We are less than 2 months into 2020 and I’m already feeling burnt out – who’s with me?! I’ve been finding myself browsing for my next Yoga-centred getaway, and am yearning to take some time to fill my own cup. It feels about time to explore a new part of the world, be a part of the international Yoga-loving community and occupy my days with the practice on a Yoga trip.
And guess what? Yoga retreats and wellness getaways are becoming increasingly popular among not only long-time Yoga practitioners, but also people who have never stepped foot into a Yoga studio before. A Yoga holiday can help you unwind from the stresses of everyday life, stay active while on vacation and learn more about Yoga or deepen your practice.
So if you’re wanderlusting and craving a little “me” time, I’ve teamed up with a few of my friends from the Yoga community to bring you this list of some of the best Yoga destinations in the world!
You may also like: 11 tips to help you get the most out of your Yoga retreat experience
1. Sri Lanka
While Sri Lanka has been “up-and-coming” for a while, this beautiful island has been thrust into the spotlight in recent years. Although Yoga is certainly not new to the region (it’s just a stone’s throw away from India), more and more Yoga centers and retreats are opening up which makes Sri Lanka a perfect Yoga destination to deepen your practice.
Not only is Sri Lanka wonderfully lush, the tropical island offers blissful sunshine all year round in addition to a diverse range of picturesque landscapes from its verdant hill country to the semi-arid national parks and pristine beaches in south Sri Lanka or up along the east coast. The culture is rich and Sri Lanka is home to no less than eight UNESCO Heritage Sites, so you can plan a wellness-plus-cultural getaway easily.
Foodies will love the fresh and fragrant Sri Lankan cuisine on offer, with a number of incredible cafes and restaurants dotted around the island – make sure you always stop for a roadside coconut! Those who aren’t interested in attending a full Yoga retreat can simply check out drop-in classes which are widely available in central Sri Lanka (I love Rukgala Retreat) and south Sri Lanka (I recommend Talalla Retreat), or in Arugam Bay on the east coast.
2. Mysore in India
The quintessential destination for a Yoga trip: Mysore is located in Karnataka state in southern India and is one of the main epicentres of Yoga in the world. It is one of the most popular Yoga destinations and draws thousands of Yoga lovers to practice, breathe and live Yoga for weeks (even months) at a time. Not only can you get your fill of Yoga, you can also eat delicious and nutritious food, take in the sounds and scents of the local Devaraja market, explore Mysore Palace, chase waterfalls, spot wild Asian tigers (or maybe even an elusive leopard!) in one of the nearby national parks and so on.
Though Mysore is most well known for Mysore-style Ashtanga Yoga, there are a number of Yoga schools in the city that also offer other styles of asana practice. Occasionally there are drop-in classes that you can attend, but these tend to only be held in the peak season from December to March. If you are travelling to Mysore with the express intention of practicing Yoga, it’s best to contact the school directly ahead of your trip to ask them about their class schedule and prices for the dates that you are in town.
One of the most incredible aspects about traveling to Mysore for Yoga is the active community; in addition to the plethora of Yoga schools, many Yoga teachers and practitioners host courses and workshops throughout Mysore. You can sign up for anatomy, breathing, philosophy or chanting workshops, or attend healthy and ayurvedic cooking classes in your spare time. The Ashtanga Community in Mysore Facebook group is my go-to resource for upcoming events.
3. Siem Reap in Cambodia
Siem Reap may not be an obvious Yoga retreat destination, but there are a handful of wellness and Yoga-focused hotels and centres that offer multi-day retreats and mouthwatering healthy cuisine. In-between morning and afternoon asana and meditation classes you can hop over to the astounding Angkor archaeological complex and explore famous temples like Angkor Wat and Ta Prohm, or venture to some of the lesser-known temples like Neak Pean and Pre Rup.
I recommend checking out Navutu Dreams and their stunning rooms and pools (I’ve stayed twice!), and I’ve also heard good things about Blue Indigo Yoga Retreat and the Hariharalaya Retreat Centre. During your time in Siem Reap, you might also want to check out one of the many restaurants, cafés and training facilities dedicated to helping young Cambodian people gain valuable work skills and employment opportunities. Here are some incredible ethical eateries in Siem Reap!
4. Chiang Mai in Thailand
Thailand is one of my favorite countries in the world and I find myself going back time after time for a number of reasons, but to be honest the excellent Thai food is reason enough! In particular, I find myself drawn to Chiang Mai when I feel like I need a short break, especially as it is relatively easy to get to and has a decent international airport.
This northern city is compact and easy to get around on foot or by songthaew (shared taxis), and there are tons of things to do in Chiang Mai including visiting an ethical elephant sanctuary, trekking through a cloud forest in Doi Inthanon National Park, temple hopping and talking about the meaning of life with Buddhist monks or stuffing your face with street food at the night market.
