Yoga in Sri Lanka – 7 Amazing Places to Practice

Yoga in Sri Lanka – 8 Great Places to Practice

wedit2

It’s taken me a while to get around to shortlisting places to do yoga in Sri Lanka. Hell, it’s taken me a while to get around to writing anything about Sri Lanka. I’ve found this becomes customary when you become preoccupied with having an incredible time somewhere and forget to keep track of any ‘work-related’ obligations you may have set for yourself… Sri Lanka definitely had this effect on me!

While Bali has become notorious for yogis the world around, much thanks to Julia Roberts’ ‘Eat Pray Love’ and also due to just being damn beautiful, I visited several places in Sri Lanka during my travels there which made me wonder that it hasn’t been overwhelmed with tourists and travellers of the spiritual-seeking variety yet (touches wood).
It may be that it’s only on the brink of being discovered as the ideal yoga/retreat destination, and if so, this list of places to do yoga in Sri Lanka might be of use to you!

Surf ‘n Yoga

As it’s no secret that the waves here are some of the best in the world, most recently the trend of ‘surf and yoga’ businesses has exploded around the coastlines of Sri Lanka. It’s with this in mind that one might wonder if yoga in Sri Lanka is on it’s way to becoming the next Bali, nestled comfortably in between the crazy, incessant localised chaos of India and the tourist-ridden beaches of Kuta and Seminyak. I found it to be a nice balance between the two extremes. And isn’t that what yoga is all about? Either way, here’s 7 places you can do yoga in Sri Lanka without blowing the budget during your travels here.

 

7 Places to do Yoga in Sri Lanka:

  1. Sri Yoga Shala, Unawatuna

    Image result for sri yoga shala
    Savasana at Sri Yoga Shala (pic: www.retreatnetwork.com)

    This beautiful shala is situated away from the main road just outside Unawatuna and specialises in catering for retreats and teacher trainings. They also have a daily class schedule, hold regular workshops and courses too, and are situated in stunningly peaceful jungle surroundings covered in greenery! Eva and her husband who run it also own the restaurant down on Wijaya beach just opposite the turn for Sri Yoga Shala, and are planning to open a ‘Garden Kafé’ at the shala soon – they’re also some of the nicest people I’ve ever met! The only fault (if you can call it that) I could find with Sri Yoga Shala is that they don’t offer accommodation, but there are plenty of home stays and guesthouses on the road leading down to the shala where guests can organise lodging at a good price!
    Email: info@sriyogashala.com

    Website/Facebook/Instagram

     

  2. Hangtime Hostel, Weligama

    Image result for hangtime hostel

    I couldn’t possibly write about yoga in Sri Lanka and not include something about the time I spent here. About 30 minutes tuk tuk/scooter ride up the road from Unawatuna you’ll find Weligama and it’s famous surf beach, which stretches as far as the eye can see past the tens of colourful fishing boats docked further up the shore. Backtrack to the centre of the beautiful beach however and you can’t miss Hangtime Hostel, which overlooks many of the local surf-schools and provides comfortable, clean and laid back accommodation for those looking to meet cool people while they break from the surf and – you guessed it – do some yoga. The entire third floor of the hostel has been given to an open air yoga studio where classes take place twice a day overlooking the beach. Couple this with a great rooftop restaurant, group activities and a whole bunch of amazing people to check out the nightlife in Mirissa with (10 mins in a tuk tuk) and you might not want to ever leave either…I know I didn’t!

    Website/Facebook/Instagram/TripAdvisor

     

  3. Yoga at the Hilltop Temple with Rukshan Yoga, Mirissa

    Ag léiriú IMG_20160824_131334.jpg
    Hilltop Temple, Mirissa

    This is a bit of an alternative yoga experience, more akin to the random classes along the mountainsides in the Indian Himalayas I attended in McLeodGanj and Dharamkot than the lush shala surroundings of Bali. After locating a hidden stairway along the street in Mirissa and climbing up the (seemingly neverending) steep stone steps to the hilltop temple overlooking the bay, you’ll be greeted by a friendly family and shown into a stone-floored room about 100 metres from a beautiful temple. Here Rukshan will guide you through a short seated meditation, followed by a walking barefoot meditation out and all around the temple. You’ll participate in Buddhist puja blessings in silence, and slowly guide yourself back to the hall for some asana practice which focuses mainly on how to correctly align oneself and others into the poses, rather than just flowing through them. An interesting experience lasting longer than your average drop-in class (1hr 30mins), and great views to boot!

