Bamboo Yoga, Goa, India
With so much choice in India – the birthplace of yoga – it’s hard to know where to start. Bamboo Yoga, at the southern end of Patnem beach in Goa, is a true find, with brilliant teachers, comfortable huts and tasty organic, vegetarian food. Guests can tailor-make yoga holidays, dropping into classes (resident teachers run two 90-minute classes a day) and choosing to eat in or at the restaurants and bars on the beach, or come on an all-inclusive week-long retreat run by a visiting teacher (Jeff Phenix of London’s Triyoga is here from 10-17 February, for example). With several yoga shalas (studios) there’s plenty of space, and the location by the sea is perfect.
• Stays from €66 night, including substantial breakfast, afternoon tea and snacks, and all yoga. Open October to end March, bamboo-yoga-retreat.com
Shamballah Yoga Retreat, Portugal
Opened last summer by Portuguese couple Patricia and Zarqa (who are great masseurs), Shamballah is an intimate retreat in a stunning part of Portugal, on the edge of Sintra national park, 10 minutes’ walk from the wild, beautiful coast. The week-long retreats are for all levels, with two yoga classes a day, plus an hour of meditation after dinner. In between there are walks, surfing lessons and the fairytale town of Sintra to explore. The creative vegetarian food deserves special mention, with delicious packed lunches provided each day. The retreat is the couple’s home – with just three simple guest bedrooms (a quadruple and two twins, shared bathrooms) – which adds to the personal experience. Lisbon airport is a 40-minute drive away.
• From €600 all-inclusive for a week in a shared room, flights extra, shamballahretreats.com
Sharpham Trust, Devon
On a beautiful estate near Totnes, South Devon, the Sharpham Trust is a charity that runs a variety of mindfulness, meditation and yoga retreats. On a three-night yoga break there are three sessions each day with different teachers offering various styles, including yoga nidra (yoga of sleep) and periods of silence. Other weekends focus on reconnecting with nature and mindfulness through singing.
• 4 June, three-night mindfulness and yoga reatreat, £325, full board, sharphamtrust.org
Adventure Yogi, Ibiza
If an intensive yoga retreat feels too restrictive, Adventure Yogi has a B&B and yoga option in Ibiza with lots of flexibility. Daily 90-minute morning yoga classes and a huge and healthy brunch are included in the price – and the rest of the time is free to explore the White Isle’s beaches, towns and nightlife. Accommodation is “ashram style” in a simple finca or in caravans in the garden. Adventure Yogi offers lots of other great choices, from UK weekends to a skiing and yoga week in France.
• Room from £60 a night (min four nights), week £395, caravan £90 a night for two, with yoga and breakfast, adventureyogi.com
Centro Santillan, Spain
This beautiful retreat centre in the Andalucian hills, overlooking the Mediterranean east of Malaga, hosts different teachers and various types of yoga holiday year round. New for 2018 is a raw food, yoga and walking retreat with regular teacher and co-owner Simon Low. Besides dynamic and restorative yoga classes there are morning hikes in the surrounding hills, chi kung, food preparation and nutrition classes, plus lots of sumptuous raw feasts and juices.
• 6-13 May and 6-23 September, from £1,012, flights extra, Rawfityoga.life. For full calendar see centrosantillan.com
42 Acres, Somerset
In a secluded Somerset valley surrounded by 700 acres of ancient woodland, 42 Acres is a beautiful place to get away from it all. Stylish accommodation (including a dorm) is in the main house – originally a 19th-century dairy farm – and cottages in the grounds. The programme of retreats for 2018 includes a Springtime Awakening weekend, with twice-daily yoga and guided evening meditations in the yoga yurt and inside by an open fire, all led by yoga teacher and nutritionist Suzanne Cork. Workshops on essential oils and hip-opening yoga poses are also included. All food is organic and local and includes meat and fish.
• 23-25 March, from £349, 42acres.com
Pure Flow Yoga, Thailand
Right on the beach on Koh Phangan and backed by lush jungle, Pure Flow Yoga offers a range of classes with experienced teachers, held in a beautiful shala. There are 5-, 10- or 15-day retreats and accommodation in simple bungalows at nearby Bamboo Huts is included in the price. Besides two yoga classes a day there’s pranayama (breathwork) and meditation, an asana alignment workshop and complimentary Thai massages and steam baths. Food is extra but there’s lots of local choice – Bamboo Huts has a great restaurant.
