The Best Yoga Retreat Trends of 2023
A lot has changed since you booked your last escape.
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Whatever preconceived notions you may have about yoga retreats—perhaps an Eat, Pray, Love-inspired escape?—are being challenged this year. Although there’s never been a truly singular approach to these wellness immersions, the stereotypical beliefs and structures surrounding yoga retreats are giving way to getaways that allow you to focus on yoga, self-exploration, and restoration with an equal emphasis on accessibility, inclusivity, and affordability.
The emerging trends that follow help you reset in ways that connect you with pursuits beyond yoga, like-minded companions, and places that are (inexpensively) close to home.
The Yoga Retreat Trends You’ll See in 2023
1. Two-For-One Yoga Retreats
Traditionally, yoga retreats allow you to escape to a remote location, immerse yourself in yoga, and take optional excursions. Lately, creative retreat options allow you to engage equally with another pursuit, whether artistic or athletic, that complements or contrasts with your yoga practice.
If you want to improve your balance in yoga poses, try…surfing. Teachers Jenny Clise and Emily Meersand are co-leading a Bali Surf and Yoga retreat with a seven-day itinerary that allows ample time for morning surf sessions followed by afternoon yoga workshops dedicated to arm balances and inversions, slow flow, and restorative yoga. The retreat is open to anyone, regardless of experience with yoga or surfing.
Those who feel more comfortable defying gravity on land can opt for rock climbing. The Joshua Tree Rock Climbing and Yoga Retreat, hosted by She Moves Mountains, is a three-night camping experience including guided sessions each morning for climbers of any level, whether you seek beginner lessons or friction climbing, splitter cracks, or face climbs. Afternoon yoga asana classes are designed to help climbers improve flexibility, build strength, promote balance, and quiet their thoughts before they tackle the next day’s challenge.
Seeking a less physically demanding experience? The Paris Creative Writing Retreat, led by yoga teachers Sarah Herrington and Kevin Montgomery, is an eight-day getaway intended to explore the connection between creativity and yoga via city walks, nighttime explorations of the Catacombs, and, of course, physical yoga practice.
Los Angeles-based tantric hatha yoga coach Kala MacDonald brings together yoga, mindfulness, and adventure in her South Africa Wellness Safari. Located at the Shambala Private Game Reserve’s Zulu Camp, it includes up-close animal watching as well as daily yoga practices.
For something considerably tamer, MacDonald’s Italy Tour is a 10-day exploration of Florence and Rome that blends physical movement and guided meditation with pasta-making classes and biodynamic wine tastings.
San Francisco yoga teacher Nicole Cronin will join former Twitter executive Ari Font Llitjós to lead the Women in Engineering Retreat with The New Club in Mendocino County, California. Workshops on professional development and career advancement are included along with hikes among redwood trees, yoga classes, and farm-to-table meals.
2. Affinity Group Yoga Retreats
Yoga is inherently grounded in sangha, or community, reflected in an upswing in retreats for like-minded individuals who want to connect around commonalities. Attendees may find comfort, connection, and a sense of ease in these groups that they don’t experience in other settings.
Maya Breuer is a pioneer in bringing people together. As the co-founder of the Black Yoga Teachers Alliance and creator of the Yoga Retreat for Women of Color, she has been at the forefront of creating educational programs about yoga for the BIPOC community. This year’s retreat with Breuer, Kiesha Battles, and other leaders offers yoga, dancing, and poetry to help attendees “enter a sacred space where you can express yourself freely without social or familial expectations.”
San Francisco’s HAUM, a yoga studio owned by Danni Pomplum, is known for providing inclusive spaces for teachers and practitioners in the LGBTQ+ community. The yoga studio’s retreats carry that inclusivity and connection into international settings as well as closer-to-home settings such as Mendocino.
“Express Your Sparkle” is a yoga retreat designed exclusively for queer and trans-identified individuals at the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health. Jacoby Ballard, Susanna Barkataki, and David Kam lead the three-day retreat that includes lovingkindness practices, movement modalities, and explorations of queer identity through asana. The retreat leaders have also created Gender Expansive Dorms to provide “a housing experience with a sense of belonging and community for trans, nonbinary, and genderqueer/gender non-conforming guests, as well as LGBTQIA+ guests and allies.”
