Wednesday, August 26, 2015
After coming home from my Telluride Yoga + Hiking retreat last year I knew I’d be back. I couldn’t wait to actually start marking the retreat again and modifying it to make it even better. After staying in the house I knew how many it could comfortably hold. I had scouted out hikes and great spots to eat and I knew the best place to practice yoga. After seeing how people did on the hikes I decided to extend the trip by an extra day to give people more time to acclimate. I knew come March of 2015 I’d launch the retreat again and hopefully sell out all the spots
Leading a retreat in the same place as before has its advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is gaining more confidence each time you go back and being familiar with the place. The disadvantage is you might wear your audience thin. Yoga isn’t a niche market but hiking is and combining the two might scare away potential retreat attendees. Fortunately Telluride is far enough away that many who have lived in Colorado their whole lives have never been so I was confident in my location. I had my contact list from people that had expressed interest in my other retreats so I sent out emails and waited. Although many people might express their desire to attend your retreat, getting someone to commit is a different game. Dates, cost, life, might all be factors in having someone not attend and when it comes down to it not everyone truly has the guts to trust someone they’ve never met to lead them on a retreat.
I’m thrilled to say I had 7 wonderful girls who signed up and attended this year. I didn’t quite sell it out like I did last year but that was OK because in retrospect having a smaller group made it easier to get to know one another. Of the 7 I didn’t know 4 of them and with the exception of one they all came in groups of two. If you look at my pictures though you’ll notice you only see 6 girls. That’s because the one that came solo ended up having her own journey. After showing up at the house and meeting Stephanie and I she left and stayed at a different place. I never saw her again. I attempted to contact her for yoga, for the hikes, for even a glass of wine in the hot tub or dinner but she declined. I’m not sure what happened but I felt bad although I could only do so much. Time spent worrying about her took time away from the girls who were right in front of me so I had to an extent, let it go. I’ve never had someone show up to my retreat and basically not attend the retreat at all so that was a learning experience for me. I hope she enjoyed her own solo time in Telluride and found what she was looking for there.
I was, a little nervous about meeting the other girls but as it turns out everyone’s personalities meshed well together. One of the things you cannot control about a retreat is the people who show up and their energy. The girls actually took time to break out of their bubbles and get to know one another on deeper levels. The hiking was a great equalizer because you don’t necessarily hike with who you want you hike with who is going at your pace. Not to mention, without cell service all you have to do is talk and ask questions. The girls began to love my daily questions as each day before yoga I would quiz them on each other. I had them introduce one another, say things they had learned about each other, give each other spirit animal names, you get the idea. We learned we all had similar stories of loss or relationship struggles or had dealt with death in an uncommon way and it brought us all closer.
The weather could not have been more perfect for my retreat. Unlike last year, we were able to practice yoga outside every time but once. The first morning we spent on top of the mountain the gondola broke and we had to hike down to the house. While not a big deal, it was an unplanned hike and everyone handled it beautifully! With the exception of Bear Creek Preserve I did the same hikes I did last year and I felt they were great hikes to lead everyone on given their ability levels. By extending the retreat a day I built in a free day so the majority climbed the Via Ferrata with me and the rest biked through town. The mushroom festival was also going on which gave us front row seats to a pretty unique parade through downtown as well as interesting people watching and mushrooms on display.
The only drama I faced with this retreat had to do with a girl who was not able to attend. She didn’t read the registration waiver closely enough apparently, and after paying her deposit decided she wanted her money back. For five months she hassled me until I finally had to block her messages. She crossed the line attacking my integrity and calling me names and that is something I won’t tolerate. Unfortunately I had to make it a rule that there are no refunds when one signs up for my retreat to offset my costs. I had a girl back out last minute last year and I lost out on $350. I had already made her a shirt and wasn’t able to fill her spot so I ate the loss. You learn, when running a retreat, that you won’t always get people who will like you because of your rules. I spent many hours emailing this girl and her friend, arranging flight info and researching various questions for them and that was time spent taken away from my family and other priorities. You’ll find, if you ever run a retreat, you’ll have many people who contact you about attending, fill your time with questions then seemingly drop off the earth and never respond again. Please, if you can’t attend, just do the polite thing and say so…I promise no retreat host will fault you for that.
Despite that little bit of drama outside the retreat, Telluride was a success. I had my doubts though about hosting it again for 2016. Should I take the chance again and go back to the same place? Would anyone want to go again or had I tapped out my market? I had a long talk with Zoe, one of the girls who joined me this year about it. She told me there’s something to be said for knowing a place and being excited about a place. She said that the more I come back the more I’ll learn and the better my business would grow. She told me to let Telluride be my place, my niche and work on expanding here.
