My name is Christophe Cappon and I first moved to Thailand in 2008 as part of a university study abroad program. Soon after graduating, I set off on the quintessential “finding myself” backpacking trip to India.
A few months into it, I grew tired of the tourist life and took up yoga instead. Beaches and hostels gave way to gurus and ashrams. One year and countless downdogs later, I was back in Thailand – now a certified yoga teacher.
I kicked off my new career like any rookie teacher would, teaching classes in a local studio. At first, it was really hard. I remember running around all day from studio to studio, teaching upwards of 3 classes per day – and hardly making any money. But I kept at it and eventually, I worked my way up the yogi ladder to teaching in hotels, retreat centers and yoga studios around the world.
But it wasn’t enough. I wanted to do my own thing and create experiences which genuinely reflected both my love for yoga and Thailand. So I founded Thailand Yoga Holidays – a retreat company which fuses yoga with unique cultural experiences.
Needless to say, it was a big change. Just when I felt I was getting the hang of teaching yoga, I was now thrust into the business of it – which was a whole new world to me. Before I knew it, I was spending all my time arranging airport transfers, updating the website and pouring over spreadsheets. And let me tell you – these weren’t the kind of topics included in my teacher training manual – so I had to learn as I went along.
At first, I was like “whoaa, this is not what I signed up for” but eventually, I realized that if I wanted to teach yoga, then learning a new set of skills was a part of it.
At first my progress was slow, and I made a lot of mistakes, but eventually I got the hang of it – until finally, I managed to put together my first retreat itinerary. Little did I know, that this was just the beginning… here’s what I’ve learned on the way:
#1 Hustle like you mean it
To fill my first retreat I contacted everyone I knew… friends, family, colleagues (even my dentist), inviting them to Thailand. I also made sure to keep my prices low, making them an offer they couldn’t refuse (by the following year, I raised my prices by 30%). Before I knew it, my trip was sold out and I was at the airport welcoming my first group!
#2 Work smarter, not harder
For the first couple years, I handled all aspects of the retreats – from number crunching and logistics to morning meditation and mat cleaning. That is, until I burnt out.
It became clear to me that teaching yoga and organizing a retreat are two very different jobs – and too much for one person. So right then and there, I made a choice. I was going to focus on the organizing and let others do the teaching. After all, by sharing my experience, network and passion for Thailand I could help teachers lead successful yoga retreats here. And it doesn’t get much better than that!
I began to form partnerships with teachers, working with them rather than competing against them. They would bring their students while I managed the group. By focusing on my strengths – and the teachers on theirs – it became the perfect business relationship.
But my job is never over. And that’s why I love it. When I’m not on a retreat, I’m usually back on the road, sourcing new destinations and dreaming up wild experiences. So that every year, when my people come back – I can surprise them with something fresh.
#3 Don’t be afraid to make the leap
At the end of the day, teaching a yoga retreat is a great way to expand your business while seeing the world. So go for it.. but don’t do it blindly. Do your research, plan ahead – and then go for it.It could be one of the best decisions you ever made – and your students will thank you!
If you want more tips from yoga teachers who run yoga retreats around the world, check out the post “The Secrets of Successful Yoga Retreats: 4 Yoga Teachers Share What Works and What Doesn’t”.
About the author
Christophe Cappon, the founder of Thailand Yoga Holidays, is based in Chiang Mai where he organizes retreats which combine yoga with unique cultural experiences.
Known as the “wedding planner” of yoga teachers, he offers a retreat hosting service for teachers who want to bring their students to Thailand, effortlessly. Thailand Yoga Holidays handles all the logistics, so teachers can focus on their students.
To find out more and get in touch with Christophe check out www.thailandyogaholidays.com