THE HOLIDAYS CAN be a stressful time. Between finding gifts, the burden on your wallet, the recycled conversations from last year’s family dinner, and the TSA’s wandering hands, it might make more sense to throw in the towel and give your mind and body a healthy holiday.
Below are 20 yoga retreats where you can cleanse yourself of Thanksgiving’s turkey, purge holidays past, and usher in the New Year rejuvenated and ready for whatever 2011 throws at you.
1. Sedona Spirit Yoga & Hiking, Sedona, AZ.
Highlights: Dr. Johanna Maheshvari Mosca leads clients in therapeutic sessions in yoga, spiritual teachings, and hikes in Sedona’s famed red rock terrain. The objective for retreat goers is for them to “Relax, Release, Receive and Renew.”
Lodging: Either local hotels or SSY’s Contentment B&B, which sleeps 10 and includes the yoga studio.
Types of Yoga: Anusara, Hatha, Kripalu (slower, alignment-based styles).
Other offerings: Hiking, massage, meditation, sweat lodge, astrological readings.
2. Esalen Institute, Big Sur, CA.
Highlights: One of the mother lodes of US retreats, and situated on 26 acres of coastal grounds in Big Sur, Esalen is a high-end center that welcomes yoga celebrity workshops and “transformative” events and is known for its clothing-optional hot springs and its name-brand massage style.
Lodging: Choices range from slumber parties in the meeting rooms (bring your own sleeping bags) to the premium Point Houses, atop the cliffs overlooking the Pacific.
Types of Yoga: It depends on who is hosting the week’s workshop, but it ranges from gentle forms to the advanced Jivamukti system.
3. Adventure Yoga Retreats, Mammoth Lakes, CA.
Highlights: For those who seek out more wintry thrills, Ted MacDonald and Ashley Turner organize just that with their snowboarding plus yoga packages in the mountains outside of Yosemite National Park.
Lodging: Depends on the preferences of the participants, but snowboarding retreats have been based at ski resorts around Mammoth Lakes.
Types of Yoga: Vinyasa (an active, sweat-inducing form).
Other offerings: Snowboarding, Ayurvedic-based meals.
4. Maya Tulum, Tulum, Mexico.
Highlights: Located two hours from Cancun is the retreat that represents everything that Cancun is not. Renowned for its wellness programs, it also hosts yoga workshops year round.
Lodging: Beachside cabanas.
Types of Yoga: Depends on the workshops being hosted, but most are in Vinyasa and Ashtanga (a traditional form of power yoga). See the calender here.
Other offerings: A full spa menu, including massage and skin treatments.
Central America / Caribbean
5. Sivananda Bahamas, Nassau, Bahamas.
Highlights: Both an ashram/school and a vacation retreat, visitors can immerse themselves in traditional yogic teachings and meditation or go for the physical aspects of yoga. Like most ashrams, they also have work-study programs to help pay your way.
Lodging: Because the attached beach is semi-private, visitors can either camp or stay in one of the simple wooden cabins on the property.
Types of Yoga: Hatha, Sivananda (slower forms that emphasize breathing and relaxation).
Other offerings: Classic Indian music and dance courses, Kirtans/chanting, yoga coursework.
6. Montezuma Yoga, Montezuma, Costa Rica.
Highlights: Located in one of the places in the world where residents live the longest, Montezuma in the Nicoya Peninsula is packed with wellness, health food, and generally eco-fashionable offerings. This studio represents all that, and is also located close enough to Mal Pais’s consistent surf break to add a surfing element to your yoga vacation.
Lodging: The studio partners with Los Mangos Hotel nearby, which offers guests a choice of 10 bungalows in its mango orchard.
Types of Yoga: Anusara-Based Vinyasa (an active form with an emphasis on alignment)
Other offerings: Surf + Yoga, Spanish + Yoga, and Nutrition + Yoga packages
7. Rolling Meadows Retreat, Villa Sumaya, Guatemala.
Highlights: Located on Lake Atitlán and overlooking three volcanoes, this February retreat hosted at Villa Sumaya is a less-pricey and less-touristed vacation spot than nearby Costa Rica, but with the same opportunity for a full New Year detox.
Lodging: Single- or double-rooms in a thatched roof complex.
Types of Yoga: Yin Yoga (a slower but sweaty form that helps stretch connective tissue by holding poses for long periods of time)
Other offerings: Hiking, swimming, meditation, sauna.