• Six-night, five-day retreat from $505, flights extra, pureflow.yoga
Destination Yoga, Sardinia
For a luxurious yoga break in a gorgeous location, Destination Yoga has introduced one-week retreats at Hotel Galanias, near Bari Sardo on the east coast of Sardinia. Twice-daily yoga classes take place on an outdoor platform overlooking the sea, and there’s lots of time to enjoy the two pools, sandy beach and spa treatments. Delicious local food (including non-vegetarian options) is included in the price. Destination Yoga has also introduced tailor-made holidays at 10 destinations for 2018, so guests can stay as long as they like and join twice-daily classes without being on a set group retreat.
• 20-27 July, 27 July-3 August and 4-11 August, from £995pp full-board, flights extra, destinationyoga.co.uk
Mindfulness and Meditation
Mindfulness has been a wellbeing buzzword for several years now – but it’s here to stay and the only way to see if the said benefits of a calm, more focused mind are true is to try it. The Now Project offers non-intimidating, relaxed weekend retreats for those totally new to the practice as well as those with more experience. Held several times a year in a woodland location near Eye in the north of Suffolk, the courses teach mindfulness techniques and allow participants plenty of time to try them out. Meals are vegetarian and accommodation is in log cabins with bunk beds – or tents in summer – though there are B&Bs nearby for those wanting more comfort.
• Two nights £290pp in cabin, £240 camping, full board, lovelifelivenow.com
It’s a little bit out there, but the idea behind the Biodynamic Breathwork and Trauma Release method is that the breath can help release unprocessed emotions and tensions from the body. On a week or 10-day retreat, participants join in long, daily group breathing sessions (expect tears) led by the movement’s founder, Giten Tonkov, as well as moving meditation and dance. Greater clarity and a new-found sense of peace are said to be some of the benefits experienced. Retreats are held around the world: three times a year in Poland, as well as in Bali and the USA. Each week counts as a module towards training to be a breathworker (four completes it) for those who want to take it further.
• A week in Poland costs €950, excluding food and accommodation (from €220) and flights to Krakow, biodynamicbreath.com
For those who want to delve deep into meditation, a 10-day vipassana retreat offers full immersion. Silence is maintained throughout and 10 hours of meditation is practised a day – with no reading, writing or mobile phones allowed. It is full-on, with an early start and just two vegetarian meals a day, but the effort apparently pays off with participants often citing a greater sense of calm, a quieter mind and tools for bringing meditation into daily life among the results. There are retreat centres around the world – in the UK try Dhamma Dipa in Herefordshire, in a rural setting with basic but comfortable accommodation. Payment is by donation – the idea is that you’re donating for someone else to have the experience.
Wim Hof method, Switzerland
Dutchman Wim Hof – aka Ice Man – has been making headlines for his ability to withstand extreme cold and hold his breath for minutes on end. The method he uses – which he attributes to a form of yogic breathing and meditation – is claimed to reduce stress, boost energy, increase endurance and fortify the immune system. Wim, or one of his trainees, hold one-day workshops around the world, as well as weekends and week-long experiences, all designed to help participants towards optimal mental and physical health. One option is a three-day You Are Limitless weekend in the Bernese Oberland run by Linda Koeman, which includes breathing exercises, exposure to the cold, hiking and optional winter river swimming.
• 23-25 March and 14-16 December, from €550 full-board, flights extra, wimhofmethod.com
Walking and mindfulness, Mallorca
After the popularity of its Mindfulness in the Mountains holidays in the Lake District, Ramblers Walking Holidays has introduced a Mindfulness in Mallorca break. Based in San Telmo on the unspoiled south-west coast, the week includes mindfulness practices suitable for anyone and coastal and inland walks (some in silence) through beautiful countryside, with yoga and meditation too.
• 1-8 September, seven nights from £935 half-board including BA flights, ramblersholidays.co.uk
Five-day mindfuless, Isles of Scilly
Thirty miles off the Cornish coast, the island of Tresco really offers a chance to get away from it all. This year will see the first Tresco Mindfulness break – five days of meditation, reflection and relaxation in a wild landscape. Guests should learn the tools of mindfulness, spend restorative time in nature (including a day on an uninhabited island) and come away rested and equipped with a personal practice to support challenges in daily life. Payment for teaching is based on the concept of dana – a contribution depending on what you can afford and what you feel the retreat is worth.
