Gone are the days when the ideal holiday meant finding a sunbathing spot on a crowded beach and sipping cocktails by the hotel pool – vacations have become a little more niche and tailored to the traveler in recent years. And while the former vacay scenario definitely beats being stuck in the office from 9 to 5, it’s nice to have more options on your well-earned holiday. Fun in the sun can be had in many different ways – even for the budget traveler – so it’s definitely worth exploring what relaxation means to you.
For some, this can mean practicing the art of yoga somewhere other than the gym or their living room. Holidays and retreats specifically catered for yoga fans are huge news in the travel community and with good reason. Holidays have always been about escaping the rat race and the joys of doing nothing all week, but your vacay time should also be about reconnecting with yourself (as cheesy as it sounds) and hitting the refresh button on your mind, body, and spirit.
The awesome thing about yoga retreats is that there aren’t exclusive clubs for yoga masters and the super flexible. The aim at most yoga getaways is to let travelers feel inspired and practice at their own pace – solo or with beginner and intermediate groups. If you love yoga and the serenity it brings you at home or in a gym room, think how amazing it’s gonna feel with a mountain view or in a tropical paradise setting! If you want to practice daily peace and serenity with some fellow yogis on holiday, here are the best places on the planet to do it...
20 Ananda Yoga – India
Within what used to be the former residence of the Maharaja of Tehri-Garhwal is now a sacred place for a different purpose – a beautiful palace dedicated to wellness and fulfillment through yoga practice.
Once guests arrive at the 100-acres-long hilltop spa resort in the Himalayas, as well as being greeted with the jaw-dropping views of the surrounding Sal forest and peaceful river Ganges in the distance, they’ll also be given a wellness consultation form to make sure a truly personalized yoga treatment is on the cards for their stay. A typical day at the Ananda yoga spa could be morning detox and rebalance sessions, afternoon massages and midnight yoga overlooking a tiger safari.
19 Jungle Yoga - Thailand
Travelers wishing to update their Instagram in real time with snaps of the view or how well they’ve nailed a tricky yoga position will have to leave the outside world behind here. This isolated Thailand paradise may prove challenging for phone lovers because this is a place with no wi-fi or cellular service whatsoever.
This southern Thai Jungle Yoga retreat literally floats on water as guests sleep in a floating bungalow and practice yoga on a deck space on the edge of the lake. If you’re prepared for a week-long digital detox in the middle of nowhere, you can do much worse than reconnecting in this serene jungle escape.
18 Soulshine Bali – Indonesia
Indonesia often tops many lists of the best and most relaxing destinations in the world, so it’s little wonder this beautiful country is also a firm favorite of yogis everywhere (as you’ll notice throughout this list!). First up is this gorgeous, fairytale-esque retreat known as Soulshine Bali and, as it says on the tin, promises to help your soul shine with a mix of great food, a chilled atmosphere, and stunning yoga poses under the great orange life giver above.
More traditional holiday-goers will be able to enjoy day trips to the nearby beach and visit the majestic volcanoes and temples close by. Otherwise, the place is so beautiful that yogis may feel they needn’t ever leave the actual resort. Enjoy yoga sessions on the rooftop studio and by the pool. Heavenly.
17 Yoga In The Underground Cistern – Turkey
To read the name of this particular yoga resort, you might not picture this to be the most relaxing place to find your dosha and assume the lotus position, but trust us on this – underground yoga can be every bit as fulfilling as a session in a treetop retreat.
Thankfully long since drained of all sewage water, the ancient and deeply spiritual underground cistern in the old city of Sultanahmet in Istanbul is now where yoga enthusiasts gather for a unique and cultural yoga session. Guests describe it as a “once in a lifetime experience” amongst magnificent architecture. It may not be your typical luxury resort, but as the experience is half the fun, this is definitely one to consider.
16 Kaliyoga – Italy
Because of the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it’s quite hard to stay in a relaxed state of mind the minute your holiday is over, but at the Kaliyoga retreat in southern Italy, the hosts are determined to ensure that every one of their residents leave not only feeling refreshed but eager to make positive changes in their life and let go of what held them back at home.
Guests at Kailyoga can lose themselves in a place described by National Geographic as the “most beautiful region in the world”. The retreat offers mind and body fulfillment with rejuvenating yoga in the heart of the Itria valley and sumptuous seasonal menus to replenish your energy. Delightful.
