Bali yoga exploration started: Ubud!
This town became famous over 10 years ago because of the bestseller Eat Pray Love, and now it's really the hub of the yoga scene on the island. There are several internationally renown Yoga studios offering all sort of classes, workshops, and trainings. Gourmet organic restaurants specialized on vegan, gluten free, raw food are almost the standard, and cafes offerings juices and home made kombucha are the norm. Not to mentioned the yoga clothing shops, with options for all pockets. The down side? Traffic can be pretty annoying unfortunately.
Here is a summary of my experience visiting several yoga studios and teachers.
- Intuitive Flow Yoga Center. The studio has the most amazing views over the lush vegetation surrounding town, on an only pedestrian path away from the traffic in Ubud, in a neighborhood called Penestanan. It's a little hike to get there from Ubud center but totally worth it, and you can also get a taxi if needed.
Familiar and cozy atmosphere, it felt calming and safe, international and local teachers, wonderful breezes from the fully windowed walls. Nina lead us through a meditative Hatha Vinyasa class that offered challenges in a gentle and kind way. Highly recommended!
- Radiantly Alive. Centrally located but still in a quiet road, it's nicely designed with a wide variety of classes and workshops offering, including Meghan Currie ones on Sunday. They have a nice cafe, an expensive shop, and views on the vegetation around the studio.
I took a great Ashtanga Vinyasa class with Ade, who is passionate and precise about his teaching, still nice and supportive through our sweaty efforts. I would consider going to his class regularly.
- Om Ham Resort. If you are interested also in the spiritual side of yoga you shouldn't miss the opportunity to take a tantra kundalini class with Balinese Master Ketut Arsana, who is also a healer.
Every Sunday morning he offers a class on the top floor of the Om Ham Resort, a beautiful retreat destination 10min ride north of Ubud. He also offer classes at Bodyworks in Ubud, to be booked in advance.
The class was dynamic, pretty intense and very energizing. His presence was really motivating and at the same time fun and playful. I enjoyed it very much, and it left me uplifted and smiling. Tea and swim in the pool of the retreat with some of the students made it even better afterwards. Very grateful.
He founded Munivara Ashram, devoted to Lord Shiva, which is located close by and offers accommodation and a full immersion into the spiritual indu life.
- The Yoga Barn. For sure the largest yoga studio in Ubud devoted to offering a wide program of classes, workshops, dance and movie nights, teacher trainings, cleanses and massages, natural food and juices, hospitality... and more!
It's a great place to hang out in Bali and practice Yoga and healthy lifestyle without going to an expensive retreat.
I took few classes so far, all pretty good, I'm enjoying a lot Kion's on mysticism, and spirituality of Yoga.
The studio is also surrounded by jungle and a creek and you don't feel the traffic of Ubud even if you are in a central area. A must go if you are in Ubud!
- Bodyworks. Another wonderful Kundalini Tantra class with Master Ketut Arsana at his Ubud location. Set up as a traditional balinese home, surronded by gardens, ponds, beautiful pavilions, the class was held on the top floor and was nice and breezy.
Savasana was delicious thanks to Melissa and her crystal bowls. Every wednesday, book in advance! They also offer a whole menu of massages, and if you book a lot in advance also a session with the Master healing touch.
If you’ve been trying to find ways to get better sleep at night and wanting to get a little more exercise, there’s a simple way to do both. You can reduce your stress, improve your sleep quality, wake up feeling better by incorporating yoga into your bedtime routine.
If you have a firm mattress and no partner, or a partner that goes to bed later than you do, you can even do yoga in bed!
1 - It will help you reduce stress. Even doing yoga twice a week has been found to reduce stress, according to a study in the Journal of Clinical Nursing. In that study, nurses that did yoga for an hour twice a week for six months had lower amounts of work stress than their counterparts in the non-yoga group.
Having lower amounts of stress will help you get to sleep easier, and actually sleep better in the long run. Given that 80 to 90 percent of doctor visits are stress-related, this can also help keep you out of the doctor’s office over time.
2 - It will improve your sleep quality. Yoga has also been found to improve sleep quality. The nurses in the previous study also had higher quality sleep than their control group counterparts. Another long-term study in the 2009 Biological Psychology Journal also found that yoga helped to modulate cortisol in long-term practitioners, which helps to improve sleep quality.
