If your New Year's resolution is to get fit and relax with yoga in 2015, you can go beyond your local community centre by stretching and om-ing in some of the most beautiful corners of the world.
India, Andalusia and Bali are popular destinations for yogis spending a week at a retreat but if you're after something different yet still inspiring, Abu Dhabi, the Swiss Alps and the Maldives may be the unique yoga holiday destinations for you.
As if the Maldives wasn't idyllic enough, one resort is allowing you to get even closer to the sparkling sea by putting your cat stretch into practice on a sandbank. If the sea really takes your fancy and you'd like a challenge, head for the Greek island of Skiathos to try the bridge pose on a paddleboard. Egypt's Red Sea offers you the chance to learn how to integrate a meditative, holistic attitude into the enjoyment of diving with underwater yoga.
Back on land, you can experience yoga, game drives and pampering on an African safari in Tanzania's Serengeti National Park. And you probably never imagined sitting cross-legged with your eyes closed in a Greek amphitheatre but in Mykonos you can soak up the sunshine and positive vibes in the unusual yoga setting.
Whether you're looking for ultimate bliss or added adventure, these incredible yoga destinations will make for a healthy holiday like no other in 2015.
Incredible places to do yoga
Yoga holidays: best destinations around the world
Experience 'theatrical' yoga in Greece at Mykonos Grand Hotel & Resort situated on Ayios Yiannis beach. Opposite is the sacred island of Delos, said to be one of the sunniest areas in the world and, according to Greek mythology, the birthplace of Apollo. The hotel can arrange inspiring yoga and pilates classes in its very own stone-build amphitheatre. It's particularly magical in the soft light of early morning or as the sun sets over the darkening Mediterranean Sea.
At Baros Maldives, the in-house yogi leads varied sessions including a trip to a secluded sandbank for a sunrise or sunset class. Guests at the resort can also experience yoga on the deck of their Villa, on the Lighthouse restaurant deck and on the beach. Baros Maldives consists of 75 beach and overwater villas, three gourmet-class restaurants, cocktail and palm grove bars, a spa and a gym.
Check into the Anantara Qasr Al Sarab resort in Abu Dhabi to enjoy sunrise yoga in the middle of the stunning Liwa desert, a truly unique experience. The basic to intermediate Hatha yoga focuses on breathing, stress release and poses, and the biggest thrill is the chance to try a yoga class atop a sand dune. The sessions can be combined with additional classes in the hotel's yoga studio. The resort promises a sanctuary of wellbeing that draws on an array of ancient cultures at Anantara Spa, as well as offering a state of the art fitness centre, tennis court and swimming pool.
From sunset meditation atop a panoramic Kopje viewpoint to yoga massage, Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti's yoga and meditation experiences allow you to really get in touch with nature on your African safari holiday. Offered as group and private classes, the wellness program is open to yogis of all levels, with experiences including the Sunset Kopje Nature Walk and Meditation, the Yoga Healing Ritual, which incorporates the therapeutic benefits of yoga massage, and Moonlight Meditation. The 75-minute Sunset Kopje Nature Walk and Meditation begins with a short uphill hike, led by a Maasai warrior, to reach the spectacular sunset viewpoint across the Serengeti plains, before commencing a guided mediation session with the Lodge's yogi.
Step aboard a Turkish gulet for a delightful spell of yoga, meditation, sunshine and peace in the Mediterranean. A seven-day yoga holiday with Responsible Travel offers sunrise and sunset yoga on deck as you are taken to various islands and unspoilt bays. A typical day involves joining your yoga teacher on deck for the early morning meditation as the sun rises, followed by local herb tea and a dynamic yoga practice to greet the day before heading off to a new destination.
Strike a mountain pose in the Swiss Alps with Grand Hotel Kronenhof's ski-yoga holidays. The hotel in Pontresina invites yoga bunnies to attempt various poses on a slippery surface wearing their skis. Ski instructor and yoga teacher Sabrina Nussbaum introduces guests to the benefits of doing yoga on their skis at the top of the slopes in crisp Alpine air, allowing you to keep up your yoga practice while on your skiing holiday.