15 Jicaro Lodge – Nicaragua
This super secluded resort will have guests feeling zen before they even arrive since it’s a serene 10-minute boat ride across Lake Nicaragua in order to reach Jicaro Lodge. Once they arrive on the island, lodge guests can choose to take a private guided tour of the island in all its glory or settle in for a delicious meal on the on-site restaurant – and since the focus is on wellness, diet options are catered for too.
As well as being the perfect place for solo travelers and couples wishing to have a unique and beautiful yoga experience, families are welcome too. Kayak and paddle boarding can also be enjoyed on the island – ideal for allowing mom or dad a spot of peaceful meditation! Namaste.
14 Mind Body Retreats – Ibiza
Ibiza may be known as the clubbers paradise of the world, but believe it or not, there are also plenty of quiet and reflective times to be had on this wild party island. A million miles from the chest-thumping beats is this stunning luxury yoga retreat near San Sebastian.
Here, guests can choose to relax by the pool in between taking two daily yoga classes on the picturesque rooftop yoga spot. In between meditation and filling up on a delicious vegan menu, exploring the island and enjoying something called a gong bath is also on the cards at this retreat.
13 Blue OSA – Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a pretty tourist-heavy place, but if you know where to look, there are plenty of places you can go to escape the crowds and replace the cacophony of people with birdsong and breeze whistling through the trees. Places like the gorgeous Blue OSA beach retreat and spa.
Off the much-beaten path is this picturesque beachfront resort where guests can come to rediscover themselves and practice the kind of yoga that, as their website, confidently claims, “can change your life”. In the sense of shaking mental blocks in your life or simply feeling happier and healthier in yourself, they could very well be right.
12 Reclaim Yourself – Japan
If you’re the sort of person who feels inner peace and tranquility just looking at Japanese zen gardens on Pinterest then this yoga retreat will feel like an out of body experience! (in a positive way, of course).
At this mesmerizing retreat on Kyushu island, guests can switch up between rejuvenating strolls through forests dotted about with ancient temples or take things at an even slower pace by enjoying twice-daily sessions of some “body-transforming” Jivamukti yoga. Guests can also end long days of walking and yoga with a soak in one of the retreat's inviting hot spring baths while sipping on tea. Bliss.
11 Gaia Retreat – Australia
This stunning yoga retreat down under was actually co-founded by Grease actress Olivia Newton-John, so you may actually see her walking about the grounds if you’re lucky! The Gaia retreat and spa just outside Byron Bay was set up by Newton-John and her pals in 2005 to create a wellness retreat that goes above and beyond the usual spa packages.
Within this glorious 25-acre retreat, guests fill their days with organic cooking lessons, tai chi and pilates, and of course, daily yoga sessions for yogis of all skill levels. You can even arrange one-on-one lessons anywhere in this rambling gorgeous retreat.
10 Ak’bol Yoga Retreat & Eco-Resort – Belize
A world away from the buzz and hustle of San Pedro in Belize is this little slice of paradise for yoga and beach lovers alike and it's the stuff of dreams. On the north side of the Ambergris Caye is a Mayan-inspired village made up of 7 cabanas and a main floating yoga deck that offers such beautiful views from every angle it’s almost surreal.
Guests who care to stroll along the ‘Paradise Pier’ to the yoga spot can enjoy daily 60 minute sessions with the resort owner and professional yogi, Kirsten. Yoga by Caribbean sunrise and cool-down yoga by sunset? Sign us up now, please.
9 Shreyas Retreat – India
Every yoga retreat on the planet aims to make its guests feel free and relaxed, but if you’re on the lookout for that kind of retreat with vast open spaces and an almost minimalist feel to it, then the Shreyas Retreat in Bangalore is the way to go.
Amongst 26 acres of gorgeous greenery and frangipani gardens that frame the retreat, you will only ever share your luxury stay with 19 other guests, as this venue restricts itself to only 20 people at a time, so keep this in mind before booking. A mix of different yoga and deep relaxation classes are scheduled daily and guests can also take advantage of one of the finest rejuvenation spas in the country – boasting organic scrubs and masks made from the organic gardens that surround you.
8 Absolute Sanctuary – Thailand
If you’ve always been intrigued by the idea of experiencing a detox but weren't really sure how (or where to start), then this pure, no-frills yoga haven in Thailand may be the perfect place to try it out. Detoxing newbies can become obsessed with drinking the right green juices, but detoxing is far more about your body and attitude than what you put into your body.
