off to India for two weeks of temple-hopping
and not drinking the water.
In between is the ever-popular Bali, in
which the lush island of Ubud alone is home to
no fewer than half a dozen fine ’n’ fertile centers catering to a decidedly Western Eat, Pray,
As you probably guessed, my preferred
retreats are the ones that take the yoga slightly
more seriously than the wine pairings. But your
mileage, and your intention, will vary.
If you’re considering one of these vaca-
tions, here’s my suggestion: Choose your
retreat based on three crucial criteria:
teacher, practice level and locale. In that order.
The retreat leader sets the tone and atmosphere far more than the country or the
cuisine does. Find someone who inspires you,
whose practice and energy you feel connected
with. Already have a favorite teacher? You’re
Second, matching a retreat’s yoga style to
your true ability and fitness level will make
everyone happier. Most retreats simplify the
asana (physical) portion of the vacation to the
mellower basics, so anyone but the most absolute of beginners can attend with ease. You say
you’re an advanced yogi looking for something
more serious and challenging? Wrong article.
Move along, grasshopper.
Locale is least important, because nearly all
getaways in this newfound category are fairly
swank and luscious and you can’t really choose
poorly. Italy or Mexico? Hawaii or France?
Costa Rica or Argentina? I mean, please.
Personally, I base my choices on teachers
I admire and have practiced with, most from
the Bay Area. As such, Janet Stone’s retreats
will rock the soul of your world. Local yoga
deity Rusty Wells is as adored a teacher as
they come. And funny/funky Les Leventhal is
all over the map — literally — offering retreats
from Bali to Hawaii.
Seeking a slightly more serious, karma-based practice? You might like a Sivananda
retreat in either the Bahamas or Kerala, India.
Or maybe a week at Watsonville’s much-loved
Got cash to burn? Elena Brower’s wildly
expensive getaway to Parrot Cay looks, um,
sorta nice. Amanda and Nick (MC Yogi)
Giacometti of Point Reyes’ Yoga Toes will
charm your socks off in Costa Rica. Then
there’s yoga legend David Swenson, who some-
times does his master Ashtanga thing at the
Four Seasons in Maui. I mean, seriously? How
could that possibly suck?
Mark Morford is an ERYT-
500 teacher at Yoga Tree in
San Francisco, an award-winning columnist for SFGate/
San Francisco Chronicle, and
the author of The Daring
Spectacle: Adventures in
Deviant Journalism. Track
him down at facebook.com/
markmorfordyes or email