With our hectic, always-on-the-run lives, sometimes we just need a few days to step outside, relax, and rejuvenate. Enter the yoga retreat, a perfect way to get away, recharge, and become mindful.
Here, seven restorative yoga retreats near San Francisco.
Wilbur Hot Springs
3375 Wilbur Springs Road | Williams
The yogi: Purist
The sanctuary: The spectacular California Coastal Range and an 1800-acre nature preserve surround this rustic 19th-century lodge, where guests can soak up the hot spring waters that have been healing centuries worth of pilgrims. In addition to yoga, regular events and retreats include meditation and chef weekends.
The practice: From April through October, yoga classes are offered complimentary on the weekends. Retreats occur periodically, like those this year led by Sarana Miller, a faculty instructor at Yoga Journal.
The details: $475-$550 per person (includes two-night accommodation, yoga, and meals)
The directions: It is difficult to reach Wilbur Hot Springs without a car (the hardcore could take this 65-mile bike ride from the Davis Amtrak station), but once you’re parked, you’re parked for the duration of your visit.
The Expanding Light
14618 Tyler Foote Road | Nevada City
The yogi: Spiritual
The sanctuary: Whether you’re over-stressed or just need to get back in touch with the world, The Expanding Light can help. Expanding Light is a haven for Ananda, a global movement centered on finding God in our daily lives. Lakes, temples, and serene lounges help with this quest, as do organic meals and daily meditations. Rooms accommodate all styles and budgets, from Deluxe privates to tent camping.
The practice: Ananda yoga that emphasizes postures, breathing and energy-control techniques. Retreats are regular and varied, from holistic health retreats to yoga therapy, and independent yogis have the option to do a personal retreat.
The details: From $55 a night to $800
The directions: Take Amtrak to Sacramento and catch the Light Rail Bus from 8th and K Streets (St. Rose of Lima Park) to Watt Avenue and Interstate 80. Then take the Light Rail east to the city of Auburn (departs every hour). From Auburn the Foothill Shuttle will take you to Expanding Light.
39171 Tassajara Road | Carmel Valley
The yogi: Transcendentalist
The sanctuary: The first Zen monastery outside of Asia, Tassajara (operated by the San Francisco Zen Center) opens its beautiful doors to guests from April through September. If the magical, hidden valley doesn’t make over your stressed-out mentality, being completely off the grid (smartphone addictions need not apply) and soaking in the restorative hot springs waters will. Guests can participate in daily meditation and regular talks. Accommodations vary from bare-bones yurts to lovely cottages (all lit by kerosene lamps).
The practice: Regular retreats nourish body, mind, and spirit. In addition to yoga, the center offers retreats from “The Vitality of the True Self” to “The Significance of Joy.” There is something for everyone, and even skeptics can find serenity.
The details: From $55 a night to $800
The directions: There is no public transit that goes direct to Tassajara, but you can take the Monterey Airport from SFO to the Monterey Transit Plaza. From there, you can connect with other travelers via the Zen Center’s Rideshare Board. Whether you opt to drive or not, we recommend springing for the Stage that shuttles guests from the town of Jamesburg over the last (somewhat harrowing) stretch to the retreat.
Mount Madonna Center
445 Summit Road | Watsonville
The yogi: Communal
The sanctuary: Picture it—335 acres of redwood forest looking out on Monterey Bay. But Mount Madonna is so much more than place. It’s an artistic and spiritual community based on the teachings of silent Monk Baba Hari Dass. Camping, cabin, and hotel-style rooms are all available.
The practice: In addition to a handful of four-day yoga retreats and yoga teacher training, Mount Madonna offers daily yoga classes, occasionally taught by Baba Hari Dass himself. In between your sun salutations you’ll be hiking, playing tennis, or soaking in the hot tub.
The details: From $93-$146 per night (includes meals, lodging and facilities use)
The directions: Public transit to Mount Madonna is quite complicated, so we suggest a ride share.
6780 W Pozo Road | Santa Margarita
The yogi: Eclectic
The sanctuary: There’s a reason Scott Currie and Eva Inglizian, founders of Sagrada Wellness, describe it as “California’s best kept secret.” The hilltop hideaway is only two miles from the sleepy town of Santa Margarita in SLO County, but it’s completely off the beaten path, allowing you to commune with nature and the abounding wildlife, take a plunge in the spring-fed lake, or soak in the Jacuzzi.
The practice: An acupuncturist and architect, Eva and Scott operate retreats as eclectic as they are. Guests may pare down at a Cleanse and Detox retreat or indulge at a Yoga, Wine, and Chocolate retreat. Either way they leave feeling refreshed.
The details: $860-$1595 for a four or five day retreat
The directions: You can take Amtrak to San Luis Obispo and a Regional Transit Authority (RTA) bus to Santa Margarita, but you’ll need a car to get into the hills to Sagrada.
11149 Sunset Avenue | Desert Hot Springs
The yogi: Conflicted
The sanctuary: Set in the serenity of the desert, in the shadow of the San Jacinto and San Gorgonio mountains, Nurturing Next offers seven minimalist, Zen-inspired rooms, most with kitchens.
The practice: Nurturing Nest’s freedom retreats focus on the nurturing part, offering a healing experience for those in emotional distress. In addition to yoga and meditation, retreat goers will do personal work through therapy, cleansing, journaling, and silence. Also on the roster are hikes, movement therapy, time in the natural hot springs and Native American Sweat Lodge, and massages.
The details: $2400 for the six-day, all-inclusive retreat; rooms only from $139
The directions: Fly into Palm Springs International Airport, and take the Sunline Transit Agency bus 14 to Palm and 8th. It’s a five-minute walk from there.
Back to Earth
Retreat locations vary
The yogi: Nature lover
The sanctuary: Back to Earth Outdoors is a nature destination company that operates “soulful outdoor adventures” that cultivates a love of being enables participants to connect with the Earth.
The practice: The company’s primary program is a Yoga Backpacking trip in Yosemite National Park, but a variety of other backpacking trips, as well as retreats at campgrounds, farms, and retreat centers.
The details: Prices range from $600-$1325.
The directions: Vary based on retreat location chosen.