Seeking enlightenment in Ubud


Flat on my nose again. I crumple as my lithe, bronzed classmates seem to levitate into handstands. How is that even possible?

I am in the Yoga Barn – a retreat offering around 18 different yoga classes and meditation sessions every day as well as health talks and spiritual workshops. It describes itself as ‘an oasis of calm in the centre of Ubud dedicated to healing and renewal.

Ubud means medicine. It is the original ‘health resort’. So where better to hone my yoga and balance my body, mind and spirit (and all that jazz)? I’ve done some yoga before, admittedly not for a while, so I start with the Vinyasa Flow level 2 (classes are either level 1 or 2). The class is described as an adventure in sweat and stamina but as the ‘crow’ beats me for the fifth time, I realise I should have gone for level 1.

There are around 70 other ‘yogis’ in the studio but it doesn’t feel cramped. Made from wood and bamboo with a high straw roof, the studio has an open side which allows a hint of welcome cool air into the space. As we go through our ‘Warriors’ and ‘crows’ all you can hear is the breeze rustling the trees, the relaxing music and the odd grunt from my companions.

It is all very calm. There are several classes going on simultaneously across the various studios but you don’t hear noise. Groups talk quietly in the restaurants and juice bar.

The following day I plump for the ‘gentle yoga’ with Tanya. That’s better! I mix it up with ‘morning flow’ and ‘Yin yoga’ – all level 1 – the following day. Knowing my good friend Lynne would be proud of my giving this a go, I booked myself onto ‘Gong Bath Meditation’ that evening. Basically, you lie under a blanket in a darkened room while a man with several gongs, gongs away for an hour while you meditate. Sounds a bit way out for me but I give it a go. I sit up after one and a half hour and everyone is gone. Hmmm, that’s odd. Apparently even when Swami gonged right beside my head I didn’t wake up. It was all very relaxing – not sure about the meditation bit.

The only trouble with the studios being open to the elements is the mosquitos. I discovered the repellant on the booking desk the following day (after feeding a few families of the bloodsuckers the evening before!).


I had six days in Ubud and intended to do a session at least every day while I was there. I didn’t manage this as, ironically, for the first time on my trip, I got sick. I think this may have been from dodgy water in a river in which I swum rather than anything else. But I did manage to tick off seven different yoga sessions while in Ubud. I definitely improved and even managed to transition from ‘bridge’ to ‘wheel’ and hold the ‘Crow’ for more than a couple of seconds by the end without falling on my beak again.

Where to go
The Yoga Barn, Ubud
Cost: Single sessions cost 130,000IDR (£7.50) or you can get blocks of three or ten sessions. I bought a ten session card for 900,000IDR (£50), which works out much cheaper if you intend to come more regularly.

5 thoughts on “Seeking enlightenment in Ubud

  1. Hey Penny! Wonderful writing, looks like you’re building some great memories! Enjoying reading every adventure, thanks for the postcard, take care, Elaine x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Brings back wonderful memories of time spent in the Yoga Barn – did you do the ‘dance session’? Crazy dance music with everyone in their own zone. I also remember the amazing smoothies……I feel as if I’m back there….

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pen – you are living the dream and I am loving your updates. Hope you feel better after Ubud (my favourite place in the world). x

    Liked by 1 person

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