What are the 20 best yoga retreats worldwide?
Here’s my top 20 list!
1. Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada
The West Coast of Canada is home to many yoga loving locals and two islands in British Columbia have great retreats a short distance by ferry from Vancouver, the first being Salt Spring Center of Yoga.
It’s located on Salt Spring Island and offers a variety of retreats and programs varying in length. Food is prepared fresh from their own farm and classes include a gentle restorative yoga class – just the thing for unwinding from city mayhem!
They also do teacher training and personalised retreats where you can extend your stay beyond your retreat duration. This flexible approach will be attractive to many yogis who may not be in a hurry to leave the turn-of-the-century farmhouse and 70 acres of forest and organic gardens!
2. Cortes Island, British Columbia, Canada
Hollyhock is a not-for-profit educational center on Cortes Island in British Columbia that holds various seminars and retreats on well-being including yoga teacher training and courses for therapists who would like to incorprate mindfulness principles in their work.
They offer guided walks in the beautiful landscape around the center and have ocean-view hot tubs to wind down after a hard day of yoga! Delicious organic meals are served, making this an ideal yoga holiday destination!
3. Andalucia, Spain
Andalucia in the South of Spain is teeming with yoga retreat centers and offers a warm Mediterranean climate and fabulous scenery. The hospitality of the Andalucean people and fantastic food contributes to make this area one of the very best regions to discover (or renew) your yoga practice!
In the beautiful Moorish city of Granada, Andalucia there is a yoga retreat where you also learn Spanish as well! Ideal for the busy, multi tasking yogi! (although may not appeal to the devoted yogi who wishes to be fully immersed in their practice)
Another retreat centre is Kali Yoga, also in Andalucia in the Las Alpujarras region, offers a variety of 6 day yoga stays including a yoga and hill walking retreat. They also do detox and juice fasting and a Raw Superfoods and Yoga retreat.
4. Costa Rica
If you’re searching for a holiday on a tropical paradise where yoga and the beautiful scenery work in harmony to relax and rejuvenate, Costa Rica fits the bill!
You can also visit the Yoga Farm near Pavones which serves vegetarian food and uses permaculture techniques. It’s off the grid and the daily yoga takes place on a deck overlooking the ocean. You can also learn to surf, a great workout for your strong and flexible yoga body! Comfortable accommodation in an area full of wildlife promises a highly relaxing and interesting Yoga Vacation.
5. Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India
Attracting yogis from all over the world, due to its spiritual vibe and proliferation of excellent yoga centers, Rishikesh has to be one of the best yoga destinations in the world for the serious student of yoga.
There are too many wondeful yoga centers there to name, so just show up and shop around until you find one that appeals. Another two fantastic yoga destinations are comparatively close by (a day or half day’s travel away) so if you’re a traveller (or budget traveller) with several weeks or months available, this is the place for you.
6. Uttar Kashi, Uttarakhand, India
If you like Sivananda style yoga, it doesn’t get any better than the wonderful Sivananda ashram at Uttar Kashi where you can learn from the very best against a backdrop of Himalayan mountains. The river Ganges runs past the ashram so you can bathe away your impurities in the auspicious waters while you’re there!
It’s a warm and friendly place with excellent teachers and an austere schedule of chanting, yoga, karma yoga, lectures and meditation. It’s also lots of fun with walks, excursions to the nearby town for provisions and the opportunity to meet people from all over the world. You can travel there from Rishikesh, it’s about a half day drive away.
7. Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, India
If Buddhism interests you, Dharamsala and its nearby neighbour Mcleod Ganj has numerous Yoga and Buddhist centers.
Dharamsala is a day or so drive away from Rishikesh, so Dharamsala, Rishikesh and Uttar Kashi would be a schedule sure to result in yogic bliss for the traveller with time to spare!
Dharamsala has lots of yoga drop-in classes, so you can shop around until you find the right teacher.
There are also lots of beautiful monasteries to visit and a laid back vibe – Dharamsala is a magnet for Buddhists and spiritual seekers from around the world so you will be in good company.
