Exercising on vacation has almost never sounded appealing until the rise of the luxury yoga retreat. That’s largely because a high-end yoga retreat isn’t all about arm balance workshops and working on crow pose variations. It’s about finding balance in a holistic sense, as opposed to just on your yoga mat. Beyond yoga and meditation classes, luxury yoga retreats might involve one-on-one spiritual or nutrition counsel with gurus, shamans, wellness professionals, or yogis extraordinaire. There also tends to be a spa component and regular massages—which is a regimen we can get behind—and delicious, mostly vegetarian meals to inspire clean eating habits you can continue to practice at home. If this is the year you’ve resolved to sign up for a yoga retreat, which you can do solo or with a friend, partner, or relative, consider these yoga destinations:
Schloss Elmau, Bavarian Alps
In the Bavarian Alps, Schloss Elmau has six lavish spas, some of which feature open-air heated pools, others offering treatments that incorporate ancient Chinese medicine into their healing practices. Beyond Schloss Elmau’s daily yoga class and wellness schedule, the resort offers yoga retreats, many of which are taught outdoors in full view of the alps. Specializations at the resort include free-floating aerial yoga, vinyasa yoga, spirit yoga, strength and grace yoga, Iyengar Yoga and Prana Yoga, and a yoga with kids and teens program. From May 24 to 29, 2020, Schloss Elmau hosts its Annual Mindfulness Summit, where travelers can learn various yoga styles from global yoga teachers while attending daily meditations, lectures, and workshops.
Shreyas Yoga Retreat, India
Shreyas is one of the most talked-about yoga retreats in the eastern world. The days at Shreyas are known for being quite structured, often starting around 6:30 a.m. Guests’ personalized itineraries might include various healing treatments, massages, meditation clinics, and of course, regular yoga practice. The communal aspect of Shreyas means all retreat participants eat together—the menu is entirely vegetarian—and take the bulk of their yoga classes and clinics together.
The Ranch Malibu, California
If you’re in need of a full-on detox but can’t fly halfway around the world for it, fly into LAX and after an hour drive along the coast, you can retreat with a view of the Pacific in Malibu. The Ranch Malibu specializes in seven-day retreats for those keen on results-based fitness and wellness workshops. Each award-winning retreat is open to 18 guests who take on eight hours of “low-impact fitness” daily—including long hikes and group fitness and yoga classes—while eating an organic, plant-based diet. Interspersed into the day-to-day fitness regimen, retreat-goers will enjoy regular massages, cryotherapy, infrared saunas, and acupuncture treatment.
Palmaïa, Riviera Maya
Newly opened as of January 2020, Palmaïa - The House of AïA is a beachfront resort that also offers guests a one-of-a-kind immersive jungle experience. Guests looking for a new holistic wellness retreat can take advantage of Palmaia’s Architect of Life program. The Architect of Life experience focuses on transformative wellness for the mind and body, and could include multiple yoga classes and disciplines daily, sound healing, gravity control, multi-musical vibration, Vipassana, sungazing, tantric sound, tai chi, and mandalas—all led by the property’s on-site shaman. During a typical week at Palmaïa, yogis can practice seven types of yoga, ranging from Kundalini, Hatha, and Vinyasa classes, to Thai and Tantra Hatha yoga.
Soneva Jani, The Maldives
The Maldives isn’t just for honeymooners—it’s for yogis, both solo and coupled up. Soneva Jani welcomes expert wellness practitioners and yoga teachers throughout the year; In 2020, Pawan Kumar comes to the Noonu Atoll in the Maldives to help guests practice traditional Hatha yoga, vinyasa yoga, mantra yoga (chanting), Pranayama (breath regulation and control), traditional Vedic and mantra meditation, and Shat Karma (yogic detoxification practices). For guests looking to focus on balance, Thai native Kanlayanee Martthuean will work with guests on realignment and balance for much of April. And from mid-February to mid-March, Yash Shekhar will be on property to guide guests through meditation, kundalini yoga, and various eastern healing practices.
The Pineapple House, Bali
With only five private rooms, The Pineapple House runs immersive retreats, for surf and yoga, yoga and wellness, or “simply yoga.” The Pineapple House is in Canggu, a hip Balinese enclave that’s become a big presence on the luxury travel scene just in the last five years. On property, there are two “boutique villas,” a two-bedroom villa, and a three-bedroom—the structures were formerly “antique wooden joglos from Java which were transported to Canggu in Bali and rebuilt in August 2013.” The villas can all be opened up to make one enormous private villa should you want to sign on for a Balinese yoga retreat with just close friends or family
Kamalaya, Koh Samui, Thailand
At Kamalaya Koh Samui, guests can join a retreat by Kamalaya’s co-founder and chief wellness director Karina Stewart. The eight-night retreat is intended to cleanse the body by releasing mental and emotional tension through various massages, nutrition guidance, daily meditation, infrared sauna treatments, use of all yoga facilities, and one-on-ones with wellness coaches. Participants in this retreat, or any resort guests, can rent one of Kamalaya’s superfluous villas, like their one or two-bedroom beachfront pool villas.