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It’s easy to understand why yoga is so popular in America. Yoga not only increases flexibility but also contributes to an individual’s spiritual well-being. With more than 20 million Americans practicing across the country, there’s an enormous collection of programs featuring a spectrum of yoga styles, from studios and gyms to universities and medical centers. While living in today’s world can often be stressful, if not overwhelming, a visit to a yoga retreat can sharply improve one’s overall fitness and revitalize the body and mind. The following are five of the best yoga retreats in the U.S.
12-6860 Kalapana-Kapoho Beach Road
Pahoa, HI 96778
With spectacular ocean views, world-class workshops, excellent cuisine and a wealth of activities, Kalani is among the world’s finest non-profit retreat centers. Located near the eastern tip of the Big Island of Hawaii, Kalani is also Hawaii’s largest retreat center, encompassing 120 acres of captivating island paradise. Twelve different styles of yoga are presented several times a week, including Hatha, Vinyasa, Kundalini and Ashtanga. Overnight accommodations range from lodge rooms with private or shared bath to screened bungalows and cottages. Other amenities include a 25-meter lap pool, a heated saltwater pool, spa services and dining served three times a day at The Lanai. Kalena Beach, considered one of the world’s top secluded beaches, is just minutes away.
150 Lake Drive
Rhinebeck, NY 12572
Founded in 1977, the non-profit Omega Institute is one world’s largest and most acclaimed centers for wellness and personal growth. Located a few hours north of New York City, the Omega Institute’s diverse program offers more than 350 workshops, educational programs, retreats and conferences, drawing an estimated 23,000 people annually. Among the workshops are yoga teacher training in a number of styles, such as Pranotthan, Restorative and Jivamukti. The Omega Institute will host its third annual Yoga Service Conference May 16-18, drawing respected experts in the field to inspire and teach people in underserved communities. The Omega Institute also offers a dining hall serving vegetarian meals threes times daily and an array of overnight accommodations, including camping, tent cabins, dorms and cabins.
55000 California Highway 1
Big Sur, CA 93920
About an hour’s drive south of Monterey, Esalen is a world-renowned spiritual retreat hosting a diverse collection of wellness programs. Resting upon a 120-acre promontory with dramatic views of the Big Sur coastline, the institute also offers a variety of accommodations, such as camping, bunk beds, beautifully appointed rooms, private suites and all-inclusive packages. Other amenities include a stunning cliffside hot springs, spa services and fresh produce served in the Lodge from Esalen’s five-acre farm and garden. Weekend, five-day and seven-day yoga workshops are available from among the institute’s 600 programs offered each year.
Shambhala Mountain Center
151 Shambhala Way
Red Feather Lakes, CO 80545
Shambala is a 600-acre mountain valley retreat offering an impressive collection of programs with a special emphasis on Tibetan Buddhist culture. Nestled within the sprawling Roosevelt National Forest, the center hosts more than 100 programs year round, with several blending methods of spiritual awareness and yoga. Lodging at Shambhala is quite affordable in comparison to other leading yoga retreats, with some accommodations priced below $100. Visitors to Shambhala Mountain Center are invited to visit the Great Stupa, a towering structure built as a memorial to the center’s founder, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. It serves as a tranquil place of Buddhist worship. Shambhala Mountain Center is located 42 miles northwest of Fort Collins and about a two hours driving from Denver.
White Lotus Foundation
2500 San Marcos Pass Road
Santa Barbara, CA 93105
The White Lotus Foundation is a prominent non-profit yoga center founded by Ganga White, known as one of the “architects of American yoga.” Perched in the hills above Santa Barbara with glorious views of the Pacific Ocean, the center offers a complete yoga teacher training course four times a year, continuing education for instructors and other specialized wellness programs. The center offers indoor accommodations, yurts or campsites for the 16-day yoga teacher training course in addition to weekend yoga retreats. Ganga White, one of the most acclaimed Western yoga teachers, and his wife Tracey Rich, the director of the White Lotus Foundation, collectively have more than 80 years of experience as elite yoga instructors.
Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on Examiner.com Examiner.com.