11 Holistic Off-the-Grid Retreats
May 26, 2016
Yoga, meditation, and health getaways that will help you find your center…away from the city centers.
1. Aqua Wellness Resort — Granada, Nicaragua
A two-hour drive from Granada, in the village of Gigante, 24 sustainably built treehouses with plunge pools and outdoor showers await guests. Classes are held on a huge beachfront platform. Every stay includes one wellness class (meditation, yoga, or a raw foods consultation). Throughout the year, visiting yoga gurus lead retreats.
Join us there on our Nicaragua Yoga Retreat: A Week-long Yoga & Surf Adventure this July 17–23, 2016.
2. Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, a Zen Retreat Center in the Big Sur Mountains — Carmel Valley, Calif.
At first you might regret your decision to drive to the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, tucked deep into the Santa Lucia Mountains east of Big Sur. The dirt road from Carmel Valley is only 14 miles, but it climbs and falls, bumps and winds enough to make the trip last at least one harrowing hour. Luckily, the minute I walked across the wooden bridge and set foot on the property, my drive-induced anxiety trickled away like the creek beneath my feet.
In 1967, Tassajara (already a storied hot springs resort) became the first Zen monastery outside Japan. Run by the San Francisco Zen Center, the monastery is open to the public from May through September and closed the rest of the year for monastic study. I just came for the day and enjoyed a delicious vegetarian lunch (the center has put out several acclaimed cookbooks) and a dip in the Japanese hot springs. For my next visit, though, I’ll stay overnight in a lantern-lit cabin to experience true silence. Oh, and I’ll take Tassajara’s shuttle.
3. Fivelements Puri Ahimsa — Bali, Indonesia
It took three years to realize this passion project: a spa retreat built mainly of bamboo. Book a riverfront suite, or the hotel can arrange a stay in a rural family’s home.
4. Anamaya Yoga Retreat and Hotel — Puntarenas, Costa Rica
The yoga deck at Anamaya is an ideal setting for dropping your bags, winding down and draining city life cares away. At dawn, the silent darkness unveils itself to the sounds of howler monkeys, birds and chirping insects waking with the sun. The deck is only one part of the estate. Complete with a communal dining room and separate, open air cabinans for guests, Anamaya stays true to their original intent of a serene and comfortable yoga retreat villa. Their friendly staff makes every effort to ease one into that coveted feeling of a home away from home. This spot should definitely not be missed and, if you have the time… stay awhile.
5. Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute — Rama, India“What better way to understand yoga than to travel to its birthplace?” says Katie Christ. Two years ago, the food stylist put her life in San Francisco on hold to spend two months studying at the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI) in Pune, India. “It was the biggest luxury I have ever allowed myself.”
Katie had been practicing Iyengar yoga, a style of hatha yoga that focuses on alignment and uses props like blocks and belts, for more than 10 years when she decided she wanted to study in India. She applied to RIMYI, where the venerable B.K.S. Iyengar (above), the founder of Iyengar yoga, occasionally teaches with his son and daughter. “It’s not for the faint of heart,” says Katie. “There’s no music. No incense.” RIMYI requires each applicant to have eight years of Iyengar experience plus a letter of recommendation from his or her yoga teacher. Acceptance can take up to two years.