Purple Valley Yoga Centre, Goa India
The Basics: When Annie Gurton visited Goa, a counterculture enclave on the western coast of India, she expected to discover a wealth of places to unroll her yoga mat. Instead, she found little more than occasional informal classes on the beach. So Gurton, then a British journalist, decided to do something about it. The result is Purple Valley, a quiet haven among landscaped gardens of palms and banana trees where yogis can combine the discipline of daily practice with the relaxation of a beach holiday.
The Yoga: Classes start at 7 a.m. and last about two hours. They're held in an airy shala—a building with one central space for yoga practice. In the evenings, guests meet to practice pPranayama or to hear talks on yoga. Both sessions are followed by meals outdoors.
The Flight: In a secluded spot carved out of the tropical jungle, Purple Valley is about a mile and a half from the main town of Mapusa, two miles from the ocean, and a half-hour taxi ride from Goa's Dabolim Airport. From the East Coast of the United States, fly to London or Frankfurt and connect with a charter flight to Dabolim. From the West Coast, fly to Delhi, Bangalore, or Mumbai (Bombay) in India and catch a domestic flight to Dabolim.
The Digs: Purple Valley has 40 beds, most of them twins in suites designed for two guests; there are also some rooms with double beds. Most rooms are in the main house, an attractive Colonial-style, two-story building with balconies overlooking the gardens. A smaller bungalow has additional self-contained rooms. All the guest rooms are fairly basic but clean and comfortable, with mosquito nets, overhead fans, and their own bathrooms. Costs include a one-week stay, including yoga instruction and two meals a day.
The Food: Breakfast is a feast of tropical fruits and juices, organic cereals, yogurts, and breads, and it is served on the terrace, which has a pleasant view of the valley's gardens. Dinner is a leisurely buffet of Indian-style food. All meals are vegetarian and prepared from fresh local organic produce. Lunch is not included.
The Sights:Afternoons frequently are spent at one of the idyllic palm-lined beaches within easy reach of Purple Valley. Guests can hire their own motorbikes for the duration of their stay or call a taxi from a free phone at the retreat. Those wanting a bit more action can head for the rave scene at Anjuna Beach. Guests looking for souvenirs can shop at one of the local flea markets. Those craving culture can wander around the churches, convents, and museums of Old Goa.