Written by Georgie Abel and Linda McCormick
With yoga’s booming popularity, yoga studios are becoming more like Starbucks every day – they’re popping up on every street corner. Ironically, the indoor studio setting isn’t always conducive to the relaxing benefits yoga offers for those keen to connect mind, body and soul.
If waiting in traffic, fighting over a parking spot, and throwing an elbow to get a space for your mat doesn’t sound enlightening, try taking your practice out of the studio and somewhere a little more outlandish.
Here are the five wonderfully unique places we think you’ll love to unroll your mat.
High on a Mountain Range
Instead of breathing in recycled yoga-studio air (or the smell of the guy next to you), fill your lungs with fresh alpine air as you move through your practice on the peaks of the Dolomites in Italy.
Led by certified Hatha Yoga teacher Egon Castlunger, this personalised course promises to awaken your connection with your body and nature. A Dolomite local, Egon has been running these courses for a few years. In between your morning and afternoon yoga sessions in the wild outdoors, your course includes daily excursions to nearby villages and hikes through this magical mountain range.
Cost: A 7 day/ 6 night retreat costs €1490 per person, minimum 8 people
For more information, visit the Dolomite Mountains website.
In the Desert
Imagine sitting in a shaded space overlooking the vast expanse of Canyonlands National Park, with only the sound of the wind to interrupt your pensive mood. Sounds like the perfect place for a yoga retreat, doesn’t it?
Moab Yoga on the Rocks is a company based in Utah dedicated to providing enriching yoga packages in the wide open spaces of Canyonlands. Groups of no more than five people are taken on an authentic yoga experience through this colourful landscape over a four day retreat. There are three experiences to choose from – backpacking, camp-based or workshop, depending on your level of fitness.
Cost: Workshops and retreats are all-inclusive of food, lodging and teaching.
For more information, visit Moab on the Rocks.
In the Land of the Gods
On the east coast of Bali, far from the madding crowds of Kuta, you’ll find the little village of Padang Bai. It is usually known as the ferry terminal for those heading to Lombok, but also hides one of Bali’s best kept secrets – Bloo Lagoon Eco-Village.
This superb example of sustainable tourism in practice, holds art and yoga retreats throughout the year, with the next one in October 2014. UAE’s leading yoga teachers and holistic experts Kaya Peters and Patricia Jacobsen offer a program of total rejuvenation through yoga and detox in a calm and stress-free environment. Each villa is design with the environment in mind, with the living spaces open to the elements and nature. Visitors are greeted with views of Mount Agung or Lombok island every morning, and the wonderful calm personalities of the Balinese people.
Cost: Prices start at $1,560 USD for a shared villa for the 7 night retreat at Bloo Lagoon Village.
Please visit Kaya’s website for more information.
In the Rainforest
Let the natural sounds of the rainforest be the soundtrack to your yoga practice on a retreat in the far north Queensland. Located in the heart of two World Heritage listed ecosystems – the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree rainforest, the Prema Shanti Yoga and Meditation Retreat is one of the few retreats in Australia to run seven days a week, all year-round. The program is devised so visitors can enjoy activities in the surrounding area during the day, including snorkelling, kayaking, horse-riding and trekking.
This purpose-built facility was founded in 1997, and was officially opened to the public during a blessing ceremony by the Dali Lama’s Gyuto monks.
Cost: available on enquiry.
For more information visit Prema Shanti.
Dive into the depths of your mind and the Red Sea using yogic concepts to help control your breathing. Run by two yoga experts, Barbara Gordon and Monica Farrell, Yoga Diving has been on the Dahab scene since 2002. The courses combine yoga asanas and breathing with diving techniques, which aim to help divers achieve altered states of consciousness while diving.
Based out of Reef 2000 dive school at the Bedouin Moon Hotel on the outskirts Dahab, yoga and meditation classes are held in the stillness of the Sinai desert or while floating in the blue of the Red Sea. Divers learn how to hone their buoyancy skills, improve air consumption and increase lung capacity, all leading to more time under the water observing the magnificent marine life of this part of the world.
Cost: Prices start at £595 for PADI open water course, which includes 7 nights at the Bedouin Moon Hotel, 6 yoga classes and 4 days diving.
For more information visit Yoga Diving.
YOGA FOR TRAVELLERS Book Giveaway
Whether you choose to practice yoga in the open air, under the water or in a city studio, taking time in your life to connect mind, body and soul is not always easy, especially if you travel.
Seasoned traveller and yoga teacher Jennifer J. Ellinghaus shares pointers for yoga practice while you’re on the road in her new book Yoga for Travellers, published by Yogawords. Discover the best poses and stretches for travelling yogis, including the postures for jet-lag, stretches following a scuba-diving session, or what to do if there’s not enough space for your yoga mat where you’re staying.
If you’re a yoga practitioner and would like a copy of Jennifer’s book, all you need to do to enter the draw below is enter your email (which will not be kept or shared) and leave a comment or share the article.
The giveaway ends on 11 Oct 2014, and you can enter once a day if you’re super keen.