Though yoga is said to have dated back as far as pre-Vedic Indian traditions, this ancient practice is slowly rising in popularity again in recent years, with many aspiring yogis and yoginis discovering the benefits of consistent yoga practice. A search on Google trends has shown that interest in yoga has gone up over time, with interest peaking early this year.
That said, more and more people are scouring the Internet looking for the perfect yoga vacation – combining a holiday in a faraway destination with the peaceful practice of yoga. Beginners and advanced practitioners alike are in search of that sweet spot that would enhance their practice as well as satisfy their need for adventure.
BookYogaRetreats.com has compiled the year’s top yoga destinations and while some destinations are the usual suspects, a few came as a pleasant surprise to us.
India tops the list of popular yoga destinations for 2014 and this is not surprising. It is, after all, the birthplace of yoga. Year after year, yogis from across the world flock to India aiming to deepen their practice and seek peace and enlightenment. Yoga is so important to India that the country has appointed a yoga minister – Shripad Yesso Naik – who has plans to expand the practice into civic life. Its historical importance is not the only reason why yogis choose India for a yoga retreat. Spanning over 3.28 million square meters, India is home to the Himalayas – the world’s tallest mountain system. It is also home to spectacular beaches, majestic deserts and diversified cultures. This, and so much more, makes India a top choice for a yoga vacation!
Bali & Indonesia
Indonesia is a well-known tourist haven among travellers, and the island of Bali tops the list as a favourite yoga destination there. With its beautiful beaches and postcard-worthy sceneries, Bali has captured the hearts of many for decades. The Indonesian island is located between Java and Lombok. More than 90 percent of its population practice Balinese Hinduism, making Bali the home to the majority of Indonesia’s Hindu population. Yoga is a very popular practice in Bali among its locals as well as travellers. Over the years, many yoga centers have popped up on the Island allowing practitioners to practice amidst serene paddy fields or to the sounds of the waves crashing in from the ocean. The beauty of this part of the world does not end in Bali, as the Island is one among an array of exotic islands in Indonesia. Indonesia also lies within the Coral Triangle, boasting the greatest diversity of coral reef fish in the word.
Koh Phangan, Thailand
Another one of Asia’s jewels is Thailand – a destination so rich in culture and tradition as well as magnificent landscapes. Coming in at number three in 2014’s most popular yoga destinations, the Land of Smiles is known for its tropical climate, incredible islands (remember Maya Bay in Leonardo DiCaprio’s 2000 adventure film The Beach?) and friendly people. Retreats in this part of the world are reasonably priced too!
North San Juan, California
Stepping away from Asia, California comes in at number four on the list of popular retreat destinations. California, also known as the Golden State, is the 3rd largest state in the US. It boasts a myriad of attractive yoga retreats that are sure to whet the appetite of yogis everywhere. Fun fact: One of US’ youngest yoga teachers, 13-year-old Jaysea DeVoe teaches yoga in California and has become somewhat of a celebrity among the yoga community there.
Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica
Sun, fun, beaches, and now, yoga! Costa Rica is living up to its name as a popular relaxation getaway. More and more yogis and yoginis now turn to this Central American country to move away from the hustle and bustle of city life and just relax and meditate to majestic sunrises and sunsets. Costa Rica is heaven for nature lovers; with over 25 percent of its land area designated as protected national parks and protected areas. Its phenomenal waves also makes Costa Rica a popular spot for surf and yoga retreats.
Can Amonita, Ibiza, Spain
Ibiza & Spain
Spain makes it to number six on this list, as its popular party island, Ibiza becomes increasingly known as a top choice for yoga retreats. Ibiza, known for its buzzing nightlife, is now also a popular destination for those wanting to practice their asanas overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Ibiza is the third largest Balearic Island, with large portions of its area registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ibiza has a mystical side to it as well. Es Vedra, an isle off the coast of Ibiza is said to be where Ulysses encountered the sirens in Homer’s epic Odyssey. There’s much to do and see as well in Spain with an array of cities worth visiting. From the vibrant cities of Madrid and Barcelona, to the Andalusian cities of Seville and Granada where Islamic architecture are aplenty, there’s definitely something for everyone in Spain!
Italy, Greece, Hawaii and Morocco
Trailing behind these exotic destinations are Italy, Greece, Hawaii and Morocco, all known for their rich history, scenic landscapes and mesmerizing beaches. Their popularity as vacation sites have made them top picks for those wanting a rejuvenating yoga retreat!