Thanks to the rise and rise of yoga and the popularity of the movie Eat Pray Love, Bali has been steadily growing in appeal to travellers as the perfect getaway to get ‘centred’ and find some inner peace.
Within Bali, Ubud has become the yogis equivalent to Mecca with health and yoga retreats available throughout the mid-sized town. Last year I took an impromptu Balinese break and experienced one of more enlightening holidays – here are my picks for getting the most out of a mindful vacations.
Nestled in the rice paddy fields just an hour from the thriving beaches of Kuta, Seminyak and Nusa Dua, Ubud offers an alternative to wild surf, exclusive restaurants and hedonistic parties with a focus on spirituality and health to counteract the beachside towns. With yoga centres in the double digits, Ubud is filled with tourists rocking Lulemon-clad tight butts and an expression of calm that is normally reserved for Bhutanese monks.
Many of these travellers book their stay with a pre-organised yoga retreat but after doing some research, I found it both convenient and economical to DIY my Ubud yoga stay.
One of the most famous studios in Ubud is The Yoga Barn. Established over ten years ago, this expertly managed centre has continually expanded as Hollywood starlets and bored housewives around the world have began to chime in with an Om of their own.
Offering close to 100 classes per week and a range of yogic styles, there really is something for everyone. Payments start from 100,000rp ($10) for a casual class or you can start to buy in bulk, dependent on the length of your stay.
Instead of being signed up to specific yoga classes as you would on a retreat, you can pick and choose what you would like to attend as and when. Some days I did a couple of classes, and others I did none.
The range that Yoga Barn offers allowed me to also discover Yin Yoga – my new favourite way to de-stress and unwind.
Staying at the Yoga Barn can cost around $70 US per night for a basic (but quaint) bungalow but if you branch out, there are some great alternatives to be found in the vicinity. At the budget end of the scale grab a homestay room within a Balinese family compound from around $20 but you can also book in exclusive resorts for triple digits and then some.
If you are travelling in a group, consider a villa as these can be very economical and often come with a pool to combat the tropical temperatures. My pick is the Green Field Bungalows, a breathtaking property overlooking rice paddy fields with a gorgeous salt-water pool and a short five-minute walk to the Yoga Barn.
With the mindfulness of yoga and the absolute blissfulness of the salt-water pool, it is also important to consider what you are putting into you body as part of your overall healthy approach, and fortunately Ubud provides as the culinary centre of Bali with a staggering number of restaurants and a delicious array of cuisines.
Fresh vegetables, plump fish and flavourful sauces made their way into many of my meals and my favourite eateries were the meta-named Kafe (do not miss out on their tempe and cashew curry), Wi-Fi-free Bali Buda and the not-for-profit Fair Warung Bali.
No visit to Bali would be complete without taking advantage of the range of therapies on offer for less than a food court lunch in Auckland. In Ubud the approach to treatments tends to be both spiritual and holistic. I booked in for a range of sessions where traditional Balinese massages are administered by local therapists (often male) that also have the ability to heal.
For one of the best treatments you will likely ever experience, book in with Nyoman at Iman Spa (book early). If you want to make a day of it, head to Karsa Spa, a thirty-minute walk through the rice paddy fields with stunning cabanas attached to enjoy a fresh coconut before returning to Ubud’s centre.
For those looking to get away from the hustle of work, chores, kids or even those looking to recover their health, Ubud in Bali has proven to be the perfect getaway.
The value of the accommodation, the calibre of the yoga teachers and the quality of the food validate Ubud as more than just a pretty scene in a sentimental movie and more as a spiritual destination with which to recharge. So book a retreat, or do-it-yourself – either way, just go.
Have you been in Bali for a yoga trip?
Share this story