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Whether you’re hoping to improve your technique, gain some perspective or trial your solo-travel capabilities in the comfort of a timetabled week, a yoga retreat is one holiday you’ll always come away from feeling the benefits. From the far-flung lychee orchards of Uttarakhand to the wild landscapes of the Scottish Highlands via a retreat vetted by the Dalai Lama, we’ve got you covered.
1. Vana, India
Once you’ve changed into your uniform of white kurta and trousers, you’ll be presented with your personal programme with a flexible focus determined by your needs, be they fitness or mindfulness oriented. A minimum five-night stay is required, but considering the Dalai Lama has given this place his seal of approval, it’s more, not less, time you’ll be bidding for here. While escaping to India for some peace and quiet might seem counterintuitive, Vana, which lies in Northern India, is positioned away from the chaos. Set in acres of mango and lychee orchards atop a hill in Uttarakhand it’s the kind of place made for taking long exhales and uttering “ahh, bliss” without a tinge of irony. Yoga is the retreat’s main draw, but expect to be just as taken by Vana’s unique blend of Chinese, Ayurvedic and Tibetan medicine. Overseen by yoga master and Ayurvedic expert, Dr Dhanraj Shetty, it’s no wonder run-down celebrities and big-city burnouts have come to call this place home.
2. Eco Yoga Retreat, Scottish Highlands, Scotland
Looking for something totally off-grid, affordable and without a long-haul flight? Eco Yoga Retreat in the Scottish Highland is your go to. Cut ties with the modern world at this week-long retreat packed with candlelight meditations, restorative sessions of yoga and the odd wilderness walk thrown in for due diligence. Perfectly poised among lochs, rivers and forests, this wild escape’s teachers are as impressive as its surrounds. You’ll take two classes a day, enjoy talks on yoga and gorge on veggie meals over the course of your stay. Our advice: opt-in for a class with mindfulness expert Scott Johnson, which focuses on self-practise method, ideal for up keeping your post-retreat wellness routine.
3. Ulpotha Yoga & Ayurveda Retreat, Embogama, Sri Lanka
Spiritual retreats are not always synonymous with luxury. Ulpotha is paired back, and not in that luxe Scandi way you’re used to. No, Ulpotha is rudimentary, rustic and all natural. Positioned in the rural hinterland of Sri Lanka’s Galgiriyawa Mountains, to visit Ulpotha is to sign up for a serious lifestyle shift. Days begin with sun salutations followed by wheat-free and vegan-friendly cuisine. Yoga is practised in the Yoga Shala (essentially an open-sided hall that lets in nature – think gentle breezes and birdsong). On occasion, practice may be taken under the branches of a Banyan tree or on top of Monkey Rock. Teachers change every fortnight, meaning several types of yoga – including Hatha, Sivananda and Ashtanga – are available at different times in the season. A great choice for those looking to advance their technique, furthered by leading teachers from around the world.
4. Destination Yoga, Multiple Locations
Year-round retreats and a series of locations – which range from a whitewashed farmhouse in Puglia to a beachside base in Sardinia – no wonder Buddha is laughing. Bliss doesn’t come close to describing the sensation that washes over you by day seven of your yogi-led escape courtesy of Destination Yoga. With two classes a day – two hours in the morning and an hour-and-a-half of restorative yoga in the evening – your limbs will be feeling positively elastic by day seven. A daily programme of tennis, watersports and cycling, mixed in with Ayurvedic practices and a trip to the body science clinic will keep your days feeling pleasantly packed. The only decision left: which location speaks to you… spiritually?
5. Silver Island Yoga, Greece
With no WiFi connection and no mains power, Silver Island Yoga is about one thing – finding peace. Whether you interpret “peace” as not losing your rag over relentless emails or simpl y “tranquillity” is up to you. Set on a private Greek Island just off the coast of Evia, you’ll share the retreats 60 picturesque acres with just nine other guests. Offering a curated programme to ensure there’s something for everyone’s level, yoga weeks run between April and October. Days begin with a two-hour yoga session (held in an open-air shala overlooking mountains and sprawling sea) countered with afternoons spent reading in hammocks or in a massage tent under the pines. For dinner, enjoy healthy Greek food and local wine before turning in to one of six bleached-white bedrooms.
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