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I want to talk about the underlying psychology that’s fueling the growth in the yoga retreat business. It’s actually important to understand from 100,000 feet. The best reason I have found for why this is a billion dollar industry comes from Joseph Campbell and his books on Mythology. The one that I’m reading; Hero With A Thousand Faces talks about what’s called Hero’s Journey.
I summarize this in 6 steps
- The yearning for change
- The Guide aka you
- Return home
People go on yoga retreats because they yearn for positive change. And yoga retreats deliver the goods. There is a method to it. The closer you follow the method, the greater impact and success you’ll have.
Hero’s journey shows up in many familiar stories. You see it with Moses in the Bible. Arjuna and Shri Krishna in Bhagavad Gita. Odysseus in The Odyssey. The producer George Lucas followed this idea when he wrote Star Wars. Most of the Disney films, like Moana, also follow a similar story.
In each example you find a person who is weak and strives for something more. They’re looking for transformation and they travel somewhere new. This is the reason people go on yoga retreats. They’re looking for some greater version of themselves. Through this psychology, you can build stronger schedules and create more peak experiences for people.
So, the first step is; seeing our clients are yearning for change. They feel a need for deeper transformation. There’s a longing for something more.
The second step the hero faces is adversity. In the examples above, Arjuna must decide to fight. Moses needs to part the Red Sea. Moana faces a struggle getting off the island. In the real world, people like fitness and yoga because it’s challenging. They like going to new places because of the adversity and newness of it.
If the hero overcomes adversity, then they go through transformation.This is step 3. So, when you’re putting together your yoga retreats, it’s important to have challenging moments. That’s why I do things like hot yoga, ice baths, cave meditations, and encourage people to speak to the group. That challenge puts people through a positive change. So, I’m looking to get people to do hand standing or deeper back-bending too. If they can’t do it, then I’m looking to cultivate humility and dedication.
So, a hero’s journey can both be getting people to go deeper, stronger, faster and harder. You can also get them to do less, relax, and find moments of peace and love.
Step 4 in hero’s journey is meeting the guide. With Moses, he found God. Arjuna spoke to his guru Shri Krishna. Moana is a modern twist in that she both taught and learned from the demigod Maui. In Star Wars, Luke meets Yoda.
In the yoga retreat, the role of guide is your job. You do that by curating a schedule and building workshops that have changed you. Suppose, you’ve been to a new restaurant, a new yoga studio, a new beach, a new waterfall, or you climbed a certain mountain. The part of the hero’s journey is to be able to bring that next group of seekers up to a new level.
The new guide doesn’t only have to be you. In fact, I would encourage you to cultivate a team of guides that could be massage therapists, great chefs, the retreat leader managers or the staff. Generally, my best retreats do not revolve around me. It’s about me curating awesome people support them through their journey.
If you travel far and speak new words, meet new people and eat new foods this helps form a new identity. Maybe they were stuck in depression, loneliness, sadness and are now changing. This is step 5. It’s called rebirth.
The last step of the hero’s journey is they’ve got to go home as a better version of themselves. This is important because you never want people going back to their old ways. So a part of your responsibility is to give them the habits, routines and ideas to change their home life. That’s why Arjuna reclaims his kingdom. Odysseus returns home. Moses takes his people to the promised land. Moan restores the heart of Tafiti and restores the greatness of her homeland.
When you think about leading a yoga retreat as being part of a hero’s journey, you will deliver more impact, power and energy to your clients. And this is what this whole game is about.
The reason these stories keep getting recycled from the past is because they represent us. Tune into this power, and your impact will be even greater.