standalone hotel room at the Four Seasons Maldives Landaa Giraavaru surrounded by a body of water

At COMO Parrot Cay, an island resort in the dreamy Turks & Caicos, I practice yoga at the Balinese-infused COMO Shambhala Retreat, a sanctuary with exotic treatment pavilions, including one dedicated for yoga practice. Though a slew of holistic rituals tempt, such as an Indonesian massage and Sundari Aryuvedic facials, what motivates me most to leave my pampering villa and take the tranquil walk to the spa arena is the promise of a transformative yoga practice. The resort, known for its wellness programs and barefoot luxury, brings a revolving coterie of acclaimed yoga teachers (and other fitness specialists) to the island each year. Having the chance to practice with someone not normally part of my milieu provides the pivot I seek when on vacation — particularly one with an endpoint goal of transformation. Not to be disappointed, during my visit I meet the most fascinating guest teacher. While not as famous as some of the celebrity-level teachers who have led retreats at Parrot Cay over the years, this guest yogi does something nobody else does in yoga class. She sings during savasana. Her throaty voice, as reedy as a mystical flute, summons something otherworldly, something meant to illuminate the interior landscapes, cleanse the soul, and send us all on our way as better, more grounded humans. It works. It seals my practice. I’d follow her around the world if I could.

A yoga fanatic since childhood, I’ve been lucky to weave yoga into any trip I take — whether to Switzerland, Bali, Uganda, or India. Wherever I go, there’s someone who teaches me something I didn’t know, who feeds me that morsel of truth I needed to consume, who shows me a miraculous place to practice, and who inspires me to breathe — and therefore live with gusto. You don’t have to go to an ashram to enjoy the benefits of yoga. A swanky resort will do just fine. Ready to unroll your mat? These resorts feature prodigious yoga programs as suitable for beginners as life-time practitioners. 

como parrot cay in turks and caicos
Courtesy of COMO Parrot Cay

More Yoga Programs We Love 

Fly through the air with the greatest of ease when you embrace trust and try aerial yoga. At Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort & Club, you’ll climb into your personal “silk” cocoon and shift into various poses meant to stretch and strengthen muscles. As the silk gently rocks, meditation becomes your natural state. For added pleasure and healing energy, yoga instructor Alex Durham (also a reiki therapist), incorporates singing bowl sound therapy into his aerial classes. Want to stay grounded? The resort offers a range of other modalities from Beach Yoga to Yin Yoga. 

Pink flamingos are more than lithe beauties. Some say they symbolize a graceful approach to life and can be a metaphor for balance and harmony. Discover their lessons naturally during Flamingo Yoga at Nassau’s Baha Mar, a spectacular resort in The Bahamas. A practice for all levels, Flamingo Yoga exemplifies several important tenets of yoga including the reminder that distraction is inevitable, that humor rules, and that nobody, not even ballerina-like flamingos, can claim perfection. Do your asanas next to your new pink friends who apparently love the feel of squishy yoga mats.

a lounge canopy surrounded by greenery at Rancho La Puerta in Tecate Mexico
Courtesy of Rancho La Puerta

Opened in 1940 as an experimental health camp to reanimate minds, bodies, and spirits, and integral in bringing fitness to the forefront, Rancho La Puerta has been changing lives and promoting healing lifestyles for decades. Just across the border from San Diego on 4,000 private acres amongst the mountains and meadows of Tecate, Mexico, this seminal spa retreat was an early advocate of organic eating, sustainability, exercise, mediation, and global ancient practices — including yoga. For years, the Ranch was home to pioneering yogi Indra Devi, a Hollywood actress who studied in India and brought her version of Hatha to the United States. Follow in her footsteps at the Ranch, which offers some 80 fitness classes a week, including a multiplicity of yoga practices for all levels. 

Begun in India thousands of years ago, Ayurveda, a holistic medical system dubbed “the Science of Life,” includes various balance-seeking pillars from herbal medicine to pranayama and yoga. Immerse in one of the world’s oldest healing systems at its source in the foothills of northern India’s Himalayas at Six Senses Vana in Dehradun. With full-board accommodations that cover yoga, meditation, meals — even attire — the resort trumpets a mindful, complete approach to yoga amongst design-centric architecture. Just launched, the Flow into Detox Retreat for all levels combines Kundalini- and Hatha-style yoga sessions — plus breathing, meditation, yogic cleansing, detox therapy, and dosha-based nutrition. 

two people doing yoga near a body of water at the Four Seasons Maldives Landaa Giraavaru
Courtesy of Four Seasons Maldives Landaa Giraavaru

On its own private island in the far-flung Maldives, part of a UNESCO Biosphere, amid a thousand shades of blue, Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru has bone-white sand, over-water bungalows, and Manta Rays aplenty. Still, its heartbeat happens at its spellbinding, energy-clearing AyurMa Ayurvedic spa. There, it offers Yoga Therapy, facilitated by the alumni of a yoga university in India. Conceived to address conditions of body balance via 3-5 day courses of one-on-one sessions with a yoga master, the program customizes practices with asanas specifically planned for the participant whether for stress management, addiction, spinal care, thyroid health, immunity building, or beyond. Follow up zoom calls, once the guest returns home, add to the value. 

Enchanted FORESTIS a five-star mountain retreat tucked into the craggy Dolomites, borrows its yoga program from the mystical Celts who once thrived in the region. Wyda Yoga, a Celtic movement modality looks to nature to help people ground and stabilize. Taking advantage of the verdant forests and unspoiled terrain in its midst, FORESTIS’ leaders embrace nature’s atmosphere and its clean fresh air in a practice that uses movements to bring harmony through deep breathing and long-held, yin-like yoga poses. In addition, guests learn about Wyda Yoga’s three energy fields, a system somewhat like chakras — called vital, emotional, and mental — and the importance of keeping them balanced for ultimate rejuvenation. 

mandapa, a ritz-carlton reserve in ubud bali indonesia
Courtesy of FORESTIS and Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve

Exuding exoticism as suggestive of bliss as a whisper, Bali reigns as a yoga hotbed. An exemplary place to head to a higher plane amid sundrenched gardens, evocative beaches, temples strewn with flowers, and emerald-green rice paddies, Bali thrusts guests into a transformative space. Be changed at Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, situated in Ubud, the island’s spiritual pulse point. Envisioned as a sanctuary for all aspects of renewal, the elegantly profound retreat adeptly creates tailor-made wellness programs for guests of all ages. Let yoga nudge you to wellbeing via the resort’s twice-daily yoga practices, overseen by a revered local swami. Experience his signature Pranavayu style of yoga — inspired by Hatha, Kundalini, Ashtanga, and Iyengar practices — held at Mandapa’s tranquil Yoga Pavilion, which overlooks the  Ayung River.

Featured image courtesy of Four Seasons Maldives Landaa Giraavaru

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