Take traditional yoga exercises, throw in a twist of stand-up paddleboarding and mix with the early morning or late afternoon sun and the pristine waters of Skiathos, and yogis are in for a treat. Skiathos Princess Hotel's YOGAqua is an extension of the timeless practice of yoga fused with the exciting art of stand-up paddleboarding. Guests at the hotel learn how to use the paddleboard and how to perform dozens of different yoga poses while serenely floating on the Greek island's waters. Poses have to be aligned just perfectly for even weight distribution on the boards, so you won't only be benefiting from a challenging class but also improving your yoga practices.
Visit San Francisco's beautiful Grace Cathedral on a Tuesday evening and you can join yoga teacher and author Darren Main's gentle yoga class on the labyrinth, the heart of the cathedral. The breathtaking building is famed for its mosaics and labyrinths. Laid out on the floor of the cathedral, the labyrinth is based on the famous medieval Chartres labyrinth in France. Walking the pattern of the labyrinth is supposed to bring you to a meditative state, where you rediscover a long-forgotten mystical tradition.
Explore how diving can become a personal, meditative experience on a yoga and dive holiday in Egypt. Inexperienced divers can learn scuba diving enhanced by yoga techniques, particularly breathing exercises, while those unfamiliar with yoga can learn to integrate a meditative, holistic attitude into the enjoyment of diving. This unique holiday can aid the improvement of dive skills for beginners and advanced divers through meditation and visualisation techniques.
After finding that yoga in the pristine Canadian Rockies was simply out of this world, Martha's Heli Hikes brought inspiring classes with arrival by helicopter to the spectacular mountains. Yogis are asked to slow their pace, calm their mind, stretch their body and inhale the fresh mountain air in the unique class. The day and three-day packages include gourmet lunches and dinners, hatha yoga classes with panoramic views, plus hiking with a qualified hiking instructor and camping overnight in the mountains. It's the ultimate way to get back to nature with yoga.
For a relaxing New Year break, head to The Scarlet, an eco-hotel with an Ayurvedic spa where you can recharge your batteries with classes in everything from yoga and pilates to meditation and singing. Or just take time out to enjoy the stunning coastal walks or relax by the fire. For 2015, the Optimal Fitness holiday provides indoor activities, yoga and outdoor pursuits that will get you looking and feeling your very best, whether you choose to stay for three or five nights from 8 February. The luxury boot camp holiday includes beach workouts, strength and conditioning training, a scenic hike, a mountain bike ride and the option of surfing on the five-day break. The cuisine is healthy and hearty: think grilled fish, fresh salads, local produce and delicious flavours. From £1,200 per person for three nights, based on two sharing.
Take a trip to Bali to experience utter relaxation at restorative retreat COMO Shambhala Estate in Ubud. With the 'be active, cleanse, rejuvenation programme' you can participate in activities including yoga, pilates, Balinese craft making and jungle gym circuit training, as well as have the services of a personal assistant, use of the steam room, sauna and 25-metre lap pool. Bailey Robinson offers a six-night holiday from £2,975 per person, with international flights and transfers.
The Fusion Fitness holiday at Aguas de Ibiza lets you choose no less than four one-on-one activities and treatments with a personal trainer. You'll have the chance to take part in daily group activities, get unlimited use of the fitness centre, and take time out at the Revival Spa. By the end of the holiday you'll head home feeling fitter, rejuvenated and re-energised. From £1,570 per person.
Home to three of the finest championship golf courses in Europe and an award-winning spa, the Gleneagles Hotel was built in 1924 and is situated in 850 acres of Perthshire countryside, just an hour’s drive from Edinburgh and Glasgow. The hotel hosts an array of cobweb-busting activities from falconry to off-road Land Rover safaris. Their award winning ESPA spa hosts an expert team of complementary and alternative medicine practitioners and experienced spa therapists, the hotel also offers special residential and day packages to address the stresses and strains of modern life and leave you feeling revived and rejuvenated. The Sunday Night Special package includes overnight accommodation, breakfast and a choice of a round of golf on The King’s or Queen’s championship course or a 55 minute spa treatment from £305 per room per night.