3 - You’ll be less likely to wake up with aches and pains. The act of stretching is incredibly helpful when you’ve been waking up with aches and pains. Doing yoga before bed can help you manage those aches and pains, as well as avoid them by stretching your muscles.
A 2010 study in the Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences found that people with chronic pain were able to reframe their pain, and to make it less bothersome, or less intense, by doing yoga. Some participants found that they could recognize the signals their body was sending and adjust to avoid pain.
Yoga has even been found to have a positive impact on your cognitive ability during menopause, according to a study published in BJOG, an International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
4 - You can improve your mental health through mindfulness. When used as part of a person’s worldview, the mindfulness that yoga encourages you to practice is found to have a large impact on that person’s mental health
Yoga may also be effective in helping people with PTSD manage their symptoms, according to a study published in The Journal of Clinical Psychology in 2017. It’s also been found to be helpful for women with a major depressive disorder, according to a study in Psychiatric Nursing.
The study stated that the data trends suggest that yoga may convey a long-term positive effect on depression, stress, and anxiety.
“Whether an individual continues with yoga practice, simple exposure to a yoga intervention appears to provide sustained benefits to the individual,” the study states.
About the author: Samantha (Sam) Kent is a researcher for SleepHelp.org. Her favorite writing topic is how getting enough sleep can improve your life. Currently residing in Boise, Idaho, she sleeps in a California King bed, often with a cat on her face.
If you’re like most people, your New Year’s resolution bit the dust about a month ago. But not to worry, it’s never too late to recommit yourself to healthy living. If you want 2017 to be the year you make healthy habits stick, here are some tips for making a permanent commitment to health.
1. Make Healthy Habits Fun
One of the reasons we don’t stick to healthy habits is we don’t think they’re fun. Of course, we’d rather eat cookies and cake, veg on the couch binge watching our favorite shows, and staying up late than going to bed at a reasonable hour. Getting up before the crack of dawn to work out and drink a protein shake doesn’t sound like fun to anyone, and if your resolution centers on activities that you don’t want to do, you won’t do them.
That’s why you should amend your resolution to include fun healthy habits. One way to make sure you stick to this amended resolution is to include your friends. Go hiking with your significant other, meet up with a good friend at a yoga class, or go to the new trampoline hot-spot with your kids.
If you’d rather have fun getting healthy with your dog, go for it. Find a class that gives both of you a workout and builds muscle. You can do cardio, strength training, and stability moves with your dog while working on obedience with him. If a class isn’t for you, you can do outdoor activities such as kayaking, paddle boarding, trail running, and rollerblading with your furry friend. If you don’t have a dog of your own, consider volunteering to walk an elderly neighbor’s dog or starting a side gig as a pet sitter. That way you’ll have a four-legged pal to workout with, but won’t have to take on the other responsibilities of owning a pet.
2. Make More Manageable Goals
It’s easy to shoot for the stars when you make a New Year’s resolution, but you need to be more realistic now that the new year is well on its way. Re-evaluate your original resolution and be as specific as you can. Make sure that you include measurable goals. Some people find that writing them down and hanging them in conspicuous places in the house is a surefire way to stick to your resolution. Start small and build up when it comes to lifting weights, running a 5K, and planking for more than a minute. It may be helpful to choose an end date and work backward to set monthly goals that will get you to your overall goal.
3. Hold Yourself Accountable
Sometimes, people have trouble sticking to their fitness goals because they aren’t being held accountable. It’s easy to argue with yourself and give in to that devil on your shoulder; it’s harder to be accountable to others. One strategy is to find a friend or accountability partner that can keep you on track. Decide whether you will text each other once a day, send photos of healthy meals throughout the day to one another, or catch up with each other a couple of times a week.
Some people find that joining online groups is the best way to stay accountable because there are several people to connect with, share struggles and triumphs, and reach out to when you get frustrated or reach a plateau. Facebook groups especially are popular with people because they are easy to check into throughout the day and people are participating nearly around the clock.
If you’re more of an introvert or don’t want to share your fitness journey with others, you can purchase a fitness tracker that will help you stay on track each day regardless of how busy you get. Fitness trackers virtually eliminate excuses because they track your heart rate, the number of calories burned, and your steps taken each day. Depending on which you purchase, you can get your data online and track results for given periods of time.
