Yoga holidays

Travel

Five fantastic mind, body and soul festivals for 2018

Relax, restore and reset yourself at these festivals that feature yoga classes, spa treatments, healthy food, live music – and, yes, occasionally, a little alcohol

Launched last year, Soul Circus offers a programme of yoga and pilates, plus live music, DJs, healthy food supplied by local farmers and thought-provoking talks. There’ll be classes from aerial to blindfold yoga, workshops on topics such as the science of happiness, and the chance to chill in the spa with holistic treatments and lakeside hot tubs. It’s held at picturesque Elmore Court near Gloucester, and the gardens and woodlands are the setting for light shows and parties held long into the night.
17-19 August, tickets £189, soulcircus.yoga

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Travel

Mysuru, India, city guide: what to see, plus the best yoga centres, hotels and restaurants

Famed for ashtanga yoga, wellbeing is a way of life in this magical south Indian city – and fantastic markets, food and architecture all add to the allure

Mysuru (formerly known as Mysore; it was renamed in 2014) has hovered under the tourist radar for years and is often overlooked in favour of southern cousins such as Kochi and Puducherry. But the former royal capital of the erstwhile eponymous princely state is a slow-reveal pleasure, a place of culture, eccentricity, architecture, beauty and manners; a gently pious, highly literate and quietly arresting city, connected to nature and imbued with the sacred.

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Travel

The Ibiza yoga retreat that’s like the fitness Olympics

Fly and flop this is not. YogaFit’s affordable retreats include nearly 100 yoga and fitness classes, from beach circuits to Bhangracise and twerking. Rachel Dixon does a fitness heptathlon … in a day

I am struggling to do a burpee (a sort of supercharged squat thrust). I don’t usually find it this difficult – but then I don’t usually do it while balancing on a surfboard in a swimming pool. This is what you do in Floatfit, one of a whopping 93 classes on the programme of YogaFit, a retreat in Ibiza. It is a far cry from the average yoga holiday, which might offer a couple of classes a day. Here, my record was seven different classes in one day. It is also more affordable than most: guests can stay for just three night, or up to seven.

YogaFit is the brainchild of London-based Lyndsay Jay, a fitness instructor (and model), who, twice a year, takes over the Cala Blanca beach resort on Es Figueral beach on Ibiza’s quiet north-eastern coast. The usual holidaymakers are replaced by 30 hyperactive instructors and hundreds of sporty guests, who can mix and match yoga and fitness classes.

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Travel

Well cool: yoga on ice in Swedish Lapland

Northern Sweden and the frozen Baltic provide a stunning setting for a yoga retreat that delivers as many thrills as it does chills

A small part of me longs to be in a hot yoga class right now, sweating it out at 43C. Scorching heat, any kind of heat in fact, feels appealing when you’re hanging upside down on a frozen ocean in Swedish Lapland.

I sweat in the sauna then plunge into the frozen lake. The contrast is electrifying

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Travel

Eastern sanctuary: a mindfulness weekend in Norfolk

A suitably slow-paced yoga and mindfulness weekend is revelatory – even the ‘weird’ bit about rebooting tired minds and bodies through silence

We’re all tired. Some of us go on about it more than others (guilty) but most of us are wrecked most of the time. Which is why going on holiday to lie down in a darkened room for two days is not as weird as it might once have sounded. That’s essentially what Satvada Retreats offers on its winter weekends in north Norfolk: two days of mindfulness and yoga in the beautiful setting of West Lexham, a cluster of converted, eco-friendy farm buildings and treehouses (plus bell tents in summer) set in extensive grounds with paths winding through gardens and around a lake.

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Travel

25 of the best yoga holidays and retreats

Yoga trips can change lives but finding the right one may sap your core strength before you’ve even started. Our picks – from Goa to Greece via Yorkshire – will make your quest more relaxing

You can’t move for downward dog opportunities these days. The explosion of yoga in western countries means there’s a studio on every other street and such a variety of styles and options, that choosing a holiday or retreat can be overwhelming. So where to start? It makes sense to try a weekend away before committing to a whole week. One possibility is to choose a teacher you know or like the sound of and see if they’re running anything that suits. Or you could pick a venue you fancy and see what teachers are hosting holidays there. Think about what you want too – some combine yoga with other activities (maybe good for those with non-yogi partners), some are vegan, some don’t ban booze – it’s always worth asking before you book.

Most retreats will cater for all levels, with teachers listening to individual needs, but I’ve marked those particularly for beginners suitable with a B. We think all the places we’re covering here offer good value, but those that stand out price-wise are marked with a £.