The Weekend Yoga Retreat for Large Bodies in upstate New York, designed by Michael Hayes of Brooklyn’s Buddha Body Yoga, is a welcoming space for those seeking closeness in a judgment-free zone. Hayes focuses on helping people of size develop confidence-building tools, increase their flexibility and strength while improving balance and range of motion. His approach to teaching prioritizes self-compassion and growth over physical ability or asana aptitude.
An increasing number of retreat options looking to build community among male yoga practitioners through movement, meditation, and mindfulness. Sonoma’s Roots to Wings Yoga offers a weekend yoga retreat that encourages men of all ages and walks of life to seek realignment and purpose through yoga, martial arts, and other movement modalities. Led by yoga and meditation teacher Michael Fong, the experience offers ample downtime and the opportunity to completely unplug from everyday reality amid oak trees and rustic cabins in the Valley of the Moon.
Julianne Aiello of Outdoor Yoga in San Francisco offers a Soulful Nature Camp Women’s Yoga Retreat in June and the Fall Nature Camp + Restore. Women’s Yoga Retreat in October. Both three-day journeys take place along the Yuba River in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California and create an environment where attendees can bask in “the presence of beautiful, curious, wise women,” engage in “liberating movement,” and “breathe and move intuitively, gracefully, powerfully.”
3. Domestic Yoga Retreats
The sad state of the economy makes international yoga retreats a less viable option for a lot of us. Fortunately, there are more domestic retreats than ever before. These less-expensive options in unpretentious destinations afford retreat-goers the chance to explore themselves as well as the country.
If you’ve never thought of Madison County, Iowa, as the “Tuscany of the Midwest,” yoga teacher Andrea Marcum makes a pretty convincing case for a rebrand. Marcum’s Close to hOMe retreat is a love letter to her mom’s home state. Asana sessions take place in the restored barn on Lone Oaks Farm with prairielands, locally sourced cooking, and quiet summer nights as backdrop.
Explore the philosophical side of yoga as well as California’s most majestic landscapes with Cronin on a three-day retreat among coastal foothills and redwood forests. The emphasis during the weekend retreat at The Land of The Medicine Buddha in Santa Cruz are the yamas and niyamas, which are teachings pertaining to how we engage with ourselves and others. Students can take part in vinyasa flows, yin sessions, hikes, meditations, and more.
Whether you’re obsessed with Yellowstone or simply want to take your practice into nature, Big Sky Yoga Retreats, founded by Margaret Burns Vap, may be your answer. Set in Montana, the getaways are designed to “help cowgirl yoginis live out their big sky dreams.” This isn’t a quick-fix escape from reality. Rather, Big Sky’s local retreats help you hone the tools necessary to improve how you show up to everyday life after the retreat. The emphasis is on overall well-being through restorative and Yin Yoga practices, horseback riding, hiking, wildlife watching, and creating art.
4. One-Day Yoga Retreats
Ideally, one would be able to spend weeks immersed in asana and yoga philosophy. Realistically, many of us can dedicate only a few hours at a time to our practice. Weekend yoga retreats have long been a more affordable alternative to week-long escapes, but one-day immersions are emerging as solutions for those constrained by time (and, perhaps, finances).
UK-based Briony Fisher of Breathe Bend Believe Yoga leads one-day retreats as well as hours-long options for those who want “more than just a yoga class but less than a weekend away.” Both day-long and “mini retreats” provide “powerful resets” that take place in the charming English village of Hassocks and include a dynamic yoga flow, guided hike, and two-course lunch. The day-long option, which clocks in at eight hours, is quite a steal at £99 (about $125 U.S.) and schedules time for relaxation or a nap (!) as well as intention setting and restorative yoga.
About Our Contributor
Michelle Konstantinovsky is a San Francisco-based independent journalist, writer, editor, and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alum. She’s written extensively on health, body image, entertainment, lifestyle, design, and tech for outlets including Vogue, Vanity Fair, Scientific American, Glamour, Shape, Self, WIRED, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, and many more. She has also served as the health and wellness editor at Fitbit, senior health writer at One Medical, and contributing editor at California Home + Design. She completed 200 hours of yoga teacher training in 2018 and is still trying to understand the physics of hand balancing. Follow her at @michellekmedia.