retreat

With so many yoga escapes, finding your ideal retreat can be a challenge. Here, some favourites recommended by esteemed yogis from Australia and beyond…

Byron Yoga Retreat Centre – Byron Bay, Australia

Byron Yoga’s tranquil eco retreat is close enough that you can walk to the beach or to Byron’s cafés and shops, but feels like you are fully immersed in hinterland nature. All the retreats have a flexible schedule, a plethora of daily yoga classes on offer for all levels, deliciously healthy meals prepared with produce from the centre’s organic gardens and relaxing treatments — plus there’s plenty of time to relax by the pool, chill at the beach or explore Australia’s yoga capital. www.byronyoga.com

“Byron Yoga was the perfect retreat for me. High quality yoga teachings and instruction, peaceful environment, clean facilities, excellent massage, mineral pool, and organic food straight from the garden! I could not fault the service provided by all involved. I felt greatly supported and most of all I loved how this retreat reflected the yogic teachings throughout.” — Tracy Lucock, a yoga teacher and holistic health and wellbeing counsellor on the Central Coast of NSW

Prima Shanti – The Daintree Rainforest, Australia

Prema Shanti is the real deal — from friendly hosts who live and breathe yoga, to a yoga shala blessed by monks and divinely Zen accommodation. Surrounded by heritage-listed rainforest, you couldn’t ask for more of a spiritual experience. Awaken to the sound of birdsong, enjoy daily meditation and yoga, hearty, healthy meals and an abundance of time to explore the nature walks and adventures that the Daintree boasts. www.premashanti.com.au

“As a pair of yogis wanting to celebrate our honeymoon in Australia’s tropical north, we could not have chosen a better place than Prema Shanti. Nestled in the rainforest, yet an easy day trip from the reef, teachers Mara and Janardhan have created a sanctuary that reflects their loving commitment to meditation and the practice of yoga. The accommodation is simple and personal, and we left feeling nurtured and restored” — Michael Sharp, a yoga teacher at Humming Puppy in Sydney’s Redfern

Billabong Retreat – Maraylya (45 minutes from Sydney), Australia

Billabong’s vision is primarily about connection. They’ve created an open and loving space for people from all walks of life to connect with nature -— a space for people to come and connect with nature, each other, and a sense of inner contentment and wellness. www.billabongretreat.com.au

“I volunteered for three weeks at Billabong Retreat earlier this year. The absolutely stunning natural surrounds evoke a sense of immediate serenity and the beautiful wooden-panelled yoga and meditation room overlooks the Billabong through the treetops. The food is exquisite and the spacious grounds offer plenty of places to relax and chat with fellow guests. Or retreat to one of the secluded spaces on the water’s edge to curl up and read a book. I was in Yogi Heaven.” — Michael Blades, a yoga teacher at Yoga Vida in Mooloolaba.

Are Ha – Glenorchy (40 minutes from Queenstown), New Zealand

Aro Ha’s vision is Zen-inspired, minimalistic luxury. Core features of their wellness adventures include yoga, sub-alpine hiking, integrated mindfulness, whole foods, functional strength training, massage and spa therapy, inspired by the adventure and nature of Queenstown. The multi-award winning retreat fuses advanced eco accommodation, permaculture and results-oriented programming to create a temptingly indulgent experience with life changing effects. www.aro-ha.com

“Aro Ha takes my breath away. The property itself is simply stunning but, more importantly, Aro Ha has a heart and soul. After each stay I feel deeply rested, connected to myself, connected to the earth and completely nourished!” — Nova Brown, a Melbourne-based yoga teacher and co-founder of Warrior One Yoga

Ashram Yoga – Ohui Retreat – Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand

A family-run business and true yogic community, Ohui Retreat offers yoga and meditation retreats in the idyllic surrounds of a 20-acre beachfront property in the north island of New Zealand, two hours drive from Auckland. Community-minded and comfortable, guests can join in on a retreat or enjoy a casual stay whilst indulging in traditional yoga practices guided by experienced teachers and meeting like-minded friends. www.ashramyoga.com

