Sure, everyone’s done yoga or some other nebulous wellness treatment in their life. But have you ever done yoga while overlooking the vast savannah in South Africa, in the flourishing heart of a game reserve? Or for an alternative form of wellness, how about surf therapy with a world-class surfer in the Maldives?
Something has to be said about having a conducive, new atmosphere to refresh the mind. After all, a giraffe pose done at the local yoga studio isn’t really the same as a giraffe pose done on safari—with an actual giraffe hovering curiously, but supportively, nearby. Here are some of the most unique wellness retreats to be found on every terrain.
Surf Therapy In The Maldives
The Maldives aren’t just a perennial honeymoon spot. The endless chain of coral reefs, hidden atolls and otherworldly beaches make for the perfect place for a wellness getaway. But with such an expanse of crystalline water, it’d be a shame to spend all that time land-bound.
From now until August 31, Niyama Private Islands will host sports therapist and passionate surfer Richard Inskip, who offers a suite of surf-related lessons and treatments. He also teaches a strength training technique called Ginastica Natural, which draws on hatha yoga, capoeira, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu to increase core power and balance both on the surfboard and off it.
Surf therapy is a growing wellness movement that some say helps with reducing anxiety, depression, and stress. In recent times, the US Navy has also embarked on a $1 million research project to see if surf therapy can help military personnel facing post-traumatic stress disorders.
Inskip—who founded the British-based MSD Pro Sport Therapy—also provides post-surf treatments that aid recovery, encourages rehabilitation, and reduces the risk of injury.
Group surf sessions as well as one-on-one training enables even the most novice surfers to catch waves in no time.
With its uncrowded waves and quality breaks that carry right to its shores, the Niyama Private Islands in the Maldives make for the perfect surf spot. Specially kitted-out beachside villas, stocked with a paraphernalia of surfing equipment, are also on hand for the occasion.
Pilgrimage With A Master Monk
If you feel like your spiritual journey is stuck in a rut, perhaps this 24-night pilgrimage with a master Tibetan monk across some of Asia’s most serene regions will enlighten you.
Aman’s Journey to Peace begins on October 22 and runs until November 28. Split up into four legs, the retreat begins on the coast of Vietnam at the Amanoi, threading through Thailand and the ruins of Angkor Wat before ending in Laos’ Amantaka, which is ensconced in the verdant, UNESCO-protected Buddhist Centre of Luang Prabang.
Guests can join at any part of the retreat, or they can sign up for the entire 24-night journey.
Tibetan master monk Geshe YongDong will lead the retreat, which includes thoughtfully planned sessions that cover different aspects of wellness each day, as well as one-on-one spiritual counselling sessions with Geshe YongDong.
A monk since the age of 13, Geshe YongDong attained the highest degree in Tibetan monastic education when he was 24.
Since then, he’s been travelling the world, learning and teaching the ethos of Bön, the indigenous religion of Tibet that predates Buddhism.
“Whether you’re rich or poor, from the East or West, human nature is the same,” he says. “We all want to be peaceful and happy, but we just don’t know how.”
You can also read some of Geshe YongDong’s personal techniques for achieving inner peace here.
South African Yoga Retreat
Picture this: Balmy sun warming your skin. Tall, wispy reeds of savannah grass surrounding you. A stray giraffe ambling about in the distance.
For one week in November, luxury tour operators andBeyond will host a holistic yoga retreat that will take you through South Africa’s cosmopolitan capital and into its wild, beating heart.
The retreat begins in Cape Town on November 7, where trips to wine estates and afternoons meandering through the city’s colourful museums and galleries are punctuated with daily meditations and trips to the spa.
Then, guests will be whisked to and Beyond’s own private game reserve, the Phinda Forest Lodge.
Known for its abundant wildlife and diverse habitats, guests will be treated to twice-daily game drives, bush walks, conservation experiences, and sleepouts under the stars. The stunning locale makes for the perfect place for yoga and meditative classes.
Guests will be guided by Dr Tanya Pergola, an internationally acclaimed therapist and author who’s spent over ten years apprenticing with traditional Maasai healers. Her time working with them, as well as the San Bushmen of Southern Africa, has given her insight into these ancient traditions and healing methods, which she’s incorporated into her own holistic treatments.