Woman with prayer hands and mala beads on a yoga mat

Hridaya Yoga Mexico Retreat Review: Read This Before You Go

Considering a silent meditation retreat at Hridaya Yoga Mexico?

You’ve come to the right place for info — because I did one! To those who are considering doing the same, you’re about to find out everything you need to for before, during and after the retreat… all based on my personal experience.

In a serendipitous turn of events, I ended up doing the Hridaya silent meditation retreat on a complete whim, and with no advanced knowledge of what I signed up for. In fact, by just reading this article, you’re going to much more prepared than I was 🤣 for this 10 day meditation retreat in Mazunte, Mexico.

From what to pack for a meditation and yoga retreat in Mexico, what to wear to dress appropriately, how to get to Mazunte, and the best hotels in Mazunte near the retreat center — this is your definitive guide to the practical side of Hridaya Yoga Mexico retreat — as well as a review of my personal experience.


What is vipassana?

Right off the bat, if you want to do a vipassana (vipassanā), the Hridaya Mexico retreat technically isn’t one. However, they are quite similar, but if you want to do a technical vipassana, click the link to find a vipassana meditation retreat near you.

“Vipassana, which means ‘to see things as they really are,’ is one of India’s most ancient techniques of meditation. It was taught in India more than 2,500 years ago as a universal remedy for universal ills…”

dhamma.org, the official vipassana site
Hridaya Yoga Mexico is located in the beach town of Mazunte, in the state of Oaxaca. (Photo: Dan Nevill via Flickr)

is Hridaya Yoga Mexico different than vipassana?

After looking over the vipassana curriculum, I’d say there are a few small differences, though nothing major. While both retreats follow a similar and strict schedule, from my perspective, the three main differences were these:

  • With the Hridaya yoga center experience, there were both 3- and 10-day silent retreats available; with vipassana, there is only only a 10 day silent meditation retreat.
  • Vipassana discourages the use of mantra throughout your 10 days of silence, whereas Hridaya constantly encourages the use of the Who Am I? mantra throughout the retreat (and beyond).
  • Hridaya charges a fee, while vipassana is completely donation based.

I doubt Hridaya makes much money off these retreats, but they aren’t free. I believe I paid about $400USD for the retreat, including three vegan meals a day, for the whole 10 days. With vipassana, you pay what you can, even if that’s nothing.

If you’re still considering the Hridaya yoga Mexico retreat, though it’s not technically a vipassana, let’s get into the specifics about this Mazunte, Oaxaca, experience. For those still on the fence, by the end of the article you’ll be ready to make an informed decision about the Hridaya yoga Mexico retreat.

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Where is Mazunte, Mexico?

Hridaya Yoga Mexico is in the small beach town of Mazunte, located on the coast of Oaxaca, Mexico. Oaxaca state is in the southern part of the country, and Mazunte sits right on the Pacific Ocean.

It is one of several Oaxaca beach towns that make up the Riviera Oaxaqueña (Oaxacan Riviera) — which includes Zipolite (the only legal nude beach in Mexico), San Agustinillo, Puerto Angel, and of course, Mazunte.

Mazunte is also what’s known as a pueblo magico, or magic town.

There are about 135 Mexico pueblos magicos, designated as such for things including unique folkloric traditions, rich cultural heritage and natural beauty.

mazunte map

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How to get to Mazunte, Oaxaca

You have two Mazunte airport options, both located about one hour from Hridaya Yoga Mexico. These are Bahías de Huatulco International Airport (code: HUX), in Huatulco, Mexico, and Puerto Escondido International Airport (code: PXM), in Puerto Escondido, Mexico

Flights to Oaxaca

From both airports, you can then rent a car and drive, or you can take shared transportation in a colectivo (van) or private transportation in a taxi to Mazunte. As there’s no Uber in the state of Oaxaca, a rental car, taxi or colectivo are your only options.

Unless you’re renting a car, there’s no need to book anything in advance — but if you want a car, book in advance as these are both small airports and do run out of cars.

