As the Bhagavad Gita says, “yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self.” But a growing number of yogis take a journey of a different sort to jumpstart that deep dive into their innermost beings – they head out to bucolic locals for a yoga retreat.
Out of nearly 40 million Americans (and counting) who practice yoga according to several surveys, somewhere between 8-15% have attended a yoga retreat, and even more hope to do so in the future. Yoga retreats offer the unique opportunity to really deepen your yoga practice by getting you out of your normal routine and enabling you to focus fully on your physical, spiritual, and emotional wellbeing.
But you don’t have to fly to far-flung, tropical locales like India or Bali or Bora Bora to take advantage of that chance to sink into your poses without worrying about the next item on your busy schedule. As yoga has exploded in popularity in the United States over the past forty some-odd years, retreats have blossomed all over the country. We picked seven of the best from coast to coast, whether you’re looking for a little luxury, a fresh perspective, or a chance to earn your own teaching certificate:
Breitenbush Hot Springs in Detroit, Oregon
This intentional community nestled in the Cascade Mountains is the real deal– and its full-time members invite visitors from all over the world to partake of the (clothing-optional) natural Oregon hot springs, vegetarian cuisine and unplugged, analog ethos. Yoga workshops take place throughout the year, as well as programs that include other spiritual and healing practices like dance, meditation, qigong and even creative writing.
The workshops offered at Breitenbush are generally organized around a theme, like a three day Winter Yoga Retreat in January or a two-day yoga and spiritual healing event in April specifically for people of color. Breitenbush also offers periodic women's-only weekends throughout the year. You can also roll your own with personal retreats, in which visitors book accommodations and simply partake of the daily yoga and wellness offerings included, along with three organic meals a day, walkable woodland labyrinths and of course, those steamy hot springs.
Feathered Pipe Ranch in Helena, Montana
Whether you’re looking for a Bhakti yoga retreat or to commune with fellow ladies on the summer solstice, there’s a little something for every yogi at Feathered Pipe Ranch in Montana. Deep in the heart of Big Sky Country, Feathered Pipe began as a yoga and spiritual retreat in the 1970s by young seekers who had traveled to the ashrams of India and protested the Vietnam war. The founders were also involved in the creation of Yoga Journal out of a bedroom office in California while also facilitating early yoga retreats back in Helena, Montana.
For almost fifty years now, Feathered Pipe has been one of the best destinations in the United States for anyone hoping to sink deeper into their yoga practice. In addition to yoga workshops throughout the year, Feathered Pipe also offers a class in mindful unplugging, bodywork, sauna, hot tubs, an on-site lake and plenty of hiking trails where you can unspool your thoughts. Lodging is in rustic wood-and-stone lodges and cabins, as well as yurts, glamping tents, tipis and more primitive camping spaces.
Miraval Resort & Spa outside Tucson, Arizona
Tucson is often overlooked as a spiritual local in favor of Santa Fe and Sedona, but the Chiricahua Mountains do have a heart-opening quality not to be missed. With an outdoor yoga deck, full moon workshops, and a slew of daily complimentary classes in a variety of yoga styles, it’s hard to beat Miraval Resort and Spa as a destination for wellness seekers. In addition to yoga and aerial offerings, Miraval offers guests a chance to partake of nutrition offerings, bodywork, spa treatments, painting and photography workshops, equine therapy, and apiary experiences.
Guests can retire from their full schedule of spiritual cleansing to luxury hotel rooms, suites and villas with all the white-glove service you want on a getaway out west. There are multiple restaurants, bars and lounges on site, too, for when you’re ready to feed the machine with fresh juices and treats like beef cheek – typically rolled into Miraval’s all-inclusive packages.
Sewall House Yoga Retreats in Island Falls, Maine
While many yoga retreats in the US date back to the 1960s and 70s, Sewall House has a much longer history. A frail young Teddy Roosevelt was sent here to recuperate after his years at Harvard, at the home of an outdoor guide named Bill Sewall. While asanas were not on the menu in 1878, Roosevelt was deeply affected by the invigorating natural beauty of Island Falls and credited his time in Maine for inspiring his transformation into a consummate outdoorsman.
In 1997, William Sewall’s great-granddaughter, Donna Davidge, a former model and yoga instructor, purchased the house where Roosevelt once stayed and transformed it into a small-scale yoga retreat where modern practitioners can find their own sense of healing, renewal and purpose. Tucked away in the forests of inland Maine not far from where the Appalachian Trail ends at Mt. Khatadin in Baxter State Park, Sewall House serves up peaceful yoga retreats, vegetarian cuisine and even twice-annual, three week, 200-hour yoga teacher training courses. For both retreats and teacher trainings, class sizes are small and you’re likely to share Sewall house with just a handful of fellow yogis.
Yo1 in Monticello, New York
Once upon a time, this corner of the Catskills was home to one of the best-known, grande dame Borscht Belt resorts that attracted entertainers like Milton Burle and Dean Martin. After Kutscher’s closed down in 2013, the team at Yo1 Catskills transformed the beautiful property into a retreat of a different sort, offering all-inclusive retreats featuring yoga, ayurveda, naturopathy and acupuncture.
There is an on-site spa with mud rooms, hydrotherapy chambers, reflexology walkways and a juice bar, as well as a resident chef who prepares healthy vegetarian cuisine for a variety of dietary needs. When you aren’t diving into asanas or a yoga nidra session, you can explore the old Kutscher property on foot or by bike, as there are numerous paths winding over the 1,300 acres that Yo1 occupies. But no one would blame you if you simply cozied up in your robe in the luxury suites, either.
Namastay & hOMestead at AYC in Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville is often considered the Appalachian answer to funky, artsy ‘bergs like Boulder and Ithaca. It should be no surprise, then, that one of the best yoga schools in the country is tucked away here in a custom-built, eco-friendly campus. Many teachers flock to the Asheville Yoga Center for 200 hour and 500 hour trainings and practitioners in A-ville love ducking in for one or more of the 100 classes a week on offer.
If you want to get in on the magic yourself but are coming from out of town, roll your own yoga retreat with the AYC’s Namastay accommodations. Located a short walk from the Asheville Yoga Center, this little yellow house has everything you need for a multi-day retreat, including single or double rooms, a kitchen, study area and even a seasonal garden. Any time you book Namastay, unlimited yoga passes are included so you can take full advantage of AYC’s packed calendar.
The Kripalu Center For Yoga and Health in Stockbridge, Massachusetts
From challenging vinyasa intensives to quirky forays into creativity and movement like “Knit, Pray, Love: A Knitting and Yoga Retreat,” Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health has a little something for yogis of all stripes. With roots in the early 1960s ashram movements in the United States, Kripalu has had decades to finesse its approach to teaching a secularized version of yoga, spirituality and wellness. Today, Kripalu Center’s yoga school not only offers a wide range of workshops and classes, but also 200, 500 and 1,000 hour yoga teacher training courses.
There are also schools at the center focused on ayurvedic medicine, integrative yoga therapy and outdoor leadership. Prices include tuition and the cost of accommodations, which are scaled to a variety of price points, ranging from hostel-style dormitories to more luxurious hotel-style rooms with views of the Berkshires mountains. Your stay also includes three meals a day, served buffet-style, featuring both omnivorous, vegetarian and vegan dishes, as well as ayurvedic and gluten-free options.
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