About this blog: Yoga – believed to be an ancient practice that had its genesis in India has changed over time. Not everyone has a chance to learn and master Yoga by themselves. Yoga retreats are the places where guided yoga sessions are conducted under yoga trainers. I had asked a few of my blogger friends about Yoga retreats for beginners as well as experienced. This blog is about their experiences at Yoga retreats.
“Yoga is for a lifetime. You cannot just start it and then leave it. It will stay with you.” This is what my first gym instructor had told me. I was just into college, all eager to shed a few kilograms. It was then I also got intrigued with yoga. Not that I knew what it was, for being an Indian, we have known yoga to be a part of our heritage. It was then, my instructor, an affable man of sixties told me this. He was an extremely fit person who could have given me a run for money as well.
Recommended read: Meaning of Namaste
It was through him I got introduced to the world of Yoga. But somehow down the years, I did not pay heed to his words and Yoga took a back seat in my life (very back!). Today, as I write this, I am thinking of rekindling my old passion for yoga. And knowing about yoga experiences of others is definitely a way of getting me motivated. So here are a few stories of Yoga Retreats for beginners and experienced to motivate you and me as well!
Yoga retreats for beginners and experienced
I had asked a few blogger friends about their experiences at yoga retreats and also asked them about the changes they had after attending these Yoga retreats for beginners and experienced. Well, Yoga did bring a change in their lifestyle for the better. This is what they had to say about the Yoga retreats.
Ananda Spa in the Himalayas, India
Contributed by Vaibhav Mehta from The Wandering Vegetable
Nestled in the lap of the Himalayas in the Palace Estate of Narendra Nagar, Uttarakhand, is the ultimate Yoga Retreat and Destination Spa called Ananda Spa. It is not only India’s best luxury wellness spa but was also voted the world’s best destination spa and wellness retreat by Conde Nast Traveler in 2019. The yoga retreat combines the science of Ayurveda with the principles of Yoga and the philosophy of Vedanta to take you on a journey of healing and wellness.
I decided to go for the Yoga retreat as I needed a lifestyle change and a break from the monotony of work. I didn’t want to burn out due to the professional deadlines and targets and wanted to give a new direction to my life where the work-life balance was maintained. And Ananda Spa in the Himalayas helped me achieve that healthy change through their programs that are focussed on physical and mental rejuvenation.
I had a great experience at the yoga retreat as it made me truly understood the needs of my body. Because Ananda formulated a customized program based on my body type and prescribed a diet that contributes to my holistic development, I started feeling much better with respect to my concentration levels and physical energy. In addition to that, the yoga sessions, meditation classes, Vedanta lectures, aqua therapies, and several massages/treatments aided temper control and made me a more relaxed, calm individual.
Even today I practice the lessons I learned at the Ananda Spa and continue to experience positive changes in both – my personal as well as professional life. I’d highly recommend you to visit the place for yourself and experience the joy of ultimate wellness through Ayurveda and yoga.
Earth Yoga Village – Goa, India
Contributed by Ellie Quinn from The Wandering Quinn
Located in the hippy beachside village of Palolem in Goa, India is Earth Yoga Village.
I was most attracted to Earth Yoga Village because of the ‘1 Week Yoga Holiday’ that they offer. A Yoga Retreat in India was of course on my India bucket list but I wanted an enjoyable and not-so-intense experience rather than a strict ashram experience.
Earth Yoga Village has a daily schedule that runs 6 days a week with 1 day off. You start with morning meditation, followed by morning circle, a 90 minutes yoga class and breakfast. Mindful Satsang is next before lunch, a free afternoon, a second 90-minute yoga class, dinner and an evening program.
All of the food served is vegan, healthy and delicious, the yoga classes are taught by a mixture of teachers, mainly from western countries which meant I related well with their teaching style and best of all, although you are encouraged to participate in everything if you want some time out or some time to enjoy Palolem beach, one of the best beaches in Goa to visit, no questions are asked which really did make this yoga retreat feel like a yoga holiday!
I went to Earth Yoga Village to restart my yoga practice, reconnect to myself and meet like-minded people in a tropical paradise and I got what I was looking for. The team here really know how to bring you together and open you up, especially with their morning circle practise where we would dance and hug freely, get a chance to say how we really felt that day in a comfortable space.
Sivananda Ashram – Rishikesh, India
Contributed by Dev from Footloose Dev
When it comes to Yoga in India, Sivananda Ashram is no alien name. I happened to do a 2-month Yoga and meditation course in Sivananda Ashram, Rishikesh in 2015.
