Yoga enthusiast that I am, I often chose my travel destination by the sole potential of great places to practice. And who hasn’t heard of Bali as a destination for not only for surfers, but yogis and spiritual seekers. However, teaching yoga on a daily basis, I’m aware that everybody is looking for something different in their practice; and especially when travelling. So, when raiding the colorful and vibrant island of Bali for the best yoga spots, I was looking for places that offer something for everybody. I want to share three discoveries that cater to anyone from absolute yoga beginners to advanced practitioners. Whether you are looking for a full-time yoga immersion retreat or you simply crave a proper stretch after your long flight or your morning surf lesson, you’ll find it here.
1. THE PRACTICE in Canggu
The beach town Canggu is a great place to start your Bali adventures. It is a popular surf spot and invites with a laid-back bohemian vibe. The Practice is a quiet oasis, yet centrally located on the main road, just a few minutes from the beach and surrounded by eco, veggie and organic cafes and restaurants. The yoga room is spacious and airy, open on one side - offering a beautiful green view - and topped with an impressive bamboo ceiling. Everything blends into the surroundings with natural materials and soothing muted colors. A second, smaller all-wooden studio is nestled in a lovely calming garden. There is also a hang-out area where you can meet new friends from all over the world and a shop, in case you forgot your yoga gear or want to stock up on yoga literature. Classes are clearly segmented into vitalizing Sun and Fire practice in the mornings, and grounding and balancing Moon practice in the evenings. They all include physical postures, but also advanced practices such as breathing techniques and meditation. And this is my favorite part about this place, and what makes it special; yoga is transmitted as a way of living life beyond the mat and extravagant postures. The teachers are dedicated to bringing the real yoga back to yoga, as they say. Subtly and smoothly they weave the traditional teachings into the practice, providing insights into the depths of the philosophy. Very popular and especially delicious in the high temperatures are the Yin Yoga classes, that send you into deepest relaxation. Complementing the daily schedule there is an extensive event program including various mediations, community events and workshops. Personally, I recommend trying something different and joining a Yoga Nidra session, a powerful guided meditation that induces total physical, mental, and emotional relief.
2. YOGA BARN in Ubud
Going further inside the country away from the beach and towards the jungle, you find Ubud, Bali’s spiritual and cultural heart, nestled the midst of lush green rice fields. The area is popular for its many temples, waterfalls and the Monkey Garden. Ubud’s center itself awaits you with bustling streets filled with locals and tourists alike pounding their way through markets, cafes and boutiques. Looking for an escape from this traffic and chaos, you encounter a massive yoga temple in a tropical oasis – the Yoga Barn. It is no surprise this place became known in the worldwide yoga community. It includes 6 yoga studios, a 10-room guest house, a healing center and an ayurvedic treatment center with an extensive menu of therapies. A yoga shop, an outdoor area with a juice bar as well as a café serving fresh organic foods, complete your experience on the premises. You can choose from a broad offer of full-time retreats, immersions and teacher trainings, or simply get a single or multiple class pass and just drop-in to find your personal favorite. The weekly schedule contains over 100 classes and literally covers any style from soothing Yin, to experimental Acro Yoga, dynamic Vinyasa, classical Hatha and Iyengar Yoga, up to Power and Yoga with Weights. Naturally you also find various mediations, breath work, gong baths and many more, if you are looking for something more spiritual and grounding. Other weekly activities include movie nights, mantra singing and an ecstatic dance event on Sunday evenings, which became an institution amongst Bali lovers. I like that there is a good mix of international and local teachers from different linages and styles, so you have a wide range of inspiration and an incredible variety to choose from and find exactly what you need. It’s a great place to meet fellow yoga friends from all over the world; after all it can almost be seen as a pilgrimage destination for dedicated yogis.
3. YOGA SEARCHER in Uluwatu
After indulging into Ubud’s cultural and spiritual activities it is time to go back to the beach, heading down all the way south to Bukit, Bali’s limestone cliff-fringed peninsula. Its most popular area is Uluwatu, known for its cliff top temple of the same name. Here you can find everything from scenic luxury resorts to very laid-back and alternative surfer spots, hip cafes and - most importantly - gorgeous beaches. My favorite yoga center in this area is Yoga Searcher. Build on the cliffs close to the beach it was constructed in original Java architecture with 100% recycled wood. The yoga studio is generous and atmospheric with charming colorful woodwork details. Overlooking the beautiful premises and the pool, the space is peaceful and airy, despite the high temperatures. You feel the breeze on your skin, hear birds singing, and if you are really quiet you can maybe even hear the waves breaking. A second, smaller studio is used to host workshops and special classes. I felt that this place gracefully accomplished merging old tradition and modern approach – in their facilities, their service and the yoga practice. You can decide to stay in one of their beautiful teakwood lodges or to just drop-in to their daily classes. They offer different yoga-packages, retreats and teacher trainings. The daily schedule usually offers 3 to 4 classes including classical Hatha Yoga, dynamic Vinyasa and Flow Yoga, and Aerial Yoga in the afternoons. Yes, this means you get to practice yoga in a hammock defying gravity and reaching classical poses in a supported way, and having a floating final relaxation. Yoga Searcher also has a Spa using only natural and organic products in line with their eco-friendly mission. The onsite café serves fresh dishes made from local and organic ingredients, accommodating all nutrition preferences including vegan and raw. I found that starting the day with their Morning Flow at 7.30am distinctively set the tone for an amazing day.
Whether you choose to travel the island and follow the entire yoga route or just chose one place for your yoga holiday, you will for sure enjoy and leave physically and mentally refreshed and relaxed. Have an amazing trip!