March 19, 2012 at 7:52 AM ET
Few forms of escapism are as wholesome as yoga. As its millions of acolytes attest, regular yoga practice not only alleviates stress and improves strength and flexibility (recent reports even credit it for enhanced sexual health), it’s also an activity that can be done just about anywhere. Just taking a smartphone-free hour to practice sun salutations can feel like a mini-vacation.
But even for the yogically inclined, more than an hourlong getaway is sometimes necessary. It’s certainly alluring, especially since there are so many options for rolling up your sticky mat and dashing off to an exotic locale.
These days, there are yoga retreats that cater to every ability level and goal. Some, such as the Ayurvedic Rejuvenation Retreat at Shreyas Resort in Bangalore, emphasize the traditional holistic benefits of yoga (participants receive health and dietary consultations, plus personalized ayurvedic spa treatments, along with their classes). Others, like Yada Yada Yoga’s Bespoke Yoga Retreat at the St. Regis Bahia Beach, offers guests the opportunity to combine yoga with other activities like paddleboarding, kayaking and hiking, while others offer it as a double bill with music, photography and cultural study.
Whether the goal is serenity or invigoration, ancient traditions or innovative approaches, here are five places to make your escape.
Ayurvedic Rejuvenation Retreat, Shreyas Resort, Bangalore, India
At this ashram-style retreat in India, guests receive personalized ayurvedic therapies (like abhyanga, a traditional Indian massage) with one-on-one pranayama (guided breathing) and meditation sessions. The retreat is designed to help guests take their practices with them when they leave, incorporating vegetarian cooking classes and consultations on integrating yoga practice into daily life. Shreyas practices karma yoga, the yoga of giving back; guests can do service by working in a community garden, volunteering in the local school or planting trees. Seven-night stay, from $3,340; shreyasretreat.com.
Bespoke Yoga Retreat, St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, Puerto Rico
Boutique yoga agency Yada Yada Yoga has teamed up with the St. Regis Bahia Beach to create this retreat, which offers daily instruction by a Yada Yada yogi set against the expansive natural backdrop of the five-star resort, which is the first and only gold-certified Audubon Signature Sanctuary in Puerto Rico. Classes are taught in the Forrest yoga style, which works to overcome physical and emotional blocks. Guests can explore the 483-acre property and its wildlife through hiking, biking and guided bird watching. Not in the bird mood? Lounge beachside, take a plunge in the resort’s seafront pool or linger in the spa’s garden after indulging in a treatment. From $1,575; June 15–18; 954-624-1784.
Kuxan Summ, Maya Tulum, Mexico
According to the Mayan calendar, this year’s winter solstice will mark the dawn of a new spiritual era for mankind; yoga resort Maya Tulum is celebrating with a weeklong retreat, incorporating yoga, meditation and Mayan culture. Guests will practice yoga twice a day, visit nearby Mayan ruins and take part in ceremonial drumming and a shaman-led Aztec energy dance. Those looking for a little less adventure can opt to explore the resort’s beaches (which lie along the world’s second-longest coral reef) or indulge in a Mayan-influenced spa treatment. From $2,360; Oct. 27–Nov. 3;mayatulum.com.
Quantum Yoga, Shunya Resort, Ibiza, Spain
Nestled in the countryside of northern Ibiza, near Benirras Beach, the Villa at Shunya Resort provides a peaceful backdrop for this retreat by Quantum Yoga. By day, guests participate inpranayama-breathing sessions, Vinyasa-flow classes and seminars in yoga philosophy. After hours, those interested in mixing the spiritual with the worldly can head into town to take advantage of the stellar shopping, sample the local cuisine and explore the island’s legendary nightlife. From $1,900; Aug. 3–12; quantumyoga.com.
Self-Discovery Retreat, Byron Bay Yoga, Australia
This retreat, set in Australia’s most famous spiritually minded community, aims to treat the whole self: daily classes in yoga, Pilates, meditation andpranayama are augmented by massage, Yoga Nidra (deep relaxation) and organic vegan ayurvedic cuisine. The centerpiece of the program is Core Energetics Body Psychotherapy, designed to put students in touch with the mind-body-spirit connection; those who need a day off, though, may find a stroll along one of Byron Bay’s lovely surfing beaches, or the wooded nature trails at Cape Byron Headland Preserve, just as healing. From $1,595; March 30–April 4;yogahealthretreats.com.
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