By Daria Shyshko
A Complete Yogi newbie
When I first came to Bali roughly two months ago, I knew a couple of things about the island: one was that it’s a popular place for people to come for retreats and practice yoga. At that time, I wondered what made this place a magnet for people seeking spirituality? I found a few of the answers to these questions on my path to discovery, and more than a few things about myself as well.
I had never tried yoga before. I always considered yoga was only for enlightened people who aspire to cleanse their chakras, people who were already quite spiritual. With that said, I was still curious about the origins of yoga and the history behind the physical and spiritual practices and I wanted to put myself to the test.
What is actual yoga?
Did you know that the noun “yoga” is derived from the root “yuj” that means “to attach, join, harness” in Sanskrit? It’s hard to categorize yoga and call it one thing since most people believe it is a philosophy that started in India approximately 5,000 years ago. The progenitor of classical yoga was an Indian sage called Patanjali, who united yoga practices in the Yoga Sutra 2,000 years ago. The Sutra serves more as a philosophical handbook that lays out 8 limbs of yoga: the yamas (restraints), niyamas (observances), asana (postures), pranayama (breathing), pratyahara (withdrawal of senses), dharana (concentration), dhyani (meditation), and samadhi (absorption). The ultimate goal of the whole yoga philosophy is interlaced with obtaining moksha (freedom from the cycle of death and rebirth to achieve liberation). It’s believed the more you practice yoga, the better chances you have to reach serenity and peace.
I cannot lie, the moksha philosophy sounded alluring to me. I mean who wouldn’t want to be free from ignorance and attain utmost self-actualization? If I can skip the lower levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and get right to the top with the help of yoga, say no more! So, I jumped into the adventurous search for the best yoga places for a beginner like me in Bali.
What to expect? The minute I stepped into Desa Seni, I felt like I was at the hobbit Frodo Baggins’s house from Lord of the Rings. Small wooden homes, brought in from many islands of Indonesia, original artifacts are found in every part of the resort and the kindness of local staff makes your experience unique. Everything about this place is very magical, fairytale-like and tranquil.
What about the yoga? I chose to try Hatha yoga in Desa Seni. The noun “hatha” literally means “force” in Sanskrit and implies a system of physical practices. It’s one of the most popular types of yoga involving slow-paced activities that strengthen your body and increase concentration to reach stable and regular breathing. My yoga teacher was Stephen Evashkiw who did an amazing job explaining every single asana he approached. He even distracted us with amusing stories about blue baby Krishna when we struggled to properly breathe.
Where: Jl. Subak Sari No.13, Canggu, Kec. Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361
Prices: IDR 140,000 per group class
What to expect? This villa embodies tranquility in the midst of noisy Seminyak. If you are looking for a harbour to rest your soul and bones for the day, you are in the right place. To add, they have quite a charming floating breakfast, if you get hungry after a yoga class.
What about the yoga? Villa Air Bali provides you with a personal yoga teacher who will help gain inner peace and physical balance. I tried Vinyasa yoga and it turned out to be a perfect type of practice for beginners. The word means “connection of movement and breath” in Sanskrit. Vinyasa Yoga is a powerful technique of breath-synchronized asanas. Moreover, it represents a flowing activity to open and strengthen your mind and body.
Prices: IDR 750,000 per private class
What to expect? Serenity is definitely serene when it comes to providing the calmest atmosphere for yoga classes. It’s hidden deep between other resorts, but it’s definitely worth coming here to see a beautiful place surrounded by trees, nature, and evergreen gardens. You can feel the love and acceptance in its community.
What about the yoga? Personally I experienced such an unbelievable outburst of emotions during Yin Restorative yoga. The class is a combination of two slow-paced styles of yoga to promote relaxation, greater mindfulness and, spiritual connection. During a 10-minute meditation I found myself shedding a couple of tears. It was such an overwhelming experience for me, but my yoga teacher explained that sometimes emotional tensions release during asanas, and it is completely natural. To be honest, Serenity Eco Guesthouse has impressed me the most with its strong awareness of cultivating yoga philosophy.
Where: The address is Jl. Nelayan, Banjar Canggu, Badung, Bali. On the way to Tanah Lot Temple.
Prices: IDR 120,000 per group class
After running a marathon of various yoga places in Bali last week, I realized that yoga is the ultimate salvation for the body and soul. Things that my body is capable of doing in different yoga sessions give me a sense of physical and mental connection. You should definitely try it.
What to expect?
Some of you probably have heard about breathing techniques that are widely used for relaxation. A lot of sources say that the conscious control of your breathing impacts your emotional, physical, and mental state, and have a therapeutic effect. If you are down to try a new activity that may potentially expand your consciousness, breathwork is indeed what you are looking for. I was met by the lovely Monica who has been practicing breathwork for 25 years. There is a small group of people who share this journey with you for one hour underMonica’s delicate and precise guidance.
What you experience?
A lot of people claim that their first session was one of the most powerful and awakening experiences they ever had in their lives. Among them, some were able to let go of past traumas and start perceiving life differently. Let’s not forget that such a journey is a very individual process and affects everyone in a unique and empowering way. Personally, after experiencing breathwork for the first time in my life, I felt very liberated and easy. So many things just weighed off my shoulders, and I stopped overthinking and over-analyzing my life during the session. I very much needed this experience, since I’ve always lived a fast life, being sucked into the rat race like the majority of us. The breathwork helped me process the fact that my life can feel and be drastically different from what I’ve been taught and known so far. If you are ready to take a different course in your life, I highly suggest trying a breathwork session for the epic start.
Where: Seed Garden’s Dome, Jl. Bucu 33, Kerobokan
Prices: IDR 150,000 per group class
For the details: +62 812 3761 5424