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With an emphasis on nourishing food, daily movement, meditation, and easeful downtime, a yoga retreat feels exactly how a vacation should—like hitting the reset button. The one downside? They’re significantly more expensive than your average holiday. But if you know where to look you can create your own, more affordable, yoga retreat, and what better place to do it than Bali—Indonesia’s Hindu enclave, where spirituality, healing traditions, and yoga are part of the cultural fabric.
Excluding Kuta—Bali’s partying pocket—this volcanic island evokes tranquility, from its rice-paddied interior to its dark-sand beaches (which sparkle like they’re made of black glitter). While most yoga retreats are confined to one location, your DIY version has the flexibility to span the coast and hills, so you can experience the best of what Bali has to offer.
Bali draws surfers from around the world thanks to its impressive swells, and many of them make a base in the coastal village of Canggu. It’s been called “the Brooklyn of Bali” thanks to the influx of trendy boutiques and hip evening hangouts like The Lawn—a beachfront lounge with parasol-shaded grass and New York-priced cocktails.
Spend an hour or two wave watching from a shaded sun lounger, sipping juice right out of a coconut, before heading to a class at The Practice—the town’s most prominent yoga spot.
The studio’s impressive structure—a beamed bamboo roof with sides open to the sounds of nature—makes it an atmospheric place to flow and meditate, and props and mats are provided so you don’t have to worry about lugging yours around. Post-class, head downstairs where you’ll find comfy couches, a serene garden watched over by statues of Hindu gods, and a bottomless supply of ginger tea.
Samadi is your one stop for wellness—a community-focused ashtanga yoga studio with holistic treatments, an organic cafe serving local produce, and pool-side rooms with sleek neutral decor.
Nalu Bowls is the breakfast spot, with a menu of smoothies, juices and sorbet-like icy açaí bowls sprinkled with homemade granola and fresh fruits. It’s also attached to popular co-working space Dojo, which has a more extensive menu, including avocado toast with cherry tomatoes, aptly named The One Everybody Gets.
Competing for the accolade of most Instagramable meals in Canggu is always-busy vegan restaurant The Shady Shack. Snag a spot with a rice field view and order the hot-pink dragon fruit smoothie bowl or rainbow nori bowl. Betelnut Cafe on the main stretch of Jl. Pantai Batu Bolong belongs to the same female entrepreneur and has an equally virtuous menu.
For all your bread/pastry needs check out Oka’s bakery. This Balinese owned establishment is also a homestay with traditional wooden bungalows, but most people know it for delicious sweet treats—gluten-free of course.
There’s no shortage of places offering classic Indonesian massages for around US$7.50 (around UK£6.00), but if you want a slightly more upmarket experience—Therapy, with its polished concrete floors and ceiling adorned with parasols, is a great option.
Slightly further from the beach, “art village” Desa Seni offers indulgent day-long wellness packages incorporating private yoga and meditation, massage, and a nutritious lunch by the salt-water pool—a total steal at less than US$150 (under UK£120).
When Elizabeth Gilbert published Eat Pray Love she changed Ubud—a quaint art village nestled among sanguine rice paddies—irrevocably. Her colorful description of healer Ketut Liyer led to an influx of spiritual tourism, and with it yoga studios, vegan cafes and dreamcatcher–y new age shops. This is one of the world’s most prominent wellness hubs.
Keep your eyes peeled and you’ll find plenty of tucked-away yoga classes in Ubud, but there’s one place that dominates: Yoga Barn. This sprawling space which bills itself as “a lush and inspiring environment for the nourishment of body, mind, and soul”, also incorporates accommodation, a restaurant, juice bar, and Ayurvedic healing. Classes span many different styles of yoga and they fill up ahead of time so it’s wise to book.
For a less conventional but totally authentic yoga experience catch Ketut Arsana’s class at Ubud Bodyworks Healing Center—his family’s ornate Balinese compound. He’s the real deal—a guru and trusted healer whose kundalini-like classes include chiropractic spine adjustments. Just breath, relax, and trust that you’ll feel amazing by the time you’re tucking into post-yoga papaya dipped in special spicy sauce (his secret recipe).
Vegetarian and vegan cafes are legion in Ubud, and Atman Nourish Kafe is one of the best. Claim a bar stool overlooking the rice field and order a Super Green Juice, composed of spirulina and as many green veggies as the blender holds.
Despite the fact that it doesn’t serve booze, Sage’s Mexican-inspired vegan dinner menu makes it a great atmospheric evening spot. Get the incredible jackfruit tacos (stewed with spices until the sweetness dissipates) and split a coconut-frosted sponge cake with a friend for desert.
One evening, treat yourself to a multi-course dinner at Locavore. There are two menus: Locavore, with a focus on local produce; and Herbivore, for the veggies. It’s the most lauded gastro experience in Ubud so make sure you book in advance.
Paradiso is an event space that transforms from yoga/fitness studio in the day to movie theatre at night, where servers bring you delicious vegan dishes from the adjoining Earth Cafe & Market. Screenings are around US$3.75 (around UK£3.00) and the cost can be redeemed against your bar and food bill.
Off the beaten path of Campuhan ridge hiking trail you’ll find Karsa Spa—one of Ubud’s best. Try a massage-reiki combo treatment or an Ayurvedic scrub, followed by a soak in a petal-filled bath.
If you’re on a budget and your hotel/Airbnb has a nice tub you could also DIY your pampering. Pick up some natural, handmade goodies from Angelo Store—face masks, green tea bath salts, and scented body oils—and have a chilled evening in.