• 5-10 October, from £435, including half-board and flight or ferry to Tresco from Cornwall. Tuition extra, based on donation, tresco.co.uk
Surrounded by pine forest, right on the beach near Viana do Castelo in north Portugal, FeelViana is a new hotel dedicated to sport and wellness. There are yoga and pilates classes, an extensive spa and Turkish baths, and a choice of sporting activities, such as kitesurfing, standup paddleboarding and sailing. There are great biking and hiking routes here too, along coast and rivers and into the area’s mountains. Classes are paid for separately so the trip can be tailormade. Porto airport is 45 minutes away.
• Seven nights from £695 B&B, including flights, SUP tour or surf lesson £30, thehealthyholidaycompany.co.uk
Fitness week, France
With its pine forests, lakes and wild Atlantic beaches, the landscape around Hossegor, north of Biarritz, draws comparisons to parts of California – and makes an ideal spot for a wellness break. “Reboot France” is a new collaboration between holiday rental company Alternative Aquitaine and Bay Fitness (both run by Brits), which combines a week’s stay at a beautiful villa with activities that make the most of the natural setting. Yoga, cycling, surfing, hiking in the Pyrenees and bootcamp-style classes on the beach are among options. Guests have a health screening on arrival, checking everything from posture to blood pressure, and programmes are tailored to suit. It’s run by fitness guru Andrew Blake, who has worked with Olympic athletes.
• 12-19 May, from £799 pp full-board based on two sharing, flights extra, with a further week in October, alternative-aquitaine.co.uk
Unplugged weekend, Devon
Nature-based learning centre Schumacher College offers a chance to retreat and recharge on its Unplugged weekend, held on the beautiful Dartington estate in Totnes. There are guided walks across Dartmoor with an ecologist to explore forests, rivers, a deer park and famous gardens, as well as “sound meditation”, poetry, music and yoga. The college also offers long and short courses in ecology and sustainable living year round.
• 23-25 February, £295 including basic accommodation, vegetarian meals and activities, schumachercollege.org.uk
Lotus Retreat, Canary islands
For those who might find the average yoga break a little too worthy, Lotus Retreat in the seaside town of Corralejo on Fuerteventura could be the answer. A week there offers yoga, tai chi, pilates and watersports, but also plenty of time to chill on the beach (some classes are held on the sand too). Two evening meals are included during the week. Sister property Surya Retreat, 15km inland, offers a quieter, all-inclusive retreat-style option. There’s a programme of speciality retreats and courses at both venues.
• Open year-round with weekly retreats starting on Saturdays from €735, including classes, a one-hour massage, brunch and some meals (€700 at Surya), flights extra, azulfit.com
The Zest Life, Anglesey
The Zest Life offers yoga and wellbeing weekends at its venues in Wales and the Lake District. New for this year is a Reshape Yoga and Fitness Weekend at Las Cadnant, a country house on Anglesey. As well as yoga and meditation, there are beach run training sessions, pilates and guided countryside walks. The food is healthy and hearty and there’s a choice of great treatments from reiki to reflexology (at extra cost). Other weekend offerings include the yoga element plus wild swimming, standup paddle boarding, foraging and hiking.
• 9-11 February, from £405, including all meals and activities,
Yoga and adventure, Spain
A magical yoga centre on an old olive farm in the foothills of the Sierra de Grazalema, Andalucía, Suryalila has three yoga shalas (including the Om Dome, a cathedral-like geo tent). Different visiting teachers run weeks year-round, but for those who like a range of activities, week-long Adventure and Yoga Retreats run thrice-yearly and combine twice-daily classes with activities from canyoning and kayaking to flamenco dancing. There’s a range of accommodation, from glamping to dorms or luxurious rooms, and a yoga festival from 9-16 June.
• Adventure and Yoga Retreats 21-28 April, 11-18 August and 6-13 October, from €800pp full-board in a tent (dorms and private rooms also available), flights extra, suryalila.com
Women’s activity week, Lake District
This new women’s activity week on the shores of Buttermere combines a stay in the Hassness Country House with lots of outdoor action. Besides yoga and pilates, there’s hill and Nordic walking, kayaking on Derwentwater (swimming optional), circuit training and aerobics. All that activity is fuelled by delicious home-cooked meals and freshly baked, well-deserved cake.
• Weeks from 7 July, 11 August or 15 September, from £585pp in a twin room, with all meals except one dinner, ramblersholidays.co.uk