Men doing yoga has grown rapidly in recent times. Some even do it on holidays. Elisabeth King discovers the 10 best international yoga retreats for stretching sabbaticals.
Trace your ancestry, drive the whisky trail and then relax and detox in the Scottish Highlands only a two-and-a-half hour drive from Glasgow. Yes, a river runs through this rustic getaway where you can bathe in hot and cold running spring winter in a geodesic dome or a rugged gorge. There’s a year-long calendar of yoga retreats and you can opt for self-styled pragmatic male teachers. Ashtanga expert Nick Loening and John Evans – who is also a master of the Alexander Technique, which realigns the body after a lifetime of stress – will clean out any cobwebs. www.ecoyoga.org
Centro Santillan, Costa del Sol, Spain
Fingered as one of Europe’s finest yoga and wellbeing centres, a stay here is like living in a movie fantasy. An historic Andalusian farmhouse anchors the 50,000 sq m spread overlooking the Mediterranean. The two yoga studios are state-of-the-art and the Carlo Enzo sala with floor-to-ceiling windows boasting sea views offers surreal yoga and meditation sessions at sunrise and sunset. Massages, hiking trails, golf and trips to the nearby buzzing town of Malaga fill ‘off-duty’ hours.
Yogamagic Eco Retreat, Goa
India, the birthplace of yoga, is packed with retreats – luxury and basic. This stress-relieving bolthole delivers both from eco-chic tent lodges to the Maharajah’s Suite in the main house. Sustainability is top-of-mind from solar heating to the use of local building materials and it’s hatha all the way from Vinyasa Flow to Kundalini. Adopting the lotus position isn’t compulsory, but a customised program is recommended. As one Tripadvisor visitor put it: “Bliss, Bliss, Bliss…”
The Sanctuary, Thailand
Located on Koh Phangan island, a short ferry ride from Surat Thani, this Thai treat makes all of the “best of” listicles. There’s the full wellness box and dice from yoga holidays to daily classes, detox programs and massage healing and meditation workshops. The sea views are almost guaranteed to be a mindfulness disruptor. Luxury is the benchmark throughout the resort, but prices are reasonable for what’s on offer. www.thesanctuarythailand.com
Anahata Yoga Retreat, South Island, New Zealand
With private straw bale houses, pure spring water and a mountaintop location overlooking Golden Bay, this Kiwi gem immerses those in search of inner peace and revitalisation in spectacular native bush scenery. There’s a range of yoga options for beginners through to longtime practitioners. Good for one-off R&R holidays for the tightly-wound or the chance to discover how yoga can seriously change your habits and lifestyle.
Miraval Resort, Arizona
This world-famous resort near Tucson sets the gold standard for global wellness. In addition to classic yoga, there’s a rollcall of variations from aerial yoga through core yoga, desert waves yoga and dream yoga. Everything is five star but the activity programs cover all bases from horse whispering to desert tightrope walking and make other retreats look as if they have taken their eye off the well-being ball.
Radiance Retreats, Byron Bay and Beyond
Byron Bay is the heartland of yoga retreats in Australia. Noted teacher and author Jessie Chapman has been challenging people according to their yoga skills – novice to experienced – for over 15 years. Not only in the Byron hinterland but also in Bali, Thailand, France, Spain, Italy and New Zealand. Check out this year’s calendar of local and global yoga retreats on www.radianceretreats.com
SnowYogi, French Alps
For the past 10 years, British travel company AdventureYogi has been offering surfing, diving and skiing holidays with yoga at very reasonable prices. At La Foy in the French Alps, you start every vacation day with yoga warm-ups and warm-downs. The total revitalisation and exercise package.
Billabong Retreat, NSW Central Coast
Paul and Tory von Bergen run this eco-chic getaway only 45 minutes drive from Sydney. Deluxe clifftop cabins and treehouses are set amidst textbook bushland. Come for a day or seven for deeper yoga, mindful intelligence and stress management programs.
Australian travellers have returned to Hawaii in droves. Far from the madding Oahu crowd this historic Hawaiian homestead on Maui’s north shore will help you build mental and physical strength back home. Daily yoga classes at sunset and sunrise on the lawn in the shadow of Haleakala Volcano head a diverse menu of activities designed to burn off tension and energy – ziplining, surfing, kayaking, hiking and whale-watching. Spa treatments using crystals help you to relax with an organic fruit juice on your own personal lanai.