Expert yogis reveal the world's best yoga retreats
Amansala, Tulum, Mexico
Mandy Ingber, yoga teacher to the stars (including Jennifer Aniston), loves heading to this "inspired location" in Mexico. Yogaworks offers weeklong retreats at Amansala (also known for its Bikini Bootcamp) a few times a year: You'll stay at the eco-chic resort, starting each morning with an invigorating Vinyasa session, and enjoying workshops and sequences focused on breathing, meditation and relaxation. And there's plenty of time to take in the gorgeous beaches and the nearby ancient Mayan ruins, or explore the hip town of Tulum.
COMO SHAMBHALA ESTATE
Rodney Yee, yoga instructor and creator of Gaiam's Yoga for Your Week, says Como Shambhala Estate in Bali is special for its seamless integration with the setting: It's where "sacred ground" helps you "get connected to the earth," Yee says. And his wife—Colleen Saidman Yee, also a yoga instructor and creator of Gaiam's Yoga for Weight Loss—agrees, adding that the impeccable service you'll receive during yoga retreats enhances the vacation: "It is such a rare experience to feel so selflessly cared for. It will actually make you cry." You'll practice for five hours a day in the rainforest retreat outside Ubud while enjoying the amenities, including fresh wellness-oriented food, an in-house Ayurvedic doctor and Como's luxurious spa.
MIRAVAL RESORT & SPA
At the top of the must-do list for Yoga Journal Editor-in-Chief Carin Gorrell: Miraval, near the Santa Catalina Mountains in the High Sonoran Desert. "Just watching their online videos of guests practicing yoga overlooking the Sonoran desert makes me feel a little restored," she says. "They have a nice variety of classes, including aerial, which I haven't been brave enough to try yet, and a yoga-hiking hybrid for a cardio fix. Plus, the spa! I'd be happy with any one of the Ayurveda treatments."
KAMALAYA KOH SAMUI
The pick from noted LA-based yoga teacher Briohny Smyth: Kamalaya, on the southeastern tip of the island of Koh Samui in Thailand. "The location was fabulous, secluded on its own private beach with the warmest water ever," Smyth says. "And the yoga rooms had the best view." Kamalaya offers individualized yoga programs and group retreats, or if you just want to squeeze in a class or two between beach-lounging sessions, you can do that, too. Yoga packages include full room and board, a personal wellness consultation, daily classes and activities, and full use of the resort's steam cavern, swimming and plunge pools, and fitness center.
Latham Thomas, host of "Om on the Go" on Scripps' uLive.com, can't get enough yoga in Tulum: "It's a magical place, which feels like it's at the end of the world but it's only a three-hour flight from New York," she says, adding how wonderful the daily yoga classes are at Ahau Tulum: "The ocean breeze cools you as you sweat it out on the mat." Sign up for a yoga retreat, attend daily classes or request private yoga sessions on your room's private deck at this eco-chic luxury hotel.
FEATHERED PIPE RANCH
Yoga instructor and Gaiam video host Seane Corn picks Feathered Pipe, a rustic retreat center in the heart of Montana. "It's set in an environment that promotes healing and inspires deep internal work, from the cabins nestled in the mountains to the sweat lodge to the lake," Corn says. Your retreat includes a week of classes and workshops, accommodations, meals and use of all of the Ranch's amenities, including a sauna, hot tub and bathhouse.
Jill Miller, a yoga and wellness expert and founder of Yoga Tune Up, says "there is no comparison" for the yoga experience at Cal-a-Vie, just outside San Diego, noting that the architecture and general vibe mimic the south of France. "The yoga program is diverse and interesting, a perfect counterpoint to the rest of the well-rounded fitness menu they offer of daily calorie-scorching morning hikes, Gyrotonics, a double-sized outdoor Olympic pool, metabolic conditioning and strength training, meditation and so much more." Retreats also include daily massages and food tailored to each guest's individual dietary preferences.
JUNGLE BAY RESORT AND SPA
NYC-based yoga instructor and creator of Gaiam's Beginning Yoga, Chrissy Carter picks Jungle Bay in the small Caribbean nation of Dominica: "It's a magical place located on the cliffs overlooking the ocean, and you stay in a tree house with its own outdoor shower," she says. "The yoga studio is made of reclaimed organic rock, and you can hear the sounds of the waves crashing below from anywhere on the property—nowhere else do I feel so in tune with nature and myself." Jungle Bay offers daily yoga classes, private afternoon yoga or meditation sessions, and special yoga retreat packages.
KRIPALU CENTER FOR YOGA AND HEALTH
"For an all-out shot of yogic transformation, my go-to is Kripalu in the Berkshires," says Liz Eustace, founder of Alignyo.com, an online publication and resource about all things yoga. "I've done yoga classes followed by kayaking, then hiking, more yoga, and a meditative walk through a labyrinth—and a late night swim to top off the day." You can choose dorm-style rooms or a quiet room to yourself with a private bath, as you enjoy yoga, outdoor activities and healthy food in the down-to-earth, wellness-focused setting.