When you think about Bali, you will most likely think of a paradise island littered with palm trees, temples, beautiful beaches and sunshine. And you wouldn't be wrong. Bali is a beautiful island nestled in the south of the Indonesian archipelago. It is primarily a Hindu island that is home to the welcoming and friendly Balinese people.
If you are not already aware of Bali’s reputation as one of the most famous yoga hubs in the world, all you need to do is a quick Instagram search to get a taste of what awaits you. It has been said that Bali is one of the few places on the Earth that has an energetic pulse so strong it unites people.
This magic is what brings people time and time again to Bali to complete their yoga teacher training. They say that to learn a language you should go to where it is spoken to truly immerse yourself. The same is true of yoga. Learning to teach yoga in a place that is pulsing with yogic life is by far one of the best decisions you could make for yourself. So what else makes choosing Bali for your YTT a sure thing?
The Yoga community
I mentioned that Bali is one of the most famous yoga hubs in the world. If Bali is the hub, then Ubud is the cultural heart that keeps it alive. Ubud is nestled in the jungles of (almost) central Bali and is home to barefoot and happy yogis, many of which choose to call Ubud home. The vibrant expat community is welcoming, friendly and supportive of all who want to push their boundaries and return to themselves.
If Ubud is the beating heart than Canggu beats to the same pulse. It is a surfing yogi town that you will find right on the beach, perfect for those water babies who want to wake up to the sound of the waves lapping at the shore. Canggu has a vibrant atmosphere that caters for surfers and yogi’s alike. Both Ubud and Canggu have their own amazing yoga communities that you can mingle with and get to know during your YTT.
Yoga Barn - Ubud
Ubud is home to Yoga Barn which was opened in 2007 as a community hub to offer a “buffet” of yogi related classes that range from Yoga and meditation, to sound healing and ecstatic dance.
Yoga Barn offers yoga classes, yoga teacher training, meditation, acro yoga, ayurvedic spa etc you name it and they most likely offer it. If you are looking for a way to jump into the yogi scene as soon as you arrive in Ubud, then get on down there to mingle with the expat community who spend some of their time eating at the Garden Kafe.
If you have limited time and there is only one class you can take at Yoga Barn than I would, hands-down, recommend their ecstatic dance. It happens each Friday night but be aware that you will need to wait in the long lines to get your ticket earlier in the day, some come early! If you have never experienced an ecstatic dance then be prepared to have your eyes opened to what primal dancing is all about.
This is not a “heels and makeup” kind of party, it is a “shake your body, scream into the universe, or contact dance with another sweaty person” kind of party. There are very few guidelines for attending an ecstatic dance, these are: Don’t talk and don’t criticise. That’s about it. This would be the perfect start or end to your YTT.
The Practice - Canggu
Opened in 2016, The Practice can be found just outside the main hustle and bustle of Canggu and offers its yogis a sanctuary. It was born of the desire to offer a space for people following their own path to practice, meditate, learn from each other and have open communication through presentations and workshops.
The beautiful open-air studio hosts yoga classes, specifically focusing on Traditional Tantric Hatha to reconnect you with your own energy. This is one of the few places outside of Ubud that also offer an amazing ecstatic dance experience. If you have decided on a YTT in Canggu ensure that you put this stunning place on the map.
Both Yoga Barn and The Practice are community centres for the yogis living and visiting Bali. If you want to get stuck into classes, workshops, talks or presentations make sure you visit one of these as soon as you arrive so that you can make plans to attend classes or talks on your days off from YTT.
Amazing vegan and vegetarian food
Many yogis are vegan or choose to follow the traditional vegetarian diet of the ancient yogis and struggle to find delicious food when going out. In most cities around the world, a vegan option on a menu is considered a salad or mushroom risotto; and a vegetarian meal can be as dull as pasta with three different kinds of cheese. Not exactly healthy or exciting is it? In Bali, suddenly your options are endless with vegan and vegetarian restaurants sprouting up on every corner.
