Wednesday, 29 May 2013

My Adventures as a Yoga Tourist Bali-Style!


Have you ever met a fellow Yogi while traveling to a far off destination?  Or found yourself sitting up late at night googling exotic locations to bring your Practice?  Yoga Travel is one of the fastest growing sectors of Tourism - with more Yogis desiring to make their holiday time a more introspective one and a whole host of "Mini Yoga Meccas" to accommodate them for a Retreat, Intensive, or even a Teacher Training in an exotic locale (just type Yoga Tourism into Google and you will be amazed at all that comes up!).  This past weekend I decided to head out (though not too far afield) on my own mini Yoga Vacation to the Heartland of Bali, Ubud!


Ubud (pronounced Oo-Bood) is only a mere 20 kms from my Home in Sanur, but due to narrow one laned roads and congested traffic it takes about one hour to arrive there.  It has a perfect blend of Balinese Culture, Nature and Yoga activities, so there is something for everyone, 'Yoga-Nut' or not.  Ubud is home to at least 3 Large Art Galleries (many more small privately owned ones), Hindu Temples, Balinese cultural dance performances, markets, Yoga studios and salas and a bevvy of delicious restaurants catering to the ever Health-conscious Yoga crowd. 

Having the opportunity to spend a long-weekend there allowed me to sample a selection of the studios Ubud has to offer, as well as numerous styles of Yoga.  I attended my very first Iyengar class at The Yoga Barn (http://www.theyogabarn.com/), the largest and most well-known studio in Ubud.  It was a Level 2 class and I spent most of it in supported Inversions, either using blocks, bolsters, blankets and straps or at times even making use of ropes which were secured to the wall.  It was quite fun and offered me some new adaptations for poses which I hadn't thought prior.  My next class was at Radiantly Alive Studio (http://www.radiantlyalive.com/), which seems to be Yoga Barn's direct competitor, offering a wide variety of classes throughout the day as well.  Here I happily spent a 90 minute Yin class sprawled against the wall stretching my hips, knees and legs, eyes closed, enjoying the subtle opening of my joints (word to the wise - bring something other than flip flops when going on vaca, they sure do hurt your feet and legs after a days worth of walking!).  Both of these classes were very enjoyable, but the real gems of my little Yoga-Adventure didn't come until Monday when I attended a Kundalini class at a locally-owned and run sala called Bodyworks Healing Centre (http://www.ubudbodyworkscentre.com/yoga.php).

Our class took place on the third floor of a more traditional Balinese building, with room for only 10 students.  Our teacher Putu lead us through a rigourous class with much leg work and core strengthening ending with a Heavenly (and much deserved!) Savasana with the Roosters crooning from the ground below. I thoroughly enjoyed the Pranayama exercises we practiced throughout this class, breathing fully in through the nose filling our bellies and than swiftly out through the mouth making a 'Shh' sound - it made me feel invigorated and very present on my mat.  And lastly I was lucky enough to have had Ketut, the Hatha Teacher from Taksu Spa (http://www.taksuyoga.com/) all to myself.  He lead me through a delightful (and chuckle-filled) Hatha class which ended with us experimenting and sharing different arm balances we knew.  And all of this taking place in a studio surrounded by lush greenery and the gushing sounds of the river which flowed around it.  Though I only spent 3 days in Ubud, it has definately made an strong impression on me and I know I will be headed back there soon to continue my exploration of the town and all it has to offer both Yogically and Culturally.   

Whether you are a first-time Yoga-traveller or a seasoned 'Retreatee' there is something on offer for everyone and a myriad of ways to find what you are looking for.  In the land of the World Wide Web you can find everything from budget/sustainable Yoga Vacations to the most luxurious of Yoga Retreats at an exotic moutain-top spa!  From the Galapagos to the Berkshires, if you can unroll a Yoga mat there rest assured someone has designed (or is right now) a Yoga Experience to be had there.  Depending on your budget you could find yourself in a small oceanside village in Nicaragua or a lavish (not to mention pricey!) villa at a spa resort in Thailand. Many of these packages include meals, accommodation, airport transfer, yoga classes and may even include other spa/wellness treatments.  My only advice when booking would be that you do a bit of research and ensure that you are headed to a destination and Yoga experience you really want and not just signing up for the first good deal that presents itself.  **See Sources & Links for links to helpful articles and websites on booking yoga vacations. 




So if after reading this you are silently kicking yourself for not having used your holidays this year to book a Yoga Retreat somewhere exotic, let go of those regrets!  You can be a Yoga Tourist, discovering new and exciting studios and further developing your practice from Home! 
Here's how:

  • Try a class with a new Teacher/Style of Yoga (we often get into a groove with one teacher or style and don't what we could be missing out on by trying something/someone new)
  • Book a Trial Week at a new Studio in your town/city (most studios offer discounted trial weeks for new students allowing you to try unlimited classes for the week!)
  • Invite a friend (or a whole gaggle of them) to accompany you on a Yoga Studio Tour where you live and in the surrounding area (be sure to allow a bit more time for this, one month is a good starting point so you have time to experience a few classes at each place)
  • Take a weekend (maybe a long weekend) and visit a neighbouring town/city specifically to try out the Yoga Studios they have to offer (book into a quiet hotel, eat lots of fresh & delicious food, make it your own little Yoga Retreat - personalized just for you!)

Anyways I hope my musings on my most recent adventures in Yoga (and travel) have got you excited about where your Practice will take you next, whether it be literally or figuratively!  Has anyone been on a Yoga Trip or Retreat (organized or of your own making) recently?  If so, what are your thoughts on your destination?  Please feel free to comment down below! 
Be Happy, Eat Healthy!

Sources & Links:

http://www.theyogabarn.com/
http://www.radiantlyalive.com/
http://www.ubudbodyworkscentre.com/yoga.php
http://www.taksuyoga.com/
http://thetravelyogi.com/
http://www.sustainabletrip.org/yoga
http://solyogatrips.com/trips
http://www.sheknows.com/health-and-wellness/articles/984679/affordable-yoga-retreats
http://www.coastalliving.com/travel/twenty-three-best-coastal-yoga-retreats-00400000065636/page5.html
http://yogaindiatours.com/yoga-tour.html

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