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The main road in Mazunte, Oaxaca, Mexico. (Photo: Dan Nevill via Flickr)

How to get to Mazunte via Colectivo

A colectivo is a 10 (or so) passenger shared van, usually a Nissan Urvan model. Taking the colectivo is the cheapest way to get to Mazunte.

From both the Huatulco and Puerto Escondido airports, you’ll be able to catch a colectivo on the main road outside of the airport.

Make sure to double check with the driver before boarding that they are heading to the town of Pochutla, located one town over from Mazunte.

From Pochutla, you can take another colectivo or a private taxi to Mazunte.

This trip will cost no more than $100 pesos ($5USD) via two colectivos, and no more than $200 pesos ($10USD) with the colectivo and taxi.

A colectivo in Mexico (Photo: Zaklina K via Flickr)


From both airports, you can grab a taxi curbside — or walk out to the main road outside of the airport and catch a taxi there. Since curbside airport taxis cost more, this is a great option if you don’t have a lot of luggage, and are comfortable enough with your Spanish to negotiate with a taxi driver.

Prices will vary, but a taxi from both the Huatulco Airport and Puerto Escondido Airport to Mazunte will cost you about $1,000 pesos ($50USD).

Playa Rinconcito in Mazunte, Mexico. (Photo: Dan Nevill via Flickr)

Best Hotels in Mazunte

Hridaya does have onsite lodging, but since I booked maybe a week before the actual meditation retreat started, they were sold out. Truth be told: I’m glad I did because I need my own, comfortable space, and Hridaya only has rustic, shared options.

Here’s Where I stayed in Mazunte

In the interest of full disclosure, I stayed in Casa Tamarindos; though I can’t necessarily recommend it.

The location is perfect, as it’s right across the street from the Hridaya Yoga Center, and the place itself was cute. However, I got bit by a chagas bug, which do carry deadly parasites, and had to spend about $250USD on medical stuff. (🪲No, I didn’t get parasites; but Yes, these bugs are common in Mazunte.)

The rooms at Casa Tamarindos have thatched roofs that don’t fully enclose the room; to be fair, this is common in Mazunte. For me, when I travel to Mazunte the next time, I’m just going to spend a bit more money on a nicer, enclosed space — like the ones listed below!

Casa la Ola is one of the best hotels in San Agustinillo, and only a five minute walk from Hridaya Yoga. (Photo: Casa la Ola via Facebook)

…and the Mazunte hotels I recommend instead!

These Mazunte hotels are all located within a 3-10 minute walking distance of Hridaya Yoga Mexico, but just a bit nicer than the place I stayed. They are all fully-enclosed, so there’s less threat of critters!

  • Casa la Ola San Agustinillo: Gorgeous hotel with onsite restaurant and bar, an outdoor swimming pool, and rooftop terrace with amazing views of the Pacific Ocean.
  • Casa Dewachen: Private room in the home of a Buddhist woman, that has a path to the beach and access to a meditation hall and jacuzzi.
  • Casa Mono: Pretty place with comfy rooms that have an outdoor terrace with a hammock to relax on.
  • Las Cabañas Mágicas: Located just a few minutes (but up a semi-steep hill) from Hridaya Yoga Mexico, this is a large, beautiful property with nice, individual private cabanas.
  • Hotel Paraíso del Pescador: Very solid budget option with onsite restaurant and bar, and nice ocean views from some spots on the property.
Sunset at Playa Mermejita in Mazunte, Mexico. (Photo: Dan Nevill via Flickr)

What to pack for Hridaya Yoga Mexico

When the time to pack for Mexico arrives, think: minimal. In addition to the obvious, that you’re going to a spiritual retreat, not your BFFs weeklong wedding extravaganza in Paris, the town of Mazunte, Mexico, is hot pretty much year-round.

