Shiva and Jess of Desa Seni greets all who come in search of yoga
Welcome to the second article in this 3-part series. The first part featured the Yoga Barn, Ubud Yoga House, Four Seasons Sayan, and Power of Now Oasis. This article features Bali Silent Retreat, Radiantly Alive, Intuitive Flow, and Desa Seni.
- Bali Silent Retreat (Tabanan)
- Radiantly Alive (Ubud)
- Intuitive Flow Penestanan (Ubud)
- Desa Seni (Canggu)
Bali Silent Retreat
Daily classes | Hatha & meditation | Day pass purchase | Pure-vegetarian
It's refreshing to see meditation-friendly centres starting to pop-up in Bali. Established in 2013, Bali Silent Retreat is the first of its kind in the up-and-coming Tabanan region. Tabanan is known for the paddy fields of Jatiluwih (UNESCO world heritage site) and highly photographed Pura Tanah Lot (a dramatic temple on an ocean rock formation).
Bali Silent Retreat provides two vegetarian meals a day and kitchen certified by Slow Food Bali™. Don't forget to check out their meditation labyrinth. It's perfect for walking meditations.
Silence is taken seriously. Again, this is reassuring because many so-called silent retreats seem to provide 'lip service' only. No pun intended. Social talking is strongly discouraged. The staff are supportive by not being intrusive. The retreat makes a distinction between silence and quiet. For example, if you can practice being silent while in Bali, you can be treated to the serene sounds of nature or be able to savour the melodic gamelan music in the distance. There is no direct wifi and no phone charging outlets. Just what the good e-tox doctor ordered.
Giving back: Do you want to be a volunteer and a meditator? Join their Seva programme as a volunteer or intern.
Access: Access to this '5-star ashram' is a long 2.5 hour drive from the airport. But, the good news is that this silent retreat has its own helipad.
How green? Extremely. Bali Silent Retreat probably 'takes the cake' in this category. Their lodges and open-air, octagonal yoga pavilion were built using up-cycled wood. They are one of the few pure vegetarian resorts in Bali. Bali Silent Retreat employs the ‘Bumi Baru' or new earth food philosophy – food straight from the earth. They support no garbage in/no garbage out. Everything that is brought in must be compostable. They supply solar powered lights, and their drinking water is distilled using solar energy. And, this is pretty cool, they use sarongs for towels for a lighter water footprint.
The sound of silence awaits you in Tabanan – photo courtesy of Bali Silent Retreat
Daily classes and retreats | Various styles plus Pilates | Walk-ins welcome
Flaunting a Yoga schedule of 40 classes (at the time of writing), Radiantly Alive is Ubud's second largest studio in terms of space, devotees, and offerings. Established relatively recently in 2012, it has become a world-renowned yoga hot-spot. With good reason. Radiantly Alive doesn't have to pretend, preach, or defend the goodness of yoga. This Shala genuinely delivers quality and meaningful yoga mainly due to Radiantly Alive's unassuming founder, Daniel Aaron.
The facilities include a large main studio with space for up to seventy participants, a second studio equipped for their flying/suspended yoga, and a couple of shalas that are perfect for teacher training classes. The props, mats, private changing areas, shower rooms, and toilets rival that of a 5-star luxury resort. Organic mat cleaning sprays adds that extra touch that shows how much thought and care is given to their guests. From cubbies for your things to designated shoe racks, everything is organized and has its place.
There isn't food & beverage service at Radiantly Alive. However, one of Bali's premiere health food restaurant/deli is only 20 metres away. Upstairs has a cozy chill-out loft where one can sit, relax, and watch the local Balinese life go by.
Giving back: The studio offers a donation-based community class open to all. They also have an active partnership with Sari Hati School. Sari Hati provides free education to Balinese children with disabilities.
Access: Radiantly Alive is about a ten-minute, casual walk from Ubud Centre. There is street parking available for cars and motorbikes about 50 metres from the studio on Ubud's main street, Jalan Raya Ubud.
How green? The studios are built with gorgeous, reclaimed wood floors and bamboo supported roofs. “We have our very own water filtering system that even supports a nearby health food restaurant”, says Aaron. Not surprisingly, no plastic water bottles to be seen. Water gallon dispensers with reusable cups are provided.
Liveliness radiates onto the streets of Ubud in front of Radiantly Alive Yoga Stuio
Intuitive Flow Penestanan
Daily classes and retreats | Various styles including 'Pranala' | Walk-ins welcome
Intuitive Flow is nestled in hills of historic Penestanan overlooking Campuhan, Ubud. Penestanan is well known for healing. The original dwellers of Ubud settled in Campuhan because of the area's unique energy. The studio opened in 2007 making it one of the early Yoga establishments in Ubud.
“We are more about Yoga education here at Intuitive Flow,” says Linda, the studio's founder. Her classes strike that delicate balance of theory and practice.
Retreats, including teacher training, are provided but in a different location about 2km up the road in Sanggingan.
Giving back: N/A
Access: Access to Intuitive Flow is mainly by foot up the famous Penestanan steps. Car parking is limited to the main street below. Motorbike access from South Penestanan (Kelod) is available but can be challenging to reach. The spiritually energizing Yoga and stunning views of the Campuhan Valley make the effort worthwhile.
How green? N/A
A studio with a view at Intuitive Flow
Daily classes and retreats | Various styles | Walk-ins welcome
This appropriately named 'art village' (desa seni in Indonesian) in Canggu is a carefully sculpted and manicured property on Bali's sprawling south coast. It's a haven for yogis. Stepping through the front gates is like stepping into another dimension. The senses are treated to a delightful array of aromas and sights from the lush gardens, vibrant flowers, native architecture, and pleasant smiles. The village vibe makes one feel as though the weight of the frenetic world dissolves – allowing one to feel lighter.
The yoga classes support this lightness by being structured yet fun. It's a proper mixture that creates a foundation to build on and enables one to expand perhaps into something more.
The two, open-design, studio pavilions nicely complement the village ethos. Both are spacious sans walls. It's hard to feel squeezed even in a full class. Without the confines of walls – nature, studio, yogis, and environment blend more seamlessly.
Desa Seni is the defacto yoga hub of southern Bali. As many as five classes a day are on the schedule. The classes are well organized by ability level i.e. beginner (101), intermediate (level 2), advanced (level 2-3), or open (all levels). The styles of yoga and meditation are diverse, so there is something for everyone. Get there early to secure your spot. Stay late to enjoy a secret nook to unwind or rejuvenate with a healthy meal in their restaurant.
Giving back: Desa Seni publishes, Kula magazine. It's free, superbly designed, and full of content that promotes community, wellness, and social responsibility. On top of their donation-based community events, there are free, community, yoga classes and traditional dance classes for children. They also sponsor a local orphanage with their Making Dreams Come True programme.
Access: Located just minutes from the beach, Desa Seni has a private parking area for cars, motorbikes, and bicycles complete with an attendant.
How green? Desa Seni was designed from the beginning to be an eco-resort. The entire resort was built using locally sourced up-cycled, reclaimed, or sustainable materials. No single-use plastic water bottles or straws are used. Hooray! A significant percentage of the property is an organic farm that yields up to 80% of what is used in their restaurant. Lastly, composting and recycling is actively done.
Three is a a magic number when it comes to yoga and Desa Seni
The third instalment of this series features Taksu Yoga in Ubud, Fiveelements in the Ubud area, and Morning Light Yoga in Uluwatu. I'll also provide a list of notable studios around the island for travellers going slightly off the beaten path.
Photographs courtesy of mark l chaves unless stated otherwise.