This detoxing yoga retreat on Thailand’s Koh Sumui island helps guests redress the balance in their spirit with personal yoga and massages while feeding their bodies with the kind of detox food consumption that’s tailored specially to them. Swap out the magazine fads for a delicious taste of rediscovering you!
7 Island Yoga – Croatia
The beauty of a yoga retreat is that you don't necessarily have to be constrained to indoor sessions – many of the most breathtaking yoga escapes are in the great outdoors. After all, what better yoga ‘mat’ and equipment than mother nature itself?
This was the thinking behind Island Yoga in Croatia – a place that provides yoga enthusiasts with a view out to sea as they look out across the dramatic coastline. The actual sessions themselves take place on the rocks, and while it might be a little uneven underfoot, the glorious views and rays smiling down on you certainly make up for it.
6 The Yoga Farm – Costa Rica
Although this is open to guests as well as volunteers, more advanced yogis and those looking to make a living out of teaching what they love will adore this retreat, as it may give them the inspiration they need to pursue a path as a yoga instructor.
The Yoga Farm allows guests to stay as long as they like if they’re willing to participate in the wellness retreat and volunteer their time as yoga instructors. The farm is nestled within a tropical jungle, so although the experience is certainly serene and offers stunning views of the ocean peeking through the trees, you will hear the occasional sound of monkeys playfully jumping around!
5 Amansala, Mexico
Yoga isn't just a relaxing form of exercise (although that is a key part of the practice), there’s no denying that regular practice also keeps you fit and can be a very motivational way to stay in shape. If slow meditation and deep breathing exercises aren't for you when it comes to a yoga retreat, then this beautiful beach venue in Tulum, Mexico may be more your speed.
As well as providing traditional yoga classes for beginner and intermediate levels, the Amansala resort also runs a boot camp style fitness class for those who may want to mix breaking a sweat in the mornings followed by a relaxing cool-down yoga session at night. Come away from your holiday feeling strong in body and mind!
4 Yoga Explorers – Italy
Casual yogis beware, this is a week-long adventure in yoga and as the title suggests, it won’t all be confined to a single studio overlooking the beach! As guests arrive at this postcard-perfect escape deep in the Umbrian countryside, they will be met by the yoga instructor duo Jim and Khadine (who also run a top yoga school in the UK).
Kicking things off at a 12th-century farmhouse on the hillside, you will then be taken the length and breadth of the 28-acre retreat for a week, practicing mindfulness, relaxing yoga and being nourished by hearty Italian food and wine along the way. #Stylishyogagoals
3 Sivananda, Bahamas
The Bahamas is a breathtaking part of the world, but notoriously pricey as a holiday destination. Fortunately, traveling there in a spiritual and wellness capacity may be the more affordable way to experience the beauty of the place as this yoga retreat provides guests with more affordable rates than hotel resorts in the area.
The Sivananda Ashram yoga retreat gives guests the option of ocean and garden view rooms as well as the chance to stay in a beach hut or even just pitch their tent up for the night. The focus at this retreat is for travelers to achieve spiritual growth and well-being with the help of yoga masters and azure blue waters.
2 Eco Yoga, Scotland
Now for a fairly unconventional option for a yoga retreat – Scotland! Okay, so the climate may not be as reliably sunny as other locations on this list, but make no mistake, this is a beauteous spot for a wellness vacation.
Yoga and traditional chanting sessions take place in and outside this fairytale-like castle that overlooks the appropriately named Loch Awe lake and guests can take five in the resort's underground sauna, the solar-powered hot-tub or bathe old school in the wild lake waters. Like something out of Game of Thrones (if there were no threat of awful things happening, obviously).
1 The Yoga Barn – Bali
One of the great things about yoga is that it can be as good as a solo and group exercise and if you happen to be the kind of yogi who much prefers the latter at a yoga retreat, then this Yoga Barn in Indonesia will be ideal for you.
Yoga is a quiet meditative practice, but it can also be a great way to make friends and socialize with like-minded mindful peeps. Surrounded by Bali’s gorgeous Ubud forest, guests can practice things like Tibetan bowl meditation and Ayurveda yoga suited to their body type – before rounding off the day with a fresh delicious meal from the retreat's garden cafe while shooting the breeze with your new yoga family. Namaste indeed!