Yoga retreats and meditation camps have become a popular way to get away for busy people looking for a vacation that not only physically removes them from the stressed of work and everyday life, but also provides spiritual and mental calm through teaching and practice of these ancient arts. This list includes the top seven sanctuaries for the serenity-seeker.
• Ananda in the Himalayas, India
In the foothills of the Himalayas is a one hundred acre estate that once belonged to a Maharajah. Surrounded by mountains and overlooking the Ganges River, the Ananda facility houses a 21,000 square foot spa, pavilions for yoga and meditation, gardens and a tea room/billiards hall in what was once the palace. This famous sanctuary offers one-on-one guided meditation that are completely tailored to the guest’s needs. The upscale accommodations attract a trendy, luxury-minded crowd.
• The Middle Way Meditation Retreat, Thailand
Embedded in the verdant jungles of northeastern Thailand, the Middle Way provides outstanding outdoor meditation areas, dining patios and stunning gardens fed by on-site waterfalls. Bungalows are simple and so are the rules: refrain from any destructive behaviours (including swatting flies) and no fraternizing between men and women. This retreat focuses on Dhammakaya meditation, a Buddhist practice requiring focus and connection to the body.
• Holy Isle, Scotland
The Isle of Arran in Scotland is a private island where the Centre for World Peace and Health was founded. Don’t be fooled by the name, the centre is modest – accommodations are dormitory style with plain furnishings. Here you can learn Kagyu meditation, or if you’re really dedicated, take up residence at the south end of the island with about a dozen or so other long-term students who live in silence.
• Rolling Meadows Meditation Retreats, Mexico
On the Yucatan Peninsula, among the Mayan ruins that dot the coast of the Caribbean Sea, you will find a camp set up on the beach around a rustic meditation centre. This is an outpost of the Maine-based Rolling Meadows where participants practice yoga and guided meditation. You will stay in cabanas with thatched roofs with sensational views, but no electricity.
• Shambhala Mountain Centre, Colorado
This six hundred acre retreat in Colorado occupies a valley tucked into the Rocky Mountains and is, perhaps unexpectedly, home to the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya – a Buddhist shrine and memorial built in honor of the founder. Shambhala has a huge range of activities for beginners and advanced practitioners and offers programs tailored to artists and writers or that combine meditation with hiking or canoeing.
• Ala Kukui, Hawaii
Located on the island of Maui, Ala Kukui offers breathtaking scenery from the base of Haleakala mountain. Visitors enjoy meditation, but also an introduction to native Hawaiian cultural values, which help guests appreciate the natural beauty and connectedness of the island. Explore mandala painting and meditation at the spiritual centre.
• Harmony Dawn Retreat, Canada
In central Ontario you will find a full service retreat dedicated to holistic living. All meals are vegetarian and guests are instructed in healthful, mindful cooking as well as Tai Chi, Quigong, chakras and various other principles of Eastern meditation. This husband and wife outfit is eco-friendly and comfortable, but not luxury.