June 4, 2014
Towering green mountain chains, shimmering blue seas and near perfect weather all-year-round make practising yoga in Hawaii an appealing concept. Who doesn’t need a little quiet contemplation on a beach while perfecting their downward dog? Indeed, it’s meditation in paradise. Here are a few of our favourite yoga schools and retreats across the island chain.
A 30-year project, owner Richard Koob toured the world as a dancer before settling down on a remote coastline on Hawaii Island. Amidst their 19-acre coastal retreat are native flora and fauna, the sound of gentle lapping waves and a number of cottages, treehouse lofts, bungalows, campsites and other lodging options. Kalani offers 30 one-week yoga retreats per year with fees that range from $850 to $2200. Stay includes accommodations, meals, bodywork, use of pool, hot tub, and sauna, daily yoga and other classes. Guests can also opt for single night stays.
When Xorin Balbes stumbled upon a historic swath of Mt. Haleakala land – with sweeping vistas of Maui’s surrounding seas and the ironwoods and pine trees favoured by the highlands here – he knew it would be the ideal locale for his Lumeria yoga retreat and lodging. He set out to design a retreat that connected on every level with mindful travellers from around the globe, most notably, authors, artists, healers and creative types. With some help from the editors of Oprah’s magazine, over the last few years Lumeria has seen a varied clientele, many of whom come to do one-on-one yoga training and classes with the best yogi on Maui. Local kahuna (knowledgeable Hawaiian elders) consul on a regular basis, bringing the best of Hawaiian healing into the mix.
Deep in the rainforest of Hawaii Island, Yoga Oasis focuses on meditation, cleansing and yoga practice on a deep level. With a colourful staff that has worked with Hollywood film actors and personalities, they offer yoga teacher training programs as well as retreats that range in length from one day to a week or longer. Guests can also join a work program that allows them to volunteer time in return for accommodations and/or yoga training. Bonus: This retreat is close to the Pahoa hot springs and tide pools, which make for a refreshing perk after a day of body work.
Maui is home to a towering, dormant volcano, some of Hawaii’s most dramatic coastlines and churning waves in the wintertime. Samana blends all the best of Maui’s raw energy into a five-day cleanse and yoga retreat for those looking to “tune up.” The cleanse options include a five-day retreat with four hours of yoga, meditation and breath work classes, or just a “cleanse and consult” option where you pick up food and beverages over the course of five days while staying elsewhere. Founder Danielle Ryan counts her background in nutrition, holistic and ayurvedic studies and adventure tourism as influences at her practice. Individual coaching sessions are also an option here.
Located in the colourful Bohemian-meets-surfer town of Paia, this school and practise centre sits on the grounds of a former train depot once used for hauling sugarcane off the mountain. Teachers range from studied yogis to dance instructors who meld both practices in their classes – starting a trend in Hawaii of active yoga performance. Maui Yoga Shala offers teen and youth classes, prenatal yoga, hot and vinyassa classes, pilates, children’s gymnastics, ballet, belly dancing, Afro-Caribbean and Tahitian dance classes, candlelight yoga as well as sessions with live musicians for a spirited vibe. The team recently opened a studio in the upscale resort area of Wailea, offering classes to those staying at the Fairmont, Four Seasons, Grand Wailea, Andaz and other resorts there.
Michaelle Edwards has led the charge on the Garden Isle of Kauai for decades. Her unique style of YogAlign practice””aimed at working on the spine””has been a hit with locals and visitors alike. Edwards excels in her teacher training sessions, held a few times a year, depending on enrolment. She also has weekly classes and nutrition sessions at her Kauai Mana Yoga Center on the island’s North Shore, near the town of Hanalei. The surrounding area is replete with waterfalls, spectacular jungle hikes, rivers for paddling kayaks or SUPs, and of course, the ocean. Edwards offers select cabin accommodations at her retreat, many of which are spotted with guava, mango, papaya and coconut trees. Bonus: Edwards has brought her YogAlign course on the road as far as Europe, Canada and New York.
When music producer Dorian Wright decided to flee Southern California for the urban vibe of Honolulu, he immediately set out to launch Power Yoga Hawaii. Having practiced yoga and meditation since he was six years old, Wright quickly grew Power Yoga to a second studio on Oahu after becoming a Lululemon ambassador as well as participating in various Wanderlust yoga festivals around the country. Now he teaches his unique style of music-enhanced (Wright DJs during some of his classes) power yoga across the island, with partner hotels (The Modern Honolulu hosts occasional sessions with Wright on their rooftop “Sunset” pool as well as in the Addiction nightclub). Bonus: All classes are donation based, so you pay what you like.
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Have you practiced yoga in Hawaii? Which yoga retreat did you choose? Let us know in the comments section below.
Written by Brian Berusch