No matter how long you've been practicing, these mountain yoga retreats will launch you and your yoga practice right back to the honeymoon phase. We scoured the country to find yoga vacations for every level, from a mountain town with a quaint but tradition-rich yoga studio to a full-fledged ashram. Find your fit and start planning your personal retreat.
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Why the mountains? Monica Mesa, owner of Yoga For the Peaceful in Crested Butte, Colorado—the first stop on our list—tells us: “I was born at the beach, so I’ve always been an ocean girl. But there’s something so grounding about yoga in the mountains. It becomes very intuitive to draw inspiration from the solidity of the mountains when we stand tall in Tadasana, and the wildflowers bending in the breeze teach us the slow, flowing pace of surya namaskars (sun salutations).”
Plus, take a cue from professional athletes. Because the body requires more efficient use of oxygen at altitude you will optimize your workout time, so you can spend the rest of your retreat dining, enjoying wildlife, and reading in the shade guilt-free.
Book a room at the historic Elk Mountain Lodge to be within a 10-minute bike ride away from Yoga For the Peaceful, an all-styles, all-levels, eco-conscious studio founded by Shiva Rea disciple and master teacher Monica Mesa. No matter what your yoga background, this studio has something to satisfy. Catch one of Mesa’s three weekly Prana Flow classes or start the morning with a free meditation, cool down after a hike with yin or yoga therapeutics, and get your bhakti flowing with weekly kirtan. In your spare time hit the breathtaking trails in Colorado’s wildflower capital and come back to sophisticated ma-and-pa restaurants on Elk Street.
BONUS: Catch the studio’s winter festival Yoga Rocks the Butte, at the base of the ski mountain. Yogi stars who have participated in the past include Shiva Rea, Michael Franti, and Govind Das.
Who can turn down a two-in-one island and mountain retreat within the borders of the lower 48? The lush 72-acre island home to the Sagamore sits at the base of the Adirondack Mountains in the middle of Lake George. This is a resort made to satisfy the chic, including over 30 spa treatments, a heated outdoor pool and classic architecture restored to resemble the original 1883 structure. Put the kids in adventure camp and take Kripalu yoga classes without even leaving the hotel. You'll need the yoga to stretch out the muscles you might find yourself using while hiking, golfing, windsurfing or white-water rafting, all available at this lush destination.
Get serious about deepening your yoga practice with retreat founders—and husband and wife team—Tracey Rich and Ganga White. Their method is described as a “non-dogmatic teaching approach dedicated to helping students develop a well-balanced personal practice.” White Lotus yoga encompasses several types of flowing practices with modifications for the noviceand expert alike. The nonprofit foundation offers personal, weekend and week long getaways, and full teacher training programs. You’ll practice White Lotus Flows(hatha yoga) twice daily along with pranayama, meditation, and inquiry-based discussions, andmight even get a chance to see renowned guest teachers, which have included Seane Corn, Saul David Raye and Steve Ross.
Get intimate with nature by lodging in one of the center’s seven yurts, camping along the creek, or opt to stay in the loft which accommodates three people. But don’t let the unassuming accommodations fool you, the retreat center has a private vegan chef, more than five styles of massage, and is only 20 minutes from Santa Barbara’s high-class downtown area.
You’re sure to be in good hands at one of the oldest and largest yoga centers in the United States. Kripalu began as an ashram for followers of Yogi Amrit Desai in Pennsylvania in 1972 and has come to flourish as an all-encompassing wellness center. It now integrates deep-rooted traditional yoga with contemporary Western medicine, psychology, and biology. Sign up for an R&R (Rest and Rejuvenate) retreat to sample from the buffet of yoga, fitness and spa options or join a vigorous 200- or 500-hour teacher-training program. Kripalu provides a unique opportunity not only to experience healthy living but to take workshops in everything from skincare to nutrition to illness recovery so that you can take your experience home with you. Visit their site to explore all upcoming offerings.
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Photo courtesy of Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health
Nestled in the Sierra Nevada foothills and only 20 minutes from the Yuba River, this retreat center offers some of nature’s best. On a personal retreat, you will take Ananda Yoga twice daily, a style based on the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda, best known as the author of spiritual classic Autobiography of a Yogi. The center also offers a free in-depth class daily on subjects including meditation, restorative yoga, and healing prayer or chanting. You can even opt to take part in a retreat tailored to your needs, deepening your awareness of holistic health or meditation.
Pull out your passports and get ready to dive in. Yasodhara's 10-day Kundalini retreat will leave you standing as tall as the Canadian Rockies the ashram is surrounded by. Most days begin with 7 a.m. yoga, followed by breakfast. Daily workshops may focus on dreams, mantra, dance, or karma yoga. Expect a fresh vegetarian lunch before 2 hours of focused reflection, another workshop, and then a replenishing dinner before satsang (chanting) in the ashram’s temple. Be prepared to purify—no alcohol or drugs are permitted in this pristine location.