No more do you have to suffer through unimaginative food that fills you up but does not excite you. Suddenly the doors are open to experiencing delicious grain-free vegan pizza’s from Zest; vegan waffles with coconut ice-cream and some of the best vegan raw cakes I have ever tasted from Sayuri or Bali Buda (Ubud and Canggu); hands down the best (raw and vegan) chocolate torte and almond milk flat white from Revive Cafe and don’t get me started on the jackfruit nuggets from Akasha. There are simply too many restaurants and cafes to mention, but if you take your YTT in Bali then these puppies should definitely be on your “eat out” list. Better yet, Ubud or Canggu, you will never struggle to find smashed avo on sourdough ever again (praise the universe!)
And that is only talking about the restaurants! Most YTT schools in Bali cater for vegan and vegetarians if they are not already exclusively vegan/vegetarian. Most schools in Bali include three meals per day that are vegan/vegetarian and make your tastebuds sing!
The $10 massages!
After a long week of yoga, your body will be crying out for a massage. In any other place in the world (bar maybe Thailand) even thinking about a massage would cost you a fortune. In Bali, you can get a full-body (let me say that again) FULL-BODY, hour-long massages for as little as $10. The quality will range from good to excellent so do a little searching on TripAdvisor for some personal recommendations to make sure your experience is top-notch. If you are lucky your YTT school will include a massage at the accommodation that you are staying at, but at these insane prices, I would say go for one per week, at the least! I don't think I have ever heard anyone say, “shoot, I shouldn't have had that 6th massage”.
You can choose from a cheap and cheerful place, or push the boat out and have some real luxury with your massage table outside overlooking the sea in Canggu or the jungles in Ubud.
Adventures in Paradise
Bali is a paradise, there is no other way to explain it. If you are coming half way around the world to partake in a magical YTT then it would be a shame to miss out on the other magic that Bali has to offer. I am not talking about a class, a workshop or a dance, I’m talking about the breathtaking nature that you will find in Bali.
This diverse island is a treasure trove of mystic waterfalls, powerful volcanos, sprawling beaches, endless rice fields, plump fruit you can pick right of the tree and dazzling sunrises. None of Mama Bali’s delights should be missed if you can help it. If you have the time, extend your trip a little either before or after your YTT so that you can soak up the essence of what Bali actually is.
When you visit Bali do not pass up the opportunity to do a sunrise hike up Mount Batur. It is a tough climb if you are not fit but well worth the view at the top. The hike costs around USD $35 per person and includes pick-up and drop-off back at your accommodation, torches, a guide and a surprise (mini) breakfast at the top. You can also buy coffee and other snacks at on the mountain to watch the sunrise. There are plenty of local companies that offer this trip so don’t concern yourself with booking in advance, you can organise this in Bali.
Your accommodation will be able to organise day trips for you that are very inexpensive. I would recommend organising a driver for a full day so that you can easily go from one place to another. A private driver for a full day will cost you around USD $85. If you have some friends that want to come along you can split that. In one day you could choose to visit a water temple to receive a water blessing, a Luwak Coffee farm to see how the coffee is made and try some and visit one of the many amazing waterfalls to grab that epic shot you have always wanted.
If you are looking for a little more adventure on your days off or after your training, you can take part in off-road biking, diving, snorkelling, hot-air ballooning or even take a ferry to one of the nearby islands.
To sum up
What else is there to say? Bali is an incredible place to get away from the hustle and bustle of your local city and dive deeper into your own consciousness. Many people (including myself) arrive in Bali not knowing exactly who they are and leave it with direction, strength and an understanding of what they have been put on this earth to do. Perhaps you too will experience a spiritual awakening, or maybe you finally give yourself the permission and space to drop all the bullshit and learn a little about what makes you happy. Choosing to do your YTT in Bali might be the best decision you ever make.