Practicing Yoga in Bali is like being a Kid in a Candy Store
Yoga in Bali went mainstream in the early 2000s. It started with only one or two small yoga rooms in Ubud. Even now, the dizzying expansion of the yoga industrial complex has not slowed down. The recent opening of the Ritz Carlton Mandapa Reserve confirms this. A rough count shows almost thirty established studios, retreats, and resorts. The offerings range from a basic hour yoga class to one month-long immersion programmes. Where does one begin to look when searching for that just-right yoga experience?
Most of us have been in that mind-numbing dazed-and-confused state before. That helpless feeling of not knowing where to start or what to do. It's that moment when you first set foot in a Carrefour, Home Depot, Ikea, or a mega mall like the Mall of Asia. Whether you are a yoga-addict or a complete yoga newbie, you get to re-live that ‘kid in a candy store’ nostalgia when you come to Bali for yoga. Don’t worry, we are here to help.
So let's get started. Bali's main yoga locations coincide with the tourist dense regions: Central and South Bali. This article sorts yoga studios by region and describes available features for each.
Ganesha watches over all yoga practitioners
Where to Practice
Central Bali spans North Tabanan, North Badung, and West Gianyar regencies.
Dubbed the cultural and spiritual capital of Bali. Ubud is home to the most vibrant yoga and art communities on the island.
Ubud's main street all signs point to yoga
The Yoga Barn
Daily classes and retreats | Various styles | Walk-ins welcome
Where there was darkness now there is light. The Yoga Barn was born in 2004 from humble beginnings. It started as a community space in response to the 2002 Bali bombings. The Yoga Barn provides world-class yoga and holistic services. It is arguably the most famous and influential yoga studio in Bali.
There is something for just about everyone at the Yoga Barn. There are impressive six studios with the largest studio, perhaps in all Bali, accommodating up to 80 practitioners.
Although their schedule boasts up to 15 different classes on a given day, the Yoga Barn isn't only about being on a sticky mat. After your vinyasa flow class, come back for their famous Monday movie night, their mainstay Sunday dance/brunch, or their talk-of-the-town Friday night ecstatic dance. You say you want to keep the Yogic energy pumping for another day or even for the entire week? Now you can. The Yoga Bar has become inclusive. Overnight accommodations were recently added steps away from the new studios. See their website for more details.
As part of the BaliSpirit franchise, the Yoga Barn Hosts world-renowned yoga teacher training (YTT) programmes and BaliSpirit events. Their 'Kush' spa offers ayurvedic based massage and therapy. Chill-out spaces are abundant. The Little K cafe has a full menu and can host special events. Become a part of yoga history in Bali by practicing at the place that set the gold standard.
Giving back: The Yoga Barn provides the ever popular free community yoga classes every Friday evening. They also support several local charities such as: Ayo! Kita Bicara HIV/AIDS (Hey! Let's Talk about HIV/AID); Bali Regreen; and the internationally famous Bumi Sehat.
Access is from either Pengosekan or Peliatan. The original Pengosekan entrance can be tricky to find. It's actually easier to look for the Siam Sally restaurant sign. Then navigate down the narrow alley way. Parking is tight and limited to motorbikes and bicycles. If you have a car or if you suffer from claustrophobia, it's worth driving the extra kilometre to the new Peliatan entrance. You will be rewarded with a spacious car park and motorbike area.
How green? Very. The studios are made of bamboo. The Yoga Barn does not use plastic straws and water bottles since forever. Each studio area is well stocked with a water gallon dispenser and reusable cups. The cafe provides bamboo stirrers and straws for your drinks if needed. Their insect repellent is even made from natural ingredients.
The Yoga Barn, a place not-to-be-missed while in Bali
Ubud Yoga House
Weekly classes | Various styles: Iyengar inspired | Walk-ins welcome
The appropriately named, Ubud Yoga House auspiciously opened its doors on the International Day of Happiness, April 2014. The studio is actually a house right in the middle of a rice field and is home to owner teacher, Sheila Burch. Sheila's motto is 'Yoga for Everyone'. This philosophy has made the studio very popular. Which is an accomplishment in the saturated Ubud yoga scene.