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Travel

Yoga for beginners in the south of France

A trip outside the comfort zone can often feel a bit of a stretch. Our writer travels to an idyllic rural retreat near Toulouse with some concerns. As it happens, it proves to be a life-changing trip

The words “vegan yoga retreat” terrify me. I’m an internet, pulled-pork and sarcasm kind of guy. However, an increasing number of my friends have started raving about the life-changing effects of yoga, mindfulness and conscious-eating, and what I’m even more scared of is missing out. So, to find out what all the fuss is about, I’ve signed up for a week with Chaya Yoga Retreats to explore all three, figuring that even if it’s a living hell, the beds will hopefully be comfy.

Founded by wellbeing food coach Lucy Hill, Chaya has been running retreats for five years, offering yoga immersions in beautiful locations, from weekends in the UK to longer trips in Bali or India. We’re closer to home – a magnificent, remote château in the Toulouse countryside, with beautiful spacious rooms (mostly twin share, though some sleep four). It sits high above rolling fields, and the views stretch to the snow-capped Pyrenees. At night, the sky is hung with a million jewels, clouded only by the Milky Way. It may be the most peaceful place I’ve ever been.

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Travel

10 of the best women-only activity holidays

Demand for women-only breaks is growing. These activity trips include yoga, surfing, boot camps, and dog-sledding, from Kent to Kilimanjaro

Desperately Seeking Adventure runs active trips for small groups of women of all ages – the oldest participant so far was 72. There are two via ferrata trips to Italy: a five-night taster around Lake Garda, with low-level routes for beginners to intermediates, and a more challenging seven-night adventure in Cortina in the Dolomites – both full-board in four-star accommodation. Alternatively, there is a six-night walking, yoga and meditation break in the Dolomites; walking and wild camping trips to the Lake District; and an expedition to Morocco to climb Mount Toubkal in the Atlas range, the highest peak in North Africa.
• From £475pp for five nights in Italy, excluding flights, desperatelyseekingadventure.co.uk

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Travel

Bed, board and breathing on a yoga and surf retreat in Jersey

This Channel Islands wellness bolthole offers a ‘detox without realising it’ by marrying the two disciplines and serving guests healthy, vegetarian meals

Does everyone start a health retreat this way, I wonder, downing a large glass of wine, eating a Bounty and whizzing off work emails as I sit waiting for my delayed plane at Gatwick. Three days later I am doing a sun salutation, feeling the rays on my skin and looking over a vast, near-empty beach filling the horizon.

My first attempt at surfing is like trying to stand up in a washing machine

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Travel

Yoga in Sri Lanka: from here to serenity

The forests of central Sri Lanka are home to one of the world’s best yoga retreats, where the scenery and ancient sites on the doorstep are as blissful as the classes

‘Stop! You can’t go any further!”

We were on our way to a small temple overlooking the lake at Ulpotha when Suzi, the manager, came rushing up, looking flustered. “The elephants are closer now. It’s not safe.”

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Travel

Top 10 yoga retreats in India

India is a dream destination for many yogis, but with so many ashrams and courses, how do you choose wisely? From the hardcore to the boutique, we select 10 of the best places to practise yoga

Though this list includes some of the best ashrams, retreats and shalas India has to offer, there are three notable omissions: BKS Iyengar’s school in Pune, Pattabhi Jois’s in Mysore, and the pan-Indian Sivananda Centre, excluded on account of their existing popularity and fame. They are highly recommended nonetheless. Several other places were vetoed on account of various scandals and disputes, and I have also excluded luxurious and obscenely priced retreats.

As with many things in India today, yoga doesn’t necessarily come cheap but all of these are very good value given the quality of teaching on offer. Be advised that customer service in India isn’t always the best, and some of the more traditional places might prove hard to contact. But be patient, persevere, switch to “Indian-time” and, if you must, see it as the first step in letting go of your ego.

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Travel

Healthy (and fun) retreats for New Year

If you think New Year’s parties are over-rated, escape the mayhem on a healthy retreat and start 2016 feeling zen

Five mornings of gentle ashtanga and five afternoon workshops on the theory and practice of yoga will get the year off to a healthy start. But perhaps the best thing about this retreat in the Scottish Highlands is the bathing: the EcoYoga Centre has a natural spring-water hot tub, an underground sauna, rainforest showers under a glass dome and baths next to waterfalls. Plus super-kingsize beds, wood-fired stoves and organic, vegetarian food … bliss.
29 December-3 January, £850, ecoyoga.org

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