“Ohui is a serene environment that plentifully offers itself on many levels. Nestled among the trees, earth solid under foot, ocean lapping at the heart while warm fires sooth and nutritious food feeds both body and soul. The teachers are professional, talented, supportive, accepting and full of wisdom and good humour. The yoga can stir up and ultimately shift deep-seated emotions.” — Jennieka Aksitadevi is a yoga teacher based in Freemantle WA

Griffins Hill – Dunkeld (Victoria), Australia

A truly warm retreat inviting students as young as 20 and as old as 80 from all walks of life — from farmers to politicians. Hosted by Frank Jesse (one of just 27 senior Iyengar teachers in Australia) and Jane Gibb, the main focus of the retreats is the relationships with guests, many who return time and time again. The owners foster these bonds and connections, sharing true, traditional yoga along the way. www.griffinshill.com.au

“Frank is a truly empathic teacher and Jane’s food and garden are as nourishing as the yoga. Being able to sit on the verandah and stare at the mountains (or better yet walk on them) is a perfect way to reflect on the learnings from the yoga and digest the delicious meals. I encourage everyone to treat themselves to this amazing experience.” — Kimina Lyall, long-term Iyengar yoga practitioner

Samahita Retreat – Koh Samui, Thailand

Come to this well-known tropical retreat to improve your yoga technique with world-class instruction. Or, opt for one of their signature yoga-and-fitness hybrid programs, such as YogaCoreCycle, which incorporates core and cardio into your yoga, meditation, and breathwork practices. samahitaretreat.com

“Samahita is a perfect balance of luxury and simplicity. They have all sorts of yoga programs year-round, as well as indoor cycling classes and a full range of health and spa treatments. The quality of the staff—they are caring, but not intrusive—and people who teach here is amazing, as is the food!” —Mary Taylor, a yoga teacher based in Boulder, Colorado, and co-author of The Art of Vinyasa

Blue Spirit  – Nosara, Costa Rica

Perched on a hilltop overlooking the Pacific and a white sand beach that’s a protected turtle refuge, this yoga and meditation retreat centre is as beautiful as it is healing, say practitioners who’ve spent time here. bluespiritcostarica.com

“I’m drawn to Blue Spirit Costa Rica for the gorgeous land, sea, and relaxed resonance. After teaching here, I come home so reconnected to myself, it’s as though I’ve been on holiday.” —Elena Brower, a New York City–based yoga teacher, co-founder of teach.yoga, and co-author of Art of Attention

Kripalu center for yoga & health – STOCKBRIDGE, MASSACHUSSETS

Widely regarded as one of the best centers in the country for yoga, meditation, and holistic-living trainings and getaways, Kripalu offers customizable retreats, training programs, and even one-off classes. All-inclusive stays include lovely, minimalistic accommodations, healthy meals, and daily classes, with plenty of time for roaming the spacious grounds or hiking in the nearby Berkshire Mountains. kripalu.org  

“I love Kripalu for its consistency: The food is always good, the noon dance is always fun, and the yoga classes are always high quality. I also love its variety: On any given day, you can choose from a range of programs, lectures, activities, and healing-arts treatments, all offered by experienced, friendly, inspiring teachers.” —Sage Rountree, author of The Athlete’s Guide to Yoga

Haramara Retreat – Nayarit, Mexico

This secluded resort on the Pacific coast near the quaint town of Sayulita was designed with the environment in mind: Every structure was hand-built, and there’s minimal electricity, so you can feel the spirit of the jungle, beach, and ocean. haramararetreat.com

“There’s so much to love about Haramara: cabanas above the Pacific Ocean, outdoor yoga platforms that overlook the water and the jungle, and candlelight everywhere. It’s magical.” —Jeanie Manchester, a Boulder, Colorado–based yoga teacher

