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Yoga getaways

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When yoga got hip, reasonable rates for healthy escapes became harder to find. But we turned up five spots ranging from rustic to ritzy where you can reclaim balance without going broke:

Sage Hills Healing Center at the OM Ranch in Cedar City, Utah: When you arrive and see two carved wooden seats in the shape of hands in the Gyan position (the wisdom position, with thumb and index finger pressed together), you know the OM Ranch is a special 21-acre property. Here you will find teacher Mandeep Kaur, which is Melanie Paulk Abderrahman's yoga name, meaning light of heart and mind.

Between the soothing gong she played in her Kundalini yoga class and the OM Ranch's labyrinth for "walking meditation," I wanted to return to stay in the solar-powered, pet-friendly Serenity Cottage, which is $135 a night (plus a cleaning fee and tax). Though guests usually prepare their own meals, Mandeep serves a vegan, organic hot breakfast after her 21/2-hour, predawn, ego-transcending Sadhana class. (Class prices are based on donation.)

Most guests take Mandeep's classes, then explore Zion, Bryce, Cedar Breaks and other nearby parks on their own. Personalized retreats are available on request, and camping is available during special events at the ranch. Yoga students also can stay at the Crystal Inn for a reduced rate of $68 per night. Guests usually fly into Salt Lake City or Las Vegas, then drive to Cedar City.

"People tell me they have the best rest and sleep they've ever had, and they get a really positive, highly creative energy on the property to take away with them," Mandeep said. 435-867-9642, sagehillshealing.com

Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts: Whether your focus is yoga, personal growth or kayaking, this nonprofit yoga educational center has activities for everyone. Guests pay tuition and an accommodation fee that includes meals. Retreat & Renewal pricing builds tuition into the room rates, which range from $168 per person a night midweek for a dorm room (for five to 22 people) to $389 per weekend night for a private room with a lakeside view. Donors have made scholarship funds available to reduce the cost for yogis with hearts larger than their wallets.

The R&R program includes daily yoga and noon dance classes, evening events and use of Kripalu's walking and hiking trails, sauna, whirlpool, fitness room, labyrinth, and a private beach for kayaking. Evening events include meditation, drum circles, workshops and whole-food cooking classes. The center also offers immersion programs in healthy living.

Travelers usually fly into Albany International Airport in New York state or take a train to Pittsfield, Mass. 866-200-5203, kripalu.org

Rolling Meadows in Brooks, Maine: For a deeper escape, a silent retreat at Rolling Meadows may offer the yin to your yang.

Opened in 2002 by Surya Chandra Das and wife Patricia Brown, Rolling Meadows focuses on cultivating awareness. Retreat guests are encouraged to spend time in nature on their own, exploring the trails of the 100-acre property.

Silence begins after the first dinner and ends on the final evening. "We are so distracted in our culture by cellphones, computers and even reading that we ask guests to put those aside and be with themselves. We avoid ourselves through our stimulated lives," Surya said.

When I told him the noise of silverware during meals surprised me during a silent retreat, he said: "We're becoming desensitized on every level. Silence can increase our sensitivity to noises, tastes and smells."

The physical yoga practiced is Hatha, which Surya said can create an energetic balance between masculine and feminine energies.

Retreats have a maximum of 10 guests and include lodging, classes and vegetarian meals. Costs range from $495 to $995, depending on the retreat length. They also host international retreats (see website).

As for vegetarian cuisine, Surya said: "Ninety-five percent of the guests are very taken by it and say, 'I can't believe how this diet made me feel.' It's because we've learned how to properly flavor vegetarian food." Bangor International is the closest airport. 888-666-6412, rollingmeadowsretreat.com

Travaasa, Austin, Texas: For a yoga and spa getaway, this resort that overlooks Lake Travis may be a fit. With 70 guest rooms, Travaasa Austin is brimming with amenities, including a fitness center and yoga studio, an infinity-edge pool, horse stables, a labyrinth and a challenge course. It abuts 210 acres of the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve, a wildlife refuge for endangered birds that has an extensive trail system for hiking.

Nightly rates include yoga classes, dance fitness classes, Pilates, an equestrian experience and even a mechanical-bull fitness class. (How Texas is that?)

Austin-Bergstrom International is the closest airport. "Your Travaasa" rates start at $138 per person for one night in a double room and decrease with multiple nights (reducing the nightly rate to $113 per person). 855-868-7282, travaasa.com/austin

Omni Amelia Island Plantation, northeast Florida: For the yogi who likes winding down with a mojito, this beachfront resort offers a mixture of sun, sand, spa, yoga and cocktails. The 1,350-acre resort boasts 249 oceanfront guest rooms and multibedroom villas, a yoga treehouse and is pet-friendly (with a $50 nonrefundable deposit per night per pet). The closest airport is Jacksonville International.

"Our yoga is a mixture. We have several instructors who are quite well-versed, but we are more focused on stretching and a workout than on meditation," said Liz Hutto, spa director at the Omni.

If guests want a more meditative getaway, it can be arranged. "There's one spot on the property, Drummond Point Park, with a deck out in the middle of a marsh that offers a point of solitude," Hutto said.

Yoga classes are offered on the beach, in the treehouse and in other spots for larger groups and cost $18 each.

Rooms start at $159 in August and $209 during the peak fall and spring seasons. Bike rentals and guided kayak and nature tours are available. 904-261-6161, omniameliaislandplantation.com

ctc-travel@tribune.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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FitnessPersonal ServiceDiets and DietingCanoeing and KayakingAlbany International Corporation
  • Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health
    Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health

    Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, in the Berkshires of western MassachusettsWhether your focus is yoga, personal growth or kayaking, this nonprofit yoga educational center has activities for everyone. Guests pay a tuition and an accommodation fee that includes meals. R&R retreat pricing...

  • Omni Amelia Island Plantation
    Omni Amelia Island Plantation

    Omni Amelia Island Plantation, northeast FloridaFor the yogi who likes winding down with a Mojito, this beachfront resort offers a mixture of sun, sand, spa, yoga and cocktails. The 1,350-acre resort boasts 249 oceanfront guestrooms and multi-bedroom villas, a yoga treehouse and is...

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