Let National Yoga Month Inspire Your Next Trip

In honor of National Yoga Month this September, consider a popular yoga festival in Bali, a non-profit yoga retreat in South Africa or a yoga center in the beautiful Berkshires.

September 09, 2019

Photo By: The BodyHoliday

Photo By: Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health

Photo By: Wari Om

Photo By: Dan Walton

Photo By: The BodyHoliday

Photo By: Blue Osa

Photo By: Red Mountain Resort

Photo By: W Punta de Mita

Photo By: iStockphoto.com/Grahambedingfield

Photo By: Fairkonnect

Photo By: The Home Ranch

Why Not Take a Yoga Trip?

September is National Yoga Month, and while it's too late for most to book a last-minute trip, this month is a good time to start planning ahead for next year. There are easily more than a 1,000 yoga retreat options around the world, from independent yoga instructors hosting retreats to designated yoga retreat centers. But there are also hotels offering yoga classes and yoga festivals. So how to choose? Let us help with 10 options to inspire that much-needed yoga retreat for the coming year.

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The Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, Massachusetts

Kripalu is among the old-guard yoga centers in the U.S., with roots tracing back to the '60s. Today it's a year-round mecca for all things related to yoga and wellness. There are two ways to experience this retreat, tucked away in Massachusetts' peaceful Berkshires. The first way is to enroll in one of the dizzying number of programs, ranging from a weekend to a week. September samplings include painting and yoga and learning about Ayurveda basics. The other option is to book an R&R retreat, where your days are free to pop into a yoga class, head outdoors to hike or kayak or try a guided meditation. Whichever path you choose, Kripalu is a low-key retreat where mornings start at 6:30 a.m. (if you wish), and evening programs wrap by 9 p.m. Lodging is on-site, with the ability to save by staying in a dorm or shared room, or spring for a spacious private room. Vegetarian meals are included and served buffet style in the cafeteria — but if you want vices like coffee and baked goods, you'll have to buy them at the on-site cafe.

Bali Spirit Festival, Bali

As a yoga epicenter, you can easily find a yoga retreat in Bali to suit your budget and tastes. For something different, consider the world-renowned Bali Spirit Festival, an annual week-long yoga/music/dance fest featuring big-name teachers from around the globe, fun classes with live music, performances, workshops, seminars and more. Come evening, DJs and musicians continue to keep things lively. In between all of the non-stop action are vendors selling vegan eats and local goods. It’s also possible to book sessions for a Thai massage, Tarot reading and alternative therapies. Unlike similar festivals, there’s even a dedicated kids’ area with enough activities to keep little ones engaged. You’ll need to book your own lodging, but a wide variety of recommendations can be found here. Unless you plan on renting a scooter, it’s best to stay in central Ubud and catch the festival shuttle to the grounds.

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Haramara Retreat, Mexico

The first-rate Haramara Retreat isn’t far from popular Sayulita, but the resort feels much further away. Attribute this perception to Haramara’s location on 12 acres of jungle paradise, complete with a private beach. Like comparable spots, you can join a yoga retreat or come on your own. Back-to-back retreat offerings mean there’s a good chance at least one will fit your interests and schedule. You can even escape during the holidays for a Vegan Friendsgiving or the popular New Year’s Yoga Retreat. Otherwise, choose a package if not going the retreat route: For example, the Basic Package covers a dorm or private cabana and two daily meals, while the Honeymoon/Romantic Getaway Package allows you to stay in a spacious cabana facing the ocean. (Yoga classes are extra for both.) Rounding out the easygoing activities are spa services, an outdoor infinity pool, cooking classes and the chance to experience a temazcal (sweat lodge ceremony).

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BodyHoliday, St. Lucia

BodyHoliday has been operating as a high-end wellness retreat since opening in 1989, but don’t dismiss this all-inclusive as being dated. The beachfront property has remained current across the board, from giving rooms a fresh makeover (including pillow menus) to offering themed months geared toward solo travelers. And while yoga is a daily part of the fitness offerings, a typical schedule at this wellness wonderland might also encompass windsurfing, cricket, sailing lessons, Caribbean dance, beach football and more than two dozen other choices. If three yoga options a day aren’t enough, Octoba Yoga delivers more than 180 classes covering 15 different styles throughout the month; all levels are welcome. Expect meditation to be part of the mix too, along with workshops, sound healing, a pop-up eco fair, full moon ritual and more. During this time join a week-long retreat, or stay a minimum of five days for $331 a night through Oct. 26. All-inclusive rates include room, meals at the property’s five restaurants and all the classes you can handle.

