Courtesy of Como Shambhala Retreat
Until recently, yoga retreats conjured images of hippie-dippy communes with spartan dormitories, flavorless vegan food, and long hours of silence interspersed with chanting. Now, thanks to the spa vacation trend and yoga’s popularity, those who want to stretch out and rejuvenate while enjoying a relaxing beach trip can have it all. Imagine practicing sun salutations to the sound of lapping waves instead of Enya music, while looking at an ocean sunrise rather than walls plastered with happy Buddha posters.
Retreat locales are as varied as the asanas (poses), ranging from luxurious resorts that feature celebrity instructors and bonus activities like cooking classes, spa treatments, sunset cruises, and tequila tastings, to rustic lodges where the focus is limited to yoga and nature. The best part? With this carefully curated list, even beginners can enjoy a vinyasa voyage.
MEXICO, SOUTH AMERICA, AND CENTRAL AMERICA
Why You’ll Love It: The small Mexican fishing village setting comes with a beautiful stretch of beach. Add instructor Tom Morley, a Los Angeles yoga icon with celebrity clients and a loyal following, and you’ve achieved nirvana.
Where You’ll Salute the Sun: under an oceanfront palapa, the Pacific lapping just feet in front of you, with views of lush mountains
Post-Yoga Diversions: A red algae body wrap at the spa. A yacht cruise along the coastline. A beachside tequila tasting before an authentic Pacific-Mexican dinner.
When To Go: fall 2010
Cost: $1,600 per person (double occupancy) for a three-night retreat, includes all meals and daily yoga classes; tideszihuatanejo.com
Las Olas Surf and Yoga
Why You’ll Love It: Its motto is “We make girls out of women.” You get the physical challenges of surfing and the relaxation of yoga, all in one vacation.
Where You’ll Salute the Sun: at the edge of the Pacific Ocean, every morning
Post-Yoga Diversions: cooking lessons, salsa dancing, and surfboard care workshop
When To Go: 2010 retreats are scheduled through June.
Cost: Deluxe villas start at $2,495 for shared bedrooms; villas with private bedrooms start at $3,495. Includes airport transportation, six nights accommodations, breakfasts, daily yoga, daily surf lessons, surf equipment, and a sports massage; surflasolas.com
Ambergris Caye, Belize
Why You’ll Love It: Views of turquoise Caribbean water from the beachfront casitas and the yoga palapa can’t be beat.
Where You’ll Salute the Sun: in a palapa built over the sea, 300 feet from shore
Post-Yoga Diversions: The second largest coral reef in the world is within eyesight, so there’s lots of snorkeling, diving, kayaking, and sailing.
When To Go: Retreats are scheduled all year, but personal retreats, such as the Yoga/Adventure package, mix daily yoga instruction with watersports and inland excursions to Mayan ruins.
Cost: from $1,200, includes accommodations, three meals a day, and water taxi to and from San Pedro; akbol.com
Why You’ll Love It: At the edge of Corcovado National Park, this yoga lodge offers up yoga and spa treatments smack in the middle of “the most biologically intense place on Earth,” according to National Geographic.
Where You’ll Salute the Sun: on a yoga platform hanging over the rain forest hillside with views of the Pacific
Post-Yoga Diversions: waterfall hikes, kayaking, surfing lessons, horseback riding, and spa treatments
When To Go: Yoga & Meditation retreat March 5–13. Other retreats offered throughout the year.
Cost: $1,885 per person (double occupancy), includes one night in San Jose, domestic air and transfers, seven nights at Luna Lodge, three meals a day, two daily yoga classes, and a day trip to Corcovado National Park; lunalodge.com
The Island Experience
Iha Grande, Brazil
Ilha Grande, off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, claims 106 beaches―what’s not to love? The Island Experience is a spa/fitness lodge that offers seven-day programs from March to December, combining outdoor activities such as kayaking and hiking with yoga and meditation.
Cost: $1,900 per person (double occupancy), includes six nights lodging, all meals, twice daily yoga classes, a daily one-hour massage, and various activities, including snorkeling and Brazilian dance; theislandexperience.com
Punta de Mita, Mexico
This luxury spa specializes in Ayurveda (an ancient natural healing system) and yoga. Try the Heart to Core fitness and yoga retreat (April 24-30) for daily yoga and power hikes.