Before I talk about my experience though, I want to clear that there are two Sivananda Ashrams. One, that works as a charitable trust as is formed by the direct disciples of Swami Sivananda. The other one is a private entity known as Sivananda Natraja or Sivananda Dhanwantari Ashram. The latter works as a private Yoga school just like any other yoga school in the world (pay per basis) whereas the former, The Sivananda Ashram in Rishikesh (housing Swami Sivananda’s Samadhi Shrine) organises free courses. And well, it is more than just a Yoga retreat.
For a period of 2 months, the attendees (only Indian origin males allowed) are required to stay in Ashram premise and follow a strict yoga and Vedanta curriculum. The aim of the course is to instil in the attendees a habit of divine living.
Wake up at 4 and sleep at 9, and throughout the day, eat Sattvic food, practice Yoga and meditation and learn about Indian scriptures. For a period of 2 months, the attendees are required to stay in ashram premise (near Ram Jhula in Rishikesh) and follow the curriculum. The Ashram organises four batches in a year (as I said above, free of cost) of 40 students from across India. The students are selected through an application process.
Speaking of the yoga, Sivananda Ashram teaches the Hatha Yoga form of Yoga.
Rishikesh Yoga ashrams, India
Contributed by Mariellen Ward from Breathe Dream Go
Rishikesh is known around the world as the Yoga capital. It has been a spiritual centre in India since the dawn of time, but in recent years, with the worldwide boom in Yoga, it is also attracting Yoga students from every corner of the globe. On my first trip to India, six months of travel across the country in 2006, Rishikesh and Haridwar were the first places I visited, a week or two after landing in Delhi. But it wasn’t until the end of my trip that I finally stayed at a Yoga ashram.
I arrived at Aurovalley Ashram, located halfway between Haridwar and Rishikesh, one hot day in May 2006. I had taken the train from Delhi in the early morning and was tired when I arrived. After being shown to my simple, white room I lay down and slept for half an hour. When I woke up I felt more rested than I had in many years. It was as if loving arms had embraced and comforted me — something I really needed as I was recovering from grief and depression. Aurovalley is in the countryside, full of gardens and surrounded by meadows. It’s extremely peaceful and the emphasis here is on self-study and meditation — not asana.
A couple of years later, a Yoga teacher I had met in Canada, Yogrishi Vishvketu, opened an ashram in Tapovan, Rishikesh. Anand Prakash Yoga Ashram is in the busy and more touristy part of Rishikesh, and it’s a peaceful yet lively centre for Yoga study. Students come from all over the world, with a significant percentage from Canada. Many students come for the Yoga Teacher Training program, which is one of the best in Rishikesh.
I have been to many Yoga ashrams in India, but these are my two favourites. And now that I live in Rishikesh, I can visit often. I find them both invigorating, not so much for the body as for the soul. At these ashrams, the entire spectrum of Yoga is taught, not just asana practise.
Yoga Niketan Ashram – Rishikesh, India
Contributed by Inma from A World to Travel
Although the word ashram means a hermitage, monastic community, or a place of religious retreat; let’s consider this one – and in this particular context – as simply a different kind of yoga retreat. Lacking glamour but winning in authenticity; I decided to spend a few days at Yoga Niketan Ashram in the Ganges banks, Rishikesh (state of Uttarakhand), a couple of years back as I was exploring a few key cities and Northern India religions.
From arrival, I realized Yoga Niketan Ashram had not much to do with the yoga retreats I had experienced in the past. Way more structured, its many rules and regulations in place would never be followed in a different settlement but there they made sense.
And so I got to spend a few days learning about meditation, yoga, and breathing among many other things. And eating the most simple vegan food, always the same dish for lunch and dinner. By the end of my stay, I had almost got used to it, but I was told more days – from 15 to a month usually – would be needed to really make a difference. And that’s when it hit me, I need to go back!
The picture along this text was taken at Laxman Jhula bridge, one of the two hanging bridges over the Ganges river in Rishikesh. I didn’t feel like it was appropriate nor needed to take pictures during my stay at the ashram and might just have clicked a few in my room surroundings that are of little to no interest right now. Hope you don’t mind!
Siddhaleppa Health Resort – Wadduwa , Sri Lanka
Contributed by Amandine from Beaux Voyages
If you are looking for a once in a lifetime experience in Sri Lanka, I recommend you to try the Siddhaleppa health resort in Wadduwa. This is around 1 hour away from Colombo and the perfect end of a Sri Lanka round trip. Situated right by the beach, it is a place for relaxation and healing of the body and mind.
