With Spring Break approaching and families, couples, and friends planning for their next getaway, why not think "outside of the box" and venture for an activity-based vacation? Whether your passion is hiking, cycling, or surfing, embarking upon a sports-centric journey can leave you refreshed and revitalized.........without the vacation "weight gain." One of my favorite concept-based getaways is the Yoga Retreat Vacation. With the popularity of yoga at an all-time high in the United States, now is the time to to visit one of the following five global destinations centered upon the holistic and therapeutic practice of  yoga:
1.) BaliIndonesia
  • A perennial, "must-see" among yogis is the Indonesian island of Bali, replete with a myriad resorts that focus on the spiritual side of yoga. Located in Ubud, Bagus Jati is a stunning health spa and resort surrounded by the famed rice terraces of the Bali countryside. A large yoga pavilion in the center of the resort offers daily morning classes as well as private instruction. The Yoga Barn in central Ubud is a labyrinth of five open-air studios that offers yoga classes for all levels of expertise as well as meditation classes and private lessons. Amazingly, the Yoga Barn provides over 100 classes per week. Each studio space affords a lovely vantage point to admire Ubud's terraced rice paddy constellations. Just 30 minutes outside of Ubud in the inspiring valley of Payangan lies the flagship retreat of Como Shambhala. Most visitors to Como Shambhala Estate plan for longer-term stays with week-long, well-being programs that include resident yoga instructors. Variable disciplines of yoga, meditation, and coaching are incorporated into each program. Spa and beauty treatments with a holistic impression are available, as is a fully-equipped gym for the ambitious.
2.)  Hawaii
  • A yoga vacation in a Hawaiian paradise health retreat is a surefire way to replenish any accumulated stress or tension. Maui, Kauai, Oahu, and the Big Island all offer inviting resorts that accommodate the active yogi. Samana Wellness on the island of Maui is a favorite of mine. They specialize in yoga, ayurveda, and wellness coaching with a wide array of weekly classes and workshops. Built on a private estate on the westside of the island, Samana also intrigues with a holistic nutrition and cooking program and guided meditation courses set in tranquil gardens. A private beach nearby affords a calming,introspective setting for an independent meditation or yoga retreat. Beach Sunset Yoga  Hawaii on the island of Oahu has developed a popular following their "jungle yoga" tour of the island. While the yoga center is based in Honolulu, Beach Sunset Yoga retreats abound throughout Oahu, with yoga workshops and classes hosted in the shadow of stunning waterfalls, thick jungle, and astride the crashing waves of polished Oahu beaches. These retreats can be reserved as either a private tour or in a group and all levels of yoga expertise are welcome. A far more opulent setting for a yoga retreat is the St Regis Princeville Resort on the island of Kauai. Their Meditation and Wellness Retreat hosts a morning sunrise ceremony, "Hiu'wai," held next to the ocean, where resort guests are invited to take a morning dip into the ocean. A full array of classes centered on yoga, meditation, and pranayama is set to the backdrop of bucolic Hanalei Bay and the rugged coastline mountains. A sunset class on the beach is a perfect capstone to a rewarding stay at the St Regis Princeville Resort.
3.) India
  • No list of top, international yoga destinations would be complete without including the birthplace of many yoga disciplines, India. While many American yogis are accustomed to asana, the physical postures and sequences practiced in your weekly classes stateside, asana is only one concept of many practiced by yoga practitioners in India. Coequal emphasis is placed on meditation, breathing, and cleansing processes and customs along with spiritual and devotional concepts like mantra chanting and karma yoga. Purple Valley on the island of Goa is an excellent, yoga retreat destination to develop your Ashtanga training. Set in a tranquil spread of landscaped gardens, Purple Valley offers Mysore-style self-practice in the morning while enticing with specialized classes including kirtans, pranayama, philosophy, and yogic living. Highly-qualified Ayurvedic doctors and massage therapists can be consulted for a well-rounded, spiritual understanding of the body. An idyllic setting for an India Yoga Retreat can be found in Uttarakhand at Ananda in the Himalayas. Set in the foothills of the mighty Himalayan mountain chain, Ananda offers a menagerie of personalized yoga and meditation programs focused primarily on hatha, raja, and kriya yoga. Various pavilions such as the Hawa Mahal and the Music Pavillion afford an inspirational scene for morning and evening yoga workshops and classes. The heralded, ayurvedic spa treatments at Ananda's Spa are a staple, required experience as well as the daily hikes to the nearby temple.
Building your next solo, family, or group vacation around a Yoga Retreat destination to Bali, Hawaii, or India is a surefire way to leave you feeling physically restored and spiritually self-enlightened. Do your body, mind, and soul a favor and take the plunge!