Whenever people ask me what I did in Ubud, Bali, my answer is, “Eat, play, yoga.” When I said I took classes in Yoga Barn, I got a few sneers and eye rolls from travel hipsters who made up their minds that Yoga Barn is one of the most clichéd things female travelers do when escaping to Bali.
“Wow, it’s like Disneyland for yoginis,” I told myself when I first stepped into this sprawling property in the heart of Ubud. Turns out I’m not the only who uses this line to describe Yoga Barn. Online and in person, you will meet a lot of people who refer to Yoga Barn as a themepark for yoga lovers.
Well, I’m not ashamed to say that I did run amuck in this Disneyland for yogis, in the same way I enjoyed all my Mickey Mouse encounters from childhood.
When I visited Yoga Barn in November to December last year, I came across fellow floral-garbed bohemians, complete with their 70s-style hippie headbands and healing beads. Barefoot practitioners with their tattoos of Sanskrit and other Asian symbols glided across the landscaped paths as the birds chirped in the daytime and mosquitoes feasted on my skin at dawn. I enjoyed watching go about their day. The mosquitoes—not so much, as my organic citronella body spray didn’t seem to work.
Peace-searching travelers from around the world congregated in the Garden Kafe and Juice Bar, waiting for their smoothies and detox juices to arrive. I could smell the freshly cooked herbs, spices, and vegetables in the morning as checked-in guests went for their complimentary healthy breakfast. Teachers and students of all ages and nationalities each had their own story of spiritual journey to share.
Sometimes I felt like the foreigners I encountered there were more Asian that I am. No, I will not cry cultural misappropriation. I actually appreciate it when non-Asians revere our culture so much that they’ve decided to incorporate it in their life philosophies and the way they dress.
Sadly, I didn’t go for the full Yoga Barn experience. Their accommodations were a little too pricey for my backpacker budget. Yoga Barn’s Guest House goes from $65-91 per night (about ₱3,300-4,500) for a private room. I decided to book the hotel next door, Yarama Cottages, for only $20 (about ₱1,000) per night.
I didn’t do the major workshops, healing treatments, or spa services. I focused on the yoga classes, which are more affordable than the ones in Manila. It made me realize that the Philippines could have the potential of developing a yoga-health-healing tourism. It’s too bad Manila’s yoga-health culture is expensive and caters to mostly the AB market.
One of the surprising and unintentional benefits of my trip was that I lost weight. I was actually expecting the usual vacation weight gain, but was surprised to see that after just one week, my tight skimpy shorts started to fit better. After all the yoga classes, miles upon miles of daily walks, hikes, tours, and healthy food (Ubud is sprawling with affordable vegetarian restaurants), I returned to Manila five lbs. lighter, with less cellulite, and a refreshed psyche.
Thank you, Yoga Barn, the happiest place on Jalan Sukma Kesuma!
The Yoga Barn is located at Jln. Raya Pengoseken (between Jln. Raya Pengoseken and Jln. Sukma Kesuma), Ubud, Gianyar 80571.