily and the classes will be themed around the ancient Hindu deities we find in both yogic lore and in the everyday culture of the Balinese people. I’m so excited to share the wonder of the island of Bali with my students. I’ve been there six times and just can’t get enough of the kindness of the people, the smell of incense that permeates the air, and the vibrant rice field views. There’s just one problem.

There is currently a volcano on Bali about to explode.

Now, I’ve been leading yoga retreats all around the world for seven years and have learned a lot in that time. I have had huge and glorious yoga retreat successes as well as a few retreats that challenged me to my max. Over the course of the forty yoga retreats I’ve led, I’ve refined my systems and dialed in my magic retreat formula. I feel like I’ve got the retreat planning and hosting business down to an art. That being said, in this past year it has become clear that there is a new threat to this system; an uncontrollable force that is toying with the well-laid plans of yoga retreat leaders across the globe. This threat is Mother Nature or Pachamama and she has activated either volcanoes, earthquakes or forest fires in four of my favorite retreat locations.

So, how do we as yoga retreat leaders manage the unmanageable?

The first learning I’ve had this fall is the vital importance of TRAVEL INSURANCE. Encourage all of your yoga retreat students to purchase travel insurance from the moment they sign up and proceed to harass them about it in every correspondence you have with them. You could even go so far as to find a company that offers travel insurance and put a direct link to it on your website and/or Facebook page.

Another best practice I’ve really taken on in the face of this volcano is one of constant communication. I’m paying attention to the news every day and communicating with not only my yoga retreat students, but also the yoga retreat centre I’m traveling to. By staying up to date on everything that’s happening and communicating this freely to my students, it builds their trust in me and encourages them to let me do the worrying for them!

My final piece of advice around managing yoga retreats at a time when natural disasters are so prevalent, is to always put safety first. Make all decisions based on your students’ (and your own) safety. Now is not the time to cut corners to ensure you’re making a profit. Instead, focus on mothering your peeps and be sure they know this. This will again, encourage your students to feel supported and safe with you as their leader.

Ok, wish me luck! And may this year of crazy weather be an anomaly!

If you want more tips on running yoga retreats – check out my online workshop: Creating Profitable Yoga Retreats

Photo by Flickr user: Nileguide.com [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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