Originally from India, yoga has taken the world by storm – and with good reason! Not only does it tone your body, it’s also healing for the soul – what’s not to love?! What’s your experience with yoga? Do you envy your friends who’ve already perfected their crows, dogs and cobras? Or are you a real veteran feeling like taking the step towards becoming a yoga teacher? No matter how much yoga experience you have, our list of the coolest places to do yoga will have you grabbing your passport and your yoga mat to become the ultimate yoga guru!
What kind of list would this be if we didn’t start with the birthplace of yoga? Rishikesh is considered the yoga capital of the world and has undoubtedly brought life-changing, spiritual experiences to countless travellers. The city is located at the foot of the Himalayas, in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, on the banks of the Ganges. In the town, yoga is regarded as sacred, and spirituality and global harmony are respected on all levels. Because of this, almost all restaurants offer only vegetarian food.
The path to enlightenment – or at least an extra dose of mindfulness – is guaranteed here, because yoga schools, ashrams and meditation centres are abundant. You can immerse yourself in the many different types of yoga – for example Ashtanga, Hatha or Vinyasa – or even become a yoga teacher. Rishikesh also caters to adventurous travellers, because its location allows you to combine your spiritual experience with rafting, kayaking, bungee jumping, mountain biking or rock climbing.
Agonda Beach, Goa
Fancy paradise beaches, palm trees and yoga? Then head straight to Goa. Also located in India, Goa was a Portuguese colony for 450 years (up until 1961), creating a fascinating mix of east and west. Many travellers love Goa, as it offers a gentle entry into Indian culture. You can feel the Portuguese influences in the intricate architecture all over the region.
Goa is mostly known for its beautiful beaches and exotic flora and fauna, but since the 1960’s the booming hippie culture has turned it into a mecca for yogis of all levels and budgets. So, if you want to perfect your yoga skills amongst nature, Goa is THE place for you. Most schools are open during the peak season from October to May, especially in northern Goa. You can also find some of the best yoga teachers in the world here to help you on the path to enlightenment. And best of all, Goa is a dream come true for budget travellers, because you can find great hostels and yoga schools at bargain prices!
Puri Garden, Ubud @purigardenhotel
Bali is an island that belongs to Indonesia, another place that’s bursting with spirituality – that’s why it’s nicknamed ‘Island of the Gods’! Although yoga wasn’t traditionally part of Balinese culture, its ideologies around harmony and nature couldn’t be more in tune with the island’s zen vibe. Ubud feels particularly magical, even though tourism has been booming for years. Maybe it’s because of the many fascinating Hindu ceremonies that the locals celebrate here? Or the aromatic scents of the plants and incense sticks that cloud the atmosphere? Or the breathtaking natural surroundings of waterfalls, rice fields and volcanoes? Regardless, you and your yoga mat will find a home in Bali at the many yoga studios and schools, no matter how well you master your downward-facing dog. The Yoga Barn and Radiantly Alive in Ubud are just two super examples. Some hostels even offer yoga classes, such as Hide-Out Hostel in Canggu or Puri Garden in Ubud. Find out more about the best areas to stay in Bali here.
Sigiriya, Sri Lanka @lauramendez5
Thanks to its geographical and cultural proximity to India, yoga has also had a long-standing tradition in Sri Lanka. This idyllic island only really opened to tourism after the end of the civil war in 2009, which of course means that yoga retreats have only appeared in recent years. Travellers to Sri Lanka will be spoiled for choice with multi-day workshops, retreats and drop-in classes at various hostels, including Hangover Hostel Mirissa, Mister Hostel Mirissa and Boho Hostel. Most of the hostels are located on the south coast, where you can go surfing after your yoga class, so a six-pack body is virtually guaranteed!
In Sri Lanka, you should also try an Ayurveda treatment, which relaxes the body and mind to achieve complete harmony – the perfect complement to yoga. Total chill achieved!
Since the yoga buzz has spilled over from Asia to Europe, you can find stunning locations in Europe to practice, or even to complete your yoga teacher training. One of them is the Spanish island of Mallorca, where numerous retreats have popped up in recent years. With a relaxed atmosphere, the blue Mediterranean sea and a breathtaking landscape of olive groves, mountains and more, does it not sound like the perfect setting for an unforgettable yoga stay?
Increasing its coolness factor, you can also try a special kind of yoga here: stand up paddle yoga, which is prominent in the village of Sóller. If that’s too daring, Nirodha Yoga also offers courses on solid ground, where you can even take a free trial lesson. And if you’ve already perfected your Asana poses and now want to spread your knowledge to your yoga disciples, Vinyasa Flow or Earth Yoga are great schools to complete your yoga teacher training.
Another tropical paradise that‘s grown in popularity over recent years thanks to its stunning beaches and relaxed atmosphere is Tulúm. The town is located on the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico and has always been a place that magically draws in hippies and laid back travellers. Unlike other places on the Mexican Caribbean coast, great emphasis is placed on environmental awareness and sustainability.
Tulum’s relaxed vibes make it the perfect place to immerse yourself in the world of yoga. Probably the best hostel you can stay at as a yoga freak in Tulúm is The Beehive Experience, which offers Ashtanga, Hatha and other different forms of yoga on site. There are also yoga schools such as the Sanara Studio, which is located directly by the sea so you can feel the salt water in your hair and the sand on your skin! But if you already have enough experience and want to share your yoga wisdom, then visit Yoga Dicha, which offers teacher training.