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Blue Osa Yoga Retreat & Spa, Costa Rica

Hidden away on the mostly undeveloped Osa Peninsula, the 13-room Blue Osa is for when you desire nothing beyond dropping off the grid, communing with nature and practicing yoga. For booking, choose between a yoga retreat or an all-inclusive package that covers room, meals and one daily yoga class. If going the latter route, package options allow you to focus on either spa treatments, private yoga sessions or off-site adventures. A mind-body detox package combines a bit of everything, with twice daily yoga classes, one spa treatment and a waterfall hike. Alternatively, you can also book a room and pay a la carte for meals and yoga. It's also possible to add a la carte activities like kayaking through a mangrove or visiting an animal sanctuary. Just know that as an eco-resort, rooms aren’t air conditioned, bug spray is your friend, and it’s best to accept your hair’s natural state since hair dryers are banned.

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Red Mountain Resort, Utah

The four-star Red Mountain Resort in St. George isn’t a yoga center, but if you choose the Essential Retreat package, daily yoga offerings are part of a packed fitness schedule that covers nearly every hour of the day. A recent weekly schedule featured candlelit yoga, full moon yoga in Snow Canyon, aquatic yoga and more. The schedule is also bursting with activities not commonly found elsewhere, like walking shelter dogs, making Anasazi pottery and learning to play the ukulele. Guided hikes, meals, cooking demos, room and loaner bikes are all part of the deal, but some workshops and classes (like the pottery and Snow Canyon yoga) cost extra. Spa treatments are also extra, but the full-service spa’s extensive menu, from a warm Himalayan salt stone massage to an adobe lavender hydrating cocoon treatment, is hard to ignore.

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W Punta de Mita, Mexico

Not far from Haramara in the Nayarit region, the trendy W Punta de Mita has teamed up with SwellWomen, a company that holds women-only wellness retreats around the world, for its first yoga and surf retreats at the resort. The five-star hotel will be offering four SwellWomen retreats between November and April 2020; the November and December trips entail daily yoga classes, four surf lessons, one massage, all meals and a swank room overlooking either the jungle or ocean. The resort in general also features a private beach, full spa, glamorous pool scene with a DJ and five dining spots, not least of which is Spice Market from famed chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. In this environment, it’s only fitting that one of the class types is glow yoga (pictured), held along a bright blue mosaic walkway overlooking the pool and ocean.

Souljourn, South Africa

Seva is Sanskrit for selfless service, and anyone who’s a regular yoga practitioner knows that the act of seva is one of the many tenets of yoga — not just twisting yourself into complicated poses for Instagram. To that extent, Souljourn Yoga differentiates itself from other yoga retreats as a non-profit that promotes girls’ education around the globe. The group organizes international trips as part of its fundraising mission; January 2019 will be Souljourn’s first retreat to Cape Town from Jan. 17-26. (This will also mark Souljourn's first plant-based meal trip.) While yoga will be a regular component of the experience, practiced at least once a day, it’s not the sole purpose. Days will be filled with immersive sightseeing, not limited to visiting a private game reserve; wine tasting in the Winelands; snorkeling among Cape fur seals and hiking Table Mountain. Funds will go toward Lalela, a local organization that provides an after-school arts program to at-risk youth. Participants will even get to spend an afternoon with some of the girls who are part of Lalela’s Female Empowerment Program.

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Escape To by Fairkonnect, India

Considered the birthplace of yoga, India has long been a favorite destination for yoga lovers seeking to take their practice to the next level. Ashrams and retreats abound, but for a change of pace, Escape To by Fairkonnect specializes in small group, vegan travel to India. Not all of their trips feature yoga, but an upcoming eight-day excursion to Goa will incorporate a daily 90-minute class (although it’s optional), along with visiting Goa’s beaches, spice farms, towns and more. Each day will also focus on one of the seven chakras, which are considered the body’s energy centers. Among other highlights? Meeting with a local marine conservation group, checking out historic Portuguese homes (the region was once part of the Portuguese Empire) and hiking through a wildlife sanctuary. Note that most meals are included, but breakfast is silent. More importantly, know that this will be a digital detox retreat, so only proceed if you can bear to be parted from a laptop, phone and Wi-Fi for a week. You may not be able to post thoughts and selfies in real time, but the memories should be that much clearer.

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The Home Ranch, Colorado

It’s easy finding a getaway that offers yoga and fitness classes, but what about yoga and horses? Fall 2019 The Home Ranch, an all-inclusive outside of Steamboat Springs, is offering two women’s-only, week-long options that feature both. (To clarify, yoga is not conducted on horses.) Both weeks are similar; the first session runs Sept. 29-Oct. 5 and costs $4,600, while the second runs Oct. 6-12 for $5,665. The main difference is that the second session allows for dedicated one-on-one time and is limited to 10 participants. But both are open to all levels and provide daily gentle yoga classes, riding lessons and rides through the Elk River Valley on the same horse, one massage, gourmet meals, plus hors d’oeuvres, cocktails, live music and dancing on some nights. Board is included as well, either in the lodge or in a log cabin with all the creature comforts. (The Home Ranch is affiliated with Relais & Chateaux after all.) You’ll be ready to retreat after experiencing a day that might involve two yoga classes, two rides, and an evening of barn dancing and stargazing.

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