On your next vacation, immerse yourself in your yoga practice while experiencing local color, culture, and food—the exotic extras that make travel so rewarding.
Learn to surf, snorkel, or sea kayak in warm tropical waters. Ride a zipline through the rainforest canopy. Refresh after afternoon yoga practice with a papaya you picked yourself or the sweet water of a just-cracked coconut. Take a local cooking class or nap in a hammock.
Part yoga immersion, part vacation, these spectacular retreats are spots where you can rest and refresh, focus deeply on your yoga practice, and broaden your horizons—all at the same time.
A visit to Bali achieves for the soul what an exhalation does for the body. Everywhere you go, palm trees sway in the breeze, and offerings of flowers decorate the road. Monkeys chatter, gamelan music drifts from doorways, and incense smoke wafts through the air. The weather is warm and welcoming, and so are the smiles of locals as they offer you a lift to your next destination: an ancient, monkey-filled temple; the healing hot springs; or your yoga class.
Located in the western part of Indonesia, Bali is one of Asia's most spiritual and sublime travel destinations. Serenity seekers have always been drawn to the island and, in particular, to the town of Ubud for its culture of hospitality, colorful Hindu ceremonies, and holistic and spiritual healing. (Ubud is derived from the Balinese word for "medicine.") Now there's another reason to go: the cornucopia of top-notch yoga and wellness centers, where rest and rejuvenation are virtually guaranteed, and transformation is inescapable.
Situated in the terraced rice fields just five minutes from central Ubud, this elegant but unpretentious retreat center is co-owned by Michael Franti of Spearhead, so it's no surprise that music is in the air. Live rhythms or kirtan often accompany yoga class. You can see three volcanoes and a temple dedicated to the goddess Durga from the open-air yoga shala, which has awesome views of the surrounding jungle.
Sustainability is present in every detail, from the organic food grown in the center's own garden to the organic bed linens, and owners Franti and Carla Swanson give an annual benefit concert to support community health organizations such as the Bumi Sehat Natural Birthing Clinic, which gives thousands of consultations each year to reduce maternal and child mortality.
Yoga: Practice daily with a resident teacher or enroll in weeklong vinyasa, Anusara, Jivamukti, and Yin Yoga retreats with visiting instructors like Pete Guinosso and Janet Stone.
Don't Miss: After practice, enjoy a therapeutic massage or facial and then snack on mangoes or papayas that you pick yourself.
For more information, visit soulshinebali.com.
COMO Shambhala Estate Near Ubud, Bali
The grand jewel of the high-end COMO hotel chain, the grounds of this dedicated health and wellness retreat center are a paradise of groomed jungle and airily chic open space. Spectacular luxury is this magical spot's specialty, and accommodations range from rooms and suites to private villas. With healthful Indonesian-inspired cuisine, water gardens fed by a local spring revered for its healing properties, an on-site Ayurvedic doctor for consultation and treatments, and a Western-style spa, it's a place you might never want to leave.
Yoga: A daily vinyasa flow class is held in an open-air studio, and private classes are available. Or book a retreat with visiting teachers like Cyndi Lee and Shiva Rea.
Don't Miss: Check the schedule for meditation and pPranayama sessions; or choose your own adventure with treks, mountain biking, or white-water rafting.
For more information, visit cse.como.bz.
The Yoga Barn Ubud, Bali
What started as a tiny donation-only yoga studio above an organic café in 2002 has grown into a vibrant yoga community center with 3.5 acres of largely undeveloped land, four yoga studios, a living-foods restaurant, and a dedicated detox center that offers both Ayurvedic and Western-style treatments—all with an eye to preserving Ubud's natural resources. The buildings are made from recycled timber, with mud walls and grass-thatched roofs. The center's 10 guest rooms are reserved for detox clients, but the owners will help you plan a retreat in cooperation with area hotels.
Yoga: Drop in to more than 50 regularly scheduled classes a week, plus classes and workshops with visiting teachers like Les Leventhal and Desirée Rumbaugh.
Don't Miss: Every other Monday, find a bolster on the floor of the yoga studio for movie night, featuring popcorn and an eclectic schedule of films with spiritual and environmental themes.
For more information, visit theyogabarn.com.
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OZZY IS GIVING ME ATTITUDE—bumping against my pack, nosing ahead, blowing his semisweet-fermented breath in my face. I nudge him on the chest to keep him behind me as I inch down the steep sandstone, but he clearly has personal-space issues. I chose Ozzy . . .
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My best friend and I rarely call each other. Not because we don’t enjoy talking; we just prefer to catch up in person, ideally over frosty drinks in a foreign land. But before our recent trip to Nicaragua, I texted her, “Are we taking backpacks or rolling . . .
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There is a loftier ambition than merely to stand high in the world. It is to stoop down and lift mankind a little higher.” –Henry Van Dyke