Cost: $1,995, includes airport transport, lodging, activities, food, and massage treatment; villaananda.com
Serenity with style sums up this place; it’s a spa, but it’s swanky. In early summer, witness caguamas (loggerhead sea turtles) making their way up the beach to lay eggs, or take a day trip to the ruins of ancient Mayan cities. Retreats offered year-round, but we love the ReSource Pilates and Yoga retreat, May 1–8.
Cost: from $1,445 to $2,265, includes seven nights accommodations, three meals a day, and daily Pilates and yoga classes; mayatulum.com
White Lotus Foundation Retreat Center
Santa Barbara, California
Why you’ll Love It: You sleep in yurts. This retreat center dates to 1967; founder Ganga White is one of the country’s most well-known yogis.
Where You’ll Salute the Sun: just outside town in a canyon with views of the Pacific
Post-Yoga Diversions: The campus sits in the mountains overlooking Santa Barbara, so there’s plenty of exploring.
When To Go: Retreats are scheduled year-round. If you don’t have a whole week to unwind, the Memorial Day Yoga Retreat is a great way to spend a long weekend.
Cost: $150 deposit, then a $675 donation, includes accommodations and meals; whitelotus.org
Why You’ll Love It: The ultra-chic hotel has an amazing Yoga, Movement, and Meditation program. Great for the hipster crowd.
Where You’ll Salute the Sun: on a bayside dock or in the movement center, with panoramic views of the bay
Post-Yoga Diversions: The spa offers acupuncture, fitness training, and nutrition-focused cooking lessons. And there’s always South Beach ...
When To Go: anytime. Year-round retreats, workshops, and seminars available.
Cost: from $1,200, includes two nights accommodations, daily yoga and meditation, a spa treatment, and breakfast and lunch; standardhotels.com
Big Island, Hawaii
Why You’ll Love It: Nearby volcano Kilauea provides a dramatic backdrop for a restorative vacation.
Where You’ll Salute the Sun: on the Big Island of Hawaii, one of the most picturesque spots in the United States.
Post-Yoga Diversions: scuba diving, snorkeling, and hiking by waterfalls and botanical gardens. A black-sand beach is only a short walk away.
When To Go: The resort hosts instructors throughout the year; check out the Yoga, Meditation, and Live Music retreat: Relax and Restore in Paradise, April 6–11.
Cost: $999 for a room with private bath for six days and five nights, includes three meals a day and daily yoga with live music; kalani.com
Whidbey Island, Washington
Why You’ll Love It: It’s an inexpensive and homey getaway for those who really want to simplify and enjoy peaceful surroundings.
Where You’ll Salute the Sun: in a forest on Puget Sound, 25 miles from Seattle
Post-Yoga Diversions: wandering five acres of woodlands and appreciating the lush landscape and wildlife
When To Go: 2010 retreats are ongoing, or you can drop in for a weekend of yoga.
Cost: starts at $375 for two nights lodging, includes vegetarian meals and two to three yoga classes a day; yogalodge.com
Bikram Yoga Retreats
Why You’ll Love It: Some like it hot―and these Bikram retreats are pretty sultry.
Where You’ll Salute the Sun: at one of three locations: on Kauai, Maui, or the Big Island. The ocean is just steps away!
Post-Yoga Diversions: surfing, snorkeling, and hiking
When To Go: Check out the Big Island retreat in summer 2010.
Cost: from $1,395 to $1,895 per person (double occupancy), includes seven nights lodging, daily brunch, five gourmet dinners, luau, yoga, posture clinic, and island excursions; bikramyogaretreats.com
WE ALSO LOVE…
The Spa at Amelia Island Plantation
Amelia Island, Florida
Heaven on Earth Yoga Parties combine yoga, meditation, aromatherapy, massage, and healthy treats.
Cost: $75 per person; spaamelia.com
Sacred Circle of Yoga
It mixes two of our favorite coastal activities, yoga and sailing, in one fun day! Retreats are offered all summer long.
