In recent years, more and more people are discovering the beauty of marrying travel and self-care together. While chasing bucket list adventures is very thrilling, every once in awhile, we need a holiday that is all about rejuvenation and self-exploration. Attending a yoga retreat offers exactly that. This article shares 16 best yoga destinations in the world. No matter which continent you visit, you can find amazing places to practice yoga. So pack your mat, and namaste-ay awhile on this vacation that you deserve.
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What other place to start with than the known birthplace of yoga, Rishikesh, India. This peaceful city is located at the Himalayan foothills in northern India, right next to the holy Ganga river. There are yoga ashrams everywhere you turn. People come from all over the world to Rishikesh in pursue of authentic yoga education. Here in the mountains, you can surrender any worries behind and practice living in the present. The gorgeous daily sunset over the river surely helps.
I received my yoga teacher training in Rishikesh and it was one of the best experiences of my life.
Goa, on the central west coast of India is another popular yoga hub. For those who prefers ocean over mountains, Goa can provide ample beach therapy everyday. It is also a great place to learn about Ayurveda, the ancient science of South Indian herbal medication and healing.
Finally, Mysore in South India is famous for spreading the knowledge of yoga to the Western world. If you particular love the style of Ashtanga Yoga, this is the place to be. The city has many beautiful temples and palaces. The Chamundi Hill is a well known view point that is perfect for meditation and contemplation.
It is worthy to note that India is one of the most affordable places to travel to for yoga. Check out the top 10 retreats in India here.
On mention of Bali, most people’s face will melt into an expression of longing. Imageries of lush jungles, rice patties, and floating breakfast in pools filled with flower petals come to mind. Indeed, Bali is known as the “Islands of the Gods”. It is no wonder that it has a thriving wellness scene. You can find many dreamy yoga retreats available in Ubud and Canggu. For cheaper options, look in Nusa Lembongan.
Every year in March/April, the island hosts one of the world’s biggest yoga festival, Bali Spirit. It is a week long festival filled with yoga, music, and dance, led by respected international yoga teachers from Asia, Australia, and North America. Any true yoga lovers would want to experience this festival at least once.
Rounding out the top 3 in best yoga destinations in the world is Costa Rica. This small yet stunning country in Central America has everything that speak to yogis. As one of the most biodiverse places in the world, the nature here is beyond amazing. From its volcanoes, to its rainforest, to its beaches, Costa Rica is picturesque from every angle.
The way of life here is slow and mindful. People love the saying “Pura Vida”, which means pure life. When interacting with Costa Ricans, you will be influenced by their contagious optimism and happy energy.
The choices of yoga retreats are abundant. You can practice with the jungle as your backdrop and toucans as your audience at Lake Arenal, or with sounds of the ocean soothing your soul on Playa Avellanas. Other popular spots for retreats in Costa Rica include Nosara, Tamarindo, and Santa Teresa.
Bali sounds too far away? For those in the West end of the world looking for a yoga getaway that does not break the bank, look no further than Mexico, which is quickly becoming the new Bali. Specifically, the Yucatan Peninsula is where you’ll want to research. While Cancun has a reputation for being a resort and party mecca, other towns down the coast have completely different vibes.
Tulum has been all over Instagram in recent years with its colourful acai bowl shops, dreamy cenotes, and splendid Inca ruins. Biking through the town, you’ll fjnd plenty of surf shops, hippy souvenir stores, bars blasting Bob Marley in the middle of the afternoon, and of course, many yoga studios. You can take daily yoga classes of different styles ranging from Hatha, to Yin, to Iyengar Yoga. The retreat options are even more exciting. Check out this retreat that hosts a class in a Sacred Mayan Cenote with live music. It is pure magic.
While in Mexico, don’t miss the chance to visit Chichen Itza, one of the 7 Wonders of the World, only two hours from Tulum.
Thailand’s vibrant culture and fantastic nature have drawn people to visit from all over the world for years. Not to mention, traveling in the Land of Smiles is super affordable. I mean, 300 baht ($10 USD) for a Thai massage. How can you not smile? As the country is mostly Buddhist, you’ll find serene temples everywhere you go. The default lifestyle here is laid back and relaxed.
