Yoga and travel: journeys that promote wellbeing and self-discovery

The importance of taking time out to recharge and reconnect for both our physical and mental wellbeing is hugely important. For many, yoga is the key and imparts a multitude of benefits to your physical and mental health. So, grab your mat and we’ll take you on a journey to some of the best destinations for a little ‘yin’ and ‘yang’.

An ancient tradition that was first practised some 5000 years ago in northern India, this archaic form of yoga was used by brahmins (priests belonging to the first caste of Indian society) as a way of connecting their body and souls in order to reach enlightenment. Jump forward about a couple of millennia, and the arrival of yoga in the western world takes place in the United States towards the end of the nineteenth century. Since then, the various denominations of Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Yin and Power have now become commonplace. From the vast choice of lessons to the increasingly fashionable outfits, yoga has traversed being a discipline of a few, to a new lifestyle practised by the masses. It was natural then that yoga and travel should eventually cross paths. Combine enchanted places, calming spirits and a wanderlust-like spiritual desire for self-discovery, and you’ve got a winning combo for even the newest yogis. Here we introduce you to some of the most serene spots that are perfect for practising your sun salutations.

Bali

A wellness destination sought by yoga professionals and novices alike; Bali offers a multitude of opportunities to practice. Here you can access the best holistic spas and eat some delicious plant-based food thanks to the growing number of stylish vegan restaurants. The prevalence of Hindu culture and religion creates an ideal atmosphere for a successful journey into self-discovery. These are some of the most recommended areas:

Ubud rice fields
Ubud rice fields

The centre of culture, art and dance, Ubud is known worldwide for its lush nature, including sacred forests, the Tegalalang terraced rice fields and for its many authentic temples. Spas, saunas and health-conscious restaurants flourish around every corner.

Popular with a younger crowd Canggu delivers wellness and detox by day, and clubs, parties and entertainment after sunset. A prime surf spot, Canggu also packed with quaint cafés, live music venues and postcard-perfect beaches.

If you’re looking for somewhere a little more sophisticated, “The Yak” (nicknamed by tourists) – is a concentration of chic venues, luxury resorts, spas and sophisticated bars, which attract those in search of pure relaxation.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is attracting more and more travellers, seeking-out the charm of this country that is kissed by the surrounding Caribbean and Pacific. Beauty can be found both on the coast and in its hinterland, which is composed mainly of green jungle and is home to an amazingly biodiverse ecosystem. To all of this. add its vast historical and cultural heritage and you can understand the dynamic pull of Costa Rica as a holiday destination. The capital San José is an interesting mélange in which Spanish architecture, a clear reminder of the colonial period, parades along with remains from the pre-Columbian era and modern buildings too. Here are some of Costa Rica’s hot spots:

Arenal Volcano
Arenal Volcano

Even before reaching the beach town of Playa Montezuma – a strip of white sand like talcum powder – you are swept up in an incredible energy that may well have you wanting to stretch into the perfect Warrior II pose. Playa Grande is another spot loved by surfers, paddleboard enthusiasts and hikers who, especially during the summer, venture into the paths inside the jungle to see more closely the natural abundance of this region.

Another village located on the Nicoya Peninsula, Santa Teresa, a small fishing town, has over the years become a top destination for various sports fanatics. Its beaches are perfect for starting the day with a sun salutation and, if you are feeling more adventurous, you can even practice your yoga poses on paddleboards – a challenge for the mind and body.

If you’re in search of real tranquillity away from (almost) all civilisation, then a visit to the Arenal Volcano National Park is a must. Surrounded by jungle, it offers spectacular views and is one of the best places to admire the flora and fauna of Costa Rica – including the colourful toucan!

USA

Yoga is practised worldwide, and its commonality is in some part, thanks to the US. The choice to embark on spiritual, meditative and wellness-style holidays is increasingly growing in popularity. Here are some the US top spots:

 Big Sur, Highway 1
Big Sur, Highway 1

The West Coast is the home of dreamers, perpetual tans and an outdoor lifestyle that is envied by many all over the world. With a high concentration of vegan and vegetarian restaurants, it is the ideal foodie destination for the health-conscious (with thanks likely to its high concentration of celeb residents). The culture of wellness and keeping fit is an integral part of daily life here.

The big cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego are ideal spots for Instagrammers who can’t wait to post their photos (often curled in the Cobra position) in front of the Golden Gate or the Hollywood sign. But for those looking for a slightly deeper connection to nature, we recommend instead, the panoramic peaks of Yosemite National Park, the dunes of Death Valley, the walkways in the Redwood National Forest and the beaches that wind along Highway 1.

Morocco

Morocco offers something for everyone, including sportsmen, yogis, romantics and, above all, foodies. Is there anything better than achieving an uplifting sense of ‘zen’ with the added benefit of a full and satisfied stomach? We think not. From the traditional hammams in even the smallest of towns to the luxury resort-style spas in the major cities, you’ll find a myriad of treatments on offer that will often utilise some of most delectable-smelling local aromatic oils to help relax. But if you feel like livening-up after a day of blissful retreat, how about wandering the souks for spices, or journeying out to the Sahara for some scorching heat, or to the snow-covered peaks of the Atlas Mountains? Here are a few of Morocco’s unmissable gems:

Sahara Desert
Sahara Desert

The magnificence of the art deco buildings in Casablanca is juxtaposed with the attractive Moorish architecture of mosques that provide this city with its unique skyline which overlooks the ocean. A walk along the beach before visiting Casablanca Cathedral and the Hassan II Mosque is an idyllic way to recharge yourself and soak-up any residual spiritual vibes.

Fez, the ancient capital of Morocco, is still considered the cultural centre of this country, which is demonstrated by its rich history, museums and ancient buildings that adorn the city. A tip before taking refuge in a Turkish bath or Ayurveda yoga session is to visit the Al-Attarine Madrasa (Koranic school), the craft museum (Dar Batha) and photograph the intricate blue mosaic of the Bab Bou Jeloud (blue gate of Fez).

Marrakech is a hugely popular destination thanks to its lush gardens, clash of Berber, Spanish, Arabic and Moorish cultural influences and above all its tastes and smells.  A walk through the fabrics and spices in the souks of Jemaa el-Fna, although less than tranquil, is as an authentic experience as it gets.