A quick caveat: while holding yourself accountable will play an important role in meeting your goals, perfection isn’t possible. There will be days when you simply can’t squeeze in a workout. There will be days when you can’t resist the urge to eat that extra cookie or doughnut. And that’s ok. If you find that you’re stressing yourself out about meeting your goals or starting to slip into bad habits because you’ve put too much pressure on yourself, take a moment to reset. Healthy habits aren’t built in a day and they aren’t wiped out in a day, either. Slow and steady wins the race, so be kind to yourself, always.
Yes, 2017 is now well under way, but you don’t have to toss your New Year’s resolution for health to the wayside if you’ve fallen off course. Find ways to make getting healthy fun, re-evaluate your goals, and find a way to hold yourself accountable, and you’ll soon have a permanent commitment to health that you can carry to the end of the year and beyond.
Author: Paige Johnson
I recently spent a lot of time in the wonderful region of Puglia (Apulia), an area that is easily identifiable as the heel of the Italian boot and that I totally fell in love with.
I haven't found a lot of Yoga around, at least not in the way I would have liked to, e.g. yoga studios open for walk ins that focus on daily asana practice, meditation, kirtan, and inspiring workshops to raise spiritual awareness.
I noticed that often the difference between Yoga and Pilates is still not clear, and often Yoga is treated as a fitness practice and offered within gyms with the sound of dropped weights in the background or maybe in shared spaces like school gyms or public buildings but only a couple of times a week. No real Yoga Shalas there!
Once I got over the fact that I was basically alone practicing my Yoga around and people would look at me with curious faces, I realized that there was a great opportunity there and that I could be the one creating the Yoga Studio I would have liked to be part of!
So I spent the summer offering yoga classes on the main pier in Otranto and in local resorts, collaborating with local associations and like minded people, while I kept nurturing this vision, and now it seems it may become reality in Otranto pretty soon!
In the meantime I want to share few of the yoga offerings I found.
- Il Sole, Scuola Arti Orientali, Lecce. They offer Iyengar Yoga but need a monthly commitment and a medical certificate.
- YIS, Zollino (LE). They offer Yoga retreats and classes open to public, mainly Ashtanga, but schedule is not very clear and it varies all the time. I don't personally like the way the center is managed and their attitude, but the yoga classes I attended were good.
- Ratna Yoga, Maglie (LE), I've been told about this but no info on their site, you have to call them, which by the way it's pretty common.
- Namaste Yoga, Ostuni (BR) I've been told good things about it but didn't try.
While in NY and waiting for spring to start the Yoga in Central Park, I love to go around town and experience the amazing variety and quality of Yoga that New York City has to offer. I often use groupon or classpass to find special offers.
Here are some of my recent favorite studios:
- Envision Festival, Uvita: every year at the beginning of March this great music festival combines enviromental awareness, spirituality, Yoga, and amazing performances to dance all night!
- Dominical: Bamboo Yoga is active during high season but don't count on them or their schedule otherwise.
- Finca Mia: located above San Isidro by the Chirripo' mountains, this beautiful finca offers Yoga retreats, workshops and massage sessions. Delicious organic farm to table food, natural buildings, pristine river on site, very interesting owners and guests! Must see! I was there for a Yoga retreat with Life Force Project and it was a great experience.
- Finca Bella Vista: Tree house community founded on an unbelievable piece of land in the middle of the rain forest with a beautiful river winding around the property. The owners are committed to environmental preservation, they offer farm to table delicious food, and they offer yoga on a spectacular terrace surrounded by all kind of bird and plants.
- Yoga Farm: a rustic yoga center and sustainable living project located on Costa Rica's southernmost Pacific coast. Set amidst beautiful tropical rainforest, and overlooking open ocean, great to reconnect with mind, body, and nature.
Amsterdam offers great Yoga opportunities, both as a teacher and as a student. Yoga mats are usually included in the class price in Amsterdam, and all the classes I took were in English.
Check some of these great studios!
- Parc Studio is a young Yoga community in the South part of the city, with a cozy studio located across from Sarphati Park, which makes you feel surrounded by Nature. I've taken few classes with the owner, Regina: both her Vinyasa and Yin&Yang classes were led with special care for correct alignment, with a nice balance between challenge and relaxation, and accompanied with inspiring Yoga philosophy. Tea and chats will comfort you after class. Price are competitive: 5 euro first timer, 12 euro walk-in. I offered some Vinyasa here in Oct & Nov.
