Many yogis ask me where they should go for summer vacation. The great news is that even if you haven’t yet booked anything for this summer, there is still time! Here are some suggestions to help you make your best choice to gain the benefits of a “traveling savasana.”
Bon voyage as you happily travel the world living yoga, being yoga and loving yoga! Here are my five favorite yoga retreat centers for 2012:
1. Costa Rica: The Sanctuary at Two Rivers
Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
What’s cool? Brand new, private 40-acre eco-estate with over 300 fruit trees exclusive for only 12 guests. Night Pool Yoga with underwater LED lights. Gourmet vegetarian meals that use Ayurvedic cooking techniques prepared with intentional positive energy infused into the food. Founded by the actress Perrey Reeves (who played the very yoga-fit 'Mrs. Ari Gold' on HBO’s Entourage) and Jeff Gossett, a restaurateur. They were recently featured in the New York Times Travel Issue.
What’s unique? Costa Rica’s premier 100% Off-The-Grid, Solar Powered Retreat Center where you will live and learn the lessons of one of the Earth’s only five "Blue Zones: places in the world where higher percentages of people enjoy remarkably long, full lives" according to author Dan Buettner. Everything was constructed with meticulous care around the landscape as opposed to the usual practice of landscaping afterward around the structures. It feels like you are in living in a Zen tree-house with Japanese architectural flair, accented with natural fabrics, stone tiles, tropical woods and art, the majority of which were from quarries in Costa Rica and India.
Stuff to do besides yoga? Wander through the Jurassic jungle enjoying adjacent secluded waterfalls or walk to the glorious surf and swimming beach. Explore Cabo Blanco National Park, ride horses on the beach, or tour the forest canopy on zip-lines.
How much? Least expensive is $1425 on select retreats until June 30, 2012. Then starting at $1675 depending on whether excursions are included or not. More Information: thesanctuarycostarica.com
2. Hawaii: Kalani Retreat
Big Island, Hawaii
What’s cool? Incredible 120 acre location, with the cleanest air in the world, nearby the world’s largest active volcano, Kilauea. Kalani is Hawaii's largest retreat center, one of the best-loved centers in the world for more than 35 years and is truly open to everyone including those living alternative lifestyles. The yoga studio is incredibly spacious with beautiful views of nature. It feels super organic, with mats, bolsters, blankets, blocks – everything a yogi wants in class but doesn’t want to carry on a plane. They have a full list of 50 weekly classes including hula lessons, ecstatic dance and acro-yoga.
What’s unique? Clothing optional pool let’s you be you. And the plentiful organic food (including meat options, vegan and vegetarian) are the best. Any time you’re hungry, you can pick fruit off the trees outside your room. You should know that Kalani is established as a non-profit, 501(c)(3) charity and is the largest NGO provider of recreational and cultural services serving Puna, the poorest district in Hawaii. They live their service, their karma yoga. And a portion of what you pay is Tax Deductible. Their mission is to give people from all over the world a chance to find themselves.
Stuff to do besides yoga? Snorkeling, nature hikes, eco-agriculture, swimming in geo-thermally heated sea ponds, exploring lava tubes, quiet runs along the ocean, trek to see lava flow into the ocean, walking distance to awesome clothing optional black sand beach and incredible healing therapies like Watsu (water shiatsu). Beware the locally made ice cream is habit forming.
How much? Least expensive is campsite $599 for a week all the way up to a private ocean cottage with lots of mid price options as well. You could also volunteer and apply to live in community there in trade for housing and food. More Information: kalani.com
3. Mexico: Prana del Mar
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico (Baja)
What’s cool? With the Sierra de la Laguna mountains to the east, the Pacific Ocean to the west, and the desert all around, eco-luxury Prana del Mar is the perfect place to escape for a true retreat setting – a tranquil yoga travel getaway where you can relax, refresh, and rejuvenate. Completely off-grid and entirely solar-powered your best option is to completely unplug. The rooms are gorgeous with travertine-tiled floors, custom-made teak furniture, pillow-top mattresses, organic sheets and bath towels, large terraces and balconies with ocean views, and organic personal care products.
