For those who like to combine yoga and wellbeing practices with travel and adventure, there's nothing quite as great as discovering new destinations. Often, when looking to do so, we tend to focus primarily on exotic and tropical locations. But sometimes more conventional travel destinations are also home to some wonderful opportunities, not only for yoga retreats but for entertainment and wellbeing in general.
With that in mind, here's a look at some terrific yoga retreat destinations in popular European yoga vacation spots—specifically, Italy and the UK.
Revealing Vajra runs several retreats throughout Europe, though the Italian retreats are among the very best you can find. They invite participants to practice several different forms of yoga, including hatha, yin, kundalini, vinyasa flow, and stress relief, and as is often the case with yoga vacations there is also a heavy emphasis on nutritional, vegetarian diet.
But it isn't just the actual practice at the Revealing Vajra Italian retreat that got it ranked in Tourismlink.eu's top-ten yoga retreats in Europe last year. Rather, it's the venue and location. By participating in the Reveling Vajra retreat, you're setting yourself up for seven nights at a 17th-century Italian estate where the evenings—complete with picturesque sunsets and tasty beverages (as well as massage options)—are every bit as relaxing and spiritually soothing as the yoga itself.
Another retreat that takes place at restored 17th-century destinations, Kaliyoga is regarded very favourably, seemingly by everyone associated with it. The yoga program is fairly straightforward, with seven days of two-a-day yoga sessions. However, it's the additional recreation and relaxation that set Kaliyoga's program apart from so many similar offerings.
The program's website advertises that there's plenty of time to hang out at the pool or enjoy attention from holistic therapists, but Kaliyoga's truly unique recreational quality comes in the form of close proximity to charming towns, villages, and beaches. Visitors to Kaliyoga Italy are free to walk or bike to one of these villages, and the retreat occasionally involves group trips to the Adriatic Coast or the town of Ostuni. For many, these opportunities to get out and explore can greatly enhance the retreat experience.
For those looking for an experience that sets itself apart not only by location but by atmosphere and practice, Destination Yoga in Puglia in the south of Italy is a perfect option. In some ways, it has a great deal in common with other Italian retreats: rigorous yoga sessions, top-notch relaxation, an incredible climate and surrounding atmosphere, and healthy, organic food. But the actual mood at Destination Yoga is said to be quite different.
Specifically, a write-up in TheGuardian.com essentially asserted that Destination Yoga has none of the pretentiousness that sometimes pervades yoga retreats. The venue facilitates a great deal of independence due to its vast size, as well as the relaxing and appealing "trulli" (essentially picturesque little huts) that guests are given to use as apartments during retreats. Additionally, it is noted that food and wine are less bland than at other locations, and conversation among visitors tends to be ordinary, rather than solely focused on body and wellbeing practices.
Jivamukti Yoga London
Moving away from Italy, this is more of a venue than an actual retreat, but nevertheless bears mention as one of Europe's most interesting yoga destinations. In an article at ElephantJournal.com, a site "dedicated to the mindful life," it was mentioned among the very best of London's yoga offerings due to its range of classes and teachers offering different viewpoints.
The venue is particularly appealing because of its location as a beautiful, glass-windowed building in the heart of Notting Hill, which many would say is one of London's more quaint and relaxing (though famous and often crowded) neighborhoods. Taking a trip to practice yoga here allows you to relax and focus on your own personal retreat in a very appealing neighborhood while staying in close enough proximity to visit all of the stunning and spiritually awakening sights that make London a popular tourist destination. In fact, if you want to have some fun with this aspect, BritishAirways.com recently posted a conversation with actor Benedict Cumberbatch in which he shared some of his favorite parts of his hometown London. And sure enough, it includes advice on a few places to sightsee and walk about that seem just relaxing enough to fit in with a personal yoga and tourism retreat!
Yogascapes - Into The Mystic
The name alone is intriguing enough to inspire curiosity, but this is truly one of the most impressive, comprehensive, and unique regular yoga retreats out there, and another great option situated in the UK. Run by Abby Tucker, a teacher with a tremendous reputation, the retreat focuses on a wide range of yoga practices implemented over the course of an eight-day retreat and includes both beginner and expert levels. For those interested, there is a more athletic quality to some of the Into The Mystic activity, as opposed to many retreats at which yoga is kept intentionally light and relaxing.
But it's really the venue that makes Into The Mystic so appealing. Held in August, the retreat takes place in Scotland at Eco Yoga, which is described at its own website as being a home to natural hot springs, a spa dome, an underwater spa, and local organic foods. Additionally, it's said that the retreat employs some of the surrounding region's spiritual and mystic history in its practices.
So there you are! Of course there are many more destinations and retreats to choose from, but these are a few of the ones that make more conventional travel destinations like Italy and the UK well worth considering as you choose your next yoga vacation.
One more thing: Stay tuned. Yoga Travel Tree is full of surprises, and we may or may not enjoy dropping a few hints now and again. It might not be a bad idea to start preparing for a once in a lifetime retreat opportunity to...*cough* Italy...Where you may or may not be able to enjoy not only the fabulous lifestyle, food and architecture of this drop dead gorgeous little country...but perhaps a fabulous tour across some of it's famous cities via bicycle, in addition to some rockin yoga and other travel adventures!
John Dugans is a New York-based writer with a passion for all things travel and fitness. In his downtime, John enjoys sampling beers from all over the world and working on his jumpshot.
Feature Image Credit: KnitSirit