Yoga Abroad… To Retreat, or Not to Retreat?

Now that you’ve read my tips on booking flights and accommodations, you don’t need to feel restricted to the all inclusive yoga retreat packages you see advertised at your yoga studio because you’ll be able to find the best deals to book it all yourself in a more a la carte fashion.

A week retreat in Bali sounds amazing, but spending thousands of dollars to have someone organize your trip does not, nor does flying half way around the world to stick to someone else’s itinerary. I’ve been able to incorporate yoga into several of my trips for a fraction of the cost while maintaining the flexibility to tour around and enjoy other parts of the region. That being said, if you like the idea of having someone else plan everything for you, stop reading now and go book that retreat you saw advertised at your yoga studio. For the rest of you, continue on…

If you’re like me, you enjoy a good early evening yoga class after your daytime activities followed by a night out at the bar, or perhaps a morning practice to cure a hangover; so finding a class or two a day is plenty without having post meditation kale smoothies shoved down your throat all day (do people actually eat kale on vacation???)

Some of the most amazing yoga classes have been while on vacation. Don’t use travel as an excuse to take a vacation from your yoga practice, and don’t feel as though you need to go to a fully immersed yoga retreat and miss out on other opportunities while abroad.

Some of the places I’ve visited that I can personally recommend if you’re looking for a holiday with some yoga in it are:

Casa do Dharma in Paraty, Brazil. They have several classes a day and beautiful, quiet accommodations on site. They include a vegan breakfast and the entire experience is a peaceful break from the busy touristy streets of Paraty (but a very short walk to get into the tourist district)

Estudio Casa Del Sol, Montanita, Ecuador. If you’re keen to do a retreat, this would be my top recommendation. I opted to stay at the facility, taking advantage of the comfortable and simple accommodations, healthy breakfasts, beach access, and a couple yoga classes without fully committing to a retreat. I brokered my own surf lessons, meals in town, horseback riding to the jungle, etc. as I was looking to do things on my own schedule but if you want to explore this area, their retreats are a great value and include so much more than just yoga for the area. There is no better yogic teacher for living in the moment than Jackson the dog who stole my heart while I was there.

Ak’bol, San Pedro, Belize . When you imagine what a yoga retreat should be, you likely picture Ak’bol. Serene, simple, and nice accommodations on beautiful grounds, including a yoga platform under a thatched roof extending out on a dock into the ocean. Again, I didn’t sign up for a retreat but stayed in their accommodations and did a couple classes. If I’m being honest, I was more interested eating deep fried pickles while watching crocodiles swim around at the Lazy Croc BBQ restaurant (which is sadly no longer open) which is the joy of not signing up for the full retreat experience but just wanting to add a little Namaste to your day on vacation.
If you’re looking for a yoga retreat centre in Belize, definitely check out Ak;bol. However if you’re just wanting to do some classes and spend more time doing island activities, I would recommend the island of Caye Caulker over the busier, louder and larger San Pedro.

RandOM yoga, Caye Caulker, Belize remains one of my top choices for a yoga class while on vacation. This entire island has that live in the moment, laid back yoga vibe going on, and there is no better way to end a perfect island day with a sunset class on a rooftop.

Yoga Utila in Honduras gave me one of the best yoga classes of all time. The classes here alternated between a top deck overlooking the bay, or a lower dock a bit further down the street. On one amazing day after going out diving all day and having the fortunate luck to snorkel with a whale shark, and then a pod of dolphins, I opted to end my day with a sunset yoga class. While watching the sunset from my triangle pose, I was able to watch a pod of dolphins playing in the bay. That moment right there sums up all the feelings of why I love travel.

OM Cashew Hill Puerto Viejo Costa Rica: I actually visited this before it moved to the new location. I imagine the passion of the owners carried over into its new space so will recommend it here. And I hope they brought the chocolate shop with the incredible drinking chocolate that used to be located below their studio with them to the new location!

Bocas Yoga in Bocas del Toro, Panama is an indoor studio which isn’t typically my preference when visiting a tropical country. However the quality of instructor is superior and they helped me finally master wheel pose (which I actually can no longer do… perhaps time for a return visit?)

The Yoga Barn, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia had a beautiful, green setting. I was only able to make it to one class which was a bit crowded. They utilized tennis balls and partners which I found to be interesting and a little fun. The entire town of Ubud is the type of place you go to connect, and this yoga studio is no different. I would have liked to explore some of the other options but I can definitely recommend the Yoga Barn as a good spot to start if you find yourself in Ubud.

Lastly, there are these new higher end hostels popping up under the name Selina. I’ve stayed at a few in Costa Rica and Argentina and have been pleasantly surprised at the yoga offerings. If you’re backpacking around and planning to stay in a hostel, check out the Selina brand.

I’ve done so many other yoga classes while travelling, these are just my top recommendations. To find others, I suggest doing a quick Google search with the name of the place you’re going + yoga. Often these types of places have budget accommodations on site you can book into as with some of the above. There are also quite a few outdoor yoga classes listed on If you find yourself in a big city, the local Lululemon store will always have a free class each week with info on their website. Through these simple online searches, I have found myself in downward dog outdoors in Balboa Park in San Diego, watching the sunset from a beach in Hawaii, and many other random spots around the globe.