By Laura Heggs
Travelling is a time to step out of your comfort zone and explore new sights, cultures and create an experience that you can grow from and remember. With the rising global popularity of yoga, we no longer need to stress about packing a travel yoga mat – you can find a variety of yoga experiences abroad, ranging from all-inclusive retreats to drop-in classes. Design and experience your yoga trip abroad by exploring these unique destinations to connect with your practice and immerse yourself in another culture.
The South East Asian island of Sri Lanka is an incredible destination for biodiversity and yoga diversity. The island is easy to get around (by tuk tuk or train), and yoga is readily available in the mountainous towns of Kandy and the surfing and yoga hotspot on the Southern Coast, also popular with surfers. Supplement your practice with delicious morning moringa – a local traditional superfood – and egg hoppers, another delicacy.
From Columbo, head to Plantation Villa for a relaxing retreat with daily yoga and ayurvedic treatments. Travel onwards to Mirissa, where you can surf and practice yoga at Surf and Yoga Mirissa. Finally, head inward to Kandy, the cultural capital and check out Santani Yoga.
Gili Islands, Indonesia
Not to be overshadowed by the yoga-centric Bali, Gili Trawangan (known as “Gili T”), one of the three Gili islands, offers a variety of yoga experiences. With less footfalls than yoga hotspots like Ubud, Gili T is popular for snorkelling and diving – so lots to explore off the mat too! The islands are accessible by boat from Bali or Lombok.
The county of Cornwall in England is a popular destination for Brits to explore hundreds of sandy beaches, surfing, yoga and a cheeky Cornish pasty. The establishment of surfing culture has naturally allowed a yoga culture to bloom. After all, what surfers don’t need a post-wave catching stretch? They also have great Cornish ice-cream worth sampling!
From Newquay, take a class with a stellar view at Oceanflow Yoga. Try some watersports before taking a yoga class right on the beach with The Hoxton Special, then head South to Falmouth to try a SUP Yoga class with Falmouth Surf School.
Dharamsala is located at the base of the Dhauladar mountain range in Himachal Pradesh. The area is made up of a few key epicenters: Dharamsala, McLeod Ganj, Dharamkot and Bhagsu. One of the gems of Northern India, the city of Dharamsala is ironically where the least amount of visitors go. Approximately 5 kilometers up the road sits the primary tourist draw: McLeod Ganj, home to the Dalai Lama.
Dharamkot and Bhagsu are both smaller towns up the road from McLeod Ganj and great for yogis looking to get away from the hustle and bustle. Nature is dramatic and abundant here with walks, hikes and treks at every turn. Dharamsala caters to many needs and is an ideal place to practice yoga.
Stay and practice at Ram Yoga House before grabbing your hiking shoes and walking up to the Tushita Meditation Center for some peace and quiet. Then explore the winding paths to Bhagsu and take a class with Mahi Yoga.
Peru is an increasingly popular place for yogis to retreat and travel to. With options for adventurous hikes to the famous Macchu Picchu site, vegetarian cooking classes, stunning hikes in nature and adorable llamas, it’s truly a unique place to explore and experience yoga. Challenge yourself by taking a class in Spanish – you may surprise yourself!
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Located in the North part of the country, Chiang Mai is a cultural hub of Thailand boasting over 300 wats (Buddhist temples), stunning nature and the chance to see Asian elephants. When you aren’t practicing yoga or meditating, indulge in a traditional Thai massage, which, in many ways, is like a yoga practice in and of itself. And don’t forget to try Kao Soi, a tasty, local dish that will sustain you on your adventure.
Just off the coast of mainland Tanzania sits the stunning island of Zanzibar, birthplace to Fred Mercury and a unique escape to practice yoga. The island is renowned for its beautiful beaches and spices, and those white, sandy beaches make it an incredible place to practice and enjoy yoga as well. The island is a melting pot of cultures. Enjoy some local chai and a trip to the famous Stone Town market, where ‘zanzibar’ pizza is a must try!
Traveling allows us to experience new classes in new places, learning new perspectives and techniques. Sometimes the practice is just about staying open minded. Prepare to immerse yourself not just only in another culture and country, but a brand new yoga experience as well. What you ultimately bring back home will be more valuable than any souvenir you buy.