Rythmia Life Advancement Centre – Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Known for its robust addiction-treatment programs, herbal-medicine tours, and life-purpose coaching, Rythmia offers a range of holistic healing experiences in the tropical setting of Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula, a region that’s considered one of the world’s “Blue Zones”—a place where people live measurably longer lives. At Rythmia, you’ll have access to spiritual healers and naturopathic doctors, an onsite spa with volcanic
mud treatments, daily Prana Vinyasa classes, and a world-class surf break. ythmia.com

“Rythmia brings state-of-the-art healing modalities into the retreat experience. The first thing you do is meet with a staff doctor who creates a plan for your stay, and there are massages and treatments for your specific custom journey.” —Shiva Rea, founder of Prana Vinyasa

Manchebo resort – Aruba

This modern resort located on Aruba’s blissfully quiet Eagle Beach boasts large, clean, quiet rooms, a freshwater pool, and plenty of beach cabanas for lounging post-yoga by the Caribbean Sea. manchebo.com

“Aruba is my second home—I have citizenship there—so I love leading retreats on this island, which is the perfect place to relax, rejuvenate, and reconnect with yourself. At Manchebo, the yoga deck is right on the beach, so you can watch the ocean and sunsets as you practice.” —Kat Fowler, a New York City–based yoga teacher

GAIA RETREAT CENTER – UBUD, BALI

This open-architecture, modern-style home is just minutes from yoga hotspot Ubud, the artistic and cultural heart of Bali. With spectacular views of rice fields and palm trees, the eight bedrooms, infinity pool, and gorgeous outdoor spaces in this boutique-feeling retreat centre inspire deep relaxation. gaiaretreatcenter.com

“Gaia offers the best of both worlds: It’s quiet and peaceful, with really incredible views, yet it’s also walking distance from the city centre and some of the best restaurants in Ubud.” —David Magone, a Boston-based yoga teacher and founder of PranaVayu Yoga

Sattva Retreat – Rishikesh, India

Located on the outskirts of Rishikesh—a city alongside the holy Ganges River that’s revered as the birthplace of yoga—Sattva Retreat offers a unique blend of ancient and contemporary offerings: yoga, meditation, nature hikes, Ayurvedic cooking classes, and even bungee jumping and ziplining. thesattva.com

“This is a magical place nestled in the sacred foothills of the Himalayas. The centre is quiet and has practice spaces that are large and bright, with windows overlooking the mountains and river.” —Terri Cooper, founder of Connection Coalition, a nonprofit that brings yoga and meditation to schools, jails, shelters, and foster homes

Villa Ananda – PUNTA MITA, Mexico

An Ayurvedic destination spa and retreat centre, Villa Ananda offers weeklong programs that include Ayurveda consultations, daily yoga and meditation, personalised daily treatments, and delicious food. With retreats maxing out at 14 people, a stay here feels both intimate and deeply healing. villaananda.com

“I love how personal retreats feel at Villa Ananda. The staff has been the same for the nine years I’ve been teaching here, and we often see whales while practicing outside on the pool deck right on the ocean.” —Jamie Elmer, a yoga teacher based in Grand Junction, Colorado

Santa Sabina Retreat Center – San Rafael, California

Built in 1939 as a house for women preparing to join the community of the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael, this centre honours its heritage as a place of study, prayer, and community. santasabinacenter.org

“This sanctuary of deep stillness has spacious meeting rooms for yoga, meditation, and dialogue. I love the high-quality meals, inner courtyard that always holds silence, and outer courtyard with picnic tables and a grassy area for walking meditation.” —Richard Miller, president of the Integrative Restoration Institute and developer of iRest Meditation

Feathered Pipe Ranch – HELENA, MONTANA

Tucked in a dense forest in the majestic Rocky Mountains, this quaint retreat offers a variety of lodging options, including tents, tepees, yurts, and suites with private bathrooms. Outdoor activities include horseback riding and hiking, with plenty of opportunities for wildlife-spotting (deer, elk, beavers, ducks, and more). featheredpipe.com

“This place comes from an era before yoga went luxury: just good people, good food, and good vibes, all set in the beauty of a national forest.” —Lizzie Lasater, a Salzburg, Austria–based yoga teacher who leads restorative yoga workshops and designs online education for yoga teachers