In today’s age of constant digital connectivity, distraction is always close at hand. Couple that with a conventional case of urban workaholism, and you have a serious challenge to mindfulness. As a result, it’s perhaps now more important than ever to create opportunities to reset and reconnect in your downtime. Consider one of these destinations for your next getaway, and return home relaxed, refreshed and ready to dive back into the frantic pace of modern life.
Home to the Dalai Lama and his government in exile, Dharamshala is possibly the best place in the world to experience Tibetan Buddhist culture firsthand. The world-renowned Tushita Meditation Centre offers free daily meditation classes and popular 10-day silent retreats, while the nearby Thosamling Nunnery is a more low-key alternative. Adventure seekers will find plenty of trekking and paragliding opportunities in the surrounding Himalayan foothills. And if the Dalai Lama is in town, it’s probably a good idea to drop by his temple for a teaching – it could be life-changing.
Artists, hippies and alternative thinkers have formed a one-of-a-kind community near the pristine beaches of Tulum, where the daily grind of modern life feels far away. You can lean into this state of mind at the Mayan Clay Spa, which offers a three-hour treatment featuring soothing Mayan clay and a full-body fruit mask. If the lunar calendar is in your favour you can also visit Yaan Wellness for a temazcal ceremony – a traditional Mexican steam bath – led by a Mayan healer.
According to the mystically inclined, the desert town of Sedona is home to large numbers of energy vortexes that can enhance spiritual practices. At the acclaimed Mii amo resort, guests take full advantage of these by stargazing, canyon bathing and participating in moon ceremonies and labyrinth-walking meditation. For those harbouring some new age skepticism, hiking Sedona’s otherworldly red sandstone landscape will prove equally inspiring.
The epitome of paradise, Bali is a place where just about every activity seems tinged with rejuvenation. In Ubud, a hub for cultural tourism, yoga is the name of the game. The famous Yoga Barn welcomes all levels of practitioners, from beginner to advanced, to its lush, tropical environs. Magical side-trips to waterfalls, rice terraces and coffee plantations, meanwhile, are a quick scooter ride away.
Also known as the “Garden Island,” Kauai is a verdant fantasy land of rainforests, mountains, rivers and waterfalls. In the midst of such overwhelming natural beauty, it’s no wonder that spiritual wellness retreats abound. At Surf into Yoga, the two namesake activities merge in retreats featuring private lessons in yoga and surfing, plus massage.
Rife with volcanic hot springs, Hakone is the best place to become acquainted with Japan’s rich spa-going tradition. Over a dozen hot springs feed the area, and their geothermally heated, mineral-enhanced waters, are believed to promote all manner of healing, from detoxification to anti-aging. There are many resorts to choose from, including the eccentric Yunessun, where guests can bathe in pools coffee, wine, sake and green tea, with open-air views of Hakone’s forests and mountains.
Karasburg Region, Namibia
In the arid and starkly beautiful Namibian countryside, wellness goes hand-in-hand with philanthropy. The Oana wildlife reserve is a 45,000-hectare wellness retreat with an overarching goal to protect endangered species and reduce conflict between humans and animals. In addition to practising yoga and meditation in the mountainous desert landscape, guests can also take part in wildlife counts, leopard research and biodiversity surveys. Because sometimes wellness is about contributing to the greater good.