Over recent years, traveling to fulfill a passion, satisfy an intellectual curiosity, or embrace a cause has surged in popularity. As the perfect antidote to the digital vortex, wellness travel has entered the mainstream with more and more destination yoga retreats catering to travelers seeking a tranquil escape or a chance to reconnect (and become a bit more bendy in the process) as well as hardcore yogis seeking to attain samadhi (spiritual enlightenment.)
From a bohemian hilltop enclave in sun-soaked Spain to an ashram reimagined in India, or the carefree aesthetic of Mexico’s Riviera Maya, yoga retreats led by top quality instructors tailor programs to every level and dispensation. You can shed some pounds, recalibrate, adopt a more conscious, soulful way of living, or just go with the flow. Here are five picks of yoga retreats to find that inner omm.
KaliYoga – Andalucia, Spain
KaliYoga forms the perfect bridge between a structured yoga retreat and a chilled out vacation. Set in the rugged Sierra Nevada — a Unesco biosphere reserve that lends itself well to olive picking, horseback riding, and hiking — this bohemian, holistic retreat is situated close to the lively little Andalucían town of Orgiva. The brainchild of yoga teachers Rosie and Jonji Miles, KaliYoga focuses on the artful rejuvenation of mind and body. The center draws eclectic and accomplished women in their 30, 40s, and 50s aiming to clock some ‘me time’ as a soothing antidote to juggling busy careers with child rearing. Speciality themed weeks include the Dynamic Relax Week and Superfood Cleanse Week. Regardless of the focus, you’ll find plenty of cleaning juices and a surfeit of antioxidants on the mostly raw, vegetarian menu. Accommodation choices range from teepees to single, twin, and double rooms, each with shared outdoor showers with jaw dropping views of the surrounding countryside.
From $1,200 per person for six nights all inclusive (airport transfers, all meals, and yoga instruction) on a KaliYoga week in Spain. The company also runs retreats in France and Italy.
Amansala – Tulum, Mexico
There are few settings more conducive to achieving inner harmony than the pristine beaches of the Riviera Maya. A stay at the eco-chic, celebrity haven Amansala combines early morning Vinyasa yoga sessions with meditation, chilling out on the beach, swimming in nearby cenotes, exploring Mayan ruins, or shopping for kaftans in the artfully hippy enclave of Tulum. A string of tastefully appointed and spacious cabanas are clustered along the white sand, Caribbean beach alongside massage rooms and a beachfront restaurant that serves delicious and healthy meals, including catch of the day, refreshing salads, and Mexican specialities to the tune of fish tacos and ceviche. With a vibrant and convivial atmosphere, Amansala draws a fashionable crowd of mostly 20- and 30-somethings keen to recalibrate and reconnect in a stunning tropical setting.
Amansala’s bikini boot camp costs from $1,975 per person all inclusive. Double rooms from $285 per night.
Miraval Resort and Spa – Tucson, Arizona
Synonymous with wellness and healing, Arizona’s spa hotels pioneered the healthy holiday genre. Just 50 miles north of Tucson airport near the Santa Catalina Mountains, the Miraval Resort & Spa continues to raise the bar for luxurious vacations that promote a connection with the natural landscape and an emphasis on personal wellbeing and self-improvement. The Miraval is perfect for couples and families who want to complement their yoga and other holistic pursuits with activities such as hiking, a dance lesson, a cooking class, or an Ayurvedic spa treatment, and, not to mention, one or two potent, fruity cocktails. The back-to-nature philosophy certainly doesn’t extend to the rooms where a soak in the tub affords goose bump inducing views of the Sonoran desert. The casita-style rooms, decorated in suitably soothing earthy hues, embrace environmentally friendly minimalism, and feature a range of amenities, including LCD TVs, DVD players, and complementary Wifi for guests who don’t want to completely get off the grid.
Rates from $500 per night, all inclusive.
Silver Island – Evia, Greece
Run by sisters Lisa and Claire Christie, the exclusive Silver Island Yoga retreat offers yoga vacations from April to October on a drop-dead gorgeous private island off the coast of Evia, just a few miles from Athens. The 60-acre retreat, which encompasses an olive farm, shady coves, and pebble beaches, has been owned by the same family for 50 years. Simple but comfortable accommodation is provided in two traditional, whitewashed, blue-shuttered Greek buildings while the exhilarating two-hour dawn and sunset yoga classes take place on a heavenly cliff-top pavilion overlooking the sea. With an emphasis on purity and immersion in nature, in between yoga sessions guests (maximum of ten) spend their days snorkeling, beach combing, hiking, kayaking, or visiting the picture postcard lighthouse. Local farms produce the organic, vegetarian meals that are served by candlelight each night.
Six-night retreats from $1,600, per person, all inclusive.
Yoga France – Domaine de la Grausse, France
For a dose of Gallic serenity, head for the bucolic Domaine de la Grausse, a 17-acre estate in the French Pyrenees, one of the least populated regions in France. Forests, meadows, green pastures, and a lake awash with butterflies, dragonflies, and frogs surround a restored 18th-century château. In two light-filled yoga studios, classes for all levels and styles are taught (in English) morning and evening by renowned yogi Dagmar. The simple rooms, equipped with kitchenettes, are located in two stone barns. Between sessions, you can take one of the communal bikes to the nearby village market at Clermont La Grausse, retire to a hammock with a book, take a dip in the lake, hike to La Cascade d’Ars (one of the Pyrenees’s most impressive waterfalls) go fishing or horse back riding, marvel at the cave paintings of the Ariège valley, or explore the region’s medieval citadels. With a gratifying paucity of technology, this is a peaceful spot to live the purist’s ideal of France, and feel a little rejuvenated in the process.
From $626 for seven nights, per person, including two yoga sessions per day.
Shreyas Yoga Retreat – Bangalore, Karnataka, India
As a member of the exclusive Relais & Chateaux group, the Shreyas Yoga Retreat, just one hour from Bangalore airport, is for people who like to unashamedly marry their spiritualism with a fine dose of materialism. While this luxurious hotel promotes daily authentic yoga practice as the key to enlightenment and self discovery, the eco-friendly ethos doesn’t come at the expense of the luxury, fine taste, and personalized service for which the prestigious Relais & Chateaux group has become known.
Situated on some 25 improbably lush acres, the brand’s signature gourmet cuisine (all vegetarian) comes courtesy of the estate’s organically grown produce. There’s a zen aura to the whole place with chanting, meditation, Ayurvedic treatments, and refreshing dips in the infinity pool punctuating the moments between soothing Hatha or more rigorous Ashtanga yoga sessions. Praised for its clean, green credentials, the Shreyas retreat harvests rain water, employs solar heating, and promotes organic farming and organic waste disposal.
Single garden tents start at $280 per night.