Cost: $225 for a daylong cruise. Includes meditation and yoga, breathing instruction, and a stop at a secluded beach; sacredcircleofyoga.com
Sag Harbor, New York
The renowned yoga studio in the Hamptons offers classes and retreats, such as the Blue Spirit Retreat in Costa Rica (March 15–20), throughout the year.
Cost: from $1,475 to $2,350, includes five nights accommodations, all meals, and twice daily yoga; yogashanti.com
COMO Shambhala retreat at Parrot Cay
Turks & Caicos
Why You’ll Love It: What could be more relaxing than yoga on a private island?
Where You’ll Salute the Sun: in an open-air yoga studio
Post-Yoga Diversions: Parrot Cay offers all sorts of spa treatments and watersports―typical of a posh beach resort.
When To Go: year-round
Cost: $5,681 and up (single occupancy), includes six nights accommodations and five hours of daily yoga or Pilates practice; parrotcay.como.bz
The Self Centre at Caneel Bay
St. John, USVI
Why You’ll Love It: for its focus on deep relaxation and stress relief, thanks to founding director and renowned mind/body expert Jan Kinder
Where You’ll Salute the Sun: perched on a bluff overlooking the beach
Post-Yoga Diversions: sailing, watersports, tennis, snorkeling, or sunbathing on one of seven sandy beaches
When To Go: Anytime―yoga, meditation and other classes are offered daily.
Cost: The Bed & Breakfast package for two starts at $510 per night. Yoga and wellness classes are $35 each for groups of two or more, $100 for a private session; selfcentreinternational.com
WE ALSO LOVE…
The Body Holiday
This well-known spa resort promises a vacation for both the mind and body. Customize your fitness vacation with hundreds of options, including yoga, golf, windsurfing, diving, volleyball, archery, sailing, biking, kayaking, and dancing.
Cost: from $368 per person, per night, includes all meals and daily activities and treatments; thebodyholiday.com
Adventure Yoga Sustainability Retreat at Jungle Bay
Combine adventure with the calmness of yoga and learn about leading a sustainable lifestyle at one of the world’s best eco-resorts. After classes, hike to a boiling lake, kayak along the coast, dance to local music, and learn about renewable energy and organic farming.
Cost: $2,375 for seven days, including accommodations, all meals, yoga classes, a spa treatment, and airport transfers; ayretreats.com
EUROPE, ASIA, INDONESIA
Kamalaya Koh Samui Wellness Sanctuary and Holistic Spa
Why You’ll Love It: for the exotic seaside location and fabulously sumptuous accommodations
Where You’ll Salute the Sun: in an open-air platform overlooking the ocean
Post-Yoga Diversions: The award-winning spa offers a menu of therapies and treatments, and tai chi on the beach.
When To Go: anytime; book a three-, five-, or seven-night stay.
Cost: $1,580 and up, includes three nights accommodations, airport transfer, daily yoga, and three meals/day; kamalaya.com
WE ALSO LOVE…
Suncokret Body and Soul Retreat, Hvar Island
An American yoga instructor and her native husband own this island retreat, which specializes in yoga and other holistic health practices, off the coast of Croatia.
Cost: starts at $775, includes seven nights accommodations, two meals a day, and twice daily yoga; suncokretdream.net
Yoga Plus, Agios Pavlos
If you really want to get away, this gorgeous piece of beach on the southern coast of Crete could be your nirvana. The retreat, popular with Europeans, focuses on Ashtanga yoga.
Cost: from $1,160 per person (double occupancy), includes two weeks accommodations, all meals, and daily yoga classes; yogaplus.co.uk
SpaFari is a fitness vacation with locations all over the world. After morning yoga, visitors can expect to hike as much as 15 miles a day, along with snorkeling, massage, sailing, biking, and horseback riding. Bali retreats are scheduled in March, April, and September.
Cost: $6,975 (double occupancy), includes 12 nights accommodations and all meals; spafari.com
Life Wellness Resort
Quy Nhon, Vietnam
If you dream of a romantic hideaway, this could be your spot. Yoga is a part of the resort’s wellness philosophy.
Cost: starts at $320 (double occupancy), includes two nights accommodations, airport transfer, and 20% discount on all spa treatments; life-resorts.com
(Published March 2010)