What’s unique? Prana del Mar’s commitment to environmental stewardship to remain in harmony with the natural environment has earned them 5 stars by Eco Hotels of The World
All electricity is solar-powered, the vegetable and herb garden is organic, the pool is solar-heated, wastewater is treated on site and reused for the xeriscaped gardens. And if you purchase carbon offsets for your flight the resort will credit you that amount towards a spa treatment, surf lesson or excursion. The yoga room is 1850 square feet with plenty of space to comfortably practice on brand new bamboo floors. All props are provided - including Manduka black mats, both bamboo and alder blocks, blankets, bolsters, straps, sand bags, and silk eye pillow, so need to pack any of your yoga gear unless you want to.
Stuff to do besides yoga? Take surf lessons. Go whale watching. Ride horses on the beach. Enjoy a hot stone massage or a sea salt body scrub. Take a siesta in a hammock. Visit the quaint artistic community of Todos Santos. Hone your culinary skills with a cooking class from chef extraordinaire Manolo. Learn to firedance with Mariana. Enjoy a walking meditation in the labyrinth. Lounge on the roof deck with a 360-degree view of the mountains to the east, the ocean to the west and the desert all around.
How much? Single and double rooms range from $1,500 to $3,100, depends on time of year, who’s leading the retreat and what other activities are included. More Information: pranadelmar.com
4. Mexico: Xinalani
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
What’s cool? The name Xinalani comes from the Nauatl Xinaloani that means «seed». It is pronounced shee-nah-lah-nee. It embodies the shared vision that this world could be better if everybody planted and grew a seed inside themselves and let love blossom around it. They believe in providing a socially conscious sun/beach vacation that is unlike the traditional beach holiday experience. They have a tree house 1,300 square foot yoga deck set uphill amidst the deep jungle vegetation that can comfortable fit 40 students with props provided. And for the hot yoga lovers, they also have a second heated yoga studio that is a beautiful mostly glass greenhouse looking out at the ocean. Every single room has a spectacular ocean view with zen-chic décor, private terrace, hammock, sitting area, and private bath.
What’s unique? This eco-chic spa boutique hotel is hidden on a pristine beach surrounded by jungle on the south shore of Banderas Bay, near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. You have to land by boat as there is no roadway access which keeps Xinalani private. It is just for guests and you’ll never be bothered by a single vendor. They also do all they can to minimize their environmental impact including but not limited to putting everything on low consumption lights (LEDS) and all water is recycled and used to irrigate the gardens. There are three styles of rooms offered. An 8 bed 880 square foot Big Palapa, 350 square foot Petite Suites and Eco-Chic Suites that are 525 square feet. Yoga journal said "Xinalani is one of the 7 most spectacular places to practice yoga in the world"
Stuff to do besides yoga? There’s a wide array of activities available from the resort, surfing, snorkeling, eco-discovery boat Excursions to remote beaches and islands, or simply lying on the beach. And it’s easy to do jungle hikes and horseback riding within minutes walking distance of the retreat center.
How much? Big Palapa shared space starts at $1050 but this depends upon time of year, who’s leading the retreat and what other activities are included. More Information: xinalaniretreat.com
5. Bali: Soulshine
What’s cool? Created by Michael Franti and Carla Swanson, Soulshine Bali is located between stunning rice field terraces of the village of Ubud, the arts and crafts center of Bali, and the Tukad Bembeng river. The exquisitely designed main building and grounds hosts a river, tropical gardens and several ornate ponds; covered by a traditional Balinese roof, the open air yoga studio on the third floor overlooks some of the most spectacular rice terraces, temples and greenest jungle in the world.
What’s unique? The food, the 20m infinity pool and the friendliness of the staff set it apart. You can easily walk to the Durga Temple through the rice fields and plenty of additional excursions, restaurants, or traditional Balinese healers are nearby in town.
How much? $1,400 on up, depending on time of year, who’s leading the retreat and what other activities are included. More Information: soulshinebali.com