Finding your zen shouldn’t come at a hefty price.

Yoga retreats are no longer just a luxury travel experience; with an ever-growing number of budget-friendly trips on offer across the globe, you can fine-tune your practice abroad for less than you might expect.

To celebrate International Yoga Day on June 21, 2022, here are our tips on how to make sure the cost of seeking enlightenment doesn't harsh your mellow, wherever you unroll that mat.

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Two women practising yoga in Texas
Look for a retreat off the beaten track if you want a great deal © Cavan Images / Getty Images

Look for a good value destination

Step one: identify a destination where your money goes further before you narrow down the hunt to a particular retreat. Start your research with the sites of low-cost airlines, working out where they fly and the cheapest time to go. Wherever your fact-finding leads, chances are you’ll find a retreat there. Remember that the most popular yoga destinations in the world can come with a surcharge, so consider going somewhere a bit different instead. Set on Asia? Try Nepal or Cambodia instead of Thailand or the Maldives. Based in the US? Why not look at Texas or Colorado rather than California or Hawaii?

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Woman sitting on tropical beach doing yoga
Getting back to nature can do wonders for your practice © sitriel / Getty Images

Embrace the outdoors

Choose somewhere that provides plenty of free or cheap outdoor activities that reconnect you with nature, like wild swimming, coastal walks, wildlife spotting and meditation in the wild. Set in the forests of Sweden, Shambala Gatherings provides free use of bicycles, canoes and floating saunas. The traditional lodge and the vegan kitchen run by volunteers keep you sheltered and nourished but come second to the natural surroundings. For the more adventurous, remote bases with cheap local transport can provide that balance between the calm of yoga and the excitement of exploration for a good price. Atlas Kasbah, a traditional Berber fortress in Morocco, offers mountain biking and hiking between yoga sessions.

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Young male surfer doing yoga pose on beach
Trips that combine yoga with surfing are popular in Portugal and Bali © furtaev / Getty Images

Double up with a combo

If you’re trying a retreat for the first time or your plus one isn’t keen on splashing out to do downward-facing dog poses 24/7, fear not: combo trips are all the rage now. Lots of places offer yoga plus another activity, such as learning a language, cooking or photography. This option can serve as two trips in one, as well as a way to learn a new skill. It can also mean that the yoga or the alternative are discounted, more available or you’re able to do a range of activities without the cost of additional transport from your retreat. Combining yoga with surfing is particularly popular in places such as Bali and Portugal – the owners of Casa Paco D’ilhas, for example, hire yoga instructors but also organize transport, gear and surf and stand-up paddleboarding lessons at the surrounding beaches.

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Students performing the savasana (corpse) yoga pose
Temple stays are just one of the options to bring down the cost of accommodation © Godong / Getty Images

Find affordable digs

Hailed as the Airbnb of yoga digs, BookRetreats is a good place to discover budget places to stay. There are also temples with basic facilities aimed at all zen-seekers, such as those listed on Korean booking site Temple Stay. Or stay local: yoga, meditation and Buddhist centers line the streets of cities and towns across the globe. New York is an ever-growing yoga hub; Brooklyn, in particular, is dotted with studios, and there are also a huge number of hotspots across the globe offering cut-price retreats targeted at backpackers, such as Byron Bay, Australia and Ubud, Bali.

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Yoga mats and blocks in a studio
Many studios provide all the equipment you will need during a retreat © Hero Images / Getty Images

Save on shopping

You’ll stay in your yoga wear for most of the time during the retreat, so there’s no need to splurge on a traditional pre-holiday shop. As tempting as those new-season leggings might be, you can probably do without any other clothes apart from swimwear for a dip between classes and warmer layers if needed. And when it comes to specialist yoga equipment such as mats, blocks, straps and bolsters, search for studios that provide everything you might need. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions beforehand: reputable companies should be happy to explain exactly what’s on offer before you commit.

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Women practising yoga outdoors
You can save money – and deepen your experience – by volunteering during a retreat © Hero Images / Getty Images

Get more involved

Pay less and learn more by getting hands-on at your retreat, helping with communal cooking, cleaning, gardening and general volunteering. After all, you can explore yoga’s many philosophical strands without emptying your pockets, whether in acts of service or self-discipline, and this is being recognized in wellness tourism the world over. Workaway has a number of retreats that you can volunteer for, while Eco Yoga Villages combines yoga with working on organic farms, constructing eco-buildings and aiding local communities, mainly in South America.

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Aerial view of an outdoor yoga class
If you want to control every aspect of the budget, why not organize a retreat yourself? © Aeorgondo / Getty Images

Do-it-yourself retreats

Why not organize your own retreat prior to approaching an instructor? By building a trip from scratch, you can set the parameters of the budget in detail and possibly take marketing costs out of the equation by getting a group together yourself. The larger the group, the greater the potential saving. Visiting a yoga center to gain tips and advice from others’ experiences can help with your own research, too. And you could ask the attendees to take responsibility for additional activities, whether it’s hosting a sketching session, holding meditation workshops or leading hikes, to shave even more off your spending.

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This article was first published October 2018 and updated June 2022

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