The irony of Westernized yoga is how damn expensive practicing has become. From the attire to the cost of weekly classes — you basically have to be in diamonds and furs to be considered a legit yogi in the United States.
Thankfully, if you're looking to get away for a while and immerse your mind and body in a life-changing, relaxing experience, there are some yoga retreats out there that will leave you feeling enriched — but won't leave you penniless after you attend.
If you're looking for bliss on a budget, check out these experiences.
Located in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts on the well-manicured grounds of a former Jesuit seminary, Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health attracts novice yogis and instructors alike and offers respite from the hustle and bustle of urban life. On a Kripalu R&R retreat — which includes a private room, shared room or the dormitory option, and three all-natural buffet-style meals per day (breakfast is silent) — guests can participate in several yoga and movement classes a day, attend wellness workshops and get healing arts treatments for an additional fee.
Prices vary depending on when you go and what type of room you choose, with weekend rates ranging from $199 – $702.
The 18th-century Hudson Valley garden villa in upstate New York is an idyllic setting for a weekend yoga retreat. Through a balance of yoga, nutrition and a simple, natural setting, guests of The Garden can achieve sattva — a Sanskrit word describing a state of harmony, balance, joy and intelligence that radiates from the inside out.
All weekend retreats include four yoga classes, all meals, a hands-on cooking class and nutritional talk and plenty of time to relax and rest. You can also choose to take a walk, hike, visit a museum or the town of Beacon, take in a massage or a private yoga class, according to their website.
The weekend base rate is $575 per person (weekends run from Friday at 4 p.m. to Sunday at 3 p.m.).
The Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California, truly offers an unmatched experience. Big Sur's beauty is breathtaking, and the institute regularly hosts workshops given by remarkable instructors (Margot Anand and Jim Benson have a workshop going from April 29 to May 4, for instance).
The best part? Esalen's getaways aren't over-the-top expensive. Workshop tuition includes accommodations, meals, movement program and use of facilities and starts at $420 for the whole weekend or $900 for a seven-day workshop. Granted, that price is for their sleeping bag accommodations, but there are other options if that sounds a little too rustic for you.
Downward Dog deep in the heart of East Texas at Retreat in the Pines, a pristine pine cabin tucked away on a quiet country road just outside Mineola — a two-hour drive from the Dallas-Fort Worth area and four hours from Austin and Houston. At the Pines’ retreats, women from all walks of life enjoy shared accommodations, a beautiful yoga studio, a meditation deck and yoga programs for all levels. Rates are $399 per person for the all-inclusive weekend retreat.
"Take a break from reality, and enjoy yoga, wine, laughter and free time to relax. Ideal for girlfriend getaways, mother-daughter escapes and women looking for a solo adventure," the website states.
If you're really looking to get away, practice in paradise at the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat in Paradise Island, Bahamas. Located just across the bay from Nassau, the retreat’s lodging ranges from modest cabins to beachfront suites surrounded by the natural beauty of a tropical garden, crystal-clear water and pure white sands.
The retreat wants you to immerse yourself in the yogic lifestyle and increase your vitality and positivity through daily practice, a healthy vegetarian diet, silent meditation sessions and uplifting teachings.
Rates for the workshop start as low as $20 a day (in the summer), and that includes your meals, yoga classes, daily workshops and satsangs as well as access to their beautiful beach and the ashram grounds and amenities. Lodging can be as low as $69 a night if you're down to camp on the beach. The most expensive part of your treat to this island retreat will be airfare, but if you book in advance you might be able to get a good deal.
A version of this article was originally published in February 2013.
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