Yoga retreats for families? Surely you're kidding...
WHICH YOGA RETREAT IS RIGHT FOR YOU?
Hatha, vinyasa, yin, anti gravity, hot yoga...the list goes on and on. You can even do goat yoga these days. Yep, it's a thing. So how do you find the yoga retreat that's right for you? And what if you simply can't find the time to escape the kids. Does that mean you miss out altogether? If you're a parent, I know that doesn't sound very relaxing, but I've done several yoga retreats with my frequent small flyer and everyone benefits. Some places that run yoga retreats are however more geared up than others to accommodate families.
Here are six yoga retreats varying in style, price and location. The one thing they have in common is they're pretty much all in fabulous places. Under each entry, I've rated the retreat according to the yogi it suits best and whether it's suitable for families. Have you done a yoga retreat? We'd love to hear all about it.
Pinetrees Lord Howe Island
Yogi to the stars Charlotte Dodson leads retreats at Pinetrees Lodge on the World Heritage listed Lord Howe Island – far from traffic jams, emails and mobile phones (no phone reception here). The historic guesthouse offers a daily program of yoga taught by Dodson, Ayurvedic and spa treatments, massage, aerobic fitness, low calorie cooking classes and organic gardening classes. Swimming, snorkelling, surfing, kayaking, walking and biking is on offer along with three gourmet meals, organic wine tasting and a chance to digitally disconnect. Yoga classes are held at the Pinetrees Boat Shed facing Lagoon Beach which Dodson describes as; "One of the most beautiful and natural locations to practise yoga". Having done yoga here, I'd have to agree. Six night packages from $2760 twin share (flights not included). See www.pinetrees.com.au
*Best for: Yogis of all levels. Dodson can accommodate beginners and stretch those more advanced. Families welcome, although there is no supervised care so bring your partner or grandparents - you'll all have an incredible holiday.
Be a yoga rebel with Tara Stiles
What do Deepak Chopra and myself have in common? We both claim "yoga rebel", author and New York celebrity Tara Stiles partners as our yogi of choice. OK, Stiles is his personal yoga instructor, but I'm doing her online classes almost daily, so I feel like we're kind of in the same league. Stiles has partnered with W Hotels on FIT with Tara Stiles, a program bringing her own branded Strala Yoga classes and healthy recipes to properties globally. Stiles also runs events and retreats at W Hotels, most recently Strala intensive training courses and weekend retreats at the W Hotel Sentosa Cove, the W Retreat Koh Samui and W Bali Seminyak for those interested in teaching yoga, or deepening their practice. Her jam-packed retreats involve everything from sunrise yoga, Thai boxing lessons, sunset yoga parties, mediation and runs on the beach. Keep your eye out at www.stralayoga.com/events for Stiles' next retreats. Or visit Strala Studios in NYC, Barcelona, Singapore, Tokyo, and Seattle. See tarastiles.com
*Best for: Those that love a high energy yoga style. Having said that Strala Yoga is also fairly relaxed; it's all about doing do what makes you feel good and is not traditional in the least. You could do one of these retreats while your family holiday at a W resort, or better still get them to meet you afterwards when you're all Zen like.
Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan
This sublime riverfront resort in the sacred Ayung River basin offers an impressive line-up of international yoga masters. Classes range from Bali's first certified AntiGravity (flying) yoga, laughing yoga and full moon yoga are held in the Elora Hardy-designed Dharma Shanti Yoga Bale constructed entirely from sustainable local bamboo. The comprehensive wellness program also offers loving kindness meditation, mindfulness classes and life talks with resident wellness mentor (and former Buddhist nun) Ibu Ferawati. Yoga masters-in-residence include Matt Julian, Lisa Tonelli, Australian AcroYoga couple Claudine and Honza, while Robert Thurman (Uma Thurman's father) recently ran a retreat here. The resort offers year-round yoga classes (16 per week) for in-house guests. Power yoga and visiting master classes cost extra. See fourseasons.com/sayan/spa/visiting_practitioners
*Best for: Yogis of all levels but pick the retreat and class that's right for you. This five star resort is also suitable for families with the fabulous Pici Pici Club, complimentary for 4-12 year olds. Childcare services and babysitting are available for a fee.
In upcountry Maui on the lush lower slopes of Haleakala volcano, Lumeria sits on eight acres of manicured gardens with the island's legendary beaches in the distance. The historic inn is the oldest wooden structure on Maui and was originally built to house ageing sugar plantation labourers. The experiential retreat's new age feel may not be everyone's cup of tea, however the excellent daily classes including yoga, hula and meditation, chic rooms and wholesome garden to table meals can't be faulted. From $US309 per night (rates vary) inclusive of all meals. See lumeriamaui.com
*Best for: Yogis (travelling sans kids) wanting a solid yoga retreat, but with the opportunity to try something new. Hula anyone?
Radiance Retreats Byron Bay
Renowned Byron yogi and author Jesse Chapman runs yoga cleansing retreats in Australia's heartland of yoga. The retreats are held in the Byron Bay hinterland and combine organic vegetarian meals, twice daily yoga, mediation and guided beach walks. Chapman's style is all about deep, slow vinyasa making it ideal for the yogi novice. The retreats are more Byron Bay rustic than luxury but are the real deal for those wanting an authentic, nurturing environment. From $1685 for four nights' twin share per person with private ensuite bathroom. See radianceretreats.com
*Best for: Great for the yogi novice. Leave the kidlets at home.
Kamalaya, Koh Samui
This is the place that finally turned me on to yoga thanks to my own private class with a sassy New York yogi that could not only bend like a pretzel, but talk to me about great food and coffee too. I loved her, and fell in love with yoga too. The phenomenal Kamalaya, on the southeastern tip of the island of Koh Samui, offers a year-round custom yoga program with private one-on-one sessions. Suitable for beginners and experienced yogis alike, daily sessions are tailored to the individual's skill level and goals. Classes are held in Kamalaya's incredible Hilltop Yoga Pavilion overlooking the South China Sea. Yoga practice is combined with holistic spa therapies, including Ayurveda treatments from experienced Indian therapists, five-star detox cuisine and full use of the resort's steam cavern, swimming and plunge pools, and fitness centre.
From $2147 per person for a three-night stay in a single room (rates, programs and rooms vary). See kamalaya.com/yoga-retreats-thailand.htm
Best for: yogis of every persuasion, with daily sessions tailored to suit your goals. You can do this retreat with your family. Just talk to staff when booking.