Insistent messages, unceasing calls, rushed meetings, customer meltdowns and total PR disasters. Sometimes, life seems to consist of nothing more than frantically putting out fires.
If that’s been your experience of late, perhaps it’s time for a little oasis of silence, meditating and communing with your inner self. Weekend yoga retreats — replete with hot springs, invigorating mountain hikes and deep, relaxing massages — can go a long way to restoring your sanity.
We’ve found 20 yoga retreats, all based in California, and all with the goal of rejuvenating you, that we think are worth a look. Body, mind and spirit. Namaste.
YogaWorks, Twitter: @YogaWorks
The 51-acre Ojai Eco Sanctuary is the location of all California-based YogaWorks weekend retreats. Others are offered in far-flung locales such as Italy, Maui and Greece. The program consists of two-hour morning classes with plenty of time to hike, swim or wander into town before the meditative evening practice. Upcoming retreats take place the last weekend in July, as well as early August and October.
Esalen Institute, Twitter: @EsalenInstitute
Yoga retreats are offered year-round at the Esalen Institute. There are different themes at each workshop, including meditation and mindfulness, and body and movement. Located on 120 acres of land in Big Sur, spiritual seekers can choose to experience Esalen without taking workshops, using the meditation center, its hot springs, massages and daily yoga and movement classes to nourish their bodies, minds and souls.
Lindsay Foreman Yoga, Facebook: Lindsay Foreman Yoga
The next yoga retreat for this San Francisco-based yogi is the weekend of July 31 at the Lotus Feed Retreat Center outside of Occidental. In addition to four yoga classes and a special yoga workshop, there is optional meditation, an essential oils workshop, swimming in fresh water springs and hiking.
Lindsay told us this is her first retreat, and “will be kicking off the launch of many more to come,” adding that her “plan is to have 3-day weekend retreats, one-day local excursions and 7-day international getaways.” She further explained her vision, saying: “I hope to host 3 or 4 retreats a year, ideally with the seasons, and have local events that encourage city dwellers to explore the beauty and bounty of the local Northern California landscape.”
The Travel Yogi, Twitter: @thetravelyogi
With destinations around the globe, intrepid and adventurous yogis can experience the best of both travel and yoga in transformational settings. The Travel Yogi’s Fall Equinox Yoga Retreat, called “Reset & Refresh,” is scheduled for the weekend of September 24 at the Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort and Spa in Avila Beach. In addition to twice-daily yoga sessions, you can look forward to luxuriating in mineral springs, meditation and communing with some of the most beautiful nature in the world.
Located in the Mission District of San Francisco, the YSSF offers regular yoga classes in addition to workshops and retreats as well as an immersion program for intensive study. The upcoming 10-day Urban Yoga Retreat runs in combination with the 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training Program, with the next retreat scheduled in December 2015. Called the “Journey of I AM,” it includes early-morning Pranayama and meditation and ends each day with meditation, chanting and dialogue.
This hilltop Tibetan Buddhist center is nestled in the redwood forests of Northern California, a 15-minute drive from the ocean, surrounded by vineyards. There’s a summer yoga weekend retreat scheduled for July 23, featuring two yoga classes per day with the internationally recognized teacher Karl Straub.
The next Ratna Ling retreat is in September, and it is called “Renewal is the New Retirement,” designed specifically for those preparing for the second half of their lives. In mid-October 2015, there’s a retreat that health care professionals are welcome to attend: it’s the semi-annual “integrative medicine and Balint process program that will combine Western medicine perspectives, Balint group process, and the traditional Tibetan practices of Kum Nye yoga and meditation.”
Yogi Sarana Miller is leading weekend retreats of breathing, chanting, meditation, asana and soaking in the healing mineral waters of Wilbur Hot Springs. She’s already held three this year, and has two more scheduled: September 25-27 and October 9-11. The off-grid, solar-powered resort is located in the heart of an 1800-acre nature preserve, where you can hike or go biking with hotel’s complimentary bikes.
Body Flows, Twitter: @bodyflows
Based in the Bay Area, Body Flows was founded by certified yoga teacher Sally Mitchell. Using various types of yoga practices as well as ChiRunning and walking, her goal for her students is to improve their overall health and wellbeing. Upcoming retreats include a women’s running, yoga and wine tasting event at the end of August at Mountain Home Ranch in northern California, as well as a fall equinox retreat in mid-September, held at a center called Land of Medicine Buddha in Santa Cruz County.
Balanced Rock, Twitter: Balanced Rock Yosemite Journeys
You’ve got lots of choice when it comes to weekend retreats at Balanced Rock, a Yosemite-based nonprofit that has been inspiring health and wellbeing since 1999. In July alone, there’s a 3-day yoga and Ayurveda retreat, two separate 4-day yoga and meditation treks, and a 3-day watercolor and yoga retreat. August is when the Women of Color Wilderness Retreat takes place, and there are a number of 100-hour immersion retreats through the fall and into the New Year, all dealing with individual elements.
Sagrada, Facebook: Sagrada Yoga Retreats California
The 45-acre mountain sanctuary in Santa Margarita just outside of San Luis Obispo is a family-run business dedicated to offering yoga and wellness retreats. You can pair yoga with pilates, hiking, wine, music or writing nearly every weekend throughout the year.
