Woman doing yoga in San Diego.


Your best bets for getting zen in California

Published August 10th, 2016

Your best bets for getting zen in California The laid back lifestyle and atmosphere associated with California and its people has led it to become one of the most sought out yoga destinations to travel to outside of India itself, the birthplace of the ancient practice.

Yoga made its way to the West Coast in the mid-50s, gained mass popularity during the counter-cultural revolution of the 60s and in the process became arguably one of India’s greatest cultural exports to the western world. 

For those wanting to explore their zen side and discover the magic of sunny California’s coastal cities, here are five of the top yoga retreats and festivals to tick off on your next US active adventure. 

San Diego San Diego Yoga Festival - January 27, 2017 

Attention yogis and yogi-wannabes. Starting at the state’s southernmost tip in San Diego is the three-day San Diego Yoga Festival. The festival involves a number of conferences and every kind of yoga you could possibly ever dream of.

There’s vinyasa, hip hop yoga, kids yoga and everything in between, including slacklining, yoga art, sound healing, so-cal specific skate and surf classes. It’s impossible not to leave this colourful festival with mega zen vibes happening from head to toe.

Los Angeles The Yoga Expo - December 17, 2016 

Moving a little further up along the coast from San Diego is the Los Angeles Yoga Expo. The 7-city event lands in LA on December 17 for a one day yoga spectacular featuring local & national teachers, studio technique demonstrations and local sustainable food and drinks to try.

The Yoga Expo serves as a platform to empower and strengthen the local LA yoga community and you too can head along to workshop with some of the best in the business. Highlights include raw cooking demonstrations and the selection of over 150 classes to attend.


This afternoon @jerrah @asenseofhuber @rseabve and I decided to take a quick hike to the Hollywood sign

A photo posted by Sjana Elise Earp (@sjanaelise) on

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Big Sur

Make like Jack Kerouac or Mad Men’s Don Draper and visit the basis for the destination in Mad Men's final episode, a place steeped in the rich counter-cultural spirit of the 1960s, the Esalen Institute. Esalen, which it’s commonly referred to as, has a storied history and has hosted postings from psychologist Abraham Maslow, architect and designer Buckminster Fuller, photographer Ansel Adams, and novelists Ray Bradbury and Ken Kesey.

Art workshops have also featured folk singer Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, and George Harrison, lead guitarist of The Beatles. The 120-acre retreat is an intentional community devoted to meditation, yoga, organic food, and spirituality and was established by Michael Murphy and Dick Price. Therapies, workshops and classes range in subject matter from mindfulness to reflection, soulfull writing, spinal awareness and ecological sustainability.

The retreat’s other draw-cards are its massages, healing arts and natural hot springs - where guests are encouraged to enjoy a dip sans bathing suit. 


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San Fransisco Wanderlust Festival - April 24 2016

Over the last few years there has been an increase in popularity of wellness and health focused festivals in the US and the largest one of them all is Wanderlust Festival. Held in over a hundred different cities across the globe with the majority residing in the US, the first event was held in California back in 2009 and has since then gone from strength to strength.

Dates for the 2017 festivals haven’t been released yet though there are still some left for 2016. The San Francisco leg of the festival this year happened in April and if you’re planning on attending in 2017, this would be one of the most inspiring cities to visit with its deeply ingrained counter-cultural history stemming from the free loving days of the 1960s.

With running, yoga and meditation making up the first part of the festival as a Mindful Triathlon, there’s also a number of big name musicians that perform and plenty of different types of yoga to enjoy.


out @squawalpine. You've been so good to us. #Wanderlust2016 #WanderlustFestival #FindYourTrueNorth @scarletroots

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Sam Aldenton

Sam Aldenton is a travel writer, digital content creator (read: takes photos/videos with her iphone and sometimes a real camera) and former retail and youth trend forecaster. When she's not off discovering the world’s best pizza (an obsession picked up from her 4-years in New York), she makes her home in Brisbane, Australia. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram at @samaaldenton.