Studio Red founder Vicky Cullinane recommends the best places in the world to try a yoga class.
BEST RESORT CLASSES
Most beach locations offer sunrise yoga, a must-do yoga experience while travelling. It's a wonderful feeling, being on a foreign beach, watching the light change and the day unfold with a group of like-minded yogis. These classes are very reasonably priced, however, most teachers only accept cash.
The Royal Hawaiian, Waikiki, Hawaii
This is a great way to start your morning. Try a tranquil yoga session on the sacred grounds of The Royal Hawaiian — the yoga is gentle and suitable for beginners. The classes run every second day and are complimentary for hotel guests.
Four Seasons, Bora Bora, Tahiti
In this yoga class, you'll be introduced to a combination of postures with acupressure points, known as Acu-Yoga. You'll be shown points to press during static poses. The goal is to optimise the relief of tension and stress. These techniques can later be used in your personal practice. The classes are taken on the viewing deck overlooking the lagoon.
Grand Hotel du Cap, Antibes, France
This resort offers private yoga classes, with highly-trained teachers who can teach all levels. The best part of this class is the beautiful spa and fitness facilities. Classes are taken outdoors overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The location is spectacular and the yoga teaching world class.
BEST YOGA RETREATS
Absolute Sanctuary, Koh Samui, Thailand
Absolute Sanctuary is one of Asia's top wellness resorts. It's affiliated with Absolute Yoga Academy, which is where I completed my yoga teacher training. The resort offers incredible guest yoga teachers from around the world and a team of in-house yoga teachers. Their wellness programmes take a holistic approach and centre around your needs.
Tropical Island Yoga, Aitutaki, Rarotonga
Over seven days, this yoga experience in the Cook Islands will reward body, mind and soul on and off the mat. These yoga classes are led by three New Zealanders, Vincent Bolletta, Jac Wilson and Taane Mete. Their yoga teaching knowledge and expertise is incredible. Aitutaki rewards yogis with a truly unique experience, and the feedback is outstanding from Studio Red clients who have visited. This retreat is definitely high on my list of must-dos. The next retreat is May 6-13.
Jack & Olive Retreats
Jack & Olive, founded by New Zealander Claire Robbie, is a health and wellness focus retreat company. Claire hosts impeccably curated and transformative getaways all over the world, with locations including Bali, Japan and Mexico. The retreats combine yoga, meditation, heart-stopping landscapes and adventure, to create holidays of a lifetime.
If you don't have time for a yoga class while travelling, Erica Davis from Studio Red has designed a yoga sequence that you can do in the comfort of your hotel room.
Try this simple wake-up stretch routine to get your blood pumping, body moving and mind focused for the day. Even 10 minutes of yoga will release muscle tension, clear and calm the mind, and gain energy.
● Start by sitting straight up in bed with your legs crossed in front of you. If you find it difficult to sit up straight then sit against the headboard or on the floor against a wall.
Lengthen up through your spine and the top of your head. Take three deep breaths through your nose, using the back of your throat to create a little bit of sound.
● Interlace your fingers and then press your palms straight up above your head, toning the upper arms and stretching the wrists and forearms. Keep your arms straight and lean to your right. Draw your right ribcage forward and open your chest. Take three deep breaths in this position. Come back up to centre, change the crossing of your legs and then interlace your fingers the opposite way. Take the arms up and over to the left. Take three deep breaths. Come back to centre.
● Make your way into child's pose on your bed, with your knees wide and arms outstretched. Notice the space in the side body; breathe deep into your ribcage.
● Keep your right arm forward, thread your left arm underneath the right for Thread the Needle pose. You should feel the back of the left shoulder stretch and open. Breathe into the twist in your torso. Take five deep breathes and then switch sides.
● Finally come up to stand with your feet parallel and hip-width distance apart. Lift your kneecaps and strengthen your legs. Reach your arms above your head and hook your thumbs with your palms facing forward. Actively pull your hands apart to engage the upper arms and back. Take a deep breath and lean to your right on the exhale. Open your chest up by pulling your ribcage forward and square. Stay here for a few breaths before switching to the other side.
● Move through the sequence as many times as you would like. Finish with a few deep breaths in stillness with the eyes closed.
Yoga and travel go hand in hand. Each heightens the experience of the other. Enjoy!
Vicky Cullinane is the founder of Studio Red Yoga at Auckland's City Works Depot.