Chiang Mai is one of the best Yoga destinations, and Yoga lovers will appreciate the many studios scattered around town, offering many different styles of Yoga classes and teachers from around the world. You can practice Ashtanga in the morning at Wild Rose Yoga before hopping across town for an afternoon Yin and meditation class at Freedom Yoga. To delve a little deeper enroll yourself into short workshop on anatomy, inversions, Ayurveda or trauma-informed Yoga just to name a few.
5. Bali in Indonesia
Many people head to Bali to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, in search for a more peaceful lifestyle in tune with nature. And even though it attracts its fair share of Eat Pray Love solo travelers and yogis, the island of the Gods has now also become a popular couple’s destination. It is a little Yoga mecca for numerous classes and retreats and one of the best places in the world for Yoga lovers – here are some of our favourite spots.
Located just a short 20-minute ride from Ubud, Fivelements Retreat Bali is one of our top retreat destinations, as it really pioneered spiritual wellness in connection with local Balinese culture. Furthermore, their award-winning plant-based cuisine is delicious! Enjoy daily morning yoga classes in their beautiful bamboo Yoga shalas surrounded by lush tropical foliage. Complete your retreat experience with pampering spa treatments and a chakra balance with a local healer.
COMO Shambhala near Ubud is by far one of the most beautiful retreat properties – immerse yourself in nature on this luxury wellness vacation, and spot monkeys, squirrels and other wildlife as you shift from warrior into downward dog in the open-air yoga shala. The healthy cuisine rounds off this other-worldly experience.
Not looking for a retreat but simply interested in connecting with Bali’s yoga community? Then head to The Yoga Barn in Ubud. This place boasts six studios and offers more than 100 yoga classes per week, as well as breathwork and healing sessions. There’s even a healthy café attached to it, offering vegan, vegetarian and raw cuisine. A few years ago, they also launched their guest house, which offers accommodation for yogis who are interested in attending their retreats.
– Contributed by Vivienne from, Destination Deluxe, a wellness and travel magazine.
You might also like: A First-Timer’s Guide to Attending A Silent Yoga Retreat in Bali
6. Sayulita and Tulum in Mexico
Mexico is fast becoming the Bali of the Americas, when it comes to Yoga. Whether you’re into Acroyoga or Ashtanga, Yin or Yang, luxury beach-side retreats or rustic jungle yoga shalas, Mexico has something for everyone.
Sayulita is the ultimate hippy-surf town with an abundance and variety of yoga offerings. Boutique studios are scattered across the colourful town, each offering immersion in the luscious greenery of Sayulita. The yoga vibe is focused on merging all aspects of yoga with healing and holistic approaches. You’ll still find Power Yoga, Ashtanga and advanced Acro, but you can expect high-quality teachers to go beyond the poses to ensure breath, mindfulness and intention are at the essence of the practice.
If you’re looking for something more “instagrammable”, check out Tulum. The coastline is sprinkled with Yoga resorts, hosting open-air Yoga shalas with spectacular views of the Caribbean Sea. It is the ideal place for the ultimate Instagram shot, or those looking for perfect views to allow you to sink deeper into your Yoga practice. Just a short and breezy cycle into Tulum town, you’ll find some soulful Yoga studios with a bigger focus on creating community, with teachers effortlessly making Yoga relevant, accessible and meaningful to all.
– Contributed by Laura from Divine Light Yoga. Laura offers Yoga Alliance-certified children’s Yoga teacher trainings worldwide. You can find her in Sayulita or traveling around the world and hosting trainings.
7. The Amalfi Coast in Italy
Yoga in the Amalfi Coast is an unforgettable experience! The Amalfi Coast in southern Italy provides an idyllic place to connect with your inner self as you enjoy breathtaking views of the turquoise Mediterranean sea alongside a brilliant landscape which rises steeply from the shore to the rocky mountain hill tops. In addition to Yoga, you’ll find yourself enjoying farm and sea to table meals daily, embarking on cooking experiences with authentic local Italian nonnas, sipping your way through wine tastings, and exploring exotic underwater caves known as grottoes.
Yoga lovers in the Amalfi Coast can explore the Path of the Gods, a famous trail which connects the mountains of Agerola to the renowned coastal town of Positano – hiking this path enables you to a meditative state while smelling the fresh scent of lemon from nearby trees and listening to the sound of waterfalls coming from the Rio Canneto. If you find yourself a bit off the beaten path, don’t fret, it’s a lovely chance to stop at Antonio’s for an afternoon of olives, bruschetta with fresh goat cheese, and a glass (or two) of vino!
The locals in the Amalfi are truly one of a kind. They share their land and culture with thousands of tourists all summer long offering the utmost warmth and hospitality. Personally, the hidden gem on the coast for me, is the small town of Praiano quietly tucked away, boasting beautiful beaches, delicious restaurants, and unmatched charm. If you’re lucky, on any given night a firework display will light up the sky in celebration of one of their many Saint days or in celebration of a local wedding.
