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What to Pack for a Yoga Retreat

Posted on Jun 22, 2013

Yoga on the beach

No matter what size your suitcase, attending a yoga retreat adds an extra packing challenge.  And you don’t want to be the one on the trip with no appropriate outfits any more than you want to be the one who can’t lift her own suitcase.  Here’s what I see as the essentials to bring, with tips on how to pare down—and what to leave out entirely.

Yoga Mat

Whether you bring a mat depends on what the retreat has available and how picky you are. But though it seems like fun carrying your mat onboard the plane and around the airport, the reality is many mats weigh a ton and are awkward to carry.

If you are going to bring a mat, consider a thin one that can fold in your suitcase, or instead, especially if you’re going to be somewhere especially sweaty, bring a yoga towel that you can layer on a borrowed mat.

Yoga Wear

I can’t emphasize enough that you won’t need half the yoga clothing you think you will. For one thing, technical fabric dries quickly, so even in humid climates you’ll be able to wash the odd item. For another, no one cares if you’re repeating outfits.

Bring a couple of pairs of black pants or leggings, and a variety of tops to go with them. Tank tops are nice because they don’t have armpits to get sweaty and stinky, and they’re easy to layer. 

And don’t forget that even in tropical destinations, it can get chilly at night, especially by the ocean. Have a pair of socks and a light jacket for savasana and after-hours dining.

At the beach, you can probably get away with a couple of bikinis and dresses—you’ll be wearing your yoga clothes more often than you might think. If you’re somewhere like Europe with a fancier street dress code, make sure you have at least one outfit that you’ll happily wear, say, at a restaurant full of Italian me/women :-)


At least one light scarf is a must, one that’s wide enough to cover your shoulders and be worn as a shawl. It’s indispensable on the airplane, especially, if like me, you don’t want your face to touch those nasty blankets.

Also bring more hairties and hairpins than you think you’ll need, and a hairband if you like to wear them to keep hair out of your face.

Jewellery is another way to freshen up multiple outfit wears for minimal packing space. Never bring your priceless or pricey items that you’d be heartbroken to lose; instead, pack fun necklaces and earrings that you might not get to wear at home.

As for footwear, skip the high heels and bring shoes that are comfortable. You’re likely to spend much of your time in flip-flops, though if you’ll be walking lots, a pair of supportive sandals will keep your feet much happier and let you dress up a little more.

Snacks and Extras

Bring a few snacks, but don’t overdo it—most retreats will have plenty of food. And make sure it’s packaged food that won’t get confiscated by customs. Other nice-to-haves include earplugs and a sleep mask, a flashlight or head lamp, an alarm clock (or cellphone—but don’t forget your charger and a converter for the plug) and a notebook and pen.

But most importantly, bring an open mind, a sense of play and a willingness to explore. They’ll take you so much further at your yoga retreat than the “right” outfit.

Livia Anzaldo



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