Great European Yoga Vacations
Does standing in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) atop the Austrian Alps appeal to you? How about practicing yoga in a twelfth-century German monastery or on a remote beach in Crete? Opportunities to do yoga in Europe come as varied as the local languages and customs. If you're planning a trip across the Atlantic, consider packing your mat and checking out one of the following destinations.
Seemingly taken right out of a scene from The Sound of Music, the Tyrolean village of Reith in the Austrian Alps boasts winter sports, pristine mountain lakes, and numerous hiking trails. Nearby, the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Retreat House offers the classical yoga teachings of Swami Sivananda and Swami Vishnu-devananda, which emphasize asanas, pPranayama, Vedanta philosophy, meditation, and a vegetarian diet. A few kilometers away, the health spa at Kitzbuhel has an indoor swimming pool, massage center, and mud baths.
More Information: sivananda.at
Lanzarote, Canary Islands
Purported by some historians to be the legendary continent of Atlantis, Lanzarote is one of seven paradisiacal islands off the coast of southern Spain. Holistic Holidays hosts morning yoga, aquarobics, massage, walks, and wholesome meals in Villa Isis. A balmy climate and sandy beaches soften Lanzarote's formidable volcanic landscape. Just looking out to sea will help release tensions.
More Information: hoho.co.uk
In the Midi-Pyrenees region of southern France, Stephan-Jean's yoga center offers a full schedule plus some drop-in classes. Known as "La Ville Rose" for its pink buildings, Toulouse lies on the banks of the Garonne River, close to the Pyrenees Mountains. If you need a hotel, the eighteenth-century Des Beaux Arts hotel, which overlooks the river, may fit the bill.
More Information: multimania.com/himalaya
Kloster Gerode, Germany
The foothills of the Harz Mountains lead to a small valley and the romantic setting of Kloster Gerode. Here, in a former Benedictine monastery built in 1124, is Weg Der Mitte, home of the European College for Yoga and Therapy founded by Daya Mullins, Ph.D. The monastery has teaching rooms, a dining hall, and comfortable guest rooms. Healing and yoga take priority, and the center includes a staff of doctors, herbalists, yoga teachers, and mind-body therapists to attend to guests.
More Information: wegdermitte.de
If you want to mix sun, sand, and water with ancient Mediterranean history, seek out Yoga Plus on the remote southern coast of Crete. Hosted by Radha, a student of Pattabhi Jois, the center's smorgasbord offerings include Ashtanga vinyasa yoga, African dance and drumming, tai chi, astrology, feng shui, massage, and more.
More Information: yogaplus.co.uk
Less than an hour's drive from Dublin lies Sli Na Bande, a pine chalet overlooking the sea and surrounding countryside. Here, yoga teacher Marlene ffrench Mullen offers individuals or small groups meditation, pranayama, yoga, nourishing meals, and a variety of other activities, including a sweat lodge.
More Information: slinabande.ie/yoga/weekend-retreats
The renowned discotheques, music, and inimitable night life of this island off the coast of Spain attract a sophisticated crowd. But the vacation spot has its mystical side as well. From April to September, you can do yoga in a 30-foot canvas dome on a hill facing the Mediterranean Sea. Godfrey Devereux, one of England's most popular yoga teachers, organizes the retreats. He integrates the Iyengar method with Ashtanga vinyasa and Viniyoga. Students stay in Bedouin tents.
More Information: windfireyoga.com
Located in southern Sweden, the Scandinavian Yoga and Meditation School was founded by Danish Swami Janakananda, who learned from his teacher Swami Satyananda, a disciple of Swami Sivananda. Here you'll learn yoga and meditation based on the Tantric tradition. Students stay in traditional Swedish red farmhouses surrounded by lush countryside near a large lake, forests, and fields. In the snowy season, guests might enjoy ice-skating or a romp through the snow on horseback.
More Information: yogameditation.com