The Expanding Light, Facebook: The Expanding Light
This yoga and meditation retreat center is located in a spiritual community of some 250 residents, called Ananda Village, which is minutes from Nevada City, California. Personal retreats are open nearly every day of the year, and guests can choose to either follow their own schedules or follow a program of guided yoga sessions, meditation, chanting and more. Personal retreats can be as short or as long as you like, with discounts for those who stay a month or more.
Pete G Yoga, Facebook: Pete Guinosso Yoga
In addition to teaching at Yoga Tree San Francisco and Berkeley, Pete holds events like July’s Lassen Yoga and Hiking Retreat, a camping adventure at Butte Lake, and late September’s Bodhi Silent Yoga and Meditation Retreat, held at the Vajrapani Meditation Retreat Center in Boulder Creek.
Not your usual yoga retreat, the four-day Manifestation Yoga Retreat in September is hosted by author Lidia Yuknavitch together with Jennifer Pastiloff. Called “Writing + The Body Part II,” it takes place at an eco-sanctuary in Ojai with the goal of getting the space and joy back into your body, words and stories.
The next retreat with Jen Pastiloff to look forward to is the annual New Years Manifestation Yoga Retreat (December 30 to January 1) at the same venue. More than just Asana, it will feature some yoga with journaling, manifestation workshops, a karaoke yoga joy session, wine tasting, a dance party and wonderful vegetarian food as well as swimming (if it’s warm enough), hot tub soaks and hiking. If it’s anything like last year’s in Santa Barbara County, it’ll be sold out.
Azul Wellbeing, Twitter: @AzulFit
The founder of Azul, Jamie Isaac (who signs his emails “Peace and sunshine”), confirmed to us that his California retreats will start again in September, the first from September 5-12, and the second from September 19-26. Daily yoga and Pilates classes are offered, and guests are invited to relax by the pool or try SUP yoga — yoga on a stand-up paddleboard.
He adds that “the retreat center is based in Vista, about 40 minutes north of San Diego, and just 10 minutes from the coast, in the beautiful and tranquil Vayu Retreat, nestled on 5 acres of palm trees and avocados, with incredible ocean views and the most dramatic Californian sunsets.”
The Ranch, Facebook: The Ranch at Live Oak / Malibu
Don’t go to The Ranch unless you’re looking for a luxury boot camp with yoga sessions. Once you decide that weight loss , detoxification, fitness and wellness are your goals, then you’ve got another choice: the immersion program at The Ranch — with a minimum stay of one week — or the four-day jumpstart program at the Four Seasons Hotel in Westlake. Activities are not optional, and include group hiking, core and ab work, weights, daily group yoga sessions, private weekday afternoon massages, daily naps, and more.
YogaScapes, Facebook: YogaScapes
This travel agency designs unique excursions “fueled by the practices of yoga and a commitment to living a healthy and inspired lifestyle.” Two such adventures around the world are October yoga retreats in California: The Redwoods Yoga and Writing Retreat at Orr Hot Springs and The Awaken the Goddess Yoga Retreat, a four-day transformative women’s retreat at Sierra Hot Springs.
Sivananda Yoga Farm, Facebook: Sivananda Ashram Yoga Farm
This nonprofit volunteer organization in Grass Valley promotes the study of classical yoga, and it holds a numbers of retreats through the year. There are several upcoming weekend and longer retreats including the Ayurvedic Massage Rejuvenation Retreat, which is offered in July, August and October, as well as the one-time Yoga of Recovery Retreat, which takes place at the end of July.
One of the longer programs is the Juice Fasting Retreat, which runs from August 9-14. There’s also the Ayurvedic Detoxification and Rejuvenation Retreat, which is scheduled from September 24-29.
Real Evolution Yoga, Facebook: REY
REY is a yoga teacher training center and also has a five-day program called THRIVE! for deep rejuvenation. The whole mind/body is treated with Asana, breathwork and meditation as well as coordinated movements designed to improve balance, eye strength and the nervous system. Combined with dialogue, the goal of the retreat is healing, renewal and evolution. The next session is scheduled for October 4-10, to be held at the Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort & Spa in San Luis Obispo.
Barefoot Movement, Facebook: Barefoot Movement
Owner Leah Gillman is a dancer, choreographer and certified yoga teacher in Oakland. The upcoming July 10-12 weekend retreat is classified as mid-level, and is being held at Mayacamas Ranch in Napa. During the retreat, which Leah will lead, participants will explore a balanced practice including Asana, movement, breathing techniques, and relaxation, and there will be ample time to meditate, hike and swim in the salt water pool.
Leah told us that the next retreat, which at the time of writing is not yet posted on her site, will take place next year in Mexico. She added that another California-based retreat hasn’t yet been officially planned, but is likely to take place next summer.
With three locations in Southern California, ITH hostels are for the young and young at heart. The next SoCal Yoga and Wellness Retreat is being held July 24-27 at the Big Bear Mountain Adventure Lodge.
We reached out to one of ITH’s certified yoga teachers, Ashley, who confirmed that the upcoming retreat, one of between six and eight held yearly, will offer an Ayurvedic chef and “an amazing musician who can play 15 instruments.” She added that the next retreat is scheduled for August 14-17, and that one is going to have more of an adult summer camp vibe.
Ashley also confirmed that each of their retreats is “filled with all types of yoga: vinyasa, hatha, restorative, nature yoga, stand up paddle board yoga, and acro yoga!”