Bonus point for Tulúm: you can combine your yoga stay with beach time as well as history and culture, because the city is close to numerous ancient Mayan ruins. This without a doubt makes Tulúm one of the coolest places to do yoga in the world!
London, United Kingdom
To become a true yogi, you no longer have to embark on a long journey to India or to other countries in South Asia. London is now a popular place for yoga disciples of all levels, as yoga studios and schools sprout up like mushrooms. Of course, the London Buddhist Centre is an ideal place to start – it offers yoga classes, mindfulness courses and retreats that’ll take your yoga skills to the next level. You can find a similarly good offer at Indaba Yoga in Marylebone, or the hip Yogarise studios in Peckham and Streatham. After winding down from your yoga class, you can discover one of the most exciting cities in Europe, and successfully tackle the London Underground!
Another place for your yoga bucket list: Morocco! This fascinating country in North Africa is a great place to pamper your body thanks to its spa culture and the many hammams, so a soothing yoga session is obviously the perfect accompaniment. You can do your daily downward-facing dog at many different yoga retreats and studios around the country, including Sally Goldfinger in Marrakech. Make your first stop yoga, then head off to the hammam. By the end of the day you’re guaranteed to feel completely rejuvenated! When in Marrakech, you should of course also explore the bustling medina, AKA the old town, with its many souks (markets), narrow streets and sweet cafés.
You’ll also find some great yoga spots on the Moroccan coast. This is also a sensational surfing spot – so you can put your trained sense of balance to the test on the surfboard. Why not stay at the Amayour Surf Hostel in Taghazout to round out your adventure?
Another one of the coolest places to do yoga in Europe for a relaxing ‘Namastay’ is Portugal, especially the Algarve in the south of the country. This area is popular with yogis thanks to its great Atlantic scenery and mild climate. The Algarve is also one of the top surfing spots in Europe – with its great waves, it’s the perfect place to try out the power duo that is yoga and surfing. The Bura Surfhouse in Lagos combines the great surfing culture with the relaxed atmosphere of the town, and on the Atlantic coast you’ll find laid-back gems like the Aktion Ericeira Surf Hostel. In Cascais, close to Lisbon is the Salty Pelican Hostel, where after your morning yoga session you can relax on the beach. Portugal is a wonderful place to unwind and train your mindfulness skills!
Kalani Hawaii Private Lodging, @themodestyoga
Spiritual sites, incredibly diverse nature, impressive volcanoes and a year-round pleasant climate – Hawaii is understandably one of our coolest places to do yoga. While Hawaii may not be the cheapest destination on this list, it’s definitely one of the most magical. For a long time, the Pacific tropics have been known for their mystical energy and have subsequently attracted generations of people who want to connect with their spirituality and harmonise with nature. More yoga retreats and studios are settling here, such as Sun Yoga Hawaii or Beach Sunset Yoga Hawaii in Honolulu. The breathtaking surroundings of Hawaii also provide a perfect backdrop to become a yoga teacher at schools like Maui Yoga. If you’re looking for a perfect place to stay, Kalani Hawaii Private Lodging conveniently includes a yoga studio!
Byron Bay, Australia
Byron Bay @samanthalreid
The coastal town of Byron Bay in New South Wales, a state in South Eastern Australia, has long been known to draw in creative types and is popular with hippies, surfers and now yogis of all kinds. Did you know that it’s home to one of the oldest yoga retreats in Australia? The Byron Yoga Centre was founded in 1988 and offers many different courses, lessons and teacher programs. There are also several hostels that provide you with a morning yoga session on site, such as Wake Up!, Nomads Byron Bay or the Arts Factory Lodge. No matter how experienced you are on the yoga mat, Byron Bay offers something for every level. Thanks to its hippie culture, the city is also considered a sanctuary for vegetarians and vegans and you’ll find meat-free restaurants on every corner. Finally, Byron Bay is – as the name implies – by the sea, so why not meditate by the beach or catch a wave or two? What are you waiting for? Off to Byron Bay – namasté!
What would this list be without the western epicentre of yoga, California? A staple on our list of the coolest places to do yoga, you’ll find hippies, gurus and yogis flocking to find the new craze in the world of yoga and well-being. Spread throughout the state are retreats and centres varying in style and setting, from the SpaFari retreat that’s hidden in Santa Barbara’s mountains, to Body Flows in Sonoma, located deep within wine country.
If you’re headed to the City of Angels, be sure to stay at a hostel that matches the city’s relaxed atmosphere. The Banana Bungalow Hollywood brings the beach to the city centre, providing chill out time from the hustle and bustle of the town. Be sure to join a class at one of LA’s many yoga studios. Who knows, you could be unrolling your yoga mat beside a Hollywood hotshot!
So, if you’re either a yoga novice or a spiritual master, hopefully this list will inspire your next enlightening getaway with a unique edge. Ride some waves, or see the sites, but make sure you find your zen – wherever that may be!
About the author:
Sarah Rainer likes to explore art galleries, foodie hotspots, and coffee shops during her travels. She captures these unique travel moments through her camera lens. Follow her on Instagram or read her blog.