8 exotic yoga spots that will blow your mind
Sometimes all you need to get in a sublime state of mind is a sublime setting. (This can happen after your 100 millionth chaturanga at your regular yoga studio, no matter how awesome it is.)
Picture yourself in a warrior's pose on a rock in the middle of Thailand's Andaman Sea, or opening your eyes after "breath of fire" to see a giraffe in the distant savanna watching you practice.
We spanned the globe for these eight far-flung and exotic spots to unroll a yoga mat. (Or to travel to in your mind, from your home studio.) Send us a postcard, please? —Amanda Benchley; additional reporting, Ann Abel
AndBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa
Model your tree pose after a native acacia, or channel the stillness of the sleeping lion in savasana, at this sophisticated safari lodge and animal sanctuary which hosts Jivamukti-style yoga retreats. After morning game drives spent looking for cheetahs, rhinos, and gazelles, you can practice postures over an open, grassy savanna. There's a chance you'll be able to strike a cobra pose after spying the real-life version, too. But hey, it's Africa!
Rates from $610 per person; www.andbeyond.com
Practice yoga in a gorgeous setting without leaving the city—at Pure Yoga's Upper East and Upper West Side studios. Click here to try a complimentary class!
One&Only Reethi Rah, Maldives
Tropical tranquility is the vibe at this secluded resort in the Maldives, where even the over-water yoga pavilion has serious chi. Complimentary yoga flows under its thatched roof daily, with the Indian Ocean on one side, and the white sandy cove of Sunrise Beach on the other. (The resort also offers mat- and Reformer Pilates, if that's more your speed.) When you're done working your body and mind, catch up on ZZZs in one of the resort's super stylish stilted bungalows while the ocean laps below.
Rates from $915; www.reethirah.oneandonlyresorts.com
Ananda-in-the-Himalayas, Uttarakhand, India
Where better to practice yoga than in its actual birthplace? High in the misty mountains of the Himalayas sits Ananda, a former maharaja's palace that's now an internationally-renowned, destination spa. Personalized yoga and meditation programs are held in an open-air temple that overlooks fields and forests believed to have magical, magnetic powers. Visiting masters lead sessions in everything from craniosacral work to Tibetan singing bowl massage, and the spa offers 80 different holistic health treatments.
Rates from $690–$960 for a 3-night stay, www.anandaspa.com
Galapagos Safari Camp, Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos Islands
It's hard to get farther away from civilization than the Galapagos, where only a handful of people live among the 19 islands. In December, this luxury tent camp—which sits on a farm perched high above the Pacific Ocean—is offering a Surf & Yoga retreat for karma-seeking campers, who want to get their Om on, catch some waves, and paddle out among the area's famed giant tortoises.
Surf & Yoga rates from $4,500 per person; www.galapagossafaricamp.com
Photo: Ann Abel for Well+Good
Phulay Bay, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, Krabi, Thailand
Slow Flow classes on the beach, under the moon, are only one of many yogic possibilities at this resort on the Andaman Sea, which is kind of the crown jewel of the Ritz-Carlton Reserve resorts. On nights when the moon isn’t a perfect, golden orb (as if!), find your inner light during the resort's signature "candlelight yoga" sessions set in a teak and bamboo studio scented with aromatherapy. There are also meditation sessions with Buddhist monks, and the chance to hold a pose on the limestone rocks, known as karsts, that seem to grow out of the sea.
Rates from $430 per night for 3-night stay in low season; www.ritzcarltonreserve.com
Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort, Thailand
These big, beautiful, soulful animals don't do yoga. But here at this Northern Thailand resort, easy-going elephants serve as both role models and transportation taking you through bamboo forests, along the Mekong River, to an outdoor yoga sala with views of Myanmar and Laos. They're part of a street-animal rescue program supported by Anantara and its guests.
Rates from $1,016 per night; www.goldentriangle.anantara.com
Uma by COMO, Ubud, Bali
High in the hills of Bali is soulful spot where, during retreats, you'll enjoy five hours of daily yoga practice in an open-air studio, perched above a valley of giant ferns and palm trees. When you're not down-dogging it, hike through rice paddies to a nearby volcano, be guided to the island's 20,000 Hindu temples and shrines, or relax with holistic healing sessions, Indonesian massages, and flower-filled baths.
Rates from about $300; www.comohotels.com
Peninsula Office Tower, The Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong
You'll gain a new perspective—in more ways than one—while bending and twisting atop Hong Kong's soaring Peninsula Hotel. (Not a guest? Pure Yoga's Hong Kong studios are in the same tower and offer equally awesome city views.) Take a break from the onslaught of exciting sights, smells, and sounds of this booming metropolis with a calming class among the clouds.
Peninsula Spa rates upon request; www.peninsula.com