[Updated November 2020]
In a world that seems to be losing its mind, a yoga retreat offers a refuge from all the stress and messiness of life. It is a sanctuary in a fast-paced world and space where you can nourish your mind, body, and soul without the usual interruptions and responsibilities of everyday life.
Sounds like something you need in your life?
Here are 5 countries where the yoga roots run deep and that are home to some of the most idyllic yoga retreats in the world.
5. Sri Lanka
Sir Lanka is a calm and exotic island country located off the southern tip of India where yoga has been practiced and perfected over centuries. And because it is still relatively undiscovered and cheap, it is an exciting country to explore and the perfect place for your first yoga retreat.
Some of the best yoga retreats in Sri Lanka are:
Ulpotha Yoga & Ayurveda Retreat
Ulpotha is one of the best yoga retreats in the world and as authentic as it gets – no electricity, no WiFi, lots of bugs, open-air showers, communal facilities, and cheeky monkeys trying to steal your entirely vegan dinner. But what it lacks in creature comforts, it makes up for in unique Ayurveda experiences – steam baths, oil treatments, detoxifying herbal pastes, massages, herbal baths – and a whole lot of yoga in a truly unforgettable location.
For beach lovers and yogis wanting to experience the wild soul of Sri Lanka with a touch of luxury, Talalla Retreat is for you. The retreat is all-inclusive with accommodation, 3 meals a day, workshops, meditation sessions, yoga classes, a private yoga class, a full body massage, and a trip to the local village or a Buddhist temple. Talalla Retreat will help you deepen your practice, recharge and renew your mind and body, and even learn to surf on a beautiful tropical island.
The Plantation Villa
The Plantation Villa is a specialist Ayurveda retreat tucked between fruit trees, paddy fields, and rainforest on a 100-year-old plantation in Kalutara. The retreat has been awarded the Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence every year since it began and is a favourite amongst solo travellers and yogis wanting a more intimate retreat experience. With a retreat plan tailored to suit your needs, you will find the inner peace you have been searching for and so much more.
Also check out: How to apply for a Sri Lankan visa
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Portugal is one of the most popular destinations in Europe for a yoga holiday. The Portuguese are famous for being laidback and in tune with the harmony of nature. This makes it a great place for a yoga trip. Azores, Lisbon, Porto, and Algarve are the most popular cities amongst yoga lovers.
Some of the best yoga retreats in Portugal are:
Monte da Orada
Described as, “an abundant green womb for expansion and transformation”, you just know Monte da Orada is something special. It is a family-run, eco-sustainable, community-based soul retreat centre situated in the tranquil countryside near Algarve. This retreat is all about immersing yourself in nature and organically-grown food while you embark on a journey to align your body and mind through yoga. Monte da Orada is a nirvana of mountains, magic, and minimalism.
Vale de Moses
Situated in a remote valley in the foothills of the Serra de Estrela mountains in central Portugal, this retreat will bring you closer to yourself and nature, and reignite your love affair with yoga. Vale de Moses was voted one of the top 5 yoga retreats in Europe by National Geographic and has been recommended by major publications such as The Guardian, The Telegraph, OmYoga Magazine, and Yoga Journal. Yoga is a love affair and Vale de Moses will show you why.
Moka Surfhouse & Yoga Retreat
If you want something with more of a backpacker vibe and a touch of adrenalin, Moka Surfhouse & Yoga Retreat in Ericeira is a vibey little retreat made for good times and great yoga sessions. Spend your mornings and afternoons exploring yoga styles such as Yin, Ashtanga, Rocket, and Vinyasa Flow in a Mongolian yurt and sunny courtyard. And when the sun goes down, the warm evenings invite you to explore the city, eat delicious food, and meet amazing people.
Also check out: Portugal visa requirements for South Africans
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Thailand is not all full moon parties and wild nights in Pattaya. With its many islands, lush green jungles, and soft beaches, there is no shortage of places to roll out your mat and work on your asana. A yoga retreat will show you a whole different side to this Southeast Asian country that you will never forget.
Some of the best yoga retreats in Thailand are:
Whether you need some downtime after a wild time in Koh Samui and Phuket or are travelling exclusively for a retreat away from it all, The Sanctuary has everything you need and then some. The resort is situated on the shores of Haad Tien Beach in Koh Phangan and offers amazing yoga holiday packages. Book yourself in for a 3-day, 7-day, or 10-day retreat and get ready to discover why Thailand is one of the best countries in the world for a yoga getaway.
Vikasa Yoga Retreat
Set against the green eastern cliffs of Koh Samui, Vikasa Yoga Retreat offers inspiration and transformation on one of the most gorgeous islands in Thailand. The Signature Yoga Vacation is a 365-days-a-year programme that includes daily yoga, meditation, and healthy food that will revive your body, invigorate your mind, and cleanse your soul. Personal programmes such as acupuncture, private singing bowls sound bath sessions, and art therapy are also available as add-ons.
