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Yoga Travel, Retreats, and Festivals

5 COVID-Safe (And Fun!) Yoga Vacations to Take in 2021   

It's not too late to plan a COVID-safe summer vacation. These physician-vetted, yoga-friendly destinations are guaranteed to help you relax and recharge.

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If you are one of the many yogis whose wanderlust was abruptly cut short due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, here’s some great news: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has cleared fully vaccinated people for travel. This means that, for the most part, we’ve been given the go ahead to safely make post-COVID travel arrangements—and just in time for summer! To help you scratch that long dormant travel itch, we gathered ideas for some great COVID-safe vacation ideas for yogis, plus a short list of details to consider before you go.

What to consider before going on a yoga vacation in 2021

  1. Prioritize finding resorts that have outdoor yoga, activities, and even dining. According to the CDC, outdoor activities are safest. This is the most certain way to decrease transmission and contraction of COVID-19 while enjoying some Vitamin D.
  2. BYOM (bring your own mat). Sure it’s an added item to pack, but bringing your own mat is the most hygienic option. This is always a good idea whether you’re traveling or not. With your own mat, you eliminate concern about whether a borrowed mat was properly disinfected after its last use. Lightweight travel mats are a great option to reduce bulkiness.
  3. If you are considering an international trip, check the State Department’s travel warnings before booking to determine whether a COVID-safe vacation to that destination is possible. Once you book, make sure to enroll with the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. Many international locations require a negative COVID-19 test prior to boarding your plane. Keep in mind that recommendations can change frequently, so check back often.
  4. Most resorts and retreat locations have clear COVID-19 protocols and regulations posted on their website. Read them thoroughly prior to booking. If you live in the U.S. and plan to travel internationally, you are required to present a negative COVID-19 test no more than three days before you fly back home. Thankfully, most resorts either have on-site testing or resources to help you get tested (we listed a few below).
  5. Use your yogi superpowers of sensibility and respect (ahimsa and aparigraha) as you travel. Keeping these yogic principles in mind will help keep both you and your fellow travelers safe as you enjoy time away. Even if you are fully vaccinated, it is important to abide by local COVID-19 rules and respect the guidelines set forth by each location. Your personal enjoyment should not supersede the safety and enjoyment of your fellow travelers.

See also: These Are the Best Face Masks for Yoga

California Yoga Road Trip
Photo: Terranea Resort

For road-tripping sun worshippers

Since outdoor activities are a high priority for reduction of COVID-19 transmission, why not combine your travel adventure with a road trip? Exploring the beauty of the Southern California coast may be just the kind of experience you need to shake off the COVID blues. There are dozens of resorts along California’s coastline that offer outdoor yoga and fun activities, which also allow you to breathe in the calmness of the Pacific Ocean during your practice. Here are three resort options you can get to by cruising up the Pacific Coast Highway, windows (or convertible top) down.

The recently opened Alila Marea Beach Resort in Encinitas (just north of San Diego) is a great place to start your vacation. Perched atop a stunning coast bluff, Alila offers daily outdoor yoga classes right on the beach. Class sizes are limited for the safety and comfort of guests. The resort also offers hiking and other outdoor activities on the lovely Ponto State Beach.

California’s second destination for a COVID-safe vacation is a two-hour drive north toward Rancho Palos Verdes (just south of Los Angeles). Here, you’ll find the renowned Terranea Resort, with direct access to the beach for daily outdoor yoga offerings, perfect for optimal convenience and relaxation. Other outdoor activities include cycling and self-guided nature walks.

Continuing up the coast, consider stopping 90 minutes north of Terranea in Santa Barbara, with its magnificent wine country and year-round temperate weather. El Encanto offers an illuminating escape with open-air yoga classes among the blooming wisteria, while breathing in the fresh air from the Pacific Ocean.

See also: How to Hack Your Sun Salutations

Palmaia House of Aia
Photo: Palmaia – House of AiA

For the jungle and ocean lover

There are few better things than a beach and jungle getaway. For the ultimate escape that combines yoga with mindfulness practices for a mind-body tune-up, check out Palmaia, the House of AïA in Riviera Maya, Mexico. The resort offers transformative wellness experiences for a COVID-safe vacation. Offerings include outdoor yoga, sound healing, gravity control, meditation, mandalas, cacao ceremonies, and more. Particularly special is the ample outdoor space to naturally socially distance throughout the resort. A favorite place within the resort is the stunning Rituals Deck nestled in the mangroves. Here, you can start your day floating in the peaceful cenotes and partake in a number of sacred rituals for a transformative experience within this luxurious tropical paradise, just steps away from the Caribbean Ocean.

