Ubud – Let it work its magic…

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Yoga and Ubud (Bali) are undoubtedly connected. So much so, that it may even have become a bit of a cliché to come to this part of Bali and practice. But I didn’t care. I had visited Ubud last year and was now ready to discover the ‘other Ubud’. The more quiet version that revolves not so much about shopping, art and food, but more about tranquility and yoga. Though finding the quieter parts of Ubud may seem like a challenge, for its main road – Jalan Raya Ubud – and it’s connecting strees are seriously packed with motorbikes, cars, shops, restaurants and tourists, I did manage to find the peace, quiet and yoga I was looking for.

About Ubud

As said, Ubud is busy. And when I say busy, I mean stuck-all- day-in-traffic busy. Ubud’s streets are filled with honking motorbikes and cars and you really do have to be careful when walking and crossing the roads. What started off as a small town that was all about art in the 1930’s, has now turned into Bali’s cultural heart full of shops, restaurants and tourists. Though Ubud hasn’t lost it’s charm and still has a wonderful atmosphere, I do recommend avoiding the city centre and spending more time outside of the hustle and bustle of it’s main roads. Don’t skip the centre entirely though, for this is where you can attend a traditional Balinese dance ceremonie (just take the flyer which will undoubtedly be handed to you), visit one of Ubud’s many famous museums and art gallaries or find your way to the Campuhan Ridge walk, which is very nice in the (very) early morning.

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A typical Penestanan view

Penestanan

Penestanan is about ten minutes away from Ubud centre and has a lovely, calm vibe to it. This area is not packed with restaurants (though it has some great places to eat) and shops and really breathes local Ubud life. Picture endless rice fields and small pathways leading towards local people’s houses. Shrines with cats sleeping on top of then and lizards scurrying away as you walk past. Penestanan is slow and that’s what makes it so easy to fall in love with. A great place to enjoy either breakfast, lunch or dinner in this area is the Yellow Flower Cafe. I had their lovely Pink Smoothie bowl (red fruits smoothie, banana, coconut and granola) practically every morning and really enjoyed their Flat Whites. They also have great Gado Gado and vegeterian Nasi Goreng. Another place in this area that I can highly recommend is Warung Pulau Kelapa. Go here for the best ‘Rijsttafel’ ever, that consists of no less than 17 small dishes you’ll all want to finish. Wear loose pants and dig in. You won’t regret ithis. Oh, and the view is pretty good too!

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Traditional Rijsttafel at Warung Pulau Kelapa

Another great place for food I can recommend is Clear Cafe. This restaurant has a really nice, modern vibe to it and is located in the city centre. The entrance is marked by a big, almost ‘Hobbit-like’ round wooden door and leads to both the restaurant and spa. I’ve never tried their spa, but did go all out with their food, which is reasonably priced and of high quality. Their menu covers all continents and has many vegetarian options. Though this time I went for the Seafood Nasi Goreng, which was amazing. My last suggestion when it comes to food in Ubud would be Mudra. This is a small, but very cool place for breakfast or lunch and is located slightly out of the centre. Try one of their bowls or have a smoothie. They’re great!

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Cool wall painting at Mudra

Getting around

Getting around Ubud is the easiest by motorbike. You can rent one for about 50.000-70.000 Rupiah (about 3-4 euro’s) per day and it’s safe as long as you stay calm, don’t push and adjust your speed to the traffic around you. If you’ve never ridden one before, I suggest you practice a little bit outside of the city centre, for Ubud centre traffic can be challenging. Since Uber and Grab are no longer allowed in Ubud, you’re only official taxi option is Bluebird Taksi. But since cars tend to get even more stuck in the small streets of Ubud during rush hour, I really do recommend the motorbike. You could also hop into private taxis or on to private motorbikes, which will be at your disposal on practically every street corner. These options are perfectly safe as well. Just look for locals asking you if you need a taxi or look for local people holding a ‘taxi’ sign. I’ve hopped on random motorbikes many times before and never had a bad experience.

