Yoga Travel in South America

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Location: Ilha Grande, Brazil
Ilha Grande is a beautiful island off the coast of Brazil, and has the largest remaining stands of the Mata Atlantica forest. Hillsides are covered in lush greenery, and there is not a bank or a car to be seen. Here is the true meaning of solitude. Just southwest of Rio de Janeiro, this tropical haven makes you feel like you have the place to yourself, with virgin rain forests, pristine Brazilian beaches, and not a single paved road. Biodiversity and conservation make this island more than just a pretty picture – although the marine life, coral, tropical fish and waterfalls are not to be taken for granted.

Retreat: Gota do Mar Elemental Intersection
This yoga retreat is a little different than most others. It’s a paradise where your options and schedule are entirely up to you. A simple but elegant bungalow on the beach, the retreat lets you enjoy your environment however you want. At a secluded juncture of earth and sea, you’ll truly relax with views of the ocean, warm natural light, and the crisp sea breeze. A covered pavilion lets you practice yoga outside on the beach, and the onsite freshwater pool, sauna and hot tub repair your hard-working muscles at the end of the day. Snorkel or swim on the private beach and take in the tranquility of the water.

If the surroundings themselves don’t entice you, the amenities will. An on-site chef will plan a menu with you that will satisfy your dietary requirements, and create each meal with fresh, whole foods that are grown and caught locally. The emphasis here is to remove the separation between yourself and nature. Spoil yourself with massage therapy, diving lessons or ecological tours to round out your yoga experience. The best part? When you rent out the entire site, you can arrange to travel with 10-20 of your friends, and occupy Gota do Mar entirely, making it a completely intimate journey.

Location: Bahia, Brazil
You get there by boat or a tiny plane, and it won’t be the Brazil that you’ve imagined. Forget carnival, busy metropolitan cities, and modernity. Morro de Sao Paulo is one of five villages on the compelling island of Tinhare in Bahia. You may fly into Salvador first, but your experience on the island will be nothing of what you see on the main land. Clear, calm waters surround you, and the beaches and rocks become your only surface. Small fishing villages bring life to the shore, and locals welcome visitors with a smile. Bright coral and stunning marine life saturate the waters, and when you realize that your week will be comprised of sand, sea, yoga, and village life, a transformation of mind occurs, and you’re ready to begin.

Retreat: Adventure Brazil’s Yoga Retreat
Adventure Brazil’s yoga program guides each participant through the exquisiteness of nature, and the simplicity of living communally. Every day, you’ll start your morning with yoga on the beach, and a healthy breakfast. As the afternoon rolls onward, explore the beaches, meet local villagers, and experience the mystique of the nearby forests. Spend each night relaxing by the pool or laying on the hammock that swings with the breeze.

Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, a retreat here will perfectly reenergize you. Each package includes daily yoga sessions led by a certified instructor, seven nights in a pousada on the beach, guided activities, maid service, round-trip transfers from the airport, and all food except dinner. When you’re not centering on your yoga practice, feel free to hit the bars, browse galleries and do a little shopping – the program may focus on yoga, but it won’t restrain you from partaking in Brazilian revelry. Charming restaurants line the streets of nearby villages, where you can eat local food and meet the families that own the amazing little establishments.

Location: Limatambo Valley, Cusco, Peru
Limatambo Valley is quiet little sanctuary near the mountains, just 90 miles from Cusco, Peru. Mostly Andean-influenced, the area’s Inca empire roots spurred astonishing architecture, and stands as the archaeological capital of the Americas and the gateway to Machu Picchu. Cobblestone streets lead you toward vast, sunny plazas surrounded by colonial mansions and historic churches. As you get further from the metropolis and closer to the valley, you’ll wind through authentic Inca trails and feel the crisp air of Peru’s southern mountain range.

Retreat: Yoga Limatambo Guesthouse and Retreat
When you stay at the Yoga Limatambo Guesthouse and Retreat, you’re truly living the lifestyle of a yogi. This isn’t a luxury resort, and it’s not a place where you’ll get room service or pampering. Instead, the center focuses on the five principles of life, and allows the rest of it to occur naturally. The five principles are:
o Exercise (Asana)
o Breathing (Pranayama)
o Relaxation (Savasana)
o Diet (Vegetarian)
o Positive thinking (Meditation)
Every day, you’ll be immersed in two 90-minute Asana classes and two Satangs (meditations) and you’ll be encouraged to do daily things that bring you closer with nature like working in the garden (karma yoga) and exploring the archeological complexes or Killarumiyoq and Tarawasi. At night, you’ll meditate by fire, and relax in the thermal baths of Cconoq. There are three types of programs (two nights, three nights, and four nights) and you’ll stay in one of four bungalows with private attached bathrooms. The owners of the center provide 100 percent vegetarian organic food for the entire trip, and often use vegetables from their garden.