🥵 Mexico Travel Tip: The Mazunte temperature chart below will give you an idea, but keep in mind that with humidity, it will often feel 5-10°F hotter. Make sure you pack your Water-To-Go Bottle, as it will keep you hydrated, and also add an extra level of water filtration so you don’t get sick in Mexico.

Mazunte Weather

Silent Meditation Retreat Packing Checklist

🧳 FREE Printable Packing List for Mexico

Wondering exactly what to pack for Oaxaca, Mazunte, and all of Mexico? Download your FREE printable packing list for Mexico below! This multi-page Mexico packing checklist covers everything you’ll want to bring, and more importantly, what not to bring to Mexico.


What to Wear at the Retreat

Hridayda emphasized modesty in dress, both for staff and retreat participants, and I’d say everyone dressed “modesty casual.” This retreat definitely wasn’t a Lululemon fashion show, but it wasn’t exactly Amish either. Below are some examples of what to wear during your retreat — Click on an image to buy!

Mazunte is a pueblo magico, meaning “magic town.” (Photo: Dan Nevill via Flickr)

Preparing for your Retreat at Home

Start a Vegan Diet

Unless you are vegan, you also may want to consider adjusting your diet before your retreat, as it is 100% vegan. I personally thought the food at Hridaya was pretty good, but the shock to your system of going from standard American diet to uber-vegan can have negative effects on your mood and stomach.

Your 10 day Hridaya retreat will be sugar-free, and if you’ve ever gone sugar-free or on a low-sugar diet like Keto, you know sugar detox can be awful. Aside from an upset stomach and nausea, it can make you feel irritable, anxious and tired — basically everything you don’t want to feel at your meditation retreat.

Practice Sitting Cross-Legged

Unless you have an established seated meditation practice, you’ll want to practice sitting on the floor, cross-legged, for as long as you can. This may seem easy, and for some bodies, it will be. However, for others (like mine), it wasn’t easy and my feet also kept falling asleep.

Regardless of how easy or difficult it seems to you, the fact remains that you’ve likely never sat on the floor cross-legged for three straight hours in silent meditation, so you can’t really know for sure, so it makes sense to get some practice in.

Punta Cometa Mazunte is a popular place to watch the sunset. (Photo: Dan Nevill via Flickr)

Hridaya Yoga Mexico Retreat: My Personal Experience

Yay! We’re finally at the point of actually getting to the retreat. I know it was starting to feel like we’d never get here, but now you know everything you need to know to travel to Mazunte, what the best Mazunte hotels are, and what to pack for your Hridaya Yoga Mazunte retreat… so let’s talk about the actual retreat.

What you’re going to read below is all from my personal experience of doing the 10 day silent meditation retreat at Hridaya. The opinions are my own, and no two people will have the same experience with this, but hopefully mine will give you at least a point of reference to see if the retreat is right for you.

Pre-Retreat Orientation

The evening before the retreat, Hridaya hosts a welcome reception and orientation. I think it’s really important to be there for this, as it’s the last time anyone from Hridaya will actually speak to you (barring an emergency). You can also ask any questions you have, and familiarize yourself with the surroundings.

This isn’t always the case, but my retreat was led by the founder and spiritual leader of Hridaya, who’s spiritual name is Sahajananda (pronounced saa-ha-jah-non-da).

He went over the particulars of the retreat, including that the shala (meditation room) was segregated by sex, including separate entrances for each sex. Sahajananda also casually mentioned we’d be working up to three-hour long meditation sessions — the first moment I questioned my decision to attend 🤣

Playa Rinconcito in Mazunte, Mexico. (Photo: Dan Nevill via Flickr)

Hridaya Yoga Retreat Schedule

This retreat is a whole day affair — from 7am to 9pm — with a 2.5-hour break for lunch and whatever else you wanted or needed to do. Each day went like this:

  • Meditation
  • Breakfast
  • Lecture from Sahajananda: He was the only one who spoke during the retreat, and covered a different spiritual topic each day.
  • Meditation
  • 90-minutes of Hatha yoga
  • Lunch break
  • Meditation
  • Dinner
  • Lecture and Q&A: Participants were allowed to write down a question and submit to Sahajananda, which he would answer during this time, and also continue with the day’s lecture.
  • Meditation

Who am i? mantra

The mantra we were encouraged to (silently) chant, and constantly come back to for the entire retreat is Who Am I? This mantra, attributed to Ramana Maharshi is rhetorical, and it has no real answer.