For those with a larger budget to spend on their yoga holiday, the island of Koh Samui has a retreat center called Absolute Sanctuary, located in a quiet part of the island only 5 minutes from the airport. It holds Detox and Yoga retreats where a combination of massage, body and facial treatments, plus lots of yoga, will get you looking and feeling your best in to time.
It also holds Bikram (hot yoga) retreats, and a variety of packages that can include unlimited yoga, fresh smoothies and juices, unlimited group fitness activities and Thai Stretch or Aromatherapy Massages.
9. Colorado , US
Colorado has to one of the very best yoga destinations in the world for a yoga trip, due to the wonderful scenery, peaceful mountain locations and sheer number of yoga centers.
A popular center is the Shambhala Mountain Center, located in a beautiful 600 acre valley. It has over 100 programs each year, including yoga retreats for women, yoga and meditation retreats, and yoga retreats with inspiring names such as “Accessing the Brilliance Within”.
There is an active yoga teachers network (Yoga Teachers of Colorado) which holds creatively named events such as the “Full Moon Sacred Sound Spiral” – many of which are free or open to all. Colorado rocks as a yoga destination!
10. Whidby Island, Seattle, US
The Yoga Lodge is a ferry ride away from Seattle (25 miles away) in beautiful Puget Sound. Located in five acres of woodlands, it offers a range of yoga retreats including an Ayurveda and Yoga Workshop. The yoga studio has underfloor heating and forest views for the ultimate in yoga hall luxury!
Seattle itself holds lots of yoga classes and workshops if you’re planning to combine a retreat with a stay in town.
Feeling inspired to practice? Mia’s book Ten Days to Daily Yoga is available on Amazon here
11. California, US
California is a wonderful yoga destination, and a place where yoga has become a way of life for many of the locals. There are so many good retreats too choose from, but surely one of the best can be found a convenient 2 hours drive North of San Francisco, 20 miles from the nearest town and 5 miles down a dirt road.
It’s called Wilbur Hot Springs and is a peaceful yoga retreat center located in the rolling hills of Calusa County. It’s off the grid, using solar power, so at night there is a notable lack of light pollution to spoil the nighttime scenery and sky.
It’s a laid back resort, where guests can participate in rejuvenating yoga weekends, enjoying a peaceful lifestyle far away from the city.
The food served is local, nutritious and looks absolutely delicious. You can choose different kinds of accommodation, including camping, and all levels of yoga are catered for.
12. Queensland, Australia
Queensland is home to a variety of yoga retreats and its outdoor healthy vibe attracts yoga enthusiasts from all over Australia and further afield.
You can experience the real Aussie lifestyle at a Yoga and Surfing retreat held by Tidal Dreamings on the New South Wales and Queensland Coasts. They also run women – only retreats and a mixed retreat held in the Telos Islands of Northern Sumatra.
Another retreat center is Prema Shanti is located in the Daintree Rainforest 2 hours North of Cairns. An opportunity to visit the beautiful Daintree Rainforest, with some yoga thrown in, is something not to be missed!
13. Hawaii, US
If you like to combine your yoga vacations with surfing, scuba diving, snorkelling and hiking, then Hawaii is the place for you.
Kalani offers a wide range of events and retreats throughout the year. It’s a charity that helps to support the preservation of ancient Hawaiian cultural sites and the development of a sustainable community.
A range of accommodation is available from camping to tropical view ‘eco cottages’, tree rooms and bungalows.
Their beginners Hatha Yoga retreat includes two 1.5 hour private yoga classes and use of their pool, hot tub and sauna and various activities are on offer such as learning to Hula dance or weaving.
14. Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
There are so many yoga retreats in Bali to choose from, making it an excellent destiation for a yoga vacation.
The Yoga Barn in Ubud offers reasonably priced drop-in classes with cheap accommodation nearby. They have five studios, two of which are used for Yoga Barn’s own classes, the remaining three studios are rented out to a variety of yoga organisations ensuring a great diversity of classes.
Another retreat center that looks fantastic is called Kumatra organised by OneWorld located a convenient 10 – 15 minute walk from Ubud center. The yoga and hospitality there gets great reviews and the house is peaceful with beautiful, tranquil views including a view of the Batur Volcano.
