When you’ve graduated from the weekly Saturday morning gentle flow class and are looking to take your yoga practice to the next level, a retreat could be the right choice. Getting deeper into your practice and making connections with like-minded people are both a plus—and an ocean view doesn’t hurt, either. But how do you know what to bring along? Check out this list to learn what essentials you’ll need to pack to make the most out of your yoga retreat.
1. Yoga Clothing
This might seem like a no-brainer, but packing a few of your favorite tanks and pants is key. Just try to keep your hot-yoga essentials to the bare necessities and add a few layers. Consider the length of your stay, as well as the weather. Even though you might be attending a yoga retreat in a tropical location, evening hours and ocean breezes could make a long-sleeve top essential. And there's no need for fancy athleisure items. Instead of being fashion forward, pack items that you can mix and match.
2. Yoga Mat
Bringing along a lightweight mat is essential. While some resorts might offer their own, they’re likely used and worn (not to mention possibly sweaty and germy). Bringing along your own mat will add a sense of comfort from the start. Just know that toting along a mat means that a mat carrier is essential. According to Wanderlust.com, the website for the Wanderlust festivals—multi-day events all around the world that include yoga, meditation, music, outdoor hiking, running, and biking, eating local fare, and lectures from various thought leaders—sometimes you don’t have a lot of time in between yoga classes, and a mat carrier can make traveling between two venues smoother. The lightweight Sport Tote is a great option. Not only is it specially designed to fit a yoga mat across the top, but it is made of an anti-microbial material that can handle sweat-soaked clothes and will minimize odor.
3. Small Towel
Nothing’s worse than the feeling of losing ground on your Warrior II pose because you’re dripping in sweat. So skip unwanted slips. “Pack a small towel or sarong to be used as a sweat rag,” says Raquel Hernandez-Cruz, an instructor for YogaSlackers, an organization that teaches yoga on a slackline.
Don't forget to protect your skin from dangerous ultraviolet rays. Slather or spray on some sweat-resistant sunscreen before you head on your journey (and throw some in a checked bag so you can reapply throughout the day). With all the sequences and flows you’ll be moving through, remember to hit tricky spots like your underarms and the tops of your feet if you'll be practicing outdoors. If you're bringing only a carry-on bag and bringing a travel-sized bottle of sunscreen is too difficult, buy some at a drugstore as soon as you arrive, says Hernandez-Cruz.
Stay squint-free by packing a pair of polarized sunglasses in a hard case. Consider buying a sporty type that's made specifically for athletes and will cling to your head a little, so your shades won't fall off in the middle of an outdoor routine.
Breathing deeply, having an open mind, and feeling calm may help you think more clearly and discover new things about yourself. Keep pen and paper at hand for jotting down any inspiring insights.
7. Water Bottle
You’ve probably been told time and time again, but hydration is key. Packing a reusable water bottle will do both your body and the environment some good.
8. Self-Massage Balls
Bring along your own deep tissue massagers by throwing a few lacrosse balls in your bag. When your muscles get tight, you’ll be able to relieve any tension and relax pressure points by rolling your body parts over the balls.
9. Healthy Snacks
You never know when hunger will strike, so it’s always good to have a few snacks on hand. Plus, if you’re traveling, having good-for-you options in your carry-on will eliminate the lure of overpriced, airport junk. Think filling, nutrient-dense foods that will hold you over like dried fruit, granola bars, and nuts.
10. Comfortable Shoes
Yoga retreats are no place for heels. Pack easy-to-wear, slip-on shoes or flip flops, to make walking from session to session easier. And bring along sneakers so you can say "yes" to any outdoor adventure opportunities that arise.
11. Yoga Props
Use blocks or straps in class to get into those tricky poses? Depending on the retreat center, it might be wise to pack them to get the most out of each and every movement. You might also consider gloves with treads on them so your hands don't slip on the mat, as well as a blanket to keep you warm during shavasana (corpse pose) at the end of each practice.
12. Bathing Suit
This may differ from retreat to retreat, but packing a swimsuit so you can participate in any water sports is a good idea. Worried about wet and dry clothes intermingling post-dip? The lightweight Pack-It Sport™ Wet Dry Fitness Locker works great to keep clean and wet clothing separate so that you can head from water to land seamlessly.
13. Proper Identification
If you're hopping on a flight, don't forget your driver's license. If your retreat is out of the country (Wanderlust offers some festivals in Canada and Australia, for example), you’ll need to bring your passport. For some countries, a visa may also be required—if you're not sure, ask the retreat director for more information.
14. Positive Energy
Regardless of your destination, one must-have for any yoga retreat is a positive attitude and open mind. Set daily intentions to help you stay present and patient. Wanderlust.com advises: “Try not to get caught up in your phone or work before rushing out the door. Set yourself up for success in both body and mind—not only will you have the physical energy to take on the day’s challenges, but you’ll also feel more vibrant, open-hearted, and ready to experience the adventure to come."
For an ultimate packing checklist, this guide covers it all.
Have you already been on a yoga retreat? If so, please share your own packing tips in the comments, below.
Related links (from Eagle Creek blog):
The Secret to Enjoying the Outdoors Off the Grid
Outdoor Fun 101: How to Plan a Group Ski Weekend
Healthy Travel: How to Pack a Travel Fit Kit