You’re likely not starting every morning with a sun salutation overlooking the verdant jungles of Bali, or the mountains of Colorado, or the vineyards of the Douro Valley. In fact, your mornings are probably a little bit different and a lot less Zen. But what if we told you that you could trade in your alarm clock for a yoga mat with a view and a menu of body cleansing, healthy food, and wonderful friendships? Hello, yoga retreats.
Women all over the world crave a yoga retreat experience for a variety of reasons. Yoga retreats can help you kick your diet goals back into gear, unplug from technology, connect with inspiring women, and realign your wellness mindset—all with endless opportunities to reconnect with your body through a yoga-centric vacation.
But a yoga retreat is more than just a getaway; it’s a vacation with purpose that takes you outside of your day-to-day routine. “Making the commitment to go outside your comfort zone for significant growth is a much bigger investment for transformation,” says Ko Im, a New York-based yogi who has led retreats in the Catskills and Bali and attended numerous retreats all over the world. “In my opinion, you should feel taken care of.”
Yoga Retreat Benefits: Why go on a yoga retreat?
Yoga retreats are designed to offer yoga students the opportunity to delve deeper into their personal yoga practice, to learn more about what yoga actually is, and use the structured week of refreshing freedom to develop a better relationship with themselves.
“In my opinion, any and all things ‘yoga’ is never about getting better at yoga, per se, but rather about refining skills and techniques to lead a more joyful, integrated life,” says Eli Walker, founder of Divine Your Story yoga retreats and Drunk Yoga retreats.
“Taking yourself on a yoga retreat is an experience of a lifetime. Not only do you gift yourself an all-inclusive vacation away from the hustle of your day-to-day, but you are also affording yourself the opportunity to explore your depths while replenishing your physical abode,” Walker adds.
There is no typical model of the perfect yoga retreat or attendee. There are yoga vacation options for all skill levels, from beginners to the true pros. What matters is that you have the intention to better your overall wellness.
“If you want to reconnect or explore your deepest self, learn to put a pause on life for a bit to take care and nurture yourself, you’re the ideal customer. This person is ready to unplug and has a desire to explore themselves from the inside out,” says Moana Leirer, an environmental scientist based in Alaska who has attended yoga retreats all around the world.
Yoga getaways have wellness benefits that extend far beyond just improving your yoga practice. Creating the time and space to experience the benefits of a yoga retreat is less an addition to one’s mental and physical health and more of a tool to refine.
“Your mind and body are already ‘perfect,’ but gifting yourself with the opportunity to enjoy both more fully is an investment that will improve every face-off your life, offering new perspective on work, relationships, and your goals for the future,” says Walker.
Yoga Retreats in the U.S.
While it might be lovely to hop a plane to Thailand for a 10-day retreat, not everyone has the time or money to do so. But that’s no reason to halt your yoga dreams! Practicing yoga on a yoga retreat is entirely possible in the U.S.
Where: Boone, North Carolina
Focus: Meditation, breathing practices
Cost: Each is different depending on time of year and itinerary. All include tuition, room, and meals.
Tucked in the misty and mossy Blue Ridge Mountains, the Art of Living Retreat Center hosts retreats year round. The campus sits on 380 acres of forest in the Appalachian Mountains, with gorgeous views and a hushed calm that is perfect for disconnecting with the outside world.
The Art of Living also supports overall wellness with organic food sourced from its garden. When not practicing yoga, guests can sign up for pottery classes, nature walks, or meditation classes. There is also an onsite spa, and nearby Boone is famous for its hiking trails, lakes, skiing, horseback riding, kayaking, and more.
Where: Rhinebeck, New York
Focus: Meditation, yoga, creative expression
Cost: $123/day, 2-night minimum
Less structured than many yoga retreats, Omega R&R getaways allows aspiring and expert yogis to decompress with a customized experience. A wealth of classes focus on uncovering your creative side, from art and writing to aura cleansing and lunar astrology. The campus sits on 250 acres of pure upstate New York nature.
Where: Ithaca, New York
Focus: Restorative yoga, Vinyasa yoga
Yoga retreat meets glamping at this incredibly affordable (and easily accessible) spot in upstate New York. Just off the trailhead at Buttermilk Falls State Park, this location is a great place to elevate your yoga practice while getting back to the basics. For three days and two nights, check in to a tent decked out with all the amenities—bed, chairs, tables, and storage space—and prepare for restorative yoga, Vinyasa yoga, locally grown food, and downtime in the sauna and steam rooms.
