Ready to plan this year's summer vacation? Before you fight crowds, airplane delays, traffic, and those other not-so-relaxing parts of hitting your annual tourist spot, consider one of these yoga retreats: You'll end up relaxed, centered, and more in tune with your body, mind, and environment than ever.
1. AmaTierraAt Costa Rica's AmaTierra Retreat and Wellness Center, the focus isn't just on yoga -- although there's plenty of that, with daily Hatha classes and regularly scheduled retreat packages.
Guests can also take advantage of massage therapy, energy balancing, ear candling and exfoliation, and nutritional consultations to promote overall wellness. Plus, the center's AmaTierra Foundation offers eco-tourism opportunities that promote recycling, environmental education, and organic farming initiatives in the local town of Turrubares.
2. Akbol Yoga Retreat
Akbol Yoga Retreat on Ambergris Caye, Belize, is a collection of seven cabanas that let you commune with nature in ways ranging from sporty to leisurely stroll: scuba diving on one of the world's largest barrier reefs, kayaking or sailing, or visiting ancient Mayan ruins.
And then there's the yoga: classes are held every day at the end of the pier overlooking the clear blue water and are tailored to four different levels, from introductory to advanced. The resort also offers space for retreat groups, and an organic garden that provides fruit and vegetables to the restaurant and juice bar.
Costa Rican nature retreat Samasati offers yoga retreats, packages, and teacher training, including the seven-night Yoga in the Caribbean package, which inludes 10 classes, a 60-minute massage, and horseback riding or a waterfall tour.
The resort also works with the country's Certificate for Sustainable Tourism, was built without clearing the land or cutting any trees, uses reclaimed and local wood, incorporates greywater techniques, and preserves the local surroundings, which are legally listed as a Private Biological Reserve.
4. Moab Yoga on the Rocks
If you're not as inspired by the ocean as you are by the land, then try a retreat with Moab Yoga on the Rocks.
The Utah-based company offers three kinds of retreats -- backpacking, base camp, and workshop -- geared toward different levels of activity (backpackers hike for 2-3 hours each day, base campers do minimal hiking, and workshoppers have the option to skip hiking altogether). The small groups and outdoor living let you minimize your environmental impact while reaching new levels with your practice.
5. Sustainable Earth
Sustainable Earth Yoga Retreats partners with Buena Onda Yoga for its 2012 trip: Four days in Argentina at the Chacra Mariposa, where they promise yoga practice and meditation tied to "the rhythms of the Mariposa's private river and falls."
Along with fueling up on local, sustainably-grown food and resting up in the simple accommodations, retreaters spend the day on an organic farm for lessons in alternative energy, composting, and eco-friendly eating.