For years, I led a hectic London life, working hard and playing hard in equal measure. I crammed a plethora of activities into my busy days but somehow forgot the most important one: self-care. As a result, in 2011 I suffered a debilitating burnout. Although I had only been to an occasional yoga class, I thought it might be good to try as part of my recovery. So I traveled to the beaches of Thailand to immerse myself in yoga as a form of rejuvenation. Since then, yoga has become an integral part of my life, even leading me to earn my 200-hour teaching certification. I now go on yearly retreats to help keep me in balance and replenish my energy reserves for whatever life has in store. Here are the ones I recommend for 2018.
1. Radiant Sol, Mexico
Curate your own schedule during this week of yoga, which will take place at Haramara Retreat Center, nestled between the Sierra Madre and the Pacific Ocean on the west coast of Mexico. There are only two yoga classes a day (one dynamic in the morning and one relaxing in the afternoon), leaving plenty of time to take cooking classes, visit the onsite sweat lodge, or even enjoy a nice post-yoga massage at the spa. With a bar, restaurant, and infinity pool at the resort, and the seaside town of Sayulita just 10 minutes away, it’s an ideal place to combine yoga and a holiday—whether you’re visiting with a partner or friends or flying solo.
2. Swara Yoga, Spain
Modern life is fast enough—your yoga practice doesn’t have to be. This three-day women’s health retreat at a boutique guesthouse on the Spanish island of Mallorca focuses on the soothing effects of Yin Yoga, a slow style of yoga that focuses on holding poses longer than in a typical vinyasa class. Alongside daily yoga and meditation classes, the retreat draws on Ayurveda, Chinese medicine, and macrobiotic theory, with seminars on healthy eating and how to use food to keep in tune with your natural cycles.
3. Flow and Restore Yoga, Greece
April 29-May 6
Vienna-based yoga teacher Sarah Scharf runs this week-long yoga holiday, which takes place in a stunning private villa on the Greek island of Crete. The retreat focuses on bringing balance and harmony into your daily life. Mornings start with a flowing vinyasa yoga session, leaving you with the day to yourself. Visit the ancient ruins of Knossos, hike in the surrounding White Mountains, or relax on the beach. The group reconvenes in the evening for a restorative yoga and meditation class, setting everyone up for a rejuvenating night’s sleep.
4. Shiny, Happy, Healthy, Thailand
Nature lovers, rejoice! This retreat, on the tropical Thai island of Koh Pha-Ngan, combines deep yoga practice with fun in the jungle. Run by journalist and yoga teacher Megan Flamer (who started exploring meditation and yoga to counteract working in frantic newsrooms), the retreat includes vinyasa flow classes, breathwork, and chanting, alongside plenty of free time for ocean swims and strolls in the coconut groves. The host venue, The Sanctuary Thailand Spa Resort, has holistic therapies and spa services. A big bonus is that this retreat caters to a variety of budgets, with accommodation options ranging from simple bungalows to luxury suites.
5. School of Sacred Arts, Bali
September 30-October 27
For a more immersive experience, this month-long Yoga Teacher Training held at the world-famous Yoga Barn in Ubud, Bali, is one of the best. Anyone who wants to deepen their yoga practice and take time out for self-reflection is welcome—not just those who want to learn how to teach. Alongside dynamic and restorative vinyasa classes, workshops on yoga philosophy, breathwork, and nutrition are on offer, as well as daily meditation. Food lovers are particularly well catered to at the onsite Kafe restaurant; a dizzying array of delicious vegan, vegetarian, raw, ayurvedic, and macrobiotic dishes are on the menu.