Where: North Cascade Mountains, Washington
Focus: Hiking, yoga
A retreat doesn’t necessarily mean you have to commit to a week away. Get in the Wild offers a Yoga Day Hike Series, which takes guests outside the city to reconnect with nature for day yoga. It changes up the scenery and removes outside distractions but doesn’t require you to use any of your PTO. The day yoga outing includes a short hike to a secluded destination for yoga practice, lunch, and awe-inspiring views.
Note: A two-day outing is also available that incorporates meditation and restorative yoga practices.
Where: Stockbridge, Massachusetts
Focus: Yoga, staying active, creative classes, holistic healing
This retreat offers the most flexibility among yoga retreats, as guests are allowed to pick and choose what days work best. There are no set itineraries, and the activities are chosen based on what fits your needs, whether that’s a weekend yoga getaway or a two-week escape.
In addition to traditional yoga classes, the center has hiking, barre yoga, dance yoga, and workshops that encompass everything from chanting to sound healing. Summertime is a wonderful time to visit to enjoy the lakefront beach. There is also an on-site sauna and fitness center, and the restaurant serves a menu of all-natural meals.
Where: Tyler, Texas
Focus: Yoga, relaxation, female bonding
Retreat in the Pines is a self-proclaimed “retreat slumber party” that brings together women of all yoga levels to a cozy cabin in the woods. While the focus of the retreat is yoga, Retreat in the Pines emphasizes community building and bonding with women as well, with wine, home-cooked meals, and shared accommodations.
Their most popular offering is the Yoga Nurture Retreat, which has plenty of yoga, wine, and downtime. Enjoy candlelight yoga, slow flow, Vinyasa, and mindfulness nature walks. The compound is complete with spa services, hammocks, and country roads and is near local antique stores, art studios, and wineries.
Where: Parshall, Colorado
Focus: Yoga, meditation, active travel
Cost: $645/lodging, $345/camping
For those yogis who believe that all good things start at 4:20, this might be the retreat for you. Each retreat kicks off with Laughter Yoga at—you guessed it—4:20. Guests receive a special goodie bag packed with tokeable treats like joints and ganja medicinals to help bring a new perspective to the yoga experience.
Classes incorporate weed into each style, including Vinyasa flow, partner yoga, and silent meditation. The retreat also uses the Rocky Mountains as its playground, offering other activities, such as hiking, massage, and meditation.
Where: Clyde Park, Montana
Focus: Vinyasa and restorative yoga
Designed for both newbies and experienced yogis, Big Sky Yoga Retreats brings everyone together under the blazing blue open skies of Montana at the 115-acre Double T River Ranch. Each of its luxury retreats offers something for everyone and always offers a unique twist on the traditional yoga retreat experience.
From LUXE Cowgirl Yoga to LUXE Cowgirl Yoga & Creativity, Yoga and Hiking, and Yoga and Yellowstone, all of their yoga getaways are designed to help guests connect with breath, body, nature, and other women. The most popular of their retreats is the LUXE Cowgirl Yoga, which combines yoga practice with horse care.
Learn about grooming and caring for horses and even have the opportunity to get in the saddle yourself. Accommodations and meals tend to swing more upscale, so if comfort and amenities are a priority, this might be the trip for you.
Yoga Retreats Around the World
If you can afford a little extra time, the world is a veritable playground for healing, relaxing yoga retreats.
Where: Sayulita, Mexico
Focus: Yoga, wellness, cultural immersion
Cost: $216/night, 2-night minimum
Tucked somewhere between the jungle-blanketed Sierra Madre Occidental mountains and the rugged Pacific Ocean is Haramara Retreat, a yoga/wellness retreat outside the tiny bohemian Mexican surfer spot of Sayulita.
The beauty of Haramara is the “at your own pace” nature. There are group retreats held throughout the year, but travelers can also come on an individual basis and design their own wellness experience. Yoga classes are available year round, as are other forms of wellness, like the traditional Mexican temazcal (purification ceremony) experience, cooking classes, and a full-service spa. The focal point of the resort is the elevated palapa yoga platform that overlooks the stunningly rugged mountains and ocean.
