Follow your bliss to the world's most sublime yoga retreats
From Spain to India, you can ramp up your holiday relaxation factor by booking one of these amazing yoga retreats, writes Caroline Sylger
Yoga is the world's oldest system of personal development, which began in India more than 5,000 years ago.
Celebrities from Jennifer Aniston to David Beckham know its benefits - but you don't have to be bendy like Beckham to do it.
I first discovered yoga in the '90s on a beach in Koh Samui. After a gruelling backpacking trip, I loved the way it made me feel so serene, and I was hooked after my first class. I have now been doing my own daily practice for more than 20 years.Yoga, for me, is a long hot bath for your insides. The postures condition and strengthen the body, the breathing exercises flood your system with oxygen and a sense of calm.
A yoga holiday will give you a proper chance to pause and a quick, intensive fix of "me-time".
And there are many lovely places in the world to do it. Here are some of the best.YOGA IN ENCHANTING LOCATIONS
Reclaim Your Self, Japan
This seven-night retreat on Kyushu island and in Kyoto mixes twice-daily, jivamukti yoga with hikes through forests peppered with ancient temples. There are onsen hot spring baths, Zen meditation with a local priest, a tea ceremony, Ikebana flower arranging and vegetarian meals.
From ₤1,995 per person sharing for seven nights, with all meals, activities and train. Runs Nov 5-12 2018. See reclaimyourself.co.ukYoga Synergy At Kamalaya, Thailand
This holistic spa on Koh Samui is set in a ravine sloping down to a lagoon. It offers a three-, five- or seven-night programme with private, daily, one-to-one sessions of classical yoga and meditation with teachers who will tailor the classes to your skill and needs.
Between times, enjoy divine treatments at the hilltop spa.
From ₤2,755 per person sharing for seven nights, including flights from the UK. See healingholidays.co.ukFOR MINDFULNESS
Quinta Da Calma, Portugal
This hilltop retreat has been offering mindfulness and yoga retreats for more than 35 years and has just been refurbished. Arrive each Saturday from July to October for a one-week programme of yoga, meditation, tai chi, therapeutic treatments and optional self-development workshops. You can also go to the beach for a spot of mindful stand-up paddle boarding.
From ₤657 per person sharing for six nights all-inclusive. See wellbeingescapes.com.
Mindfulness Journeys, Morocco
These relaxed holidays are held at a kasbah hotel on Lake Lalla Takerkoust in the foothills of the Atlas mountains. Your day starts with a 90-minute class, while early evening sessions are dedicated to meditation. You can also swim in the pools, go walking, have a hammam and nap.
From €1,690 per person sharing for six nights all-inclusive, except treatments. Sept 23-29. See mindfulnessjourneys.com.FAMILY FUNRo Ro Retreats At Santillan, Spain
These delightful retreats are hosted by the yogi parents of three children. Based at Santillan, in the hills near Malaga with pretty gardens and a pool, they offer child care during two daily yoga classes for parents, family yoga sessions and home-cooked meals.
A seven-night stay costs ₤1,200 per adult, ₤700 per child sharing. See rororetreats.com.
Ila Wellness Workshop For Families, UK
Ila's bucolic barns in the Cotswolds offer on-demand workshops that include a yoga session, breathing exercises, a sound healing session, a wellness talk on the chakras and the chance to learn how to massage each other.
Workshops cost ₤95 per person, including healthy snacks. See ila-spa.com.FOR HEALING
Meet Your Self At Ananda, India
For more serious yogis, this palatial destination spa in the Himalayas offers a self-realisation programme with one-on-one hatha yoga sessions and guided daily meditation. In your free time, enjoy ayurvedic treatments and languid surroundings as you float around in fine white pyjamas.
From $3,185 per person sharing for seven nights, all-inclusive. See anandaspa.com.Total Detox, Turkey
Gently cleanse with healthy meals or do a more intense juice fast alongside twice-daily yoga at Yuva Retreat Centre on Turkey's south coast. Nutrition classes and treatments support the process and the sea is two minutes away.
From ₤720 per person sharing for seven nights all-inclusive, except treatments. Next one is Oct 2-9. See jivahealing.com.IN THE GREAT OUTDOORS
Soul & Surf, Kerala, India
This laid-back hotel on a cliff overlooking Golden Beach in Varkala has a relaxed programme of surf lessons and yoga, practised on a platform overlooking the Arabian Sea.
From ₤231 per person sharing for seven nights, including daily surf lessons; six daily yoga classes cost ₤32.50. Oct - May. See soulandsurf.com.
Adventure Yogi, France
Set in a chalet at St Foy in the French Alps, these action-packed holidays feature daily, one-hour yoga classes and two-day-long hikes that start with sunrise yoga up a mountain.
From ₤889 pp for seven nights all-inclusive, apart from some activities. The next retreat runs July 26-Aug 2. See adventureyogi.com.FOR BEAUTY
Holistic Retreat, IbizaThis brand-new retreat at a cliffside luxury villa on the north of the island has dramatic sea views and features daily yoga and facials that have been called "the holistic alternative to Botox". Also hikes, star-gazing and pampering in the form of manicures, pedicures, wraps and scrubs.
From €2,500 per person sharing for a week, all-inclusive. Nov 4-11. See erinknowles.co.uk/retreats.
Four Seasons Maldives At Landaa Giraavaru
At this faultless island spa resort, you can book daily private yoga classes in a variety of styles and enjoy beautifying treatments and rituals in over-the-ocean, wooden-slatted rooms.
Try the joyously therapeutic AntiGravity Yoga in a jungle clearing - you'll be suspended in hammocks to help you practise inversions.
From ₤1,025 per night for a beach bungalow; yoga class ₤70. See fourseasons.com/maldiveslg.KNOW YO' YOGA
What's In A Yoga Class?
Don't be overwhelmed by the increasing range of yoga "styles" out there - in essence, the yoga that most people in the West practise in one form or another is raja, the yoga of physical and mental control.
Most yoga holidays feature a one- to two-hour energising morning class, and a one- to two-hour afternoon class to relax and restore you.
Some classes will include pranayama (breathing exercises), meditation, group chanting, some yogic philosophy and yoga nidra (an effective, guided deep relaxation).
The best teachers will be skilled at teaching mixed classes, challenging those who already have their own practice and supporting those who have only just begun.
What Should A Yogi Pack?
A yoga holiday is a chance to declutter your mind - help this process by packing as light as possible.
Yoga props such as mats and bolsters should be provided by the host. I always bring a warm shawl or a sarong to cover myself during meditation or savasana (final relaxation pose), some stretchy, breathable leggings and tops, a favourite warm top, a water bottle, natural insect repellent, sun cream, ear plugs, and a notebook to jot down thoughts. - The Daily Telegraph