Head to Chiang Mai and you will find this little off-the-beaten-path yoga retreat that will appeal to yogis who are looking for that something extra special. The retreat is a sprawl of bamboo bungalows, adobe huts, and the famous Suan Sati truckalow (a 1960s truck that has been converted into a bungalow). Spend your days practicing your downward-facing dog and warrior pose, meditating, gardening, making music, writing, creating art, dancing, or just relaxing.
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If there is one place in the world that seems as though it was made for yoga, it is beautiful Bali. Before the film Eat, Pray, Love introduced the world to yoga in Bali, wellness warriors, zen seekers, and yoga lovers were visiting this soulful Indonesian island with mats under their arms and “om” on their tongues.
Some of the best yoga retreats in Bali are:
Oneworld Retreat is situated in the green hills of Ubud, the spiritual heart of Bali, and is one of the most celebrated yoga retreats on the island. Various retreats are on offer and are carefully designed to offer a balance of peace and wellness and a glimpse into the soul of Bali. Go for a purification ritual at Tirta Empul Temple, explore the iconic rice paddies, and practice your poses as the sun rises over the Mount Batur volcano. This is the crème de la crème of yoga retreats.
Shanti Toya Ashram
For something a little different, Shanti Toya Ashram offers an authentic taste of Bali in the quiet rice paddy farmlands of Penarungan village. During your 1-week retreat, you will eat delicious vegan food, experience a real Balinese massage, practice yoga in a bamboo shala surrounded by towering banana palms, and witness the enchanting charm of the ‘Island of the Gods’. Shanti Toya Ashram will give you the intimate retreat experience you have been dreaming of.
Desa Seni Yoga Retreat
Desa Seni Yoga Retreat offers a selection of private retreats that will take you on a personal journey based on your individual needs, goals, and objectives with your very own yoga teacher at your side. The private retreats are available for 5 or 7 nights and include accommodation in the deluxe wooden cabins, a consultation with your teacher, daily meals, private yoga sessions, signature massages, and transformation meditation.
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India is the birthplace of yoga, which makes a yoga retreat in India a deeply spiritual experience and the trip of a lifetime for many yogis. Whether you stay at a traditional ashram in Kerala, a luxurious retreat at the foothills of the Himalayas, or a beach retreat in Goa, a yoga retreat in India will change your life.
Some of the best yoga retreats in India are:
Little Cove Yoga Retreat
Little Cove Yoga Retreat is an intimate and rejuvenating retreat set under coconut palm trees on Cola Beach in South Goa. Various 10 to 15-day themed yoga retreats are scheduled throughout the year and are led by world-renowned yoga teachers. Yogis will get to practice yoga on a wooden shala while the waves lap gently against the shore, and when it’s time to retire, a luxurious beach cottage will give you a place to rest and reflect on your retreat in gorgeous Goa.
Bamboo Yoga Retreat
Voted one of the top 10 yoga retreats in India and a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence winner, Bamboo Yoga Retreat is a dream for the senses and delight for the soul. Practice your poses to the sound of the ocean and spend your evenings watching the sunset over Patnem Beach. Yoga sessions throughout the day and accommodation in a lovely beach hut make Bamboo Yoga Retreat the perfect getaway for yogis wanting a simple but unforgettable yoga retreat.
Ashiyana Yoga Resort
Ashiyana means ‘home’ in Hindi, and that is exactly what this retreat is – a home away from home that was designed to make you feel as comfortable and relaxed as possible as you embark on your yogic journey in India. The suites are decorated in true Indian decadence and five shalas are set within the beautiful gardens to create a truly magical retreat experience you will get completely lost in. Ashiyana will capture your heart and free your soul.
Yoga Magic Eco Retreat
Yoga Magic Eco Retreat is one of the most unique and luxurious eco retreats in India. Coconut groves and paddy fields buzzing with tropical birds are the backdrop and lavishly decorated eco-lodges are the accommodation. But really, it’s the yoga you came here for. The amazing yoga teachers at Yoga Magic Eco Retreat will help you deepen your practice and guide you with cleansing kriyas, pranayama exercises, and vitality-boosting yoga classes.
Also check out: How to apply for a visa to India from South Africa
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Booking yourself into a yoga retreat is one of those things you have to do at least once in your life. And whether you go alone or with friends, you will meet amazing people, get a chance to explore the world, and fall in love with yourself along the way.
Take time to make your soul happy.
Can’t afford international flights right now but still want to go on a yoga retreat?
There are a few really great yoga retreats in South Africa:
- Little Samadhi Karoo Retreat in Barrydale, Western Cape
- Bodhi Khaya Retreat near Gansbaai, Western Cape
- The Buddhist Retreat Centre in Ixopo, KwaZulu-Natal
- Melody Hill Retreat in Magaliesburg
Which of these yoga retreats would you love to go to? Let us know in the comments section below!
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Featured image credit: @ulpotha via Instagram