Whether you are looking for drop in yoga classes, a yoga retreat, or yoga teacher training course, you will encounter terrific offerings in Chiang Mai. Located in northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is the cultural capital of the country. Travellers come here for the stunning temples, the incredible spas, and the mouth watering Thai food. The town also has a matured wellness scene with more than 20 yoga studios scattered throughout. You can definitely find a studio that you love. During free days, make sure to take a trip to Doi Inthanon National Park for a stunning walk in the rainforest.
Hoping for more ocean vibes? Head to Koh Samui instead. This is Thailand’s second largest island, known for its coconut groves, palm swaying beaches, and crystal clear water. A number of resorts offers yoga holiday packages that are invigorating, nourishing, with just a hint of pampering. Picture hitting your asanas in open-air pavilions with the ocean as your backdrop. How amazing is that?
Being so close to India, it is not a surprise that yoga is a part of the culture in Sri Lanka. This tropical island may be small, but it has no shortage of remarkable yoga retreats. Many of which offer beachside resort lodging. Combined with top notch instructors and therapists, you got yourself an unforgettable wellness vacation.
Mirissa, a small town on the south coast of Sri Lanka with sway palms, whale watching, and a great foodie scene, cannot be missed for retreats in Sri Lanka.
Kandy is another good choice. Although this town is inland, it is home to the sacred Temple of Tooth, one of the most important places of worship for Buddhists in the world. Surrounded by marvellous green hills of tea plantations, Kandy provides an idyllic setting for yoga.
The country has a lot in store for travellers to explore beyond yoga retreats. Going on a wild elephant safari in Minneriya National Park is definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity. Also check out Sri Lanka’s numerous UNESCO heritage sites including the Sigiriya Fortress.
Say Aloha to your happy place and bye bye to all your worries when you step foot on Hawaii. The spirit of the Hawaiian islands matches perfectly with yoga philosophy. The phrase Aloha means love, peace, compassion, and mutual respect. Its essence is about living in harmony with the people and land around you.
Yogis have long loved Hawaii for the salty sea air, the warm blue water, the powerfully healing volcanoes, and the healthy vibrant food.
Maui is the best island for finding transformational retreats. Between yoga sessions, you may try a traditional Hawaiian massage, take a refreshing swim in the ocean, or go on beautiful hikes. By the time you leave Hawaii, your soul and body will feel completely nourished and balanced.
Spain was one of the first European nations to adopt yoga in the 20th century. It remains a hot spot for yogis and yoginis. With pleasant Mediterranean climate all year round, great food, beautiful beaches, Spain is an ideal destination for a retreat no matter when you want to visit.
Ibiza is arguably the It spot for yoga in Spain. This island has sand so white and water so blue that a couple of days here will calm you to your core. There are more than 70 retreats to choose from. You really can’t go wrong in this paradise.
Alicante is another pretty Spanish beach town that is popular for yoga retreats. Not only that, it is also a playground for water sports enthusiast. Beaches like Playa del Postiguet are great for surfing and snorkeling. After a morning yoga session, you can hop into the ocean for an exhilarating activity.
Read this article for more Spain travel tips.
Peru has an energy that is healing and spiritual. From the grandeur of Machu Picchu to the mystery of the Amazon rainforest, this land has a way of making you feel a part of something magnificent. If you are seeking a truly transformational experience, Peru has what you are looking for. Here, you can combine yoga with Peru’s ancient plant medicine Ayahuasca on a Shamanic journey. Be ready to connect with Mother Earth and your inner self.
The Sacred Valley is a valley in the Andes of Peru, near the capital of Cusco. This tranquil region is famous for its Inca ruins and gorgeous mountain views. Think green hills dotted with quaint villages and white fluffy llamas. When you inhale, you will breath in the freshest mountain air. Many yoga retreats in the Sacred Valley offers hiking opportunities. In your free time, you can also get to know the local Quechua people, who are wonderfully generous and humble.
