Opening Blue Osa has been one of the greatest joys in my life.

My Blue Osa family has given me the deep sense of purpose and fulfillment I was looking for. In the journey, I’ve also had a lot of challenges and sleepless nights.

So, is it worth it? Check out the pros and cons of opening a retreat center.


Blue Osa Eco Retreat and Spa In Costa Rica


5 Pitfalls & Pleasures in Opening a Yoga Retreat Center


The 5 Pitfalls


1. The time it takes to creating the perfect support network.

I have been an entrepreneur and have run my own business throughout my life. When I set goals, I made them happen. I opened a yoga studio overnight. I created a worldwide student network within a year. When I put my mind to something, it happened.

It took a long time to get Blue Osa built. It too even a longer time to get her running and sounding like a purring cat. And we are still working out the kinks.

A big reason why it has taken much longer is because my operation is no longer just me. My operation is me plus 20 to 30 people.

You have to give yourself time to put your team together. Hiring and rehiring people will take place in the first few years. Additionally, it will take you time to find the right professionals to work with you: the accountant to manage your books, the right lawyers to work with you, etc. In time you will discover you need different professionals to fit your different needs.

The worst mistake you can make in opening your yoga retreat center is to try and get the perfect team assembled on day one, or even in the first year for that matter. It just won’t happen. And you don’t want to have all these people hired on day one because you do not have the funds to pay them. Give yourself time.

The process of creating the perfect team and support network will take a lot of time.


2. It is exhausting to be learning all the time.

The deep learning curve is long and arduous. It takes an enormous amount of stamina to learn everything you never expected to know to make retreat center functional.

After so many years into Blue Osa, we are still learning about how to manage and maintain Blue Osa. We have had to learn about so many operational aspects of Blue Osa. Everything from simple gardening tasks to setting up a permaculture system. How to start a pig farm and raise chickens. How to maintain a complex energy system using solar power. How to evolve a sophisticated menu catering to a changing food culture.

And just when you think you have caught up and know everything you need to know, you need to start all over again.


3. Opening a yoga retreat center is a decision more about lifestyle than about financial investment; you will invest so much capital into this but you’ll yield little to no investment in return.

When you become a yoga teacher, never have any illusions about ever becoming rich. The same as in owning a yoga retreat center.

Owning a yoga retreat center is a lot of work. The expenses are high. The gratitude expressed — from your staff and guests — makes it sometimes not worth it. Few people appreciate the hard work and money you have invested for them and their life.

The solution is for you to remind yourself every day why you are doing this.

I remember every day the reason why I opened Blue Osa is to create a lifestyle I enjoy. I created an oasis that supports my life and to attract the kinds of people I want to interact with.

I am grounded in my mission and purpose. My strength, determination, and willpower stems from my purpose.


4. The overwhelming expenses can eat away at your soul.

Running a yoga retreat center is like running any business that has brick and mortar. There are big costs associated with them and the keep coming. They never stop. And in the beginning, you will have so many bills. You think you can control them. You think you can make them stop. You can’t.

When first starting out on this adventure, I have the following suggestions:

– Be very mindful of what you spend money on. Always ask yourself, is this a need? Or is this a want? And have someone support you in this mindful practice.
– Have an enormous rainy fund. It can never be too big.
– Don’t be in a rush to get projects finished. Sometimes you think you have to complete everything right away. For example, when you first open, put more money into marketing than into landscaping. Don’t worry of your garden is not finished. You need people more than you need that beautiful garden. The garden will come. The people won’t if you don’t spend some time and money in your marketing.


5. The moment you realize that yogis are humans as well.

When I first started envisioning Blue Osa, I was already a yoga studio owner. In my yoga studio was a feeling a community, camaraderie and genuine support. I always had the feeling that yogis were special people who were kinder and more loving. Yogis were these people who cultivated love and acceptance for all. I believe this until they traveled to my yoga retreat center. (I believe now that travel brings out the worst or the best in people.)

There is a moment, a distinct moment, of awareness that happens when you realize that yogis are also humans with human problems. And just like you, they don’t practice all the Yamas and Niyamas 24/7. In fact, you would be lucky if the yogis you meet even knew what a Yama and Niyama was!


My 5 Big Pleasures


So I know I have sounded a bit negative from these pitfalls. If you have been following this series, you might be wondering, “Why is Yogi Aaron running his own yoga retreat center?” This is a valid question. And here are five of my biggest pleasures in running my own yoga retreat center. Continue reading the 5 big pleasures in the full article on