The Negril Yoga Centre

»Saluting the Jamaican sun«

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For yoga-lovers, finding well-taught Iyengar yoga in an inexpensive and beautiful setting is a little like finding the Hope Diamond in a yard sale. Yet this is exactly what is on offer at The Negril Yoga Centre, alongside Vinyasa yoga, wholesome and tasty food, and that brand of easy charm that is uniquely Jamaican.

  • What we love
  • Iyengar yoga offered, a rare treat
  • The relaxed Jamaican attitude
  • Gentle spirituality and inner harmony
  • In-house teachers and external retreats, both high quality
  • Perfect for a tranquil, romantic getaway
  • What to know
  • Noise is a common factor
  • Bring bug spray
  • Not all guests are here for the yoga
  • Open year-round
  • Why go
  • Great value for money
  • Friendly staff who feel like family
  • Across the road from a beautiful beach

The Negril Yoga Centre is almost an accidental star in the yoga world. With its low-price accommodation, great staff and perfect location, it is already very attractive to visitors to Jamaica. The fact that they also offer high-quality Iyengar yoga has made this happy and laid-back resort a unique destination. There is no pool at the Negril center. Nor is there a bar or a dance club, or in fact any of the accoutrements that are so common to Jamaican resorts. This is deliberate – extra facilities mean higher prices, and a focus on partying is focus taken away from the gentle reconnection with oneself. Mornings here are more likely to include a session of meditation than nursing a hangover.

Although their website lists Hatha as the only available style, Iyengar is the prime foundation for all classes. Yes, Iyengar is a type of Hatha, but uses props ropes, chairs and cushions for infinitesimal adjustments in body-alignment. Taught by Fanette Johnson, the in-house teacher, these classes are adapted to the individual's skill level meaning that all guests are catered for. Regular retreat leader Angelena Craig is a favorite with returning guests. She founded Beacon Light Yoga in Boston and runs yearly yoga getaways at The Negril Yoga Centre. Her specialty is Kripalu yoga, a style developed and honed by the Kripalu center in Stockbridge, a center so good we have included it on our own site.

In-house yoga classes are available to non-guests at a higher price than to guests, but all sessions are pay-as-you-go. Classes are on Monday, Wednesday and Friday running from 9:30 am until around 11:00. These are a predominantly Hatha style, little-changed from the days when the center was the area’s first yoga shala. In typically relaxed Jamaican style, classes are held whenever there are enough people who feel like having one. And in winter there are classes scheduled every day. Private classes are available by prior arrangement at any time of year. A handful of retreats run each year, led by outside teachers who book the open and airy yoga pavillion for their own students, who also stay at The Negril Yoga Centre. Ashtanga is a popular style for these retreats and reviews are solidly positive. Yoga packages are available although it’s best to contact the retreat directly as they are not listed on the website.

Not all guests are here for the yoga. Some are here to simply soak up the friendliness and peace, which is so abundant that a higher-than-average number of guests here are repeat visitors. Most take advantage of the massage service available at an extra cost, as well as the location which offers a good jumping-off point for exploring the beaches or participating in the vibrant nightlife nearby. Local markets, all manner of watersports, and jungle walks round out the local diversions.

Room styles and prices at The Negril Yoga Centre range from a twin-share basic room with shared bathroom to the newly developed and ultra-romantic Thai apartment that is fully equipped with kitchen, private bathroom, large comfortable bed and a balcony with a hammock-for-two, conveniently positioned for the best view of the ocean, jungle and sunrise. At less than $100 a night, it's little wonder that the resort is popular with honeymooners.

Food can either be prepared by guests in their own kitchenette (although not all rooms have this) or bought from the center's own kitchen which is open from 7am to past dinner time. The menu options are simple but delicious, and cater well for vegetarians. Vegan meals are available by prior arrangement. Breakfast is available all day, perfect for those who are here to catch up rest. Bed-and-breakfast choices are healthy and filling, and usually the option taken up by newly-weds who prefer their morning meals delivered direct to their door.

Noise can be an issue for some at The Negril Yoga Centre. The cabin windows are not double-glazed and the accommodations are fairly element-friendly. This is to take maximum advantage of the cooling night breezes that roll in from the sea, but does mean that the nightlife of the surrounding area can easily be heard. Some of these night-noises are wildlife, in which the area abounds, but mostly it is the festivities from one of Jamaica's many public holiday parties and boisterous celebrations. Ear plugs are a good idea for light sleepers, although the attitude of 'if you can't beat them, join them' is strongly recommended.

The center is tucked away in a brilliantly colored jungle setting, although a busy main road runs right outside the main entrance. This is the road that needs to be navigated to get the beach, and Jamaican drivers are not well-known for their sedate speeds or careful attention to road rules. In other words, keep your eyes open and your feet light, but don't carry a grudge as it will only be laughed at. After all, this is Jamaica.

About the area: Negril

Negril is on the western point of Jamaica. Although the population is only around 3,000 the area bulges at the seams with resorts. These are dotted along the miles of pristine white beaches that the area is known for. Rich in wildlife, nightlife, sea life and the carefree life, Negril is one of the prettiest places on an already-pretty island. Interestingly, it is also known as a sex-tourism destination among wealthy western women, who have indirectly boosted the local economy by 'sponsoring' one or more of the good-looking young local men. Mostly though, Negril is filled with easy-going locals and tourists who spend their days lounging on the beach and their nights dancing into the small hours at one of the many nightclubs. Snorkeling and scuba opportunities are seemingly endless, as is the view from one of the famous seaside cliffs. The climate is good all year, staying within the small range of 30 – 32 degrees C (86 – 90F). The most rain is in August, when an average of seven rainy days can temporarily hide the sun. Humidity makes the Jamaican hinterland feel much hotter than the mercury reads, partly explaining the popularity of spots like Negril, which take full advantage of the sea breezes.

Image credit: The Negril Yoga Centre

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