Yoga in Ubud

Now, let’s talk about yoga. As said, Ubud and yoga are very much connected. Many people have visited this place in the past decades to recharge on Ubud’s peaceful and inspiring atmosphere. I also picked up on the Ubud vibe and tried some poses at a beautiful location in Penestanan. Though I always critisize my poses when I check the pictures, I’m still proud of where I’m heading and on what I’ve achieved so far. Curious how I’m doing? Check the pictures below.

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Of all the yoga studios and retreats Ubud has to offer, I tried two; The Yoga Barn and Intuitive Flow Sanctuary.

The Yoga Barn

The Yoga Barn is probably one of Bali’s most famous yoga spots. Tucked away in a quiet part of Ubud, this place offers a great variety of yoga and medidation classes and feels like a real yogi enclave. Though I’ve heard people patronizingly call it the Starbucks or McDonalds of yoga studios, I feel this is very undeserved. Yes, it’s big, yes, accomodation is quite expensive and yes, it might be a bit more commercialized than you’d expect of a yoga studio. But the vibe here is amazing. The Yoga Barn is set on a hill and has several shala’s in which many classes are tought every day. The Yoga Barn offers all types of yoga and has specific meditation and dance classes. If you simply want to enjoy yoga and all that is associated with it, this is a must visit. You can go all out during a transformational dance class (we did, and it was scary at first, but very liberating by the end of the class) or all in during a Tibetan bowl meditation. The place also has a very nice vegetarian/vegan restaurant (the Garden Kafe) where you can enjoy lovely meals and really good coffee (try their flat white with coconut milk). You also have the option to book a spiritual healing session should you be in need of one or just be curious. A drop-in class costs an average 130.000 Rupiah (about 8 euro’s) and more favorably priced multiple class-credits are available as well. You could also join a workshop, such as making your own mala (we did), join a free community class where there’s room for discussion on several topics such as yoga philosophy, astrology or grounding, or book yourself a spa treatment at Kush spa.

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Make your own Mala workshop

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Despite it’s size and degree the Yoga Barn really offers you well deserved peace and quiet. The beauty of this place is that you can easily meet like minded people and share your experiences with random strangers without it feeling weird. Though some might not agree with me, I really enjoyed my time at the Yoga Barn and will definitely be back! You can find the yoga barn at Jalan Raya Pengosekan, Peliatan, Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571 and check their website for more information.

Intuitive Flow Sanctuary

Another great place for yoga in Ubud is Intuitive Flow. This small studio, located in the heart of Penestanan, offers about six classes per day and it’s shala has a lovely few over the Penestanan valley. I’ve tried a restorative yoga, hatha vinyasa and gentle flow class here and loved all of them.  The teachers are very kind and experienced, and the classes are tought with a lot of love and detail. During shavasana for example, the teacher walks around with essential oil spray, to make the room smell very nice and really get you into your resting pose. Classes cost 120.000 Rupiah and you can walk in half an hour before the class starts. Intuitive Flow Sanctuary is located at Jl. Raya Tjampuhan, Penestanan Kaja, Sayan, Ubud, Sayan, Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571 and for more information, check their website.

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Where to stay

Since practically everyone coming to Bali pays Ubud a visit as well, there are many places to stay in and around the city. Whether you’re looking for a fancy hotel or a simple homestay, Ubud has it all. What I would recommend though, is to check Airbnb. Here you can find unique and very well priced places to stay. It is through Airbnb that we found Toko-Toko studio (pictures below) and – though be it last year – Wu Wei Wisdom Sanctuary. Both places I would definitely recommend for their natural calm and beauty. We also stayed at the Yoga Barn Accomodation for a couple of nights. Though this was quite expensive (about 90 dollars per night) it was nice to really be part of the Yoga Barn community for a couple of days. Lodging here was comfortable and clean and you’ll never be late for your next class.

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Final remarks

Though Ubud is all about tourism, it still hasn’t lost its vibe has attracted people from all over the world for many decades. It has me under its spell and I will definitely be a place I’ll visit every now and then to recharge, get inspired and talk to yogi’s from all over the world. It has a special place in my heart and I hope it will work its magic on you too. Please, enjoy this place to the max and contact me if you have any questions!

Namaste.