If you want to try both yoga and surfing, Portugal would have be a top choice. With their incredibles waves, the Portuguese were smart to create retreats that perfectly blends surf, yoga and other adventurous activities. Don’t worry if you are a first timer, many retreat packages are for beginners. There are almost 300 yoga holiday options throughout the country.
Algarve in Portugal’s southernmost region is the biggest yoga hub. Loved for its turquoise water and sandy coves, Algarve will delight your sense as you do your sun salutations on the beach.
Ericeira is another favourite. This seaside paradise is considered not only the surfing capital of Portugal, but the surfing capital of Europe. For those itching to learn how to ride a wave, you will find the best instructors in the world here.
Italy has always been a hot spot for tourism in Southern Europe. The exquisite architectures, the gastronomy, and the wine all make Italia pop to mind when one is planning a trip for self care. Now here’s another reason to love this country. From Sicily to Tuscany, more and more yoga retreats are developing in Italy.
You can find unique packages like this one that include Italian cooking classes where you learn how to make delicious Mediterranean dishes.
What makes Morocco unique is that not only does it have the Mediterranean beaches and the Atlas mountains, it has the stunning Sahara desert. Where else can you do Pranayama on golden sand dunes with a camel caravan in the background? Being in the desert is a special spiritual experience. You will feel like a humble speck of star dust in a vast universe that stretches on infinitely. Allow your stresses to become irrelevant and surrender to the present moment.
When you are not doing yoga, there is a lot to explore. Take a sunset camel trek, get to know the local Berbers and their nomadic lifestyle, enjoy a bonfire at night, and dance under the stars. Check out desert retreat companies such as Nosade or Sahara Holiday.
Perhaps not many people would have associated Guatemala with a flourishing yoga community. Indeed, it is still quite underrated. This country in Central America is now slowly emerging as a top yoga destination, catching up to Mexico. Guatemala offers alluring landscapes and rich culture. The ancient Mayan sites are not to be missed. Not to mention, traveling here is easy on the wallet.
Lake Atitlan is known to have a healing spiritual power, which is why many of the best yoga centres and therapists can be found here. It is a great place to find your inner calm and rebalance your energy.
The land down under may be tucked away in the corner of the world, but it is 100% worth visiting for its incredible nature, friendly people, and wonderful yoga retreats. Aussies have long embraced yoga like they have embraced surfing. You can say that it’s now a part of their hippie image stereotype. You can choose from a variety of yoga retreat settings from ocean side, to rainforest, to farms.
Down the east coast is where you’ll find the best beach yoga retreats in the country. Byron Bay will capture your heart with its wide selection of yoga studios catering to both beginners and experienced yogis. When you are not at yoga practice, you can bask in the sun on the beach or go surfing.
Didn’t expect this last suggestion, did you? A yoga retreat doesn’t have to take place in an exotic land. It can be in your own living room or backyard. Yoga is all about being present and mindful. Sometimes we feel like we need to be on a beach to have that reminder, but you can really achieve the same thing while at home. In fact, it should be the ultimate goal to bring mindfulness practices into your daily life.
With the COVID crisis in 2020 that changed the world, many creative online yoga retreats have bloomed. Check out these live retreats that take place over Zoom. Boho Beautiful also offers a wonderful digital retreat program that includes personal journaling exercises with physical asana practices.
Clear your schedule, turn off your phone, light some candles, play some calming music, and take a breath. The best yoga destination in the world can be wherever your mat is, if you allow it to be.
Tools for booking yoga holidays
Finding your ideal yoga holiday is easy. Here are some of my favourite platforms:
BookYogaRetreats: You can find retreats from all over the world. The website is easy to navigate. There are lots of filters for customizing your ideal budget, style, time of travel and more.
BookRetreat: Similar to BookYogaRetreats. Easy to use. Free cancelations available. Reliable customer support.
G Adventures: The perfect way to combine adventure with yoga. G Adventures is a responsible travel company that expanded into wellness travel in recent years. They run wonderful wellness trips in Asia, South America, and Europe.
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