- Svaha Yoga Shala is one of the oldest studios in town, founded in the tradition of Jivamukti. I joined their free community class on Friday, which was led by Mark, an excellent teacher who led a vibrant, fun, challenging, and inspiring 1hr Vinyasa Class. They also offer Kirtan every Friday eve. Recommended!
15 euro walk-in.
= De Nieuwe Yoga School is located in a stylish large studio in the center of Amsterdam and it's a pretty popular spot. Personally I didn't feel a sense of community, and actually I felt rushed in and out of a class with maybe 50 people. The Vinyasa class I took didn't have a good flow, more of a fitness than a holistic approach, but maybe it wasn't my lucky day! 15 euro walk in
= Delight Yoga has three beautiful locations in different parts of the city, and they offer a lot of consistently high quality classes; Ashtanga, Mysore, Vinyasa, and Yin Yang for instance. Their walk in is 15 euro, they don't accept cash, only cards. I ended up joining their Intro Offer: 50 euro for 10 classes. Recommended!
- Yogisha: the first store in Amsterdam completely dedicated to Yoga, nice merchandise and friendly staff!
This summer I've been exploring Eco Communities and Ashrams in Central Italy, and I'm actually surprised of all the offer I found.
- Citta' Della Luce, Senigallia: it's an eco community based Reiki principles. located aroind a traditional Italian country house on top of a hill, and surrounded by olive trees and sun flower fields. Gorgeous and very inspiring. They offer regular workshops such as Usui Reiki, family constellations, and permaculture. They also offer Yoga classes every week, for guests only. Communal meals, delicious abundant food.
- Tribe Wanted Monestevole, Perugia: it's a 40 hectare farm working to become completely self-sufficient, they offer excellent hospitality options in terms of dining, lodging,and atmosphere. They invite all their guests to get involved in the activities of the farm and in the kitchen. They offer regular Yoga classes and workshops as part of their program, but for guests only. Communal meals, delicious abundant food. Very inspiring.
-Ananda Ashram, Assisi. On top of a hill behind the town of Assisi, this Ashram follows the teachings of Yogananda, who was the first great master of yoga to make his home in the West, coming to the U.S. They offer a regular program of yoga, meditation, kirtan, and satsang for guests staying few days. The Yoga classes are very gentle and meditative. Communal meals, delicious abundant food. Very inspiring.
As a newcomer to Shanghai, and one whose Chinese vocabulary does not span much further than “Ni hao,” I was in a bit over my head trying to navigate the huge city when I first arrived. Within the first week, however, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that there is a very friendly, welcoming English-speaking expat community, many of whom are eager and active yogis. I would quickly find out that there are tons of yoga studios scattered all around Shanghai, the vast majority of which offer classes in Chinese, English, and mixed languages. As a result, I decided that a great way to explore the city and meet more of these English-speaking yogis would be to embark on a free trial tour of Shanghai’s numerous studios.
During my tour, I have come across a number of fascinating people and classes. Of the studios I have tried out, my favorite have been Red Door, Y+, and Yoga Space.
- Red Door yoga is a tiny studio that offers only Ashtanga classes, all of which are taught by the studio’s owner, Rob. While Red Door might be a bit pricey, the classes are tons of fun and Rob is a great guy.
- Y+ has three separate locations across Shanghai, and each one is very nice. The Y+ studios are probably the biggest in Shanghai, fully equipped with spacious locker rooms and multiple studio spaces. While Y+ has arguably the best facilities in Shanghai, it is also among the most expensive.
- Yoga Space: this is my favorite studio in Shanghai, maybe because I have spent the most time there, so my opinion might be a bit biased in that regard. Taking advantage of a new promotion aimed toward increasing the number of male members, I was able to prolong my free yoga tour of Shanghai with a free month at Yoga Space, and it was fantastic. Although the facilities are not as big as Y+, which causes classes to feel a bit cramped at times, the quality of the classes is always high due to their wonderful staff. But beyond the classes and the teachers, Yoga Space also offers a beautiful little lounge area outside the classes where it is common to find everyone sitting, or laying, as they sip tea and chat with their fellow yogis. And if you are not lucky enough to have a free month offer at your disposal, membership prices are very reasonable.
But while Yoga Space might have been my favorite studio, there could very well be another one out there for you. What is important to know is that Shanghai, with its vast array of yoga studios and enthusiasts, has all your yoga needs covered. And if you play your cards right, you might not even have to pay for it.
Thanks to Jon Saft for this great contribution to The Yoga Trail!