There’s an alchemical shift that happens when women are in the company of other women. For starters, there’s an exponential leap in trust—something in short supply in our current political climate. There’s an ability to drop in and simply be, and a willingness to share all of who we are because we know we’re surrounded by others who’ve had similar experiences.
That solidarity is part of the zeitgeist behind the growing demand for women-only trips and retreats, many of which go beyond yoga, helping women feel empowered through a specific skill set, such as surfing or backpacking.
What exactly happens when women get real with each other? Numerous studies show that women reach out to each other during times of stress, whereas men isolate themselves. Left to our own devices, women opt for tend-and-befriend over fight-or-flight. All-female retreats harness this innate support system and even boost its potency, creating the optimal conditions for deep self-inquiry.
Geneen Roth, author of “Woman, Food, and God” amongst other best-sellers, describes it best: “After a few days, the membrane that separates you from yourself and your deepest longings begins to dissolve … and you move into the life you long for.”
Ready to make that move and dissolve whatever stands in your way? Click through for Yoga Journal’s roundup of the 10 best women-only retreats.
10 Best Women-Only Yoga Retreats Around the World
1. Big Sky Yoga Retreats’ Cowgirl Yoga™ and Hiking Patagonia
Put some yee-haw into your yoga practice with a retreat that combines, yoga, hiking, and horses in a Patagonia odyssey. Big Sky Yoga Retreats go big with all their getaways, highlighting how the great outdoors can wake us up to our inner riches. At the heart of their retreat ethos is this Joseph Campbell quote: “The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with nature.” Many of their retreats for 2018 are already sold out (a good sign), but this once-in-a-lifetime expedition into the wilds of Patagonia promises to delight those of you who are willing to plan ahead.
When: March 2-9, 2019
Awesome factor: You’ll stay at La Casa Moderna, a seven-room private home with 360-degree jaw-dropping views. Soak in the pristine landscape on the meditation deck by morning and in the outdoor hot tub under the stars at night.
From $4,395, bigskyyogaretreats.com
2. Wise and Wild Women Retreat in Haramara, Mexico
No list of women-only yoga retreats would be complete without mentioning this exquisitely rustic retreat center that approximates living inside the womb of the goddess herself. Meredith Holt, a San-Francisco-based yoga and meditation teacher, leads the charge for wild women rising in a program that combines sankalpa (intuition), kriya (movement), and sangha (community). As an added bonus, this year’s retreat falls on the Dia de los Muertos, so come prepared to honor your ancestors and celebrate your roots.
When: October 27-November 3
Awesome factor: Desperately need to unplug? Haramara prides itself on open-air rooms that have no electricity—or wifi. What’s more, the two magnificent yoga shalas and unforgettably fresh, organic food will make it so that you never want to leave.
From $1,830, haramararetreat.com
3. Kelea Surf Spa in Ohau, Hawaii
Kelea Surf Spa is proud of its legacy: it bills itself as the first ever all-inclusive women’s surf and yoga retreat, pioneered in 2000 by a professional bodyboarder. This retreat is for women who want to experience the magic of hanging ten on their board for the first time, as well as experienced surfers looking to fine tune their agility. No matter what your level, your inner surf girl will love the trifecta of surfing, apres-surf yoga, and massage. The current owner, Laura McHugh, brings her previous 30 years in corporate customer service to the beach, which means you can expect a highly personalized experience “where your only worry is sand in your surf wax,” she says.
When: October 21-27
Awesome factor: The North Shore harbors some of the best wave breaks in the world, and the retreats are timed for when the waves are gentle enough for beginners.
From $1,995, keleasurfspa.com
See also 14 Beach Yoga Retreats in Paradise
4. Spirit Weavers Gathering in Cave Junction, Oregon
If you have a penchant for hand-spun textiles and don’t mind the occasional naked dance romp with hundreds of your new soul sisters, this gathering is for you. Be prepared for a deep dive into “the feminine and ancestral ways” and look out for an actual red tent to chill in if your moon time coincides with the gathering. Spirit Weavers offers nearly 100 workshops with choices that include reconnection with the “yoniverse,” floral crowning, and finger labyrinths (yoga is always on tap, too). Accommodations range from bring your own tent to yurts and close-by Airbnb’s. Get on their email list to receive notices for next year’s two summer gatherings, as spots tend to book up within minutes of being released.
When: May/June 2019. Check back for exact dates.
Awesome factor: Sisterhood never felt more real than in the expanded yoniverse, chanting prayers around a campfire. Spirit Weavers offers you a chance to plunge into your own indigenous spirit.
