With the hustle and bustle of modern life, more and more travelers are seeking ways to stretch the body and relax the mind while out exploring the world. Yoga is a popular and accessible way for anyone to improve their mental, physical and emotional health, particularly when complimented with a day of biking, hiking, kayaking and traveling actively.
What Exactly is Yoga?
Originating in ancient India over 5,000 years ago, yoga can be defined broadly as the practice one undertakes toward uniting the body, mind and spirit. In fact, the word yoga is derived from the Sanskrit word yuj, meaning 'to join.' Yoga masters first introduced the practice to the Western world in the late 19th century. This has grown into what many associate with yoga today: physical poses (called asanas) coupled with attention to mindfulness that can result in an overall positive contribution to physical and emotional health. Breathing techniques are often incorporated into the yoga practice, helping to clear the mind and cleanse the body.
Today, dozens of different styles of yoga are practiced by people around the world. Hatha yoga emphasizes stretching by holding poses for a long period of time. Vinyasa yoga is characterized by a flow of postures linking breath to movement. Ashtanga yoga is a regimented set of poses repeated daily. Bikram yoga is practiced in a heated environment. On Backroads trips, the style of yoga we practice is a mixture of these styles with a focus on complementing a day of hiking, cycling and adventuring.
Whether a serious student of yoga or someone who just wants to give it a try, experiencing yoga in some of the most peaceful and picturesque locations around the world is an exceptional way to begin the day's active adventures!
A historic and richly meaningful place to experience the practice of yoga is in its birthplace, India. Here you can embrace the ancient traditions of yoga while cycling among picturesque villages and hiking to remote temples. You'll be accompanied by the scents of sandalwood and jasmine filling the air and the Hindu chanting that can be heard from hillsides decorated with ornate temples.
The Indonesian island of Bali naturally lends itself to yoga and active travel. Locals and visitors alike revel in the abundant offerings of the island - fresh fruit, tropical waters and stunning temples. The Balinese people exude kindness, which contributes to the peaceful atmosphere. As you cycle through the verdant rice paddies and small villages, you can't help but be inspired to start the day out with a deep breath and some feel-good stretching.
Europe offers travelers a chance to bike, hike and practice yoga while immersed in some of western civilization's oldest and most timeless cultures and landscapes. Here historic villages, natural wonders and pilgrimage routes serve as a perfect backdrop for introspection. Perhaps magnificent Icelandic glaciers and northern lights inspire your practice. Or maybe you feel a connection to the rolling hills of Tuscany, the rugged winding trails of Mallorca, Spain, or the sacred traditions found along the Camino de Santiago.
The US Southwest
The southwestern US, with its rugged, vast and beautiful landscape, offers a cornucopia of active outdoor recreational opportunities. It's also one of the greatest places in North America to escape the modern world and find solitude, new perspectives and inspiration. Native Americans have long hailed the healing environments found in the realm of Joshua Tree National Park and the red rock country of Arizona and Utah. The endless beauty and sacred history of this region is powerful and palpable - from desert flora to ancient petroglyphs to abundant sunshine. It's an environment ripe for the practice of yoga before or after a day of active exploration. Reaching all the way to the Southern California coast, find yourself fully immersed in this treasured corner of America.
Tropical US and Latin America
Yogis from around the world often flock to tropical locations in the Americas. Steamy jungles, unspoiled beaches and cloud-topped peaks provide a unique setting to combine outward exploration with yoga. Whether it's the turquoise tropical waters of the Yucatan Peninsula, embracing the laid-back island life of the Florida Keys, being surrounded by a cloud forest in Costa Rica or reveling in the power of towering volcanic mountains in the Hawaiian Islands, these locations offer the perfect setting to breathe deep, be inspired, relax and stretch the mind and body while being connecting in meaningful ways with the world around you.