Five of the World's Best Yoga Retreats

Photo by louis

by The Daily Telegraph, June 23, 2016

1. Como Shambhala Estate, Bali

Bali’s Como Shambhala Estate offers what it calls a “360-degree wellbeing experience” so yoga practitioners can be assured their needs are being considered at all times. Take the cuisine on offer: a resident nutritionist is on hand to ensure dishes cater to all dietary needs and the resort’s own Ayurvedic doctor can devise menus specifically for Ayurvedic diets. Supplementary juices are replenishing and unexpectedly delicious (Liven Up Your Liver, with apple, spinach, cauliflower, garlic, ginger and turmeric is a favourite of past guest Heston Blumenthal ).

The setting is uplifting too. The resort is surrounded by jungle and has an on-site spring providing clean, clear water for treatments. Yogis might like to practise alone by the river that flows past the estate or can join one of the complimentary hatha yoga group classes held on hilltop open-air pavilions. For more intensive training, yoga retreat weeks with visiting masters run at different times throughout the year and private lessons are available for those who want specialist training.

2. Pura Vida Retreat and Spa, Costa Rica

Abundant with life – the country occupies 0.03 per cent of the Earth’s land mass but contains 5 per cent of its biodiversity – Costa Rica is luscious, vibrant and energising. A good place for a yoga break then, and Pura Vida Retreat and Spa is among the most reputable resorts on offer.

Yoga instructors here teach hatha yoga, with classes twice daily (except on Wednesdays). Sessions make the most of the setting too: from their mountainside perch, practitioners can gaze upon the surrounding valley. Sunsets are often spectacular.

As for what else is on offer, the spa’s comprehensive treatment menu spans from conventional deep tissue massages to Ayurvedic lifestyle counselling and “myoskeletal release”, which caters to those who have suffered from recent physical or emotional trauma.

3. Vana Malsi Estate, India

In the Himalayan foothills, the Indian state of Uttarakhand is where Hindus gather to worship on the banks of the Ganges and where yoga fans, including the Beatles, have come to practise. It’s an auspicious setting then for  Vana Malsi Estate, with its comfortable and modern ashram, forest retreat and wellness centre.


Yoga is at the core of what’s on offer, and the region’s heritage has determined the resort’s approach to it. Rather than following a particular school of yoga, teachers here instead consider its historical roots and look at the practice in a “pure, undiluted form”. Body postures, meditation, and breath control are all analysed, assessed and improved during daily morning sessions at the outdoor yoga temple, and evening sessions are available for those who’d like to practise further.

More fair-weather yoga fans, however, might prefer to try watsu sessions, aqua fitness or some of the multifaceted treatments on offer at the retreat’s spa.

4. Navas de los Corchos, Spain

A private estate near Cordoba, Navas de los Corchos is a traditional and discreet hacienda set in a 100,000-hectare nature reserve and surrounded by rolling plantations of cork oaks.

The unsullied setting provides an immediately soothing backdrop for yoga sessions, and the calibre of teaching does much to ensure guests are left satisfied too. Also offering classes in her west London studio, respected teacher Jane Kersel oversees proceedings here and has done a commendable job in ensuring that every detail is taken care of. A garden is abundant with flowers, herbs and olive tres; the heated pool is an inviting spot for late-evening dips; healthy meals are fresh, delicious and often made with ingredients from the surrounding estate.

As for the yoga, two-hour classes take place before breakfast, different trainers lead tailored sessions throughout the day, and an assembly of trained professions are on hand to give guidance, medical advice and dietary insight.

Yoga retreats usually take place just twice a year, and are worth booking early.

5. Villa Stéphanie, Baden-Baden

Yoga isn’t the mainstay of what’s on offer at Villa Stéphanie . Rather it’s one activity among many that is available to guests who want to combine expert-led fitness classes with personalised nutritional programmes and exceptional medical care.

In Baden-Baden, Germany’s pre-eminent spa town and a long-established sanctuary for the feeble and weary, the intimate resort stands by the long-established Brenners Park hotel (where a two-Michelin-star restaurant and classic hotel bar caters to unabstemious travel companions) and Haus Julius, a medical-café facility staffed by experts in physiotherapy, dentistry, gynaecology and more.

Villa Stéphanie is one of the latest additions to Baden-Baden's spa offerings

After undergoing a thorough analysis, guests receive tailored fitness programmes and personalised meals. By arrangement, yoga fans can attend private or group classes where they’ll be tended to with the care and precision you’d expect from one of Germany’s most distinguished health resorts.

Be aware though, that this is a spot for those who wish to incorporate yoga into a broader wellbeing holiday rather than those who wish to make it the primary focus. And for the former group there’s an additional incentive to visit. Bedrooms here are clad with special materials that can block Wi-Fi and electronic signals. Press a button to instantly be taken off-grid; for those whose minds are as overworked as their bodies, the ability to literally “switch off” should prove just as restorative as the sports sessions on offer.


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