Where: Nassau, Bahamas
Focus: Yoga, meditation, adventure experiences
Cost: Price: $96/day
A salutation to the Caribbean sun is a true yoga goal. Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreats makes the Bahamas the spot for aspiring and experienced yogis alike. Founded by Swami Vishnudevananda, Sivananda is a literal island oasis for spiritual growth, healing, and relaxation.
Prepare to start the day with a 6 a.m. meditation, followed by Asana and Pranayama sessions. From there the itinerary becomes more free form, as guests can create their schedule based on what speaks to them, including more workshops, snorkeling, lectures, etc., all followed by a group afternoon yoga class.
Where: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
Focus: Yoga, surfing
Sathi Retreats is a rustic luxury-style retreat organizer that both hosts retreats and assists those who want to host a retreat of their own. In fact, the company was founded by a lover of yoga who is not actually a yoga teacher! But she is a master at events and has a passion for travel, so she loves facilitating yoga teachers in bringing together their students to fantastic locations.
One of the retreats, in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, combines both yoga practice with surfing. Attendees will warm their muscles each morning with 90-minute power yoga then grab a board and hit the waves. The best part is you don’t have to be a pro surfer to enjoy this retreat, as the waves surrounding San Juan del Sur are mellow enough for novices. The day ends with AcroYoga and a family-style dinner.
Where: Chiang Rai, Thailand
Focus: Gentle yoga, meditation, relaxation
With three-, five-, and seven-night packages, Museflower Retreat in the mountains of Thailand sets the stage for helping travelers incorporate yoga into their daily life. Each retreat includes wellness workshops, meditation, farm-to-table food, Hatha yoga, and spa treatments.
Chiang Rai is one of the most beautiful spots in the country, and the retreat provides access to the surrounding areas with hikes in the hills and local food tours. On property, Museflower has a Himalayan rock salt pool to help take the relaxation aspect to the next level.
Where: Various destinations
Focus: Yoga, wine tasting, cultural experiences
Drunk Yoga is all about taking the pressure out of the practice. Founder Eli Walker has been teaching yoga in New York City since 2014. Her inspiration for founding Drunk Yoga was to ditch perfectionism, focus on empowerment, and turn the practice into a party. Drunk Yoga offers regular classes in New York City, but they also host retreats to notable wine regions like Portugal, Italy, and more. Each retreat has sober yoga classes, afternoon workshops, vegetarian or vegan meals, wine tasting, and sightseeing/cultural tours.
Where: Bali, Indonesia
Focus: Restorative yoga, wellness, empowerment
Combining yoga and theater, Divine Your Story is a unique twist on a traditional yoga retreat that teaches theatrical techniques and best yoga practices to help guests empower themselves. Hosted each year at Jeda Villa in Pemuteran, Bali, the retreats are designed to help participants gain perspective and clarity. The retreat includes daily yoga practice, guided meditation, afternoon classes to help “rewrite your life story,” plus restorative, meditative, and inversion workshops, twice daily gourmet meals, beach access, pools, and more.
Where: Garhwal, India
Focus: Intensive yoga practice for experienced yogis
For a truly indulgent and luxurious yoga getaway, why not visit the birthplace of yoga itself? Ananda is a Himalayan hideaway tucked high in the mountains that offers more than just a yoga getaway. It is an intensive, immersive, one-, two-, or three-week cleanse that requires deep knowledge of postures, breathing, and meditation.
Meals are Ayurvedic in design, which means they allow for natural detox. Days are filled with five or six yoga sessions, and in between you can maximize the vacation experience with devotional rituals on the Ganges River, white water rafting, or animal safaris.
Where: Puerto Jiménez, Costa Rica
Focus: Yoga teacher training
Have you ever wanted to become a yoga teacher? Surely there are dozens of spots in your home city to get your yoga teacher certification, but why not make an epic escape out of the experience? Blue Osa Yoga Retreat & Spa is hosting a 14-day, 200 yoga teacher training from September 29 to October 13, 2018.
The retreat provides a daily menu of meditation and yoga (and fresh food!) in a tropical setting, where you’ll expand your foundational practice in yoga, learn new sequences to teach, become proficient in leading multi-level classes, and more. And if you can’t make this trip—or want to check out one of their retreats designed just for practitioners of yoga—you’ve got a year’s worth of events to choose from.