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In Search of Serenity

  • Zane Williams

    Feathered Pipe Ranch (Montana)

    En español | Format: All-inclusive organized retreats   Cost: From about $1,000 for a four-day program   Don’t be surprised if you spot deer, a moose or even a bear on the grounds of this woodsy May-to-October compound high in the Rocky Mountains outside Helena. Yoga classes take place in a vintage log hunting lodge that overlooks a broad lawn and a lake where you can swim or paddle a canoe. The food is mostly vegetarian, and accommodations include dorm-style rooms, private cabins, tepees and yurts tricked out “glamping” (glamorous camping) style. Between classes, you can hike pine-scented trails that lace the surrounding national forest or meditatively walk a living labyrinth of trees. At night, a lakeside fire crackles while Montana’s famous big sky becomes a dense tapestry of twinkling stars.

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  • Getty Images

    Via Yoga Retreat (Costa Rica)

    Format: All-inclusive program except for some meals
    Cost: From $2,495 per person (double occupancy) for seven nights
    Water play meets sun salutations at these beginner-to-intermediate yoga gatherings organized by Via Yoga, a tour company, on Costa Rica’s central Pacific coast. The venue is Tulemar Villas, a top resort with a palm-fringed beach, a trio of infinity pools and contemporary lodgings dotting 33 hillside acres of jungle that come alive with toucans and scampering monkeys. Yoga classes — on a covered terrace with views of the sea — alternate with meditation sessions, surf or stand-up paddleboard lessons, exploring adjacent Manuel Antonio National Park, or simply sunning and swimming.

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  • Getty Images

    Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health (Massachusetts)

    Format: All-inclusive individual programs and organized retreats
    Cost: From about $167 per night
    A virtual mother ship of holistic health in the United States, this Berkshire Mountains destination offers instruction not only in yoga, but also in Ayurveda, qigong, personal growth, spiritual practice and more — a total of over 700 programs annually. But it’s not just size that draws around 40,000 people each year for visits ranging from a couple of days to a few weeks. Pristine, simple white rooms (shared or private) exude a calming Zen vibe.  Food — whether turkey shepherd’s pie, squash lasagna or haddock — is both wholesome and delicious. And, between yoga classes and perhaps an aromatherapy massage or Reiki session, the 150-acre campus and forest beyond allow a seasonally changing menu of activities — from snowshoeing in winter and lake swimming in summer to long walks amid spring buds and blazing fall colors.

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  • Courtesy Art of the Living Retreat

    Art of Living Retreat Center (North Carolina)

    Format: Individual programs and all-inclusive retreats
    Cost: From $84 per day for private accommodations, with classes extra; from $350 for a two-night program
    The powerful presence of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains is keenly felt throughout this 380-acre campus of forest and buildings stretching along a 3,700-foot-high ridge in western North Carolina. A soaring meditation hall — reminiscent of a grand Indian temple — dominates the site, while most of the smaller rooms hosting yoga classes and mind-and-meditation workshops are oriented toward the rising sun. Lodging is a comfy boutique hotel and simple but serene retreat rooms. The dining hall — offering spectacular views of the mountains — features a vegetarian menu that might include greens from the center’s own garden or a warm Tuscan bread salad with sun-dried tomato pesto. At the spa, Ayurvedic options range from multiday detox regimes to facials, massages and warm-oil “bliss therapy” treatments.

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  • Getty Images

    Kalani (Hawaii)

    Format: À-la-carte programs and all-inclusive organized retreats
    Cost: From $95 per day for accommodations only; from $810 for a six-day program
    The sound of a trumpeting conch shell announces mealtimes on the open-air lanai at this family-friendly, educational retreat center that serves the local community as well as visitors. With trade-wind-cooled cottages, bungalows and rooms spreading across 120 acres of lawn and rain forest on the Big Island’s remote Puna coast, it offers 50 classes each week — a third of them yoga sessions accompanied by the sounds of ocean waves, thanks to the studio’s screen walls. Spend the balance of your day in other wellness pursuits such as a lomilomi massage or aqua therapy, or take a class in lei making, hula or ukulele. Farther afield, you can snorkel, see fiery lava flows and visit black-sand beaches or the calderas, lava tubes and other fascinating natural features of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

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  • Getty Images

    Holiday at Sea (Caribbean)

    Format: All-inclusive round-trip cruise from Miami
    Cost: From $1,399 to $7,099 for 11 days (Feb. 15-25, 2018)
    Can you hold a tree pose on a moving ocean liner? That’s one of the pleasant challenges on this 15th annual themed cruise where outdoor morning yoga sessions offer plenty of fresh sea air and the gentle warmth of the rising Caribbean sun. MSC Cruises’ Divina, a 4,345-passenger ship with an Italian pedigree, becomes a floating holistic health and education center for the trip. Roughly 1,600 participants choose from among 125 lectures and workshops: yoga, plus everything from meditation and Pilates to nutritional topics. Food is a focus, with creative vegan meals (including five-course dinners) prepared by 22 chefs who are especially brought along for the trip. But this is a Caribbean cruise, after all, so there are also on-board parties and shore excursions to shop, swim in tropical waters and explore ports of call in Antigua, St. Kitts, Martinique, St. Maarten, the British Virgin Islands and the Bahamas.

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  • Brian Jannsen / Alamy Stock Photo

    Burren Yoga & Meditation Centre (Ireland)

    Format: All-inclusive organized retreats
    Cost: From 320 euros for a weekend retreat, 730 euros for a weeklong retreat
    The legendary warmth of Ireland’s welcome is immediately apparent at Lig do Scith (“take a rest”), the Gaelic name of this homey little center with a pale-blue yoga room flooded with natural light. Located down a hazel-lined country lane amid limestone hills on the country’s wild western coast, the two-acre compound draws convivial Irish yogis for all-level intimate-scale retreats that include multicultural vegetarian meals (the Indian buffet is especially popular) and a distinctly communal ethos. The largely shared accommodations are simple though not without their creature comforts: hotel-style mattresses, high-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets and heating under the pine floors to keep everything toasty. In addition to yoga work in the studio, retreats here emphasize the outdoors, with guided rambles through the spectacular rocky seaside and hills of the UNESCO-designated Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark.

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  • ZUMA Press, Inc. / Alamy Stock Photo

    Cal-a-Vie Health Spa (California)

    Format: All-inclusive packages
    Cost: From $4,675 for three days
    A lavender-and-rose-scented vision of an idealized Provençal village in the coastal hills of San Diego County, this haven of fitness and pampering (with a 5-to-1 ratio of staff to guests) occupies 200 acres of rolling terrain dotted with gardens, vineyards and stands of oak, olive and citrus. Guests sleep in 32 rustic-chic villas furnished with French antiques and memory-foam mattresses swathed in Frette linens and billowing down comforters. Yoga offerings are diverse — gentle, power, hip-opening and more — with some classes held in the candlelit 17th-century chapel transported stone by stone from France. Customized programs include fitness sessions —  everything from Pilates and ballet barre to calorie-burning morning hikes — and spa treatments such as Thai massage and hydrotherapy facials. Food is individually tailored, as well, with spa-type cuisine that might include chilled avocado-grapefruit soup or lobster-crab spring rolls.

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