Whether you’re looking for beaches or mountains, the physical or the spiritual for your next yoga wellness vacation, there’s a retreat out there for you. So, how do you decide where to go? We asked Sue White, travel writer, contributor to Australian Yoga Journal, author of the smartphone app Yoga Holidays Worldwide and someone who has spent the last decade exploring the yoga world for work and play, to give us her 10 best international yoga retreats on the planet. Below are her top picks:
1. Anamaya Resort, Costa Rica
Options abound in Costa Rica but in the north Anamaya Resort can’t be beaten. Reminiscent of a Balinese resort, this exotic holiday spot is just a stone’s throw from the town of Montezuma on the Nicoya Peninsula. Daily classes are usually Anusara yoga (a form of hatha) plus retreats focusing on yoga, circus skills, detox and meditation are met with a saltwater infinity pool, organic cuisine, fire dancing and trapeze acts. If you can’t afford the in-house retreats, don’t worry, you can also drop in for daily yoga classes in their gorgeous yoga pavillion.
2. Blue Osa, Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a wildlife paradise, and nowhere is it more so than the remote Osa Peninsula. Here, an abundance of local wildlife like sea turtles, jaguars, macaws and the red-backed squirrel monkey are just waiting to be spotted. Getting here takes some effort, but the rewards are numerous. Fancy doing your tree pose watched by Toucans? Blue Osa in Costa Rica is the spot.
3. Kalani Oceanside, Hawaii
A hippie haven tucked away on the Big Island, Kalani runs dozens of courses every year, and many visiting yoga teachers run their international retreats here. If the timing of a course doesn’t suit, you can simply book in anytime – Kalani runs its own daily yoga classes and a ton of other wellbeing options for guests. Be warned, you mean find it hard to drag yourself away from the (clothing optional) pool; it’s serenely overlooked by a giant Buddha statue.
4. The Sanctuary, Thailand
Don’t panic that The Sanctuary is located on the island of Koh Pangan, home of Thailand’s famous full moon parties. While you leave from full-moon central (Haad Rin), a short boat ride leaves yogis world’s away from the action. The Sanctuary’s detox programs are well regarded, and anyone can take their twice daily yoga classes. Even if you’re feeling lazy, this is a stunning place to relax – the views from the restaurant are unforgettable. www.thesanctuarythailand.comosta
5. Ananda Spa, India
India is the home of yoga, but ironically, it’s not always the most relaxing place to practice. Unless you’re at Ananda Spa near Rishikesh, at the base of the Himalaya. Once the home of the Maharaja of Tehri-Garhwal, the grounds and buildings have been beautifully restored, and Ananda is now a world-class luxury resort spa with a swag of awards. They specialise in Yoga, Vedanta and Ayurvedic therapies. You can get seriously lost in luxury here with a range of holistic treatments and workshops with visiting masters.
6. Phool Chatti Ashram, India
For those who like their Indian yoga holiday to spell “tradition” rather than “fantasy” Phool Chatti, just a short drive from Rishikesh and about an hour down the hill from Ananda Spa, offers an excellent way to try out life in an ashram (spiritual centre). Week-long programs are tailored for foreigners and offer a sample of ashram life, including 5am starts, silence before breakfast and plenty of yoga every day.
7. Omega Institute, New York
This not-for-profit centre just a short drive from New York City is dedicated to providing wellbeing offerings in all forms, including yoga. The schedule at Omega Institute is packed: look for women’s weekends, yoga retreats from many of America’s best known teachers; and their annual kirtan (chanting) long weekend, a beautiful way to bliss out. If you happen to have a summer free, it’s also an excellent place to volunteer.
8. Bali Spirit Festival, Bali
Held in March/April every year, Bali Spirit is one of the many popular yoga festivals now springing up across the planet. Thanks to a stunning Ubud location and a schedule packed with yoga, music and dance from teachers across Asia, Australia and North America, Bali Spirit is now firmly on the annual calendar of many yogis as a festival not to be missed.
9. Samudra, Australia
On the fringes of the famous Margaret River wine country, Samudra offers an excellent mix of retreats, classes and raw food workshops. With a gorgeous building, thriving garden, timetable featuring plenty of (Ashtanga) yoga classes for drop ins, and excellent retreats on offer for longer stays, you’ll quickly become enamoured with this West Australian yogic treasure. Look out for their yoga and surfing weekends, or their regular women’s retreats – both are top notch.
10. Suncokret retreats, Croatia
Tucked away in a rustic farmhouse on an island where the homes date back to the 12th Century village, Suncokret is a family-run boutique yoga centre. As well as yoga in various styles, there are holistic treatments and of course, the crystal clear waters nearby.
Sue White’s smartphone app, Yoga Holidays Worldwide, uncovers over 140 of the best yoga breaks from across the globe. The app ($2.99) is available for iPhones and iPads (via iTunes App Store) or Androids (via the Android Market). Connect with Sue on Twitter, Facebook or at Suewhite.com