Where to go on a yoga vacation
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Yoga vacations come in all shapes and sizes and you can go for as little as a weekend to as long as month, traveling close to home in the UK or Europe, or as far flung as the rainforests of Costa Rica. It’s all too easy to get wowed by a location though, so before you decide where to go on a yoga vacation, plumping for a boutique mountain stay in Canada, or the sun and sea of Greece, you need to think about what it is you’re going for – every yoga vacation offers something different in terms of type of yoga practiced and what you’ll get out of it. Let your vacation choose your location and not the other way round.
Fed up with December’s relentless conveyor belt of cheer and cheeseboards? Why not head to the tranquil east coast of Barbados for a week or two of health over hangovers. The retreat is set in 22 acres of virgin forest overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and your days will be spent practicing yoga, massage and acupuncture, all nourished by a local vegetarian diet.
True to Canada’s innate quirks, a yoga vacation there isn’t just a yoga vacation: you can go women-only and pair your daily sessions with hiking and biking in a boutique mountain town, or compliment your practice with an ecological angle, staying in a log cabin and learning about the world of the eastern wolf, or canoeing in search of moose.
The Costa Rican rainforest offers two types of trip – take the chance to get a few steps further down that elusive path to wellness on a holistic retreat that compliments yoga with a wide range of spiritually healing treatments, or go heavier on the yoga at a women-only retreat practicing a different type of yoga twice daily among other solo travelers.
As varied as the islands themselves, you’ll find all sorts of yoga tucked away across Croatia – combine yoga, meditation and art therapy with a strictly veggie diet in Vis, head south to learn the finer points of hatha, vinyasa and yin, or bite the intensive bullet and spend three weeks near Brac on a 200-hour teacher training course approved by the Yoga-alliance.
Egypt covers an entire sliding scale of yoga vacations – you can stay at a swanky hotel and indulge in a little more vacation than yoga, or immerse yourself fully in yoga’s intriguing complexities emerging three weeks later as a qualified yoga teacher. Balance the two? Head to Dahab to practice twice daily and get to grips with yoga’s mental and physical benefits.
Not to be outshone by the presence of a decent climate, there’s ample opportunity to get your yoga on in Blighty. Spend a very spiritual five days at a grand holistic retreat learning the foundations of yoga and yogic beliefs, or head off on a less meditative weekend course with more emphasis on unwinding and getting to know some new, like-minded people.
France’s undulating landscape is far too spectacular to be admired from a mat alone, so why not combine your yoga vacation with a spot of scenic walking? Trek the largest cirque in the Sixt National Park, stroll the surrounding hills of Nice, or redress your work-life balance in the Alps, leaving time for plenty of sessions to learn your asana from your pranayama.
An idyllic place to combine sun, sea and stretching, Greece is a hotbed of yoga activity – go down the holistic route and pair your practice with mindfulness and massage, learn how to use your newfound flexibility to better your horse riding, or take a punt on something unusual and spend a week doing yoga on the deck of a traditional gulet while cruising.
India is to yoga what Glasgow is to the deep fried Mars bar: home, although don’t expect to be eating those. Instead, expect beach bungalows, a yoga schedule to suit almost every style ever invented and lots of free time to explore India’s fascinating culture. If you’d rather keep busy, why not mix morning yoga with volunteering on a local community programme.
From its relaxing Roman baths to its formidable food, Italy strikes a perfect balance between health and indulgence. You can choose to engage with local Italian life, pairing yoga with ancient village walks, unwind at a pedestrian-only hilltop village and soothe your muscles in hot springs, or combine daily hatha practice with a mouthwatering course in Sicilian food.
A yoga vacation in Montenegro is all about the healing powers of Lake Skadar National Park. Staying at a village on the lake’s shore, you’ll practice hatha flow daily at various outdoor lakeside spots, breathing the clean air, listening to little other than birdsong and finding the delicate balance between effort and relaxation that this spiritual yoga style requires.
Portugal’s bucolic backdrop is enough to make even the most stressed relax, especially when teamed with hearty, nutrient-packed meals, walks across surrounding hills and, of course, a daily dose of yoga. Go yoga all the way and practice anusara in the Algarve, stay on the south coast and add a spot of surfing, or head to the mountains for massage and mud baths.
Spain is bursting at its sunny seams with yoga vacation options – some are focused on relaxation and will let you nip out for the odd sangria and others are very much about detoxing, serving up vegetarian food alongside an extra helping of lessons and workshops to help you sculpt, tone and transform; all include yoga, though how much is up to you.