Yoga is all around us, every day, wherever we are in the world.
Whether it takes the form of self-practice on our own mat, or discovering a group of yogis at a shala nearby, yoga has become accessible almost everywhere. Yet, as yoga becomes such a mass-produced commodity in many parts of the world, it’s important to recognize organizations offering authentic and powerful yoga experiences.
In November of last year, I made a drastic change in my life. I quit my soulless corporate job in Manhattan to venture to India for a yoga certification. When I left home indefinitely, I pledged to stay true to my intention while traveling. Since then, I’ve globetrotted with my chacos, backpack and travel mat, seeking out communities to practice, connect, share and teach yoga.
Here’s a list of eight yoga centers I’ve had the joy of encountering on my travels around the earth.
I thoroughly respect these organizations and hope to share the magic I’ve gained from their existence with you.
1. Parmarth Niketan Ashram in Rishikesh, India.
For an extra special yoga trip, join the annual International Yoga Festival which runs the first week of March. I had the honor of attending classes from the masters of their particular schools of yoga, while participating in life-changing, inspirational satsungs from spiritual leaders and gurus. Rishikesh is home to an absurd amount of yoga schools per block, vibrantly alive with traditional hatha teachers, spiritual seekers and healers from every corner of the globe. At night, cafes fill with yogis singing beautiful Kirtan (call and response song).
2. H2O Yoga in Gili Air, Lombok, Indonesia.
Yogis can head to Gili Air for a true island get away. With some of the most awe-inspiring turquoise beaches and a strict no-motor policy on the island, the white-sanded beaches are void of the sounds of engines and horns. H2O Yoga runs yoga classes twice daily, and offers incredibly affordable accommodation options (as low as $15). Yogis interested in retreats can check the website for week-long programs.
3. Tibet World in Dharamsala, India.
Tibet World classes are for students seeking a divine energy presence. At Tibet World, students practice donation-based yoga in front of a shrine of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, right in his city of residence. For yogis considering volunteer work, the organization invites English speakers to participate in their bi-daily conversational English classes with Tibetan refuges. Traveling yoga teachers also have the opportunity to volunteer teaching yoga if there is a need. All proceeds go directly to benefit Tibetan refugees in Dharamsala.
4. Radiantly Alive in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Radiantly Alive is Ubud’s lesser known studio in light of the more touristy (yet still fabulous) “Yoga Barn.” Radiantly Alive has some of the best dynamic flow classes I’ve ever taken. Classes get packed, filling the room with such a high vibration that will wake any sleepy soul right up. After class, yogis head down the street for a coconut and bicycle through the rice paddies, and call it a day.
5. Prakash Yoga, Udaipur, Rajasthan, India.
For a traditional Indian, one-in-a-lifetime hatha yoga experience, venture to Prakash yoga in the romantic city of Udaipur, “The city of lakes.” It’s impossible not to fall in love with Prakash, although as with all older Indian masters, he’s not afraid to push you into poses. Prakash ends every single class with a laughing yoga session that will turn any grump into a believer.
6. Nautilus in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica.
The expat community in Costa Rica is full of hard-core surfers and yogis from every corner of the world. In Santa Teresa, you’ll find yourself at home at Nautilus yoga studio, which boasts a delicious organic, vegetarian café attached to a boutique hotel. The studio offers vinyasa, restorative and energetic Kundalini classes. Santa Teresa is a safe beach town perfect for family and couples travel.
7. Kranti Yoga at Patnem Beach, South Goa, India.
For many, thinking of India rarely conjures up the image of a picture-perfect beach. Time to think again, yogis. For off-the-beaten path travelers, Patnem beach is home to the welcoming Kranti Yoga studio. Packages include week-long yoga retreats and full-on yoga teacher training courses (200, 300 or 500 hours). The staff will warm you right up to India, while the food will make you consider staying long-term in the quaint little bungalows built directly on the sand.
8. Palmar Tent Lodge in Bocas del Toro, Panama.
On my latest adventure, I’ve had the pleasure of teaching yoga and meditation at a beachfront eco-lodge on a remote Central American island. Run by two down-to-earth childhood best friends from D.C., Palmar is always full of good vibes, funky music and welcoming people. The yoga shala is set amidst the green jungle leading up to the waves which crash on the white sand. The soundtrack of nature is so perfect that even an incredible yoga playlist seems to be a distraction.
From parents traveling with kids, to honeymooners and off-the-beaten path backpackers, there are yoga centers galore for every type of traveling yogi. If you’re like me, you might consider long-term traveling in order to test more of them out and uncover gems from around the world.
Regardless, we’re in such a fortunate position to benefit from yoga’s international influence reaching even the most remote corners of the earth, first through mind and body, and most significantly in spirit.
Author: Shoshanna Delventhal
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock; Catherine Monkman