How to Create the Perfect Yoga and Ayurveda Retreat

Yoga and Meditation

Yoga and Meditation

Image: Yoga and Meditation

Panchakarma is the classic Ayurvedic detox - a time-honoured treatment at the core of Indian natural health for millennia - and we are about to witness its modern revival. Spa industry leaders are united in their expectation that Ayurveda will become a leading therapy worldwide by 2014. Thanks to the unprecedented impact of Deepak Chopra’s natural health programs, the spread is fuelled by a wave of popularity in the US, and looks likely to permanently change the wellbeing industry. This is great news for Yoga practitioners worldwide – meaning a significant boost to our creed, and for some of us, our livelihoods.

Expand your Yoga business and create an excellent reputation in the process.

There are multiple chances to expand your business operations along these lines, and organize Ayurveda and Yoga workshops at your own studio. As is already the case in natural health clinics all over the West, your students can undertake a Panchakarma course from home, administering some of the treatments themselves, and attending the clinic as an outpatient. However, there is something lacking from this experience. The proper experience of Panchakarma requires total engagement with the process, for a minimum of 14 days. For the proper experience, at the cheapest cost, India still presents the best option, where a 14-day Panchakarma at even the most luxurious spa comes in at half the cost of its Western equivalent. Savvy Yoga teachers and Ayurveda practitioners can do wonders for their business, and most importantly, the health of their students, by organizing guided Panchakarma packages in the very home of Ayurveda – Kerala, South India.

How to organize your own Yoga retreat.

Running Yoga tours from your studio is an increasingly popular way to prove your authority in the industry, as well as to build a close-knit community among your students back home. It is the perfect basis on which to build an exotic retreat – a group of close practitioners undertaking the journey of a lifetime and forming an unbreakable bond in the process. It’s a recipe for success, and all that’s left to do is to be the perfect guide for your students, pairing your knowledge of Yoga and Ayurveda to create the perfect retreat experience.

So,how do you enable your students to get the most out of the intensely rejuvenating experience of Panchakarma? And what does a Yoga teacher need to know in order to guide their students through the key phases of a Panchakarma detox?

Three Steps to the perfect Yoga and Panchakarma Retreat: a guide for Yoga teachers  

Phase One: Surrender

Though professional Panchakarma packages are always unique to the individual, they all have one thing in common – the purva karma phase. These are the ‘preparatory procedures’ required to break down your toxins before building you back up again. This usually takes the form of ‘oleation therapy’ where the body is lubricated inside (by drinking medicated ghee) and outside (by oil massages and steam baths) – a process of 3-5 days.

It is vital that retreat-goers are guided to let go of their daily rhythms of life and surrender as fully as possible, while their body undergoes this intense detoxification work. Many feel exhausted at this time, and they should be psychologically guided to help themselves to gain the most from this period by unconditionally surrendering to the process.

There should be no pressure to ‘do’ anything, and full permission to completely let go. Even the practice of Hatha Yoga may be unnecessarily exhausting at this time, so we recommend Yoga Nidra as a deep guided meditation to aid psychological surrender, and Yin Yoga as a technique of minimum exertion to encourage the patient to settle comfortably into their body in this vital period.

Phase Two: Purification

It is common for patients to experience a new surge of energy after the purgation of toxins accumulated in phase one. The body is prepared for rebuilding and emotional adjustment to this unusual process should be well underway. The second phase will bring more challenges, as the pradhana karma phase commences – the time of the traditional ‘five cleansing actions’ after which Panchakarma is named. This week long period continues with deep cleansing processes, while the body is restored by nutritious food and restorative practices. Hatha Yoga provides the best possible toolkit to open the body and mind to absorb the changes of this period.

We recommend restorative Hatha Yoga sessions twice a day, to be taken at the patient’s own pace. It is most important to focus on pranayama and meditation during these sessions – patients will benefit highly from techniques to help them handle the emotional changes they will experience. Pranayama and meditation give just the tools required to witness the emotional detox of the body, and allow it to be experienced from a safe space, without drawing the usual stressful distinction between ‘physical’ and ‘mental’ experience.

Phase Three: Future

The final days of your Panchakarma retreat are known as the paschata karma phase – the time when doctors and therapists traditionally work closely with each individual to find the most sustainable lifestyle practices for their needs. Consultations with the Ayurvedic doctor will grow longer in duration, and as a retreat organizer, you are well advised to consult with the doctor to provide tailored Yoga recommendations for each client.

It can be fun to incorporate special workshops into the final days of your retreat – presenting favored Yogic techniques for Vata, Pitta and Kaphadoshas. There is no exact rule for everyone of course, and most of your students will identify as a combination of two of the Ayurvedicdoshas. However, giving them a good grasp of the principles involved in each dosha, and how to balance the respective tendency of each can open up a whole new approach to their Yoga practice.

First steps to creating your own retreat.

For a truly authentic experience of Ayurveda to suit all budgets, India is the obvious choice. Considering that the full experience of Panchakarma should last 14 days or more, it is vital to offer an experience that offers the best holistic luxury, while remaining affordable for your clients. As the world capital of Ayurveda, Kerala – ‘God’s Own Country’ in South India - is a leading choice. Kerala offers a variety of Panchakarma Centers and Packages, and some of the most beautiful natural surroundings to be found anywhere in the world. As the leading destination for tourism in India, and one of the leading destinations for health tourism in the world, it is sure to be the perfect trip for a group of students seeking a transformative and authentic experience of the real India.


Kairali Yoga’s The Ayurvedic Healing Village represents the leading choice for group retreats, offering luxury villa accommodation and the best of holistic health care in one of the world’s most incredible natural environments. Contact us for more information on how you make the dream a reality and host your own Yoga and Ayurveda retreat.