One of my goals at 23 was to get in the best shape of my life, and where better to do so than beautiful Bali? But as a budget-conscious backpacker I knew I couldn't afford a $1,500+ packaged yoga retreat- so I devised a plan to do a yoga retreat on a budget.
More specifically, I decided to DIY a budget yoga retreat in Bali, rather than go to Bali on a packaged multi-thousand dollar yoga retreat.
By DIY-ing my yoga retreat, I not only saved hundreds of dollars, I also got in great shape. And over my three weeks, I came to know and adore Ubud, the landlocked cultural hub of Bali that become my home for three wonderful weeks.
Here are some of the ways I crafted an inexpensive but amazing DIY yoga retreat in Ubud, Bali. (And some ways you can splurge if you need a night off of backpacking- no shame!)
Save: Balinese homestay, $20/night (less if you negotiate)
The standard, complimentary guesthouse breakfast.
Budget accommodation in Bali is different than the rest of Southeast Asia- there are no hostels! (Gasp!) Instead, there are lovely Balinese homestays where you rent out a room in a Balinese family compound. And plus, they all offer complimentary breakfasts of freshly cut fruit, coffee and banana pancakes.
Jangkrik was clean, comfortable and centrally located, but the best part was the family- both the parents and kids were so sweet!
Splurge: Alaya Ubud, $155/night
My room at the Alaya. Swoon.
If you have rupiah to spare I'd highly recommend The Alaya. The Alaya is a boutique hotel with chic decor, verdant views of the rice paddies and the world's most amiable staff (considering the entire staff is Balinese this isn't surprising.)
And it only costs $155 a night! Have I mentioned the luxurious pool deck and the free, gourmet hotel breakfast? And best of all, it's only a stone's throw from The Yoga Barn.
Save: Radiantly Alive
While I never took classes at Radiantly Alive, I walked past the beautiful studio often and was very impressed. And I wasn't alone; many Ubud yogis reported that Radiantly Alive's classes are top-notch. And best of all, the classes are reasonably priced, about half the cost of Yoga Barn.
For those looking for beautiful facilities at a reasonable price, head to Radiantly Alive.
Price: a one-month unlimited class card is 1,200,000 IDR (about $100).
Splurge: Yoga Barn
Words can barely describe how much I adore the Yoga Barn. And it's hardly a yoga studio, it's more of a yoga compound: Yoga Barn has a café, a holistic healing center, an Ayurvedic Rejuvenation center, guesthouses and five yoga studios.
From lounging on the Garden Kafe's comfy outdoor couches to blissing out at the spa under a $27 massage, I loved every moment of my time at the Yoga Barn and could see myself returning someday.
And have I mentioned how beautiful it is?
My favorite meal of Meg's Big Bowl salad and a glass of green juice at the Yoga Barn's Kafe.
My favorite part about the Yoga Barn was of course, the classes. The Yoga Barns has an all-star staff with some of the best yoga instructors in the world- hello, Les Levanthal! And the 90-minute classes allow you time to really explore each pose- no more rushing through Vinyasa Flow.
I also loved the Yoga Barn's focus on yoga as a complete physical, mental and spiritual exercise- sometimes in the U.S. I feel like yoga is seen as just a way to work up a sweat.
The spa at the Yoga Barn. I miss $27 massages.
Yoga Barn also offers a variety of other classes like Capoeira, Acro Yoga, Mantra Vedic Chanting, Tibetan Bowl Meditation and Sound Healing.
Price: 30 day unlimited pass for 2,200,000 IDR (about $180). I instead bought a 20-class card for 1,200,000 IDR (about $100) which meant I went every day for three weeks. (Though sometimes I skipped a day and doubled up on others.)
Note- one way I racked up a big Yoga-Barn bill was at the café- while the food is delicious and healthy, the prices are relatively high for Ubud and the service is slow. Try to eat elsewhere!
Budget food in Ubud
For a small Balinese city Ubud has quite the bevy of restaurants. The Balinese “warungs” (“warung” means restaurant in Balinese) are the cheapest option in town and the expat spots are a bit pricier.
Here are some of my favorites:
Yoga Studios on the Ocean:
Yoga Shala in Canggu
Canggu is where I'll be headed on my next trip to Bali; it's like Ubud on the beach. I've heard travelers wax poetic about its black-sand beaches, dazzling tangerine sunsets and world-class surfing.
Yoga Shala is supposed to be a great yoga studio – and it's on the water! Nearby Echoland would be a great choice for budget accommodation at about $15 a night for a dorm and great TripAdvisor reviews.
Yoga Shack Lembongan in Nusa Lembongan
If you want to do sun salutations with a sea breeze and go scuba-diving after, Nusa Lembongan's the place.
Nusa Lembongan is a small island located off the southeast coast of Bali. I've heard really good things about Yoga Shack Lembongan, a yoga studio on the island.
Check rates for hotels in Nusa Lembongan here.
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My yoga retreat in Bali taught me so much. It taught me how to do crow and how to look forward in Chaturanga. But my retreat was so more than just the physical- It taught me how to be present. To be grateful. It taught me I want to do yoga for the rest of my life.
While practicing yoga for three weeks in Ubud, Bali, was the priciest things I did on my Asia trip, it was also the most worthwhile.
Before agreeing to a price, barter the price with the homestay owner. I met a girl who had also been staying in Ubud for a few weeks and she was shocked when she found out how much I had been paying. “You pay $20 a night? I've been negotiating down to $12.”
Make sure to purchase travel insurance before your trip to Bali – it could save your life. I've used World Nomads for years and highly recommend it.