Who Am I? is a cyclical contemplation that never ends, but always keeps you in the present moment. If you’re constantly asking Who Am I?, you’re always fully aware of the being you are right now, and not the characteristics we assign to ourselves based on past experiences.

One of the beachfront cafes in Mazunte. (Photo: Dan Nevill via Flickr)

Day 1: Hridaya Yoga Mexico Retreat

Day 1 was surreal. I didn’t really get what it means to actually not talk. As muscle memory kicked in, I physically wanted to speak to express myself, and you had to almost physically stop myself from doing so.

In addition to silence, you’re asked not to make eye contact. Some people went as far as to wear a sleep mask, or scarf wrapped over their head with only a small opening to see, to help with this. However, as my neighbor’s mat was only about six inches from mine, not making eye contact wasn’t easy.

I feel like Day 1, in a way, doesn’t count. You’re still really confused, but also excited — It’s kind of like the first day of school, and things are shiny and new, and you’re finding your way. You’re also getting your first taste of the retreat schedule, which is the same from day to day.

Days 2-5: Hridaya Yoga Mexico Retreat

Truthfully, I felt out of sorts and felt like I had no idea what was going on throughout the entire first half of the retreat. I was becoming more and more present, but was still definitely adjusting to this “new silent normal.”

For this reason, I’d say that if you are considering the Hridaya silent retreat, don’t do the three-day and go for the full 10 days. Having completed the 10 days, I honestly don’t even think I was getting any effects (at all) on Day 3; but this is a personal choice you’d have to make.

The pathway to Punta Cometa, the place to see the best Mazunte sunset views.

Days 6-7: Hridaya Yoga Mexico Retreat

You will, at times, really fuc+ing hate this experience. On Day 6, my journal starts getting, well, mean. I started to really dislike the strangers in the room with me, for no apparent reason. My body was in a lot of pain, because for a meditation retreat, it is quite physically demanding.

On day 7, I nearly gave up. It was the only time I seriously contemplated quitting, and it happened during the 2.5 hours lunch break. After eating, I went back to my hotel, showered, laid down on my bed and thought, Yeah, I’m done.

I said to myself: You made it a week. That’s pretty cool; one whole week in silence. You’re awesome.

To this day, I’m not sure what brought me back to my yoga mat, but I ended up there. 

Days 8-9: Hridaya Yoga Mexico Retreat

These two days were, without a doubt, the hardest and most emotionally taxing days for me. I was experiencing that so-close-yet-so-far-away feeling — I could see the finish line to this thing, but it also felt so far away.

But then, only a moment later, I’d start feeling immense joy because I could finally see the finish line. There were a lot of emotional highs and lows like this, and they seemed to unrelentingly come one right after the other.

Mazunte is just one of the four beach towns that make up the Riviera Oaxaqueña. (Photo: Dan Nevill via Flickr)

Day 10: Hridaya Yoga Mexico Retreat

This day started like any other, but as it went on, people seemed to start getting restless and less physically still. It was like the last day of school — which, let’s face it, is really more of a hangout day where you end the chapter of that school year and recall all your fond memories.

I was physically at Hridaya Yoga in Mazunte, but my body was laying on nearby Playa Mermejita in Mazunte. I kept trying to be in the moment with my Who Am I? Mantra, but it felt futile. Who Am I? was a chick on a beach.

As the day went on, I felt more and more like the person I was on Day 1 — someone just going through the motions. This retreat was a really intense mental and physical experience, and all I really cared about on Day 10 was being done.

🗣 We can talk again!

