The great thing about yoga is that it’s a very mobile activity. You can drop down into a downward dog pretty much anywhere if you don’t mind the staring (or, in Justin Trudeau’s case, if you want to encourage the staring). While Instagram is full of human pretzels in airports and headstands on mountaintops, every yogi knows there’s nothing like getting your flow on surrounded by a dozen other beating hearts in a beautiful place. (Cool place + cool activity + cool people being the recipe for good travel.)
Here are the raddest places around the world to take a yoga class this summer:
As the birthplace of yoga, someone could write a whole book on amazing places to practice in India. (Actually, someone already has.) There are thousands upon thousands of options — from ashrams (isolated communities formed around a guru who follows Hindu philosophy), to fancy resorts, to Buddhist monasteries.
Here are a few of our favorites:
- Practice in the former royal palace of maharajah Tehri Garhwal, Ananda, which now features a full-service spa along with a view of the holy river Ganges and the Himalayas. Because what would be the point without both?
- If you’re the kind of person who’d like kurta pajamas laid out for you every evening to wear to your morning practice, book a room at the former residence of Lord Kitchener. It’s now the Oberoi resort which offers Hatha or Ashtanga yoga each sunrise — 8,250 feet above sea level.
- Make a pilgrimage to the heart and soul of Iyengar yoga: the BKS Iyengar Institute in Pune. A word of caution, if your yoga experience is summed up in the trailer for Yoga Hosers, cross this one off your list for now. You need at least eight years of Iyengar practice to take class at the Pune Institute.
- Govinda’s Indian Ashram is a Westerner friendly option for those who want to escape from their everyday stress. Bonus, at $15 a day, it’s also a budget friendly option to escape from your financial stress. The ashram is situated in Vrindavan — India’s most sacred place — and features luxurious grounds complete with mango trees, peacocks, and parrots, three things which also happen to have yoga poses named after them.
If you’re ready to eat-pray-love your way through Bali, The Yoga Barn is your first stop. Friday nights are spent sober and sweaty at the “Ecstatic Dance Party” and students choose from more than 100 classes as week. Expect to eat super healthy at Garden Kafe — Yoga Barn’s raw food restaurant which often hosts visiting musicians and speakers.
3. South Africa
For some serious peace and quiet, head a few hours north of Johannesburg to the Emoyeni Retreat Center, a Buddhist haven of tranquility which runs regular retreats – some of which are conducted in silence. With no TV or talking after dinner, and simple vegetarian meals, you’ll be able to hear your inner yogi breaking free…or, at least, breaking-in that mat you bought two years ago.
By now you’ve probably heard of Tulum, Mexico. It’s this year’s vacation destination of choice for all your friends who went to Costa Rica last year. A favorite among yoga devotees, the Maya Tulum offers everything you’d expect in a place that looks like a postcard: pristine white beaches, spa treatments, and healthy local food and fresh juices. The place is a popular choice for yoga retreats, and drop in classes are offered to the public twice a day. Make sure you book a beachfront cabana, because Tulum. Duh.
Butterfly pose is one even the novice yogi can appreciate, and it’s even better surrounded by 1,000 real live butterflies in Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum’s butterfly lab. The 2,700-square-foot conservatory also features koi ponds, waterfalls, and exotic plants. It’s kept humid, so hot yoga fans will be right at home.
6. New York City
Book your flight now and you can still make it to Times Square for the Summer Solstice on June 20. Each year, thousands of yogis make the trek for this free yoga class in Times Square to celebrate the northern hemisphere’s longest day of the year. Can you find peace and tranquility in one of the busiest places on Earth? Maybe not, but there’ll be a lot more to look at than the yoga-pant-clad butt in front of you if you get distracted.
Hippie paradise exists and it isn’t in the Indio desert. Rustic ranch Feathered Pipe blends yoga, chanting, crystals, and Native American rituals for a one-of-a-kind experience, sure to entice anyone with a feather tattoo. Your retreat will include lodging in a teppe or yurt, a week of classes and workshops, meals and use of all of the Ranch’s amenities, including a sauna, hot tub and bathhouse.
One of the country’s best concert venues becomes the ultimate place to practice with Yoga on the Rocks at Red Rocks Amphitheater. Admission is $12 and you’ll need to buy tickets ahead of time. Hop on this one quick, half of the June and August event dates are already sold out.
The picturesque Canal Om in Chile was founded by Gustavo Ponce, a widely acclaimed instructor who committed to yoga as a tool for healing when he was given six years to live… back in 2003. Whether or not you buy into his story, the resort’s five guests houses and seaside yoga spaces will make wellness feel within reach.
Want to do more than perfect your headstand? The Island Experience offers yoga, snorkeling, sea kayaking, and hiking along with a 7-day detox and de-stress program. This “adventure spa” also celebrates Brazilian nature and culture with jungle adventures and art exploration — because let’s be honest, if you just wanted to practice yoga, you could have gone to CorePower.