When considering a yoga retreat, advice from an expert is invaluable. Melanie Psaltakis, veteran yoga instructor, retreat leader and founder of Maryland-based Wayfinders Yoga, offered her strategies for finding the best fit for your perfect retreat.
1. First identify what kind of experience you seek. Is it purely yoga, including asana, pranayama, chanting, and meditation? A silent meditation retreat? Yoga plus cultural activities, local cuisine, or hiking?
2. Determine your intentions. Do you want to withdraw, go within, have time for introspection? Seek quiet and solitude? relaxation? reconnection? Exploration of a new or different area? Deepen your yoga practice, such as goal-oriented asana or power of pranayama?
3. Consider accommodations. Rustic? Dorm-type rooms with bunk beds? Shared bathrooms? Private rooms and bath? A small resort, or a large one with pools and spa? Meals included?
4. Consider the location. How far do you want to travel? Do you want to interact with the environment and/or other people?
5. Consider the daily structure. Do you want full-day programming, or a lot of free time?
6. What is your budget? When do you want to go?
Once you have addressed these questions to the best of your ability, choose from among the East Coast’s excellent retreat centers, all immersed in beautiful natural settings.
Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health | Stockbridge, Massachusetts
Perhaps the most well-known is Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, located on 125 acres in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, where the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans once lived. The center’s main building is a former Jesuit monastery built on what was the site of a Gilded Age cottage Andrew Carnegie once owned. Kripalu calls itself “a leader in yoga- and mindfulness-based education. More than just poses on a mat, we believe yoga is an accessible practice that inspires connection, compassion, and joy. nourishing retreat full of yoga, nutritious meals, mindful outdoor experiences, and more.” Its signature retreat, the Kripalu R&R experience, “allows you the freedom to choose what you need while you’re here. Maybe it’s a full schedule of yoga classes, healing arts, and outdoor activities like hiking and kayaking. Maybe you’re craving a lot of free time for reflection and rest.” For more information: kripalu.org or 413-448-3152.
Omega Institute for Holistic Studies | Rhinebeck, New York
Omega Institute for Holistic Studies, on 250-plus acres in Rhinebeck, New York’s Hudson Valley, offers workshops, retreats, conferences and professional training. The institute’s legacy, “45 years of awakening the best in the human spirit,” relies on a framework they call Teach, Model, Act, which involves creating inspired learning experiences, demonstrations, and engaging solutions. Omega R&R Retreats are flexible: “You decide how to spend your day, creating a retreat that is uniquely your own.” Classes include yoga, tai chi and meditation; and activities range from boating on Long Pond Lake, sanctuary meditation, tennis and basketball, art, trails and gardens. For more information: www.eomega.org or 845-266-4444.
Yogaville | Buckingham, Virginia
The mission of Satchidananda Ashram YogaVille in Buckingham, Virginia, is “to practice, live, and impart the Integral Yoga teachings of Sri Swami Satchidananda; to experience supreme peace and joy, and to share that peace and joy with one and all.” YogaVille holds a variety of retreats, such as Yoga for Longevity, Integral Yoga Silent Retreats, and Yoga for Strong Bones. A Welcome Weekend Experience features guided deep relaxation and meditation, two to three hatha yoga classes, and lectures on expanding your yoga practice. For more information: yogaville.org or 800-858-9642.
The Himalayan Institute | Honesdale, Pennsylvania
Breathtaking views, groomed hiking trails, and peaceful spaces for reflection and contemplation enhance the 400-acre Honesdale, Pennsylvania, campus of The Himalayan Institute in the Pocono Mountains. Focusing on yoga, meditation, spirituality and holistic health, the institute holds yoga and meditation retreats with names such as Reconnect & Recharge, Pause & Renew, Movement & Meditation, and Personal Retreat, as well as programs that study “the authentic teachings of yoga — including asana, meditation, mantra, tantra, sacred scripture, and the art of joyful living.” For more information: himalayaninstitute.org or 800-822-4547.
Menla Retreat | Phoenicia, New York
Menla Retreat is many things: retreat center, nature resort, wildlife refuge, and Audubon bird sanctuary, all located on a 330-acre private nature preserve at the head of a glacial valley in the Catskill Mountains of Phoenicia, New York. Its “create your own getaway” can include private yoga, Pilates, qi gong and meditation sessions, as well as guided or on-your-own mountain hiking and ecology walks. Also on site is its Dewa healing spa. For more information: menla.org or 845-688-6897.
The Art of Living Retreat Center | Boone, North Carolina
The Art of Living Retreat Center, set amid 380-plus acres of forest high in Boone, North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, offers “the powerful practices of meditation and mindfulness,
Ayurveda, and yoga.” Among the center’s programs are meditation and mindfulness retreats, gentle yoga, yoga and meditation, holistic yoga flow, and yoga and nature. Its customizable Rest & Relaxation Retreat can include movement classes that focus on strength, endurance, and balance; among them are hatha yoga, Pilates/floor barre, Zumba, jazz movement and modern/hip-hop flow, as well as outdoor activities. For more information: artoflivingretreatcenter.org or 888-930-9880.
by Ellyn Wexler