The luxurious Mandara Spa at the Park Plaza Hotel brings a taste of Bali to Britain. With exotic treatments and a soothing design with a contemporary Balinese décor, the spa offers an exotic escape in the heart of the city. Located at the foot of Westminster Bridge, Park Plaza Westminster Bridge is within easy reach of London’s famous landmarks and the four-star deluxe hotel offers iconic views across the River Thames of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.
Head for the Philippines in 2015 on a life-changing holiday that will provide you with the knowledge you need to learn a healthier lifestyle. Nestled amidst a tranquil haven of tropical jungle, The Farm is a luxury retreat wellness retreat offering detoxifying treatments, raw nutrition, fitness activities and emotional guidance to provide you with the fresh start you need. Shape up with circuit training and aqua aerobics, before unwinding with yoga and an indulgent menu of detoxifying spa treatments. Be inspired on this healthy holiday with nutritious meals from the award-winning Alive! Restaurant and enhance your well-being with food preparation classes, where you’ll learn healthy eating habits you can continue at home. Health and Fitness Travel offers seven nights at The Farm from £2,240 per person or £2,590 for single occupancy, including full board, a choice of programmes, return flights and transfers.
In partnership with Dr Nijon Eccles (an integrated medicine physicians and founder of the Chiron Clinic in Harley Street), Verdura Resort offers VITA Health, a wellness centre with a range of specialised programmes focusing on stress management, weight loss, detox and ageing. Guests are offered a daily exercise programme, full access to the spa facilities, and consultation and future health planning with the doctor on departure. A specific menu of nutritionally balanced meals accompanies the treatments and exercise.
Blitz your mind and body on a yoga retreat near Biarritz organised by GoLearnTo.com. The focus is on nutrition, beauty and wellbeing, with lots of relaxing massage treatments, yoga classes, and wholesome, delicious raw food - all set in luxury accommodation with a swimming pool, and close to the Biarritz coastline. You'll stay at the Domaine de Bassilour, a luxuriously restored Basque estate in the picturesque coastal town of Bidart
Amazon Creek offers two Yoga & Ski weeks. Yoga sessions are held first thing in the morning and again in the evening after a hard a day on the slopes. Chalet Amazon Creek is a luxury chalet, sleeping up to 10 guests. There's a a cinema room and a spa with a hamman steam room, sauna, sunken jacuzzi and outdoor hot tub.
Lime Wood is a boutique country house hotel set in the heart of the New Forest National Park. At the Herb House, the on-site spa, you can take a yoga class on the roof, or admire the forest views from the comfort of the gigantic sauna. Facilities include the Caldarium, hydropool, The Mud House, the outdoor steaming hot pool, an indoor swimming pool opening onto the garden and sun terrace, and healthy and garden-grown food and juices.
Nestled deep within the natural landscape of Pennine Yorkshire sits Titanic Spa, a beautifully restored textile mill. Treat yourself and a friend to a little ‘me time’ with an indulgent spa package. From £119, you can stay in one of Titanic’s serviced eco apartments where you can enjoy a continental breakfast in the morning, healthy lunch and dinner in the spa’s bistro, with use of the spa's extensive range of facilities including a 15m salt regulated swimming pool, hydrozone, steam and sauna rooms and a fully equipped gym.
The Well is Cliff House Hotel’s intimate destination spa, offering a range of natural therapies that reflect the beautiful seaside location of this hotel. The healing power of the ocean lies at the heart of The Well’s spa experience, inspiring treatments such as seaweed facials or a specialist bath using Irish peat.
Pack your two-piece and head to Mexico for Bikini Bootcamp in Tulum. Eco-resort Amansala's Bikini Bootcamp Days are a combination of moving your body, healthy eating, relaxing and exploring. Each day begins with journal writing followed by a stretch on the beach and a one-hour power walk, and then varies to include a high energy cardio workout, a body sculpt or yoga session, as well as other activities including inspiring salsa dancing and meditation. The boot camp costs from £1,500 per person for six nights in a shared room, with four departure dates in January.