While traveling through Sri Lanka, you will find many products branded Siddhaleppa. It is indeed a family owned company with more than 2000 years of experience in Ayurveda. And every family in Sri Lanka uses their products. A stay at this beach resort will come with a consultation with an Ayurvedic doctor at first and benefit of healing your body as well with 2 yoga sessions daily. Once at sunrise and once at sundown.
Meditation is also on the programm, with a monk that will be able to introduce you to yoga if you are new into it. It is truly an amazing experience that you will not forget!! Of course you don’t have to do Ayurveda, Siddhaleppa health resort is also a nice destination to relax for a few days. It has an amazing pool and is situated right by the beach.
Suan Mokkh, Thailand
Contributed by Lucile from LucileHr.com
Suan Mokkh is a small forest Monastery located in the Surat Thani province in Thailand, not far away from Ko Pha Ngan. The location is gorgeous, surrounded by nature and trees, with a beautiful lake and relaxing hot springs on the compound.
It is a silent yoga and meditation retreat in monastic living conditions, which means you’ll get to live in similar conditions as Thai monks live in for 10 days! Every day, you’ll start your day with Mindfulness with Breathing Meditation lessons before practicing yoga for around two hours. You’ll then get to enjoy breakfast and the hot springs before practicing again! You will have some time to practice on your own later in the afternoon.
What is incredible about this retreat is its low price of around $50 to cover your living costs. Remember you’ll live in a very simple way for a week!
When I went to this retreat, I wanted to know if Vipassana Meditation was for me and was curious to improve my meditation practice. This was such an incredible experience that I came back twice! I particularly loved the cultural experience of improving my yoga practice in an original setting! I’ve loved this retreat and recommend it to anyone who is truly motivated and ready to grow.
Yogarden – Koh Samui, Thailand
Contributed by Chantae from Chantae Was Here
Koh Samui is an island off mainland Thailand, famous for its laidback ambiance and top-notch food. After learning about a yoga studio called Yogarden that offered classes that ranged from tranquil yin yoga to classes paced to the likes of ACDC, I knew it’d be a prime place to will my notoriously stiff body into some sense of flexibility.
Yoga classes at Yogarden take place in an open-air yoga shala with plenty of props to help with the class. Many classes are set to music and a light smell of incense drifts through the air. It’s easy to escape inward and enjoy the tropical garden surrounding the shala itself. Inside the yoga studio’s main building, yogis cozy up on cushions with a book and sip tea before class begins.
In between yoga classes, I’d venture to the beach and go for a swim, or pay a visit to the many temples in the area. The most iconic site in Koh Samui is Wat Phra Yai, a 12-meter golden Buddha that overlooks the ocean.
Because yogis were encouraged to attend class as they liked, it felt like a yoga holiday that had an ideal balance of adventure and relaxation. After each guided meditation or yoga session, I felt myself more mindful of my surroundings. In the past, I rushed from place to place without taking time to register the experience with each of my five senses. On this yoga holiday, I found myself present and observant to the unique memories I was making. Though my goal was simply to increase my physical flexibility, I left with a stronger sense of mental clarity as well.
Billabong Retreat – Sydney, Australia
Contributed by Oksana & Max from Drink Tea & Travel
Despite what some people think, life on the road can sometimes get stressful. Sometimes, you just need to slow down, stop for a moment and take a breather.
For me the best way to get back to my best self is to get offline and connect with my body, mind, and nature. So when Max scheduled a boys trip to Thailand, I decided to take the opportunity to rejuvenate at the award-winning eco-conscious wellness retreat – Billabong Retreat.
Located just outside of Sydney in Australia, Billabong Retreat opened its doors in 2010. They offer a variety of wellness programs which include yoga, meditation, and wellness workshops focused on self-care and nutrition.
My schedule during my “Rejuvenation Retreat” consisted of twice daily yoga sessions, workshops, and mediation. All meals were included and there was plenty of time to relax, recenter myself and chat with other retreat participants.
There are also treatments available for anyone interested, although they are not included in the retreat package so they have to be booked ahead. Everything from massages, facials, reiki, naturopathy, hypnotherapy and kinesiology.
It also gave me peace of mind to be staying at a fully eco certified retreat. Sustainability is at the heart of everything they do at Billabong Retreat and their eco-friendly policies really show that.
