Sun, sand, foreign languages, exotic cuisine, and a better shoulder stand that you could have ever imagined possible — pretty much every yogi has dreamt, at one point or another, of turning everything off, jetting to the other side of the world, and deepening their practice through a retreat in paradise at one point or another, and I’m certainly no exception. When cold weather hits or the everyday grind gets me down, I often find myself Googling my way around the internet and daydreaming about the joy that would be a yoga retreat in an exotic place I’ve never been before. My endless hours spent falling down a yogic internet rabbit hole has led to this list of top places that would make my heart explode if I could somehow got my life organized enough to attend.
Blooming Lotus is pure luxury in the heart of the tropical wonderland that is Ubud, Bali. Sign yourself up for one of their yoga retreats and you can expect yoga classes on the daily, workshops focused on the finer details of practicing yoga, meditation sessions to calm your mind, and practical yogic living sessions. Taken together, the combination of these experiences seem like they would certainly leave you feeling more whole and complete than before, ready to plug back into “the real world” in a new way.
As much as I like to dream of yoga in paradise, I daydream in equal measure about getting super serious with it and subjecting myself to a hyper disciplined retreat somewhere in India, the land that gave birth to yoga. If I was to ever get over my fear of somehow not being able to hack it, the Bihar School of Yoga is where I would head. Founded in 1964 by Sri Swami Satyananda Saraswati, this place is about as traditional as it gets and they take their work seriously (there even affiliated with all kinds of medical and research institutions), which is reflected in their schedule and structure. Their courses run the gamut of real deal yoga form Kriya Yoga to Raja Yoga and everything in between and follow a strict daily schedule that includes a 4am wake up call, since sunrise is good for the soul.
Yogaion offers their yoga in combination with surfing, nourishment (aka healthy cooking), or both. They keep their groups small (only about eight to 10 participants each time) so you’re almost guaranteed to come away with new friends on top of deepening your yoga practice and getting your feet wet (literally and figuratively) by surfing some of the best waves you can find off of Portugal’s western coast. The thing that gets me about this place is how they approach rejuvenating the body and the mind in three different yet entirely interrelated ways, a trifecta that seems like it would have some lasting benefits that would have life changing results.
Even though most dream destinations are characterized by far flung locales, there are plenty of dreamy spots right here in the good old US of A, and Big Sky Yoga Retreats nestled in the mountains of Montana is one of them. This spot always sticks out to me because they approach yoga retreats in a completely unique way, one that is characterized less by frills and more by horseback riding through Big Sky County. This group bases their yoga philosophy on the idea that literal space is necessary to develop and grow, that’s exactly what you’d find in the wilds of Montana, plus some seriously fresh mountain air and classes to suit any yogini’s level.