The Lodore Falls Hotel in Borrowdale is nestled in the perfect location for a detoxifying break in the New Year. It sits on the shores of Derwentwater and has its very own waterfall in the garden. Lake activities include canoeing and kayaking, and the hotel supplies mountain bikes free of charge. The more adventurous, there are the trails for fell running nearby, as well as the adrenaline rush of zip wires at Honister.
Great Hotels of the World recommends the Spa Thaermae del Forte at Forte Village, which offers thalassotherapy in six seawater pools (each with different temperatures with varying salt concentrations, since you ask). The spa also has a turkish bath, a sauna and a health bar, as well as an Ayurvedic medicine specialist on hand to help you restore your body’s ideal weight and energy levels. Exercises, relaxation techniques, yoga sessions and exclusive massages are all part of the experience.
Discover your inner self in Switzerland with Grand Hotel Kronenhof's Holistic Life Retreat which consists of moderate movement for complete rest and relaxation, while cleansing and strengthening the body and spirit. The seven-day holiday includes morning, aqua, evening and outdoor yoga, as well as five holistic massages, two foot reflexology massages and an energy massage. Along with spectacular mountain views, the Grand Hotel Kronenhof offers the ultimate in luxury in Pontresina. A week's Holistic Life Retreat in February or March costs £2,835 per person, based on two sharing.
An ancient 1000 acre estate on Cornwall's Helford River, Trelowarren offers a collection of high-spec eco-houses - think log-burners, fine art on the walls and masses of space inside and out. Tregenna, one of the bigger houses, sleeps 10 with free use of the outdoor pebble-lined ozone pool. The Walled Garden Organic Spa does a Detoxifying Cornish Seaweed Wrap for £65 and an Invigorating Cornish Sea Salt scrub (30 minutes for £30) using salt harvested just along the coast.
La Finca Paradiso in Spain comes highly recommended by Destination Yoga. It is located on the south-east corner of Spain, surrounded by Sierra Cabrera Mountains and the sparkling Mediterranean. This eco-retreat is just 10 minutes from the beach and offers four acres of fruitful Spanish gardens, a swimming pool and meals bursting with the fresh, local produce. Yoga classes are twice daily in the light, spacious and airy yoga studio. There are 12 dates available in 2015 from April through to September, each lasting seven nights. Prices start from £695 per person based on two sharing a Standard Room, including all meals, yoga classes and equipment (flights and airport transfers excluded).
Unwind at this luxury wellness retreat on the stunning Turkish coastline. Health and Fitness Travel recommends Sianji Well-Being Resort in Bodrum (seven nights from £1,280 per person) for its first-class holidays tailored towards specific goals, including detox and weight loss. Treat yourself to a revitalising spa treatment at the on-site Muu Spa, but be warned: with an extensive list of massages, facials and specialist treatments on offer, you might be spoilt for choice! With lavishly furnished theme suites and four top-class restaurants serving nutritious and delicious cuisine from all over the globe, this is THE destination for a rejuvenating detox holiday in the sunshine.
With its world-famous white, sugar sand and year round sunshine there is no better place to experience outdoor yoga than Siesta Beach in Sarasota, Florida. Classes run four times a week and you will rejuvenate as you breathe in fresh sea air and shift that stubborn post-Christmas weight. Fly from Gatwick to Tampa with British Airways and spend seven nights at the Sandcastle Resort, Sarasota from £1,005 per person with America As You Like It.
Lough Eske Castle mid-week two night Tranquillity package allows you to completely lose yourself in Irish charm and luxury. The mini-break was made to help you re-charge and relax and includes two nights' luxury accommodation, daily full Irish breakfast, sparkling wine on arrival, traditional afternoon tea, a four-course dinner for two, use of Spa Solís Thermal Suite and the heated indoor pool and fitness centre, as well as a 20 per cent discount on all spa treatments of 60 minutes or over, from €499 per couple.