Swami’s Yoga Retreat – Sydney, Australia
Contributed by Camille from Everything Yoga Retreat
Swami’s Yoga Retreat is located in Northwest Sydney, far from the hustle of the city. The program of the retreat includes daily yoga classes, evening meditation sessions, and nature walks. None of the activities are compulsory so you can go at your own pace, and take the time you need to rejuvenate. There is also plenty of free time in the schedule to socialize or read a book for example.
At the time I went to this retreat, I was traveling alone in Australia. I felt like I wanted to escape from the city for a few days, so I booked at Swami’s. It was also the perfect opportunity for me to deepen my yoga practice. I learned meditation and shared amazing experiences with like-minded people on this retreat.
I really enjoyed my experience at Swami’s retreat. It was one of the best yoga retreats I have ever been to. On this retreat, I met amazing people from all over the world, learned a lot about myself and shared amazing moments with friends. This retreat had a really positive impact on my life. I learned to be more patient with others, to open-up and be more mindful.
If you’re looking for a fantastic and life-changing yoga retreat in Australia, I definitely recommend going to Swami’s yoga retreat. You won’t regret it!
Eco Truly – Lima, Peru
Contributed by Deb Pati from the Visa project
While there are many other places where I had done Yoga retreats, my experience at the Eco Truly Park near Lima stands out for many reasons. A little over an hour and a half from Lima, Eco Truly is a self-sustainable eco yoga village, with a thriving community of residents, volunteers and visitors.
I heard a lot about the place while visiting Peru. At that time, there were too many things going on in life both on the personal and professional front. I wanted to be in a yoga retreat to rejuvenate myself. For me, it has always worked out. On top of that, this place also had an option to volunteer, which I always love to do.
So I ended up being there for a whole week, volunteering in the farm and kitchen throughout the day, and attending the yoga classes in the morning. The guided yoga classes were great and very relaxing. Since the place is super close to the ocean, sometimes I would also go and meditate on the beach. They also had sessions for devotional chanting in the morning and evening which was totally optional. Not to forget the wonderful art classes they have to learn different forms of art.
Being there helped me a lot in reconnecting with mother nature and myself, as well as reenergizing my spirit.
Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Contributed by Monica from This Rare Earth
Costa Rica has always had a special place in my heart after having lived in both the capital of San Jose and the Puntarenas province for some time. I always knew that I would return and several years ago, an opportunity to join a yoga retreat in Costa Rica came up while in neighbouring Nicaragua. I jumped on the chance to head back. I had been travelling solo for a while and the idea of meeting in a friendly group retreat setting sounded lovely.
The retreat took place in northern Guanacaste at Playa Negra, meaning “Black Beach”. The grounds were lovely, with cabanas, a pool, and a private yoga shala, though most days we did yoga on the beach instead. What a beautiful and calm place to wake up, stretch, and relax.
Though not every part of the retreat went smoothly, the best part was becoming good friends with another traveller whom I still speak to regularly. I also very much enjoyed my first attempt at standup paddleboard yoga, which was really challenging! Basically, you are practising yoga on a paddleboard, floating and bobbing in the ocean. You are in a bay so there are no large waves, but even just the sway of the ocean water makes holding poses much more difficult than you would think.
I love to combine travel and fitness whenever I can, and I think activities such as yoga are often more fulfilling when done in nature. I don’t attend retreats as often as I would like, but I think everyone should try one at least once, and what better location that a tropical paradise in Costa Rica?
Costa Dulce, Nicaragua
Contributed by Bradley from Dream Big, Travel Far
Located on the gorgeous shores of Nicaragua, Costa Dulce is a prime example of what an amazing yoga retreat should be like. Nestled far from the nearest town of San Juan Del Sur, this resort is made up of a dozen or so bespoke bungalows perched on the side of the cliff. They even have access to their own large, secluded bridge; meaning you truly can escape from everyday life.
They run yoga sessions every day, from their cliff-side bungalow that is open to the elements and housing perhaps the best views the resort offers. The purpose of visiting was to discover somewhere truly disconnected where we could enjoy yoga and relax from the outside world. I loved how everything was handled for you, including the amazing meals served at breakfast, lunch and dinner.
I can honestly say that in the week we stayed there, the food was perhaps the best food I have ever enjoyed. Based on clean eating principles, and coupled with daily yoga, I honestly left feeling in the best state of mind I have ever experienced. What I also loved about the retreat was the chance to wake up early and go surfing on the secluded beach and enjoy even more the calming and relaxing atmosphere on offer.
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