Discover the best yoga travel destinations to boost your mental health and well-being — WTTC Travel Hub
Lean into the stretch, breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. Deep breath in…and out. These familiar words can be heard in most yoga classes, worldwide. Breathwork and poses are the building blocks of this ancient form of exercise making it a fantastic way to improve flexibility, muscle strength, breathing, and, ultimately, health.
The UK NHS definition of yoga highlights its ability “to boost physical and mental wellbeing.” We know that travel can be good for your mental health, so why not consider an international yoga retreat to help you improve and maintain good mental health?
As the world prepares for International Day of yoga (on 21 June), here are a few destinations to consider for a mental health boost or yoga retreat once you are able to travel safely again.
This idyllic archipelago in Kenya’s Coast province offers culture, history, and a much-needed slower lifestyle. There are no cars on the islands, so you will need to walk to get everywhere. Lamu has a growing yoga culture with a number of places to take yoga classes. I have taken classes at Banana House which offers fantastic classes for all levels of yogi; they also host yoga retreats and an annual yoga festival. One of my favourite things here is that the studio is in an outdoor area where you can reconnect with nature as you reconnect with your body. After class, you can head to a nearby island for a sunset drink or an afternoon swim.
Choose to stay at one of the local guest houses or hotels, each offering unique rooms and often sea views. The islands offer some of the most beautiful places to stay, some in former palatial homes from centuries ago. Besides the slow lifestyle and the yoga, Lamu offers an incredible cultural escape — including delicious and varied food and architecture.
As part of the old Swahili Coast, a former trading hub, various cultures have converged to create one of the most enchanting places I have ever visited. Lamu is distinctly itself; it has a charm and appeal that cannot be replicated, and it invites you to simply slow down, be more mindful, and enjoy each moment. While in Lamu, make time to explore the Lamu Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and consider adding on a few days to go on safari or visit a wildlife conservancy rehabilitating wildlife.
Goa and Rishikesh, India
You cannot plan a yoga retreat without considering India. You have a plethora of ashrams and yoga courses to choose from so consider which destinations in India appeal to you the most while offering the yoga course you would like to take or an ashram that you feel will support your chosen yoga and meditation journey. Some of the top yoga destinations can be found in the state of Goa and the city of Rishikesh in Uttarakhand. Between the ancient yoga techniques and the imposing mountains, you are sure to find higher levels of inner peace.
Rishikesh is also the location of the International Yoga Festival where millions of yogis used to gather from across the world. While a festival like this may not be possible in the near future, Rishikesh is definitely a place to keep on your list of possible destinations to visit when it is safe to do so.
Bali and Bintan, Indonesia
Indonesia is another destination that attracts yogis from all over the world. While over 17,000 islands make up this gorgeous country, consider Bali and Bintan for your yoga holiday. You can combine a trip to Bintan, in the Riau Province, with a few days in Singapore as you will need to take a short ferry ride from Singapore to get to the Indonesian island. I loved practising yoga on the beach in Bintan, doing sun salutations as I listened to the South China Sea splash across the sand and I connected with the earth and the sea.
As for Bali, it is a yoga paradise. From its zen atmosphere to the many temples you can explore, it just has so much to offer holidaymakers and wellness advocates. If your muscles get sore, try a traditional Balinese massage; it includes stretches and aromatherapy extending the benefits of your yoga practice and giving an extra boost to your efforts to improve your mental health.
Yes, Spain. It is known for beautiful beaches, rich culture, tasty food, and architecture. But one of its lesser-known attractions is yoga. There are plenty of places for yoga retreats dotted across the country; from ashtanga yoga to stand-up paddle yoga. Palma, the capital of the Spanish island of Mallorca, offers great yoga studios and opportunities to enhance your yoga or start doing yoga. Try out a new practice of yoga or reinforce your knowledge of the yoga you already do at home. Some studios also offer pregnancy yoga and yoga for children allowing you to turn your retreat into something for the whole family.
Imagine waking up to the beautiful Mediterranean, spending your days doing yoga, and your evenings discovering why Spain is a foodie’s paradise. On the days you decide to explore, see classic Spanish architecture at monasteries, castles, and cathedrals. History buffs will enjoy La Seu, a cathedral in Palma, built in the Gothic style by the Aragon monarchy.
A holiday to improve your mental health is possible and well worth it; you can reconnect with nature and yourself. Whether you plan to travel solo, with family, or with friends, there is an ideal yoga retreat just for your needs.
While an international yoga retreat is ideal, for you and for the local economies that benefit from your trip, consider the progression of COVID-19 before you travel. Understand the number of cases, the transmission rate, and the travel requirements in your departure and arrival countries. If necessary, you may need to take the trip in the medium term which gives you even more time to plan the perfect trip for improved mental wellbeing.
Which is your favourite yoga retreat destination?
Written by Lethabo-Thabo Royds, Content Programme Co-Ordinator World Travel & Tourism Council
Originally published at https://travelhub.wttc.org on May 26, 2021.