As an added bonus, the resort also offers on-property COVID-19 testing for your return home. And if you do have the unfortunate circumstance of testing positive, Palmaia will extend 14 complimentary nights for a safe and healthful quarantine. You’ll be offered a complimentary quarantine suite, where all meals are delivered at no cost. In addition, they deliver yoga mats to your suite for daily practice to support you in maintaining strength and vitality while ensuring the safety of yourself and others. As a gift to the community, Palmaia is offering YJ readers 10 percent off if you book before June 30 with the code YOGAJOURNAL10 for travel before December 31, 2021.

See also: These Yoga Mats Take You Back to Nature

Carlisle Bay resort
Photo: Carlisle Bay, Antigua

For the luxury island enthusiast

On an island, time slows down in the most delicious way, and naps on the beach are always on the agenda. If you are looking for a relax-and-recharge experience for your getaway, Carlisle Bay in Antigua is as far as you’ll need to go. Located on the island’s tranquil south shore, this luxury resort offers personalized solo wellness retreats for a deeply transcendent mind–body reset. These individualized packages include twice-daily private outdoor yoga, breathwork, meditation, and customized holistic treatments. All this is available while enjoying the ocean-view suite accommodations, daily breakfast, afternoon tea, watersports, and access to resort amenities.

There are three open-air yoga spaces, including a pavilion on the beach, one within the hotel gardens, and yet another located on an overwater jetty; perfect for sunset yoga sessions. There is even a Chinese medicine doctor on staff who offers health consultations, acupuncture, and Eastern-medicine treatments to keep your immune system optimized. Most importantly for your convenience and safety, Carlisle Bay offers in-room COVID-19 testing before your return home. So you won’t have to think about anything but  the sparkling views of the sweeping Caribbean Ocean during your healing pranayama practices.

See also: Everything to Know About Yoga and the Five Elements of Nature

L'Auberge Sedona Yoga vacation
Photo: L’Auberge Sedona

For the mountain-loving adventurer

Research has shown that immersing oneself in nature increases wakeful relaxation and internal focus. After so many months of being homebound, a getaway deep in nature might be just what you need. Here are two great suggestions that will reconnect you with nature and fresh mountain air:

For those who want to escape the coast, consider the stunning backdrop of the Arizona’s red rocks at L’Auberge de Sedona. Here, you can disconnect from daily stresses and reconnect with your own inner wisdom and spirit. L’Auberge has a nature-inspired spa and offers gentle morning yoga classes to help you relax, rejuvenate, and reset. Feel free to explore all the magic that Sedona has to offer and reignite your sense of adventure with a hike through the sycamore trees in Sedona’s majestic red rock country. 

If you’re on the East Coast and looking for a COVID-safe vacation, be sure to visit Yo1 Health Resort in New York’s Catskill Mountains. “YO1,” or “Yovan” in Sanskrit, means eternal youth; this all-inclusive resort implements yogic principles and Ayurvedic therapies tailored to your individual health needs. The experiences empower guests to travel inward to find balance between mind, body, and soul, and to reshape patterns to live in freedom and authenticity. Yoga class sizes are limited and the resort is only booking out 50 percent of their capacity to ensure social distancing requirements are met.

Rancho La Puerta Yoga Vacation
Photo: Rancho La Puerta

For the spiritually minded yogi

Whether you are looking for a peaceful meditation retreat to reconnect with inner calm, or seeking classes to explore ancient healing techniques, there are many incredible venues to help you clear your head and focus on spirituality.

A trip to the beautiful Poconos Mountains may be just the right way to unplug. For over 40 years, the Himalayan Institute has been hosting personal and group retreats for those seeking inspiration and restoration. The teaching spaces have mat and seating restrictions to ensure adequate social distancing. And it has implemented a daily COVID-19 response team to monitor both the community and case rates around the world. The team leaders range from physicians and nurses to scientists, so as to ensure that your spiritual getaway is well-informed and safe.

Another spirit-invigorating escape is Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, Mexico, located just south of the border in Baja. Set in an oasis of gardens, mountains, and meadows, this destination ensures that your yoga and meditation practices will be focused on your spirit and mind, rather than worrying about maintaining your distance from other vacationers. With 4,000 private acres to explore, you’ll be sure to find a sanctuary for contemplation and respite, or perhaps even a walking meditation on the trails themselves.

See also: 

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Ingrid Yang MD, JD, C-IAYT, E-RYT500 is a physician, yoga therapist, freelance writer and published author. She has been teaching yoga for over 20 years and is the author of the books Adaptive Yoga and Hatha Yoga Asanas.  Dr. Yang leads trainings and retreats all over the world, with a special focus on kinesthetic physiology and healing through breathwork, meditation and mind-body connection.  Find out more at ingridyang.com or on Instagram.