    Maps:
    Website/Facebook/Tripadvisor

     

  4. Hideaway,  Arugam Bay

    Image result for hideaway arugam bay yoga

    Arugam Bay is one of the most popular hubs for surfing and yoga in Sri Lanka. During high season here it resembles the bustling, tourist surf resorts of Bali and it’s easy to forget sometimes that road signs come with warnings of elephants crossing and that pumpkin curry is readily available along the street (YUM). Hideaway is a boutique hotel that was above my backpacking budget to stay in, yet luckily offers drop-in yoga classes daily for anyone every day in their outdoor shala. The amazing healthy café (with an actual table up in a treehouse) serves up a variety of yummy breakfast and lunch options with an emphasis on healthy vegetarian/vegan noms too, and the funky surroundings and decor of the place really just added to the whole experience…I spent several days just going to yoga here and chilling drinking coconut milk coffees in hammocks. Bliss.

    Ag léiriú IMG_20160823_083707.jpg

    Website/Facebook/Tripadvisor

     

  5. Talalla Surf n’ Yoga Retreat, Talalla

    Image result for talalla yoga
    Yoga at Tallala (pic: Bookyogaretreats.com)

    While this place unfortunately came in well over my backpacking budget for Sri Lanka to stay in, I did make several good friends and spoke to many people during my travels who had stayed here too. Fortunately they also provide drop-in classes daily so you can check it out for yourself and see the beautiful shala surroundings! Reviews of the retreats also seemed extremely positive and if the website is anything to go by I’m definitely going to have to stay here whenever I find myself in Sri Lanka again. They offer a few different options for retreats, classes, treatments, and packages for both surfing and yoga, and you don’t have to be a pro or seasoned practitioner to partake – anyone can go!

    Website/Facebook/Instagram/TripAdvisor

    6. Bay Vista Arugam, Arugam Bay

     

    boatarugamedit

    Another boutique hotel in the Arugam Bay area which offers daily yoga classes, this time on the rooftop. Drop-ins make up most of the clientel and the classes vary from some pilates-based exercises to vinyasa flow classes with a stunning view of the beach and coastline (‘Bay Vista’…). Bay Vista is directly across the road from Hideaway and to be honest I went just as often to this place for yoga as I went to Hideaway, depending on what times suited best – both places will have signs out on the road with their class times and they are always just slightly different . This worked out extremely well and you get to try some different styles and teachers – one of the main things I love about travelling with yoga in Sri Lanka (and elsewhere)!
    Website/ Facebook/ TripAdvisor

     

    7. Camp Poe, Ahangama

    Image result for camp poe yoga

    Another hidden gem off the beaten track, Camp Poe is a secluded retreat centre/campsite offering boutique camping surf and yoga experiences in Ahangama on the road to Unawatuna. Camp Poe places an emphasis on cultivating creativity and drawing its guests together to share experiences. Just away from the private tents there is a delightfully bright and colourful hangout area with bookshelves, beanbags, hammocks, and peaceful nooks and crannies for reading, writing, singing, or just chilling out. Yoga takes places twice a day and is also available for drop in classes, not just to those partaking in the retreat. As the camp is situated a little away from the shoreline, a scooter or tuk tuk is necesssary to get to the beach/into town, but this actually adds to the tranquility and ensures you ultimate space to let your creativity flourish.

    Website/Facebook/Tripadvisor

     

Serenity Eco Guesthouse, Canggu, Bali

 

12364254_10153233254073483_804448715_o
Serenity Eco -Guesthouse, Jalan Nelayan, Canggu

I’m not going to lie. I could base myself absolutely anywhere in Bali and still probably end up wanting to stay forever. Even if anywhere meant the little shack on the beach just 150 metres down the road from Serenity Eco Guesthouse in Canggu.

But that’s not what I’m here to talk about.