Then, just like that, from one moment to the next, it was finally over. What seemed like it would never end, was ending, as Sahajananda wrapped up his last lecture of the retreat. After he finished speaking, he opened the floor up for shares from the attendees.

One by one, people went to the front of the room and expressed how for them too, this experience was hard af. Some of the people speaking were there for their 3rd, 7th, 15th silent meditation retreat! I loved hearing from the veterans, who also said they struggled to get through it.

Mazunte, and all the beaches in Oaxaca, are known for epic sunsets. (Photo: Dan Nevill via Flickr)

Even though we’re not supposed to make eye contact, you do notice who’s who. Some people definitely have more of a stereotypical yogi/yogini vibe than others — But even the most zen looking of the group admitted to struggling. Not that I was happy they struggled, but their struggle did help normalize mine.

I remember fantasizing during the retreat about it ending and talking to people and being social when it was all over, but I didn’t do that. In fact, I went to dinner by myself, ate an entire pizza by myself and drank an entire bottle of wine by myself. (Shoutout to La Pizzería, the best restaurant in Mazunte, Mexico!)

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Day 11: After the Hridaya Yoga Mexico Retreat

After you do one of these retreats, everyone will ask you what it was like. Now, there’s the obvious answers of “transcendental”and “life changing,” and those are both accurate. However, neither word felt like my true, honest answer.

In fact, even writing this 20 months post-retreat, I still don’t really have the words. The closest thing I can say is this: Ten days of silence was kind of like skydiving. It’s just something you have to do to understand. 

That answer makes sense to anyone who’s been skydiving, and seems to just annoy anyone who hasn’t. It’s the closest answer that makes sense for me though.

My Hridaya silent meditation retreat was all of these things: great, awful, fuc+ing awful, beautiful, super cool, annoying, enlightening, calming and frustrating. It was the worst and it was also the best; sometimes simultaneously.

Mazunte is a very small town, though it has everything you’d need! (Photo: Dan Nevill via Flickr)

Final Thoughts: Hridaya Yoga Mexico Meditation Retreat

Should you do a Hridaya Retreat?

Besides being asked how it went, you’ll also find a lot of people who have silent retreats as a bucket list experience. I have been asked quite a few times by people if I think they should do a silent meditation retreat, or if I recommend a silent retreat.

My answer might shock you, but I don’t — and let me explain.

This isn’t for everyone. In fact, I can see a lot of people being super turned off by this experience, as I think it’s meant to do. A meditation retreat wasn’t a casual push out of my comfort zone; this is a forceful fu+king shove.

I further think anyone who truly wants to do a 10 day silent meditation retreat, isn’t asking me if they should. In my opinion, if you’re on the fence or wondering if it’s for you, I’d say that it’s likely not. For those who truly want to do one, you’re in for quite the trip!

Spending a day at Playa Mermejita Mazunte is the perfect way to end your Hridaya Yoga Mexico Retreat experience. (Photo: Dan Nevill via Flickr)

Will I do another one?

The last question I get a lot is if I’d ever do another 10-days in silence. This one, I have even wondered about myself; I think in all likelihood, no, I won’t, at least not for the foreseeable future. For me, I learned some important things about myself and the human psyche.

Could I go again and learn even more? Absolutely. I never want to stop learning, growing and discovering. My whole life I have been a spiritual seeker; that’s not going to change based on whether or not I do another silent meditation retreat.

For me, I think I’d grow most by exploring a different, but equally “intense,” spiritual practice, rather than the same one another time.

Meaning: I wouldn’t not do another silent meditation retreat because I didn’t enjoy the retreat. Rather, I don’t think I’ll do another retreat because I want to experience all of the consciousness expanding practices I can.

“Do not stop thinking of life as an adventure. You have no security unless you can live bravely, excitingly, imaginatively; unless you can choose a challenge instead of competence.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt

Have questions about a Hridaya Yoga Oaxaca retreat?

If there was anything I didn’t cover in this article, please join the conversation and ask away in the comments down below!

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