15. Byron Bay, North East New South Wales, Australia
90km South of the Gold Cost, Byron Bay has a laid back vibe attracting ‘alternative’ yoga loving visitors from all over the world. Beautiful beaches, sun, whale watching and good, fresh food ensures a healthy and relaxing stay with lots to do.
Byron Yoga Lounge is open every day except Xmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s day. It offers drop in Iyengar yoga classes and also holds retreats in Java, Cambodia and Burma.
16. Sydney, Australia
If you’re staying in Sydney, Jivamukti Yoga in Sydney’s Newtown has a raw vegan cafe and offers a range of yoga classes and retreats (currently running is “Hip, Hot and Holy”). They have a rainwater system in their garden and solar panels for energy conservation.
If you want to get out of town, they hold retreats at the Vijraloka Buddhist Retreat Centre on the beautiful upper reaches of the George River at Minto Heights. Accommodation is simple in dormitory rooms or camping is available car sharing from Sydney is encouraged and facilitated. Bushwalking and swimming opportunities are available.
Tasmania is an archipalago of 300 islands known for its pure, unpolluted air and crystal clear seas.
Located in the beautiful, peaceful Huon Valley in Southern Tasmania, Niche is a retreat centre offering residential yoga workshops on the ocean’s edge. The yoga space also opens out onto a deck with water views of Cygnet Bay.
There are wide verandahs and outdoor areas in which to practice or just appreciate the tranquil views and the native bushlands surrounding the center.
The food gets great reviews thanks to their flourishing veggie garden. The house contains a sauna and swimming is available.
18. Tuscany, Italy
While hardcore austerity yoga devotees might be more at home in an Indian ashram, if you like your yoga retreats to include some more sensual pleasures, Tuscany offers a range of quite luxurious yoga retreats!
Combining their yoga practice with wonderful food and scenery, yogis will find a vast range of yoga retreats, with visitors from all over the world celebrating la dolce vita.
Tours are often arranged from overseas – there’s a yoga and cycling holiday for women – (a wine tour follows yoga practice on one of the days, thankfully not the other way around!)
Wine loving yogis can even join a retreat held at a biodynamic winery.
If yoga and wine just isn’t enough, there’s another yoga retreat offering yoga, wine and chocolate!
Marrakesh and nearby Agadir, located half a day’s journey away both contain several yoga resorts that offer a range of relaxing treatments and luxurious experiences.
Agadir is located on Morocco’s Atlantic coast and offers yoga, surfing and spa treatments. Some resorts have private beaches and beautiful mountain views, or are even located in the mountains, surrounded by breathtaking scenery.
For the more adventurous, you might also be able to do some water skiing, body boarding, mountain biking, paddle boarding and mountain trekking!
There’s even a nomadic yoga retreat, where you travel each day by camel to camp at a new location!
YogaVenture.co.uk offers a beachfront based yoga surf holiday featuring delicious local produce and Atlantic Ocean views. In addition to the excellent yoga instruction there’s the opportunity to enjoy a variety of local trips and activities to leave you fit, fantastic, refreshed and invigorated!
Located on a city street in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) is a Sivananda yoga retreat center offering excellent quality instruction at reasonable prices.
The food offered is simple and the experience more back-to-basics austerity rather than spas and luxury, so don’t go there expecting a ‘five star’ experience in terms of luxuries and comforts – that’s not what this retreat is about.
Languages spoken in the classes are Vietnamese and English and Ayurvedic massage is available.
The organisation also has a retreat center in Cu Chi, 45 miles North West of Ho Chi Minh City and one hours drive from the airport.
Cu Chi is the most popular tourist destination in Vietnam and is located amongst rice fields and the iconic Vietnamese landscape.
A strict program of yoga, chanting, lectures, karma yoga and a simple vegetarian diet ensures that your yoga will move forward whatever your level. A pick up / drop off service from the airport is provided.
Mia Randall is the author of “Ten Days to Daily Yoga” and “Meditation Motivation – A Quick Tour of Buddhism and 20 Easy Tips to Create a Daily Practice”
If you’re thinking about booking a yoga vacation, I recommend YOGA Venture. You’ll be well looked after and will have a fantastic (and well organised) retreat!