If you search Bali yoga retreats there is no shortage of options. Particularly after Eat, Pray, Love, Bali became the place to yoga and find yourself. I’m not going to pretend that it didn’t influence me into wanting to do my own yoga retreat. #Basic
I had two criteria while looking for a yoga retreat. The first was cost. Being that I’m on a long-term travel budget, I couldn’t afford to splurge on a luxury retreat. Second, it was important to me to find a retreat that didn’t promote diet culture or pseudoscience. I wanted to reserve the right to eat french fries and ice cream if I wanted to – not be restricted to “health food”. Since I wasn’t able to find any retreats that fit these two criteria, I decided to do it myself. I actually loved doing it myself. Being in a retreat would have been nice to meet other people but I liked having the flexibility to pick the type of yoga classes that suited me and my schedule. So how can you do it on your own?
Choose your Location
Although you can easily find yoga pretty well everywhere in Bali, Ubud is the holy grail. With multiple yoga studios and meditation centers, plus amazing rice field scenery it’s kind of the place to go. And yes, it’s also the place from Eat, Pray, Love.
Choose your Length
A yoga retreat can be any length of time depending on your budget, time available in your schedule and desire. I decided on 5-days. Ideally, I actually wanted to do it for 7 but since I had to convince Tom to do it with me, we settled on 5 days. Though we did go to a meditation the day before the official 5 days and a yoga class the day after. So technically, I may have sneakily snuck in a 7-day retreat without him realizing.
We did yoga twice a day and meditated on our own at least once daily. Plus we attended a couple of guided meditations offered at various venues (Yoga Barn, Ubud Yoga House, Radiantly Alive). Schedules change frequently so I just suggest googling meditation and Ubud, you will find lots of information.
Choose your Yoga Studio(s)
To choose a yoga studio, I used this amazing guide from Never Ending Voyage who has tried out most of the studios in Ubud and gave great feedback. Based on that post and the recommendations of a few other people we met, I chose Radiantly Alive. They have a good selection of classes and a weekly unlimited pass option for 800,000 rph ($74 CAD – which worked out to $6/class since we took 12 classes in the week).
I really liked this studio. It’s in the middle of busy Ubud but it’s set along a ravine so it actually feels very peaceful. They have a beautiful studio space and it was never too crowded. The staff were always very friendly and they had a variety of teachers with unique teaching styles.
They did have some pseudoscience things like colonics but it was never talked about, there were just posters at the studio. They also had a mindfulness eating workshop which I really appreciated, though didn’t get a chance to take.
Choose your Accommodation
There are plenty of places to choose from at all price ranges. I really wanted to be able to walk to and from the yoga studio. The traffic gets really bad in Ubud so although you could stay further out and use a scooter to get to classes you will need to ensure you give yourself extra time during the busy times.
I stayed at two different guest houses during my stay. The second, Nyoman Karsa Bungalows, was definitely more the peaceful stay I was looking for. With terraces overlooking the rice fields, breakfast served on your balcony and a pool. It was a bargain for around $35 CAD a night. It was a further walk, about 20 minutes to Radiantly Alive, however, it is very close to Yoga Barn if you chose that as your yoga studio.
Where to Eat
There is no shortage of “health” food being offered up to the yogis. I had a varied diet during my retreat. I enjoyed some of the fresh salads and smoothie bowls offered but also ate local Indonesian food and had burgers and fries. My top recommendations for food would be:
This place does emphasize health foods but they have some really great salads, soups and the tastiest homemade bread. Plus it was right across the street from Radiantly Alive, so perfect for after a yoga session.
I don’t actually know the name of this place. It’s just a tiny stand between Taco Casa and Babiya. They had about 4 or 5 different smoothie bowl options which were delicious. Really big, thick and a good amount of toppings.
A fantastic Warung. It has tasty Indonesian food with a cool atmosphere and cheap prices!
Bonus – Social Media Detox
During our “retreat” we decided to stay completely off social media. It was really a nice change of pace. I found I had so much more time freed up that I usually spend mindlessly scrolling Instagram feeds. I also felt more present int he moment because I wasn’t worrying about getting the next perfect picture for Instagram. If you do a retreat, I highly recommend this approach. We spend way too much time on our phones, so it’s nice to take a break.
What not to do on a yoga retreat
It may be tempting to go on a yoga retreat and go on a juice cleanse, fast, or vegan diet. I get the appeal of wanting to start something new or reset but you can absolutely receive these benefits without altering your diet.
Trust that your body knows what it needs to fuel you and don’t get caught up in the diet culture surrounding yoga. It’s a great idea to try out some of the delicious vegetarian foods, salads and smoothie bowls offered in Ubud because they’re tasty and food exploration is always a great idea. But don’t feel that’s all you can eat. The retreat is for you and no one else. So do what feels good for your own body.
Have you ever been on a retreat? Where would your ultimate retreat destination be?