Yoga Retreats Around the Country

Yoga Retreats Around the Country

Bobby Fisher
Bobby Fisher
If you can't be here now, maybe it's because you need to go there — to one of 16 yoga retreats where you can expand your mind and shrink your waistline

It's been a long time since yoga meant excruciating macrobiotic diets and sessions with Ram Dass. Or any sort of material renunciation, for that matter. Even if "peace, love, and light" isn't your mantra, yoga retreats can still offer a slice of nirvana. Below, some of the best, from local to remote, rigorous to restful.

THE FIFTH DIMENSION — WITH STRETCH

FEATHERED PIPE RANCH
Helena, Montana.
If you can swallow the chanting and the crystals, you'll find yourself in the company of expert teachers. For 25 years the instructors at Feathered Pipe have offered an intriguing blend of yoga and Native American rituals. You don't have to buy into the shamanism to appreciate the yoga, however; Feathered Pipe offers workshops at every level and in most styles. Teachers include famed yogis Patricia Walden and Rodney Yee, both of whom have put out their own videos.

WHAT TO WEAR
Fringed leather. Spurs. (Okay, Birks and cotton.)

WHO GOES
Multicultural mavens. Those who spell women with a y. Mainstream practitioners who tolerate the above.

WHAT YOU'LL LEARN
Lots. You can study stress management, for instance, as well as "Wakantia," a form of self-purification based on ancient (presumably Native American) rites. Among the various styles of yoga taught, Iyengar and hatha predominate. Iyengar is yoga for perfectionists, noted for the precision it demands of students (and teachers, who train for years); even child's pose becomes serious exercise.

WHERE YOU'LL STAY
Your choice: the main lodge, a tepee, or a yurt.

THE FACTS
406/442-8196; www.featheredpipe.com; from $995 a week.

MOUNTAIN TREK
Ainsworth Hot Springs, British Columbia.
Tesh, a.k.a. Nateshvar Ken Scott—the guy who keeps Demi Moore's body cover-worthy—leads retreats throughout the year. Equal parts Inner You and Outward Bound. You'll hike, you'll meditate, you'll levitate. 1352 North St.; 800/661-5161 or 250/229-5636; www.hiking.com; from $2,139 a week.

THE ASHRAM
Calabasas, California.
Asceticism for Hollywood legends and starlets. This eight-room spa, 30 miles from LAX, sleeps 12—you'll probably have to double up. Here yoga is an integral part of a hiking, fasting, total-body makeover. 2025 N. McKain St.; 818/222-6900; from $3,500 a week.

CAYUGA YOGA & MEDITATION CENTER AT NEW AGE SPA
Neversink, New York.
A Catskills spa with heated indoor and outdoor pools, an indoor waterfall, and a fully equipped gym. Much of the food is cultivated in New Age's own greenhouses. Expect a fair amount of ethical stuff with your hatha yoga—principles of nonviolence, how to live in truth. Rte. 5; 800/682-4348 or 845/985-7600; from $123 per night, including all meals and classes.

NOTHING BUT THE BASICS

KRIPALU CENTER FOR YOGA & HEALTH
Lenox, Massachusetts.
The mother of all yoga retreats. Kripalu offers a gentle, trippy form of yoga—called, not surprisingly, Kripalu yoga. As you hold your pose, concerned instructors correct your form. Everyone cares deeply. The caring even extends to the manicured landscape of this former Andrew Carnegie estate. If you tend toward skepticism, watch out: you'll be encouraged, without a hint of irony, to hug a tree.

WHAT TO WEAR
Modest clothing. Seriously. Kripalu was once a Jesuit institution and hasn't lost its inhibitions—guests are discouraged from wearing short shorts and tight shirts.

WHO GOES
Everyone and his dad. The real question is, Who goes more than once?It's a select group—those who can abide by the rules: no caffeine or booze; silence at breakfast.

WHAT YOU'LL LEARN
Kripalu. You can also hike with a herd of llamas and model your proud warrior pose on the stately mammal's posture.

WHERE YOU'LL STAY
Private rooms, shared rooms, and dorm beds available. Don't expect much.

THE FACTS
West St., Rte. 183; 800/741-7353 or 413/448-3400; www.kripalu.org; programs range from $77—$224 per night, including all classes and meals. There is a two-night minimum.

SEWALL HOUSE
Island Falls, Maine.
Some 90 miles north of Bangor, this B&B—style retreat offers intense classes in kundalini, a form of yoga that stresses controlled breathing. This is where Theodore Roosevelt—who had a weak heart and asthma—came to get his strength back while pondering his future. Crystal Rd.; 888/235-2395 or 207/463-3428; www.sewallhouse.com; doubles from $160, including all classes and meals.

SIVANANDA ASHRAM YOGA FARM VRINDAVAN
Grass Valley, California.
People at Sivananda are given to saying things like "there is only one kind of yoga." But the one kind is pretty athletic. Luckily, after your required yoga and meditation sessions, you can retire to the cedar-lined sauna. 14651 Ballantree Lane; 800/469-9642 or 530/272-9322; sivananda.org/locations/ashrams/yogafarm/index.html; from $70 a night for a private cabin, meals, and classes.


