Photo courtesy of via Shutterstock.
Photo courtesy of via Shutterstock.

Some people’s idea of the perfect vacation involves sea, sun and beach life. Others prefer culture; cities, dining and museums. Still others live for adventure travel, abseiling and white water rafting their way through the world.

But one of the most rejuvenating kinds of vacation is one focused on relaxation, on calming the mind and centering the body.

You’ve probably read about the many yoga retreats available around the world, but have you ever thought of paying visit to an ashram?

While the term once referred only to a spiritual retreat or monastery, the term ‘ashram’ is now used for a range of Hindu or Buddhist cultural centers where you can study and practice meditation, yoga and music.

These oases of meditation and spirituality are a balm for the mind, body and soul.

Here are ten of the world’s best ashram experiences:

Photo courtesy of Sacred Earth Journeys.
Photo courtesy of Sacred Earth Journeys.

1. Explore Sacred South India

Venture into the lush, colorful lands of Southern India with this 15-day Sacred Earth tour.

Blending yoga, spirituality and sightseeing, the trip features a visit to the Isha Center, located in the lush forest at the foots of the Velliangiri Mountains.

Catskill Mountains. Photo courtesy of Kazela via Shutterstock.
Catskill Mountains. Photo courtesy of Kazela via Shutterstock.

2.  Venture Into A Mountain Monastery In New York State

In the tranquil surroundings of New York’s Catskill Mountains, the Zen Mountain Monastery is one of the most respected monastic ashrams in the West.

Focussed on Buddhist principles and practices, the center offers retreats and programs including Zen teachings.

The most popular program runs over a weekend, though month-long and even year-long residencies are available.

Photo courtesy of Sivananda Bahamas.
Photo courtesy of Sivananda Bahamas.

3. Relax At A Yoga Ashram In The Bahamas

Located on the aptly named Paradise Island, the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat Bahamas offers everything you could possibly need to relax and recharge.

Select from a range of yoga vacation programs, yoga teacher training and even a range of spirituality and health-related courses.

It’s also set right on the beach.

Vishalakshi Mantapa. Photo courtesy of atanasija1 via Shutterstock.
Vishalakshi Mantapa. Photo courtesy of atanasija1 via Shutterstock.

4. Discover The Art Of Living In Bangalore, India

Located on beautiful grounds in Bangalore, with the stunning Vishalakshi Mantapa building at its heart, the Art of Living Ashram offers the entire package of reviving ashram experiences.

Choose from yoga classes, Ayuverda healing sessions, traditional Upanishad classes and meditation.

Or don’t choose and just do them all.

Most programs run on a weekly basis.

Vrindavan. Photo courtesy of Nila Newsom via Shutterstock.
Vrindavan. Photo courtesy of Nila Newsom via Shutterstock.

5. Head To India’s Most Sacred Place, Vrindavana

On the Yamuna river, between New Delhi and Agra, lies Vrindavana, a village known as the holiest place in India. In this spiritual place, you’ll find Govinda’s Ashram.

Govinda’s runs by a set daily schedule, beginning early in the morning and featuring meditation, chants, teachings and satsung, as well as visits to sacred sites.

Photo courtesy of Jack Frog via Shutterstock.
Photo courtesy of Jack Frog via Shutterstock.

6. Ashram Meets Château In Orléans, France

The Loire Valley isn’t all wine and castles; this lush central region of France is also home to an ashram yoga retreat, located near the charming city of Orléans.

Immerse yourself in yoga practice, vegetarian cuisine and study at the Ashram de Yoga Sivananda Orléans.

Photo courtesy of Photobac via Shutterstock.
Photo courtesy of Photobac via Shutterstock.

7. Find Hindi Spirituality In California

Looking out over the Monterey Bay, surrounded by forest and meadows, Mount Madonna is an ashram retreat right in the Bay Area.

Inspired by the teachings of famous yogi Baba Hari Dass, Mount Madonna offers programs centred on yoga, creative arts and health, all set in a serene environment.

Photo courtesy of Ananda in the Himalayas.
Photo courtesy of Ananda in the Himalayas.

8. Retreat To The Himalayas

In what would have to be one of the most stunning settings in the world, Ananda Ashram is located in an ornate sandstone building perched in the Himalayas.

With a range of spa and yoga options, Ananda is extremely luxurious, yet is still in touch with its spiritual roots.

Plus Oprah likes it, so it has to be good, right?

Photo courtesy of Shekinashram.
Photo courtesy of Shekinashram.

9. Discover Ashram Culture In Somerset, England

Offering healing retreats, holistic therapies and yoga sessions (as well as yoga teacher training), Shekinashram is a slice of traditional ashram culture in the UK.

With a focus on Bhakti yoga, Shekinashram provides a calming environment, vegan meals and meditation spaces.

Photo courtesy of Osho.
Photo courtesy of Osho.

10. Immerse Yourself In Meditation In Pune, India

Many ashrams focus mostly on yoga or spa treatments, but at Osho, meditation reigns supreme.

Located by a lush, calming park in Pune in the Maharashtra region of India, the meditation retreat offers a total of ten meditation sessions a day, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to connect with your mind and spirit.

Do you have any recommendations for ashram vacations? 

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Jessica Festa

Jessica Festa is the editor of Epicure & Culture as well as Jessie on a Journey. She enjoys getting lost in new cities and having experiences you don’t read about in guidebooks. Some of her favorite travel experiences have been teaching English in Thailand, trekking her way through South America, backpacking Europe solo, road tripping through Australia, agritouring through Tuscany, and volunteering in Ghana.

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