Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Telluride Yoga + Hiking Retreat 2015 #tealsintelluride
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 firstname.lastname@example.org!