As yoga rises in popularity, more and more people are looking to incorporate it into their holidays each year. It’s a great way to go to an amazing new destination while deepening your practice, allowing you to do at least two classes a day while still managing to relax and explore a new place. It’s especially good if you’re a solo traveller and want a place which feels a little more sociable than simply traveling alone. Many destinations are catering to this growing demand, meaning you can find yoga holidays all year round, and not always at a price that breaks your wallet. So here are a few escapes, all of which are doing their bit to take better care of Planet Earth, which I’ve really enjoyed and I hope you might too.
Kamalaya, Koh Samui, Thailand
This hillside retreat will always hold a special place in my heart. I first came here almost ten years ago, stressed out, unhealthy, totally unbalanced, and left ten days later, deciding to leave my job and move away from the UK in search of healthier, happier adventures. Set in the beautiful surroundings of Koh Samui, but away from the chaotic, more touristy parts of the island, Kamalaya is a total wellness resort. Isolated in nature, night times are dark, and silent, other than the sounds of the creatures around you. I did the detox package both times I was there which meant eating much like I eat now; no dairy, wheat, sugar, meat or fish. The food is amazing, fresh and diverse every day. It’s the kind of place which for the uninitiated, will convert you from thinking healthy food is boring, to thinking it’s even better than what you eat already. The one thing I love about yoga retreats is that they’re the one place I never have to worry about my diet; being gluten and dairy intolerant, I often struggle when I’m away. I first went to Kamalaya by myself but this is the kind of place you can be as social or alone as you choose. Packages such as yoga synergy, emotional balance and stress and burnout, include treatments, food and accommodation, so once you’re there, you’ll have no shortage of things to do or pampering to be had. Classified at 4 star, Kamalaya is positioned at the more luxury end of the yoga retreat scale, though this is worth every penny spent when you’re investing in your health and wellbeing.
Yoga Searcher, Uluwatu, Bali
What’s unusual about Yoga Searcher is that it’s only a stone’s throw from the action of Uluwatu. Everything is just a scooter ride away around the cliffss, and you’re a short walk from places like the trendy Single Fin restaurant and bar, while in your poolside eco lodge, you feel as if you’re cocooned in a cosy little mountainside retreat. With three or four classes a day, from yin to acro yoga, there is more variety than many places. Their gluten free, organic and vegan restaurant is incredible, so there is no shortage of good local, seasonal food, different each day, though there are a lot of cute places to explore around the area, not least Nalu for amazing acai bowls and if you want a little bit of something more fancy, try El Kabron, a Spanish cliff top restaurant and ‘beach club’ around ten minutes’ drive away. We enjoyed the nearby Bingin beach and a little further away, Dreamland beach, but be prepared for some steep hikes up and down hill.
Villa De Zoysa, Boossa, Sri Lanka
Devinda’s colonial ‘White House’, built in 1907, has been in his family for generations. This elegant, character-filled Villa De Zoysa has year round retreats, where international teachers take the helm for set periods of time. With home made Sri Lankan food every day, there is no risk of upset tummies here. Just a short walk to the beach and a short tuk tuk ride to nearby towns such as Galle, it’s a perfect location to have that feeling of isolation, without being too far from things to do. With cooking classes and ayurvedic treatments all at the villa, or surfing nearby, there is plenty to do beyond your yoga mat, whether you want to stay at home or venture further afield to the beaches or jungle.
Yoga Magic Eco Retreat, Goa, India
I loved this place for so many reasons, not only the passion of its owners, who sit and share meals with you during your stay, or the beauty of owner Ishi’s morning yoga and meditation sessions, but it is a living breathing organism of yoga. Usually, tourism and hospitality and sustainability are at polar ends of the spectrum, but the beauty of yoga retreats is that you can usually find places which are doing their bit for the cause of conservation. Yoga Magic is certainly doing just that. Its eco tents have solar halogen lighting, natural composting toilets and waste management using EM (effective micro organisms). The hot showers get their heat directly from the sun and where possible, buildings are constructed from locally sustainable materials such as mud, clay, stone, bamboo, jute, wood, palm leaves and cow dung. If you don’t fancy dealing with the natural composting toilets however, which I admit, I did not, you can also stay in one of the two rooms in the main house. Its vegan and vegetarian food is simply amazing. Every day was something different and quantities in no short supply. A short drive from Anjuna beach and hippy market, and any of the other well known beaches of North Goa, such as Ashvem or Arambol, the location is easy to navigate if you fancy soaking up the smells, colours and sights of stunning Goa.
Bamboo Yoga Retreat, Goa, India
Right on Patnem’s beach front in South Goa, Bamboo Yoga Retreat is the perfect spot to feel like you’re having a beach holiday, while throwing in your yoga practice. With two classes a day, its resident teachers will lead most, with other guest teachers coming in to offer special workshops. While I was there, I was lucky enough to have an amazing Iyengar teacher lead us through the mechanics of backbending. Its beach huts are not the most noise proof of things so if you’re a light sleeper and unlucky enough to have a local wedding while you’re there, you could be in for a rough night, but otherwise, you’ll fall asleep to the magical sound of the waves. The beach is stunning and a bit of walking will take you to uncover other amazing nearby beaches and nature spots. Monitored quite strictly, the beach is not packed full of people trying to sell you things so you won’t be bothered every five minutes as on some stretches of Goan beach. Though the food was good, it was a hard act to follow on the back of Yoga Magic, but its sunset yoga from the beach front shala is just blissful and makes the location of this place a beach and yoga lover’s dream spot.
*Note: None of these holidays are particularly child/family friendly, meaning, you can possibly bring children, though they are not geared towards children’s activities.