If you're wondering what a wellness holiday entails or you wish you were able to practise Pilates or yoga somewhere nice and hot then we can help you set out on the road to rejuvenation. Far from being a holiday for hippies, wellness holidays allow you to rest and revive in your own way with healthy meals, like minded groups and expert exercise instruction ensuring you get to have your carrot cake, and eat it.
Types of yoga holiday
There will be a yoga holiday to suit you whatever your size, shape, or temperament and it’s important to remember that flexibility is a consequence of yoga, not a precondition.
The myriad benefits of yoga are only slightly more numerous than the myths that pervade this classic form of fitness, namely: it’s only for girls, or hippies that are into incense and chanting; it’s practiced in either smelly, stiflingly hot studios, or very slowly among the over 65s; and, most ill-informed of all, it’s a pursuit only for the flexible. The truth is there are more yoga styles than ever before – some steadfastly true to their ancient routes, others modernised and modified, but all devised to lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety, and develop strength, balance and flexibility. Find the right yoga holiday for you and you’ll get to know your cat pose from your cobra in no time.
Our Yoga Holidays
HathaHatha is to yoga what beer is to alcohol: the lighter, less tough one you try before moving on to the hard stuff. Which is to take absolutely nothing away from Hatha (or indeed beer), which remains a very popular and effective yoga style, it’s just that what Hatha means in yoga speak is the physical practice of yoga poses – the asanas – so it’s really an element of all yoga styles. Today, Hatha refers to a more basic, gentle class of slow-paced stretching and simple breathing exercises with no flow between them.
IyengarIyengar and Ashtanga yoga come from the same distinguished provenance and were both developed by teachers taught by Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, widely regarded as the ‘father of modern yoga’. Iyengar is all about alignment and though you’ll do fewer poses in a session, the emphasis falls on exploring the subtle tweaks and twists required to grasp each one perfectly, so it’s brilliant for beginners. The aim is to get a firm grasp of the placement and fundamental structure of each individual pose and often, props, such as belts, block and pillows are used to help aspiring yogis find their feet, and to minimise the risk of injury.
Anusara yoga was only created in 1997 and is a distinctly modern style, but one that is built upon the foundations of hatha, a much older and historical discipline with which it shares basic elements such as a focus on the traditional ‘asana’ - poses. Otherwise, Anusara deals with goals of self-esteem, self-empowerment and general stress reduction, and aims to establish a positive mind-body connection through a series of yoga poses combined with chanting and centering meditation.
SivanandaBased on the teachings of Hindu spiritual teacher, Swami Sivananda, this style of yoga is more to do with spirituality than exercise. It was devised to preserve the health and general wellness of the practitioner and is based upon five fundamental yoga principles: proper exercise (12 asana poses), proper breathing (pranayama), proper relaxation (savasana), proper diet (vegetarian) and positive thinking (vedanta) and meditation (dhyana). A typical 90-minute class combines the 12 core poses with Sanskrit chanting, breathing exercises, meditation and relaxation.
AshtangaK. Pattabhi Jois, the founder of Ashtanga yoga famously said: “Practice, and all is coming,” which pretty much sums up ashtanga, an athletic and more challenging style of yoga where students learn a series of poses and practice to the rhythm of their own breath while a teacher adjusts and advices until that practice is smooth, uninterrupted and able to be done at a steady pace. The philosophy is that the yogi will learn to rise above mistakes and setbacks and that this skill will spill out into all aspects of life.
If a yoga style has the word ‘flow’ succeeding its name, it means that it’s taught in sequences that flow from one pose to the next without teachers stopping to chat about the finer points of each pose. Influenced by Ashtanga, Vinyasa is without question yoga, but it’s definitely a workout too and the name ‘Vinyasa’ is often used as an umbrella term to differentiate this. If you’re new to yoga and your fitness is a bit rusty, you’ll definitely feel it and you may be out of your depth as it’s a vigorous style designed to condition the whole body as well as the mind; probably a good idea to attend a few classes and get a feel for the basics before embarking on an entire trip.
