Your Guide to UK’s Best Yoga Destinations
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Forget museums, tweed and fish and chips! While these are all nice things to experience on the first trip to the UK, maybe, this great country is about so much more than these tourist staples. The unique geography of the lands which comprise it, for example, make most sites exceptionally suitable to mindfulness and meditation.
Furthermore, the sheer beauty of folk beliefs and ethnic diversity in the kingdom have also contributed to the aura of fairytale land. Who hasn’t dreamed about the green cliffs of Cornwall, the impressive ruins and castles in Glastonbury, the legends about fairies, or King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table? When you actually visit the wilderness of Britain or some of its historical sites, you suddenly understand how magical the land is, and why both Harry Potter and the Lords of the Rings series were imagined, created and (partially) filmed here.
All this beauty and peacefulness make the UK an ideal yoga destination. Coupled with the fact that lots of locals are avid yogis themselves, this means there are plenty of opportunities to practice yoga in the UK. Whether you live in the UK yourself, or just fancy a visit, a yoga retreat in the UK will surely be a beautiful experience.
The UK at a Glance
Since the United Kingdom reunites multiple lands and peoples under one roof, there are many things to see here. Frankly, I always loved it there and returned a couple of times to visit more of it, so, personally, I never felt like I could get my fill of UK in only one trip, even if it’s a long-ish one. I saw many things, but there are still plenty more to explore. Also, while I love spending a day or two in one of the big cities, it’s always the more remote areas that get me hooked.
Some of the places I love most in the UK are Glastonbury, the Warwick Castle and the villages around it, the Stonehenge area (one of the most important sites of Celtic ancestry), the Lakes area in Scotland and the green hills of South-Western Ireland. But there are also plenty of others worth visiting and enjoying, such as the Kent and Cornwall counties, the beautiful city of Edinburgh, the while hills of Dover and many more.
While you’re in the UK, my personal recommendation is to make sure you don’t miss the chance to try some of the traditional dishes. While British cuisine is not necessarily the most glamorous of Europe, I think it deserves more attention. The heartiness and earthy flavors of British pies and pasties alone should make you stop for second helpings. Not to mention the spiciness of curries and all the beautiful fusion experiments taking place in urban restaurants.
UK and Yoga
Because of its prolonged contact with far eastern peoples and cultures in its colonial era, Britain has had the unique privilege to interact with Buddhism and yoga rather early, compared to the other European countries. This means yoga and mindfulness principles have had a long time to grow roots and become popular here. You shouldn’t be surprised by how wide-spread yoga is within the UK, or by the impressive number of classes you can find locally while visiting a large city.
This openness to yoga attracts great teachers, so every yoga retreat in the UK that you might join is bound to be a great experience. Here are the best destinations for a yoga holiday in the United Kingdom.
Top Destinations for Yoga retreats in the UK
Besides the amazing arts festival taking place in Glastonbury every summer, there are many other things to visit and enjoy in this historical place. The ruins of the Glastonbury Tor and the Glastonbury Abbey may seem like something straight out of a King Arthur legend, and you’d be right to think so. The ruined monastery is actually the mythical spot where legends say the king is buried, even if no one actually knows whether he was a real person, let alone where he’s buried.
What is certain, however, is that the entire area is rich in amazingly preserved 7th-century buildings, ruins, and relics, including an impressive collection of Iron Age objects and tools in the village museum. A day of visiting and exploring the famed Glastonbury countryside will make you feel like you’re one of the Celtic tribespeople yourself. That should also make you more inclined to enjoy your meditation sessions or your healthy food in the yoga retreat you’ve chosen, of course.
Kent is another charming destination in the UK, especially for yoga. The amazing landscapes (and beautiful castles to visit all around the vicinity) can truly put you in the mind for an enhanced yoga practice. The fresh air and beautiful scenery should be enough to make for a perfect yoga retreat, but of course, you shouldn’t neglect all the interesting things to visit nearby.
If old abbeys and castles aren’t your thing (though they are positively Disney-level dreamy), then head over to Dreamland Margate. It’s a haven of vintage amusement parks and arcade games artifacts, complete with pinball machines and a bijou cinema hall. Are you fascinated by the Viking incursions on English shores? Then Pegwell Bay should also be pinned on your Kent travel agenda. It features a wonderful nature reserve, a museum, and a perfect replica of a longboat used by everyone’s favorite invaders from Scandinavia.
Say hello to the land of the so-called British Riviera! Devon is a county featuring picturesque beaches, fossil grounds and museums, surf spots and beautiful cliff towns, all along its breathtaking coastline. More castles, abbey, and Gothic-style monuments are ready to be visited here, along with the fascinating Jurassic coast for those of you interested in fossils and natural history.
The weather in this Southern part of the UK is gentle, just ideal for a sunny yoga retreat on the shore. You’ll probably be able to enjoy one of the best times of your life here if you choose to meditate while listening to the wind and sound of water.
Are you attracted to the ruggedness and wild beauty of Scotland, even if you’ve only admired it from movies so far? If the answer is yes, then we are like-minded, and allow me to tell you that the Scottish Highlands are, in reality, every bit as gorgeous as you’ve imagined. No deception or disappointment here: Scotland is probably home to the most beautiful scenery in the world, in my opinion.
A yoga retreat in the mountains of Scotland is probably what I’d choose if I could only pick one UK yoga destination. But don’t listen to me; just take a look at these pictures above and judge for yourself whether a visit is worth your time. If you’re looking for more than yoga while there, you should know that bike tours are also popular on mountain trails through the Scottish wilderness. Also, please don’t even think about leaving Scotland without a visit to Edinburgh first.
Any visit to the UK can’t be complete without London, especially if you haven’t spent too much time there already. As one of the most eclectic European capitals, London can have a little bit of everything for you: from art quarters to amazing fusion street food, charming pubs, high and low fashion hubs, the cult dwellings of characters from the Harry Potter or James Bond universes, as well as the iconic experiences of riding a double-decker bus or watching the change of guard at Buckingham Palace. I, for one, confess that I can’t resist visiting the Harry Potter studios every time I happen by.
But London, as the capital of a complex country, is also one of the most interesting places to visit for a yoga practitioner. There are so many yoga studios and classes to attend, that you’ll feel you are finally, part of the tribe you were meant to find. Famous international yoga teachers and experts also make frequent appearances, so keep an eye out for conferences and some of the London yoga retreats.
Looking for shorter vacations? Browse our selection of handpicked weekend yoga breaks in the UK and find the perfect choice for you!