EASTERN MYSTICISM

ANANDA
Narendra Nadar, Uttar Pradesh, India.
Once a royal palace of the maharajah of Tehri Garhwal, Ananda has a full-service spa offering yoga classes between Ayurvedic treatments. This is where it all started, of course: Look down and you'll see the holy river Ganges; look up and you'll see the Himalayas; look to your navel and you may find transcendence.

WHAT TO WEAR
Ethnic chic—slip-ons, oh-so-light fabrics, splashes of color.

WHO GOES
Those who want to experience the culture in which yoga originated.

WHAT YOU'LL LEARN
What it feels like to have a real Ayurvedic treatment.

THE FACTS
91-1378/27500; www.anandaspa.com; rooms from $250 a night, including breakfast, a fitness evaluation, classes, and hiking trips.

WILDFLOWER HALL
Mashroba, Himachal Pradesh, India.
The former residence of Lord Kitchener is now a newly opened Oberoi resort in the Himalayas. Choose between hatha or Ashtanga at sunrise—8,250 feet above sea level. Kurta pajamas are laid out every evening for the next morning's practice. 800/562-3764; www.oberoihotels.com; doubles from $220.

EXPANDING LIGHT RETREAT
Ananda Village, Nevada City, California.
The village was founded in 1968 (when else?), and 200 devotees of Ananda yoga live here year-round. Ananda is a relatively gentle form of yoga. The emphasis here is on finding your own true path. 14618 Tyler Foote Rd.; 800/346-5350 or 530/478-7518; www.expandinglight.org; from $116 per person for a private room, including all classes and meals.

THE SPA TREATMENT

RANCHO LA PUERTA
Tecate, Mexico.
The founders, Edmond and Deborah Szekely, modeled this retreat around the habits of the Essenes, the ancient brotherhood that left us the Dead Sea Scrolls (and that, some say, included Jesus Christ among its members). The Szekelys' intentions gave rise to something more sybaritic than the Essenes may have expected: 12 gyms, four tennis courts, three saunas, two styles of yoga, and a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet, enhanced with the occasional exquisite fish. A stay at this Baja spa is in many ways an extension of the California grooviness and luxury to the north: you can sunbathe in the nude, wrap yourself in seaweed, or explore Feldenkrais (if you have to ask . . .), Pilates, and tai chi.

WHAT TO WEAR
Sweats, Reeboks, polar fleece, sunblock.

WHO GOES Stressed-out CEO's and their spouses.

WHAT YOU'LL LEARN
Your daily routine will range from introductory yoga to challenging classes in Ashtanga and Iyengar. And you may even get to study with a master.

WHERE YOU'LL STAY
A private cottage with its own garden. 800/443-7565 or 011-526-654-1155; www.rancholapuerta.com; from $1,727 a week, including classes; spa treatments are extra.

MIRAVAL LIFE IN BALANCE
Catalina, Arizona.
With up to five yoga classes a day among a bewildering array of activities, the overarching theme here is the Buddhist concept of "mindfulness." Be mindful of your credit card as you shell out close to $1,000 a night for the most enlightened week of your life. 5000 E. Via Estancia Miraval; 800/232-3969 or 520/825-4000; www.miravalresort.com; doubles from $840.

CANYON RANCH
Lenox, Massachusetts.
Luxury-starved at Kripalu?Check into Canyon Ranch. This opulent spa offers yoga classes as well as programs in Qigong (a Chinese practice of meditation and movement). 165 Kenble St.; 800/742-9000 or 413/637-4100; www.canyonranch.com; from $1,150 per person for three days.

QUICK FIXES

JIVAMUKTI YOGA CENTER
New York.
Okay, so you're not ready to leave the urban sphere. Not to worry—some of the world's great yoga centers can be found in the heart of the megalopolis. You can easily finesse a retreat in Manhattan, for instance: book a room at the SoHo Grand and spend your days at nearby Jivamukti, boot camp for celebrities.

WHAT TO WEAR
You'll probably get approving looks if you're wearing Nuala, Christy Turlington's new line of yoga wear, which she came up with while attending class here.

WHO GOES
Lots of famous people. Look for Willem Dafoe, Madonna, and—needless to say—Turlington.

WHAT YOU'LL LEARN
Jivamukti is its own style of yoga. It's fast, gymnastic, and demanding: as much aerobic workout as meditative stretch. 404 Lafayette St.; 800/295-6814 or 212/353-0214; www.jivamuktiyoga.com; $17 per class.

SYNERGY
Miami Beach.
Transcendence among the fashion set in South Beach. Synergy offers hatha, Ashtanga, and Vikram yoga, and is favored by models. 435 Espanola Way; 305/538-7073; $12 per class.

GOLDEN BRIDGE
Los Angeles.
Kundalini is taught by the hospitable Gurmuk Kaur Khalasa. She appears regularly on Good Morning America, but fame hasn't gone to her head: she still takes students into her home for dinners on Friday nights. 5901 W. Third St.; 323/936-4172; www.goldenbridgeyoga.com; $15 per class.

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