The Ubud Yoga House offers a beginner-friendly fusion of Iyengar, Hatha, and Vinyasa Flow styles. The intimate second floor studio has commanding views of the quintessential Ubud rice paddies. Because it's popular and limited in space, get there early.
Giving back: The Ubud Yoga House gives back to the John Fawcett Foundation. This foundation provides free medical help to the marginalized population of Indonesia.
Access is via a narrow pathway that is barely wide enough for two people walking side by side. The best option is to park your vehicle on Jalan Raya Ubud and walk. Going by foot adds to the ambience. Walking allows for an opportunity to imagine what Ubud was like before the tourist boom. Be respectful of the rice farmers as this is their main access to their fields. In other words, give them the right of way.
How green? Drinking water comes from a water dispenser i.e., no plastic water bottles, yay! Spread the good word by getting your very own reusable Ubud Yoga House cloth shoulder bag.
Ubud Yoga House makes its home in Bali's idyllic rice fields
Four Seasons (in Sayan)
Weekly classes and retreats | Various styles including AntiGravity® Yoga & Laughter Yoga | Reservations required
The two words, Four Seasons, are enough to conjure images and sensations of luxury and indulgence. Their Dharma Shanti (path of peace) studio is a beautiful yoga bale (pronounced bah-lay) constructed with sustainable bamboo. And get this, it’s right in the Middle of a working rice paddy. Just when you think that can't be topped, the well-known Ayung River, completes the setting. The AntiGravity® yoga is a must-try if you have a healthy spine and an appetite for inversions.
A fair warning: all this comes with a hefty price tag. But you definitely get what you pay for at the Four Seasons.
How green? The studio is Bamboo but they still dish out plastic water bottles for drinking water.
Certified AntiGravity® Yoga Instructor, Putu Purnama, shows us how it's done while a rice farmer tends to his field
South Bali spans South Tabanan, South Badung, and Denpasar regencies.
Sanur is one of the most mature resort beaches in Bali. Sanur is more relaxed and tranquil compared with Kuta and Seminyak.
Power of Now Oasis
Daily classes | Various styles includes 'Bali Yoga' | Walk-ins welcome
Practice yoga where the Indian Ocean kisses the Balinese shoreline. Enjoy your warrior I pose as the salty breeze energizes your senses. The Power of Now Oasis makes an indelible mark in the South Bali coastline. The studio does a nice job of breaking up the monotonous pattern of hotels and resorts that lines the beach. The bamboo structure (designed in the shape of a green turtle) is an oasis for yogis pining for that authentic yoga class. By the way, this is the only Yoga Alliance registered studio in Sanur.
The Power of Now Oasis is a dedicated yoga studio. Meaning, it isn’t a restaurant, spa, or hotel add-on. Yet, their cozy ground-level lounge area comes with juice bar. The arrangement of comfy couches and bean bags just begs you to stay for a spell.
Giving back: Their long list of charity partners include: Jodie O'Shea Orphanage, Bali WISE (women's education), ROLE Foundation (Rivers Oceans Land Ecology), and Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. They proudly throw in complimentary classes, talks, and an action-packed annual beach festival (every March).
Access is via a narrow ally from the main road. The walk from the main street is less than 10 minutes tops. There is space at the end of the ally for motorbike parking. Bonus if you ride a bicycle, because you can pull up to the studio steps for hassle-free rock star parking.
How green? Extremely. As mentioned early, the two-storey building is bamboo. You won't find plastic water bottles – yay! Drinking water flows freely from a water gallon dispenser. Reusable cups are provided. Last but not least, they have their own rescued Bali cow, Angelique. Angelique lives on the grounds and moos free 'OMs' to all devotees.
Warming up for 'Bali Yoga' at Power of Now Oasis
Angelique, the sacred cow, finds refuge at the Oasis
Balipedia continues your yoga tour through the Island of the Gods. Stay tuned for: the Bali Silent Retreat in Tabanan; Radiantly Alive and Intuitive Flow in Ubud; and Desa Seni in Canggu.
Map courtesy of WikiTravel
The photographs are courtesy of Mark L Chaves unless otherwise stated.