 I took a taxi from the airport in Denpasar to Canggu, which took all of about 40 minutes once the driver had calmly arrived 30 minutes late and then proceeded to search the entire car and car park for a further 20 for any sign of his misplaced keys. This was my first encounter with the legendary workings of what they call ‘Bali time’, and let me tell you – it’s a real thing, people! 12388317_10153233258303483_515787682_n

40 minutes late here? An hour behind schedule there? “Sorry mate, I got carried away in the surf! Have you seen it today?”,Oh, yes, we are running late today. How would you like your eggs?”

Nearing Canggu, according to the signs I observed, I tried to commit directions and landmarks outside the window to memory in an attempt to get my bearings for when I rented my motorbike (60k IDR per day from Serenity, but available at a lot of nearby rental-sheds too).

Finally turning onto Jalan Nelayan in Canggu, we pulled up outside the bamboo thatched roof and awning of Alkaline Café, the line of motorbikes parked up outside overshadowed by a large timetable outlining a yoga-schedule for the day, and signs. My kinda place, I thought happily.

 12375814_10153233257273483_1173305996_o

Serenity Eco Guesthouse was everything I’d hoped it would be – and more. Initially only booking in for 3 nights, I ended up staying well over a week and making friends that I am still in contact with even now having returned home.

Maybe it was the fact that up until then I’d been staying in communal hostel rooms of up to 18 people, but the single room at Serenity was perfect. They also have double, privates, and a larger shared backpackers dorm. I splashed out on the single room. Spotlessly clean, secure, and cool even though there was no air con – December in Bali meant it wasn’t entirely necessary.

 12358216_10153221666983483_1037052106_n

Free breakfast and then other meals (not included) at the vegan/vegetarian Alkaline Café were honestly so delicious I was spoiled for choice every day, with the signs around affirming how to ‘Let Food Be Your Medicine’ really reassuring me that what I was getting was good, fresh, organic, and healthy concoctions of both western and Balinese dishes. My first time to try vegan ice cream was genuinely a very pleasant surprise, and I made sure to try almost every flavour of Alkaline’s homemade nice-cream.

Your choice of daily yoga class is only a small bit extra if you stay in Serenity, and the Ashtanga and Vinyasa flows proved both a challenging and refreshing change from the rather monotonous self-practice flow I had become accustomed to on my travels. A special ‘Yoga for Surfers’ is available too for those more inclined to be found on Batu Balong Beach than the yoga studio in the early hours, 150 metres down the road and only a short distance away from the popular Old Man’s, which really is the place to be during any visit to Canggu, no matter if you stay on past happy hour or not.12386743_10153233255198483_419303146_n

The staff were extremely helpful and friendly during my stay and I honestly couldn’t recommend them more – they even took care of me during an extremely rough dose of the 24-hour Bali-Belly bug, which floored me for over a day and meant I couldn’t even leave the guesthouse – DON’T eat at the dingey warungs down by Old Man’s!!

Serenity really caters for the needs of all travellers – proximity to the beach and local nightlife suiting those more inclined to surf for the day, or party at night, whilst the yoga classes schedule meant there was never long to wait before the next class. There were also a few families staying there which I thought was brilliant, the quiet surroundings catering for both young and old, whatever the daytime priority may be. As for me, I partook in all of these activities and more, exploring the local area everyday on my motorbike and returning in the evening for a relaxed chillout by the pool.

12348208_10153224926128483_1288730173_n
Surf n’ Turf at Batu Balong Beach, Canggu

I really hope I can return to Serenity soon and partake in more of the yoga and meditation sessions- I made friends in the area too who showed me around many of the cool spots aswell as Old Man’s, such as Deus’, Pretty Poison, Betelnut, Café, and Crate, to name but a few (more on the Cafés of Bali HERE).

 12343212_10153223271258483_1021011995_o

My taxi on to Ubud at the end of my stay I shared with one of the many friends I’d made at Serenity, yet we parted ways on arrival as our itineraries differed slightly.

 Serenity recently uploaded this video online and it’s made me nostalgic for the time I spent there, and also made me more determind and eager to return as soon as possible!!

Until then,

Hati-Hati, and Namasté!!

 

 

 

Useful links:

Serenity Eco-GuesthouseFacebook/Twitter
Old Man’s Canggu – Facebook
Betelnut Café – Facebook
Pretty Poison – Facebook