– Contributed by Nikki from The Foreign Bell. Nikki hosts Yoga retreats in the Amalfi Coast or you can find her in Toronto, Canada.
8. Hoi An in Vietnam
Hoi An in Vietnam has a phenomenal conscious community of locals and expats so it’s no surprise that the picturesque lantern-lined town has a fantastic Yoga studio. Nomad Yoga Hoi An offers a robust schedule with many yoga practices throughout the day including Hatha, Yin and Ashtanga. Community classes are held at the beach and all profits are donated to local charities.
There are often other mindfulness classes or gatherings such as women’s circles during the full moon, kirtan mantra chanting, meditation, and more. Wellness retreats, yogic massages, and reiki are also available. Nomad Yoga caters to Vietnamese by employing local instructors to lead Vietnamese language classes.
I did my 200-hour yoga teacher training course at Nomad Yoga and had a life-altering experience. The course is led by Indian and Vietnamese yoga teachers who also teach regular students at the studio. Nomad Yoga offers small group (less than 12 students) TCC throughout the year for a reasonable price.
– Contributed by Lola from Miss Filatelista. You can read more about her experience during her 200-hour YTT in Hoi An here.
Malaysia, my home country, is known for the Petronas Twin Towers, and for being a melting pot of culture. Stealthily, it is fast becoming a popular destination for yoga retreats but this hardly comes as a surprise because Malaysia is a land surrounded by beautiful beaches and stunning zen lake side and eco resorts can be found in almost every corner of the country.
Whether you’re new to Yoga or a full on Yoga enthusiast, Malaysia is a Yoga destination that has something for everyone! From pay-at-the-door walk-in classes or class passes that allow you to join any Yoga classes available in a list of gyms around the city, you will definitely be able to find something to leave you more at peace with yourself. If indoor classes aren’t your cup of tea, join the free Yoga class at KLCC Park every Saturday morning, or sign up for one of the many beachfront or eco-resort retreats available! After all, with Air Asia playing such a strong role internally within the country, a flight to any of the beachfront destinations sometimes costs even less than a bus ticket.
Finally, if you are looking to take your practice a little more seriously, there are plenty of Yoga courses and workshops available. In fact, I completed my 200-hour training with the Malaysia Association of Yoga Instructors (MAYI) a couple of years ago! Yoga is slowly but surely becoming a staple in many Malaysians’ lives and the best part is that it won’t break the bank!
– Contributed by Cindy from Vaz Adventure. She is also a certified Yoga instructor.
10. Big Island in Hawai’i
The Big Island in Hawai’i is one of the best destinations for Yoga lovers. Twice as big as the other Hawaiian islands combined with its vast diversity of nature and 11 out of the world’s 13 climate zones, Hawai’i Big Island is ever fascinating. Want to wake up to birdsong, ocean views and/or the unmistakable silhouette of Mauna Kea in the distance? Then bring your mat and roll it out on the front porch at one of the many lovely places to stay. Take in a deep breath of ancient Hawaiian wisdom and enjoy homegrown bananas and banana bread for breakfast after your practice.
The Big Island is a truly spiritually uplifting environment to heal and grow. I can say that from experience, as I was blessed to finish my 200-hour YTT on the magical grounds of Ahu Lani. Nothing helps to achieve inner balance quite like focusing on prana in the cool sea breeze, but besides its gorgeous white, black and even green sand beaches, it is the Big Island’s deep and ever present connection to mother nature that makes it so very special. In search for inner peace, the Big Island with no doubt is magic in finding balance in both body and mind and is probably opening the door to grow a step further into oneness.
The Big Island has tons of drop-in classes as well as week-long retreats and Yoga teacher trainings. Check out Yoga Centered and Balancing Monkey in Hilo and Hawaii Beach Yoga in Kailua-Kona. From my own experience Ahu Lani is a beautiful off-grid retreat sanctuary, ideal for bigger groups. Kirpal Meditation and Ecological Center in Paho is also a wonderful retreat location.
– Contributed by Ramona from Salty Feet Yoga. She is also a certified Yoga instructor and hosts retreats and workshops in Germany.
Last but absolutely not least, Yoga retreats do not have to be expensive, and they don’t even need to be in a different country! While you may be yearning to hop on a plane, train or boat to get away from the “everyday”, you can also DIY a short Yoga-focused getaway at home – the whole idea of a Yoga retreat is to dedicate a day or few days to practicing Yoga and self-care.
So switch your phone to airplane mode, roll out your mat and take some time for yourself – whether it’s an asana practice, meditation or pranayama session. Dive deep into a Yoga book or two and eat and rest well, or check out a local Yoga festival or conference and absorb teachings from experienced teachers. There are many ways to immerse yourself in Yoga without packing a suitcase!
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- Looking for some gifts for a yoga lover (that aren’t new leggings or a yoga mat)? Here are some ideas
I hope this article inspires you to explore opportunities to practice Yoga at home and around the world.
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