If you'd like to chat about Yoga or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.
YinAs much a way to get to grips with the basics of meditation and stilling the mind as it is a workout for the hips, pelvis and lower back, Yin yoga finds its roots in the Taoist tradition and concentrates on seated postures. Poses can be held for up to 10 minutes and the aim is to develop both flexibility and the ability to just let it go – ideal for people who really suffer from stress and for sport Billys whose joints are tense and overworked.
BikramInteresting Bikram yoga fact no. 1: every class you go to, anywhere in the world, follows the same sequence of 26 poses. Interesting Bikram yoga fact no. 2: the sweat-fest that is Bikram was devised long before clever marketers rebranded it ‘hot yoga’ and was in fact the early 1970s brainchild of eponymous yogi, Bikram Choudhury. Bikram put together the 26 strengthening and stretching poses to target the muscles as well as flush the body’s organs of toxins and the style is practiced in a room heated to 40.5°C and 40 percent humidity to help release the toxins on their pesky way.
An oft-repeated myth is that Bikram yoga and hot yoga are the same thing. They’re both hot; in fact, hot yoga as its name would suggest is staggeringly hot with a minimum room temp of 40.5°C and a maximum of 47.2°C, but the key difference is that, unlike Bikram, in a hot yoga session you don’t repeat the same sequence of postures, so it’s ideal for those of you that get bored with repetition. The intense heat in a hot yoga studio means that your body needs less of a warm-up and you’re less likely to sustain injury and muscle damage. You’ll also undergo a seriously sweaty outpouring of toxins, leaving you glowing.
Nicole Stone, from our supplier, Yoga Breaks in Spain, shares her opinion on the different types of yoga: “All styles of yoga are based upon a form called Hatha yoga, so even if you end up going on an ashtanga, shivananda, or an Iyengar holiday, they are all based on Hatha yoga which is great because it means no matter what holiday you choose you will recognise a lot of the postures even if you only ever attended one class. We teach and lots of Hatha yoga because everyone tends to feel comfortable with that and we also teach a style called Vinyasa flow, which is Hatha yoga, but requires linking a series of poses together using your breath so you build a sequence of postures - it helps the person practicing yoga become more flexible and more meditative with their practice because there are no interruptions.”
More about Yoga
Whether you want a health kick, quiet meditation, or to train as a yoga teacher yourself, our yoga holidays travel guide will show you the way.
Choosing a yoga holiday that is right for you will include numerous factors, such as whether you’re looking for yoga for fitness, for relaxation or to develop your spiritual side in a location and with a company that have your best interests at heart.
Find out what we recommend as you search the world for where to go on a yoga holiday and use our interactive map of highlights to help you pinpoint a position that won’t leave you tied up in knots.
Let the sun shine on your next yoga holiday as you discover lesser visited locations and ever so relaxing retreats that help to soothe the soul as you slip into Spain.
Take yourself off for a week in Greece as you discover the delights of yoga holidays where the sun always shines and the food is just as fresh as the breeze skimming off the Aegean.
There's just something about the warm weather and peaceful countryside that sets yoga holidays in Portugal aside from the rest of the pack; and there’s no end of additional activities and well-being therapies to complement your trip.
Yoga holidays in Italy are a pure indulgence for the body, mind and spirit.
Yoga holidays in India are a path not just to physical fitness and flexibility - but to wisdom and enlightenment.
Say namaste to our top 10 unusual yoga retreats for a holiday that is engaging, educational or even exhilarating, but always restorative for mind and body.
Yoga retreat activities always include a little bit extra for the mind, body and soul with nutrition, fitness and unusual activities, such as gulet cruising, horse riding and traditional local dancing helping you work up an appetite after you’ve worked on your daily salutations and stretches.
Find out a few tips from our yogi friends before embarking on your next yoga holiday.
Our yoga & wellness holidays allow you to sift through the buzzwords and really find out what’s it all about as you discover the difference between a boot camp and a wellness break as our supplier expert Nicola Stone explains further.