“The first day you took us up that gondola and walked us on to that platform overlooking the city and mountains,” she said, “I knew you had your shit together. I felt like I could trust you after that.”
This is what I strive to do. Have people trust me, have them trust themselves and have them experience the adventure of a lifetime. The hiking, the yoga, the via ferrata, even staying in a house with other girls and sharing rooms is all a part of that. I hope on the return I’ll have many others who decide to join me and experience all this for themselves.
Because my friends, it just keeps getting better….
I also owe a huge thank you to my assistant Stephanie. This was her second year with me and she is an enormous help. If you look on my website yogimagee.com you'll see more photos and video most of which she shot for me. She also assisted with anyone who happened to be hiking slower, she made coffee and breakfast each morning, assisted in yoga and in general helped me keep the retreat running smoothly. She's also a great road trip companion and has some awesome tunes. I really appreciated her helping me out! If anyone is ever interested in assisting on my retreats - it's unpaid currently but you get a free trip out of it...and I take care of most everything for you...message me at email@example.com!
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
This has been a busy year for retreats for Yogi Magee Expeditions. In addition to my Telluride Yoga + Hiking Retreat (blog post to follow this week), my friend and fellow teacher Margaret and I decided to put together a Glamping Retreat. I got the idea after looking online at glamping (glamorous camping) spots and came across some yurts located about 3 hours away from Denver. Although used mostly in the winter for back country skiers, many mountain bikers and campers use yurts in the summer as a way to camp without the hassle of tents and having to bring cooking equipment. Margaret and I met several times over coffee and hatched out our plan of renting these yurts and combining yoga with hiking to make it an incredible weekend retreat. We had no idea if anyone would want to join on our adventure but we believed we had a great concept and set about to marketing our Glamping Adventure Retreat this past May.
Within a month or so Margaret and I had rented a second yurt and sold out our retreat. Unfortunately we even had to turn a few away because we ran out of space. Part of our retreat was that we would provide food and although this was our biggest obstacle we overcame it by smart shopping and bringing my husband along as our chef. We truly could not have done it without him. Our original business plan was based on having 9 girls, not 18 so the fact that we had to provide two dinners, two breakfasts and two lunches was daunting. I think Margaret and I stressed the most over how much to budget for this adventure but in the end it proved worth it. Half of the hassle of camping is knowing what food to bring and eat and, although we kept it basic, I don’t think anyone went hungry around our campfire.
We were fortunate to have wonderful weather for our retreat. It never rained, there was a full moon and it was hot hot hot during the day. In fact, our hike proved the most challenging because of the heat. The state park where we hiked in was mostly full of quad trails so the hike that we chose was a loop. If I had it to do over again I would have liked to have explored the area more myself to pick a great hike but in the end the scenery was beautiful. The wildflowers were in full effect and the landscape was awesome so even though the hike was 8 miles instead of 6 as I had been told, I believe everyone enjoyed. Besides, it was the only “thing” we had to do Saturday so the more time it took up the better. Amazingly enough we were able to keep track of all 18 girls hiking and get out in time after breakfast and yoga to make decent time!
While a weekend retreat doesn’t give the time for everyone to get to know one another very well, it did prove to be a weekend where the girls got to meet new friends. Some had known each other before the retreat but everyone blended well together. We had three mother/daughter groups, best-friends from across the country visiting each other in the middle, girls who came solo and many who only knew Margaret. The group itself is what truly makes a retreat successful and I’m happy to report that even with such a mixed group the personalities meshed. I think everyone took home a great experience, made new friends, and rekindled a love for the outdoors which was my goal. I love Colorado and all this state has to offer so much and to be able to offer that to others in a way that inspires them to get out more is what yogi magee expeditions is all about.
I’m already looking in to yurtsNyoga for next year’s retreat! I hope to continue to offer the excitement of the outdoors combined with the adventure of camping in a way that’s suitable for even those who aren’t self-proclaimed “campers.” As a woman I know how hard it can be to find others who share the love for getting outdoors in the summer so I’m happy to have a business that can provide this for others. If you are interested in my future retreats stay up to date on my mailing list at firstname.lastname@example.org or my website yogimagee.com!https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1m319xjzak&feature=youtu.be
a little video of our retreat
Just think, this could be you!