From $444, spiritweaversgathering.com
5. Priestess Retreat for Women in Big Sur, California
Esalen’s gorgeous coastline—mountains, cliffs, and ocean all converge—make it fertile soil for radical inquiry. Two yoga luminaries, Ashley Turner and Sianna Sherman, will lead this 5-day immersion into the way of the Urban Priestess. If you feel an urgent need to gather the forces of change, this retreat is a good place to start. Turner and Sherman describe it as “a revolutionary call to soul sisters, trailblazers, thought leaders, change agents, booty-shakers, magic makers, and wise women of all ages.”
When: December 2-7
Awesome factor: Clothing-optional natural hot springs right at the ocean’s edge nurture both contemplation and healing conversation.
From $675, esalen.org
6. Breathing Room at Elohee, Georgie
Finally, a “yoga retreat for women craving space and ease” that delivers the holy grail of yoga—an inclusive, accessible yoga practice for diverse body types. Led by yoga guides Amber Karnes, the founder of Body Positive Yoga, and Kelley Carboni-Woods, the atmosphere here is low pressure but high stakes. The goal throughout the retreat—the love child of the rapidly growing body positivity movement—is to relish the “experience of our bodies, no matter our shape, size, age, or ability.” Come here for a chance to table the constant worry of keeping up in yoga class. Located in the Blue Ridge mountains and nestled on 220 acres of undeveloped land, this retreat offers ample space for both connection and solitude.
When: August 16-19
Awesome factor: The grounds contain over two miles of trails, ample medicinal herbs, lush forest, and one of the most diverse ecosystems found outside of the tropics.
From $668, bodypositiveyoga.com/breathing-room/
7. Writer’s Retreat in Taos, New Mexico
Want to write that story inside you that burns to be told—but as soon as you get pen to paper your inner critic comes out and squelches everything? Jen Louden, a personal growth pioneer and prolific author, leads several retreats a year for women who want to bring their whole selves to the page as well as the mat. The retreat provides a well-rounded structure so you can find your voice without distraction: dance and yoga practices, healthy but luscious food, daily writing circles, an on-call writing doula (Louden), and the company of smart, brave women ready to hold nothing back. Set in artsy Taos at the historic adobe Mabel Dodge Luhan House, this is the place to reclaim—and rejoice—in your mojo.
When: Sold out in 2018; check back for 2019 dates.
Awesome factor: Taos itself, with its crisp, buttery light and generous skies, is the perfect conduit for the relentless journey within that writing requires.
From $2155, jenniferlouden.com
8. Women Food and God in Pacific Grove, California
Let’s be honest: Most women are often at war with their relationship to food. But if we get to the bottom of the food/weight morass, the deeper issue is how we cut ourselves off from our own bodies—yogis included. Geneen Roth, an author whose groundbreaking books explore a spiritual context for compulsive eating, offers an epic, 6-day immersion that can help to turn struggle into the grist for transformation. Through group sessions, meditations, workshops, and gentle body-sensing movement, she guides participants into “the direct experience of non-compulsive eating, peace with food, and sensing your body from the inside out.” The retreat takes place at Asilomar Center, amidst 107 acres of Monterey Bay Peninsula dunes and beaches.
Awesome factor: Cross guided meditation with mindful eating and you have an unforgettable meditation led by Roth. This is bite-by bite awareness as exquisitely shared by someone who has been leading food-centric retreats for roughly two decades.
From $1995, geneenroth.com
See also 14 Ways to Practice Mindful Eating
9. Women’s Ski Adventures in Vail, Colorado
Sometimes the best way to invigorate your yoga practice is to shake it up and try something completely new and scary. For many women, skiing represents that growing edge. If the mountains call you, hook up with Kim Reichhelm, a former member of the U.S. ski team and professional ski racer, who takes women-only groups out several times a year on 4-7 day trips designed to take your skiing—and your confidence—to the next level.
When: January 6-10
Awesome factor: You’ll get lots of personal attention on this retreat, including private photo/video feedback provided by hand-picked guides matched to your ski level.
From $2600, skiwithkim.com
10. Writing, Somatics, and Womanhood in Bozeman, Montana
Kimberly Ann Johnson, a certified sexological bodyworker, and Molly Caro May, writing guide and author of Body Full of Stars (which delves into the origins of female rage) co-lead this workshop for women who are at any stage of motherhood: parenting, abortions, losses, miscarriages, adoption, empty-nesting, and pre-conception. Identify the specific constellations that inform your nervous system, fine-tune your felt sense, and enhance your ability to have embodied memories. Through movement cues and writing prompts, Johnson and May help you excavate your story.
When: October 5-7
Awesome factor: A Saturday night “Sacred Sexuality Salon” leads you through a (fully-clothed) experience of your own arousal trajectory.
From $325, magamama.com
About the Author
Elizabeth Marglin is a yogi and writer based in Lyons, Colorado.
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