If you’re in Ubud, and have some time on your hands, chances are you’re going to do some yoga at least once. There’s loads of it about, and there are many shops selling all kinds of paraphernalia you didn’t know you needed.
Chances are also pretty good that you’ll end up doing it at the Yoga Barn, Ubud’s biggest yoga establishment. I went there several times, and each time a good proportion of the class was new to Yoga Barn, and many of them had never done yoga before.
Getting there can be half the fun, especially considering some of the ‘maps’ they have available in Bali (NB: Google Maps – very unreliable!).
Never mind the pot-holed pavements,
the streets and shops in Ubud aren’t the best sign posted. Thankfully though, the information gleaned from their website that they were “…just behind Siam Sally…”
proved to be not only accurate but easy to follow (even if the map on their Find Us page is oriented different to every other map of Ubud I saw).
Even so, “just behind” stretched the meaning of the phrase a little bit.
But since I was there to be stretched who was I to complain? ..lol..
You arrive at an upper reception area, but the reception for classes is down at the ‘barn’ itself, so they sent me down the stairs and through the restaurant (I’ll be reviewing that on my next post; ‘Vegan Ubud’), where I was surprised to find this waiting for me.
I had no idea it was so big. But I guess that’s one of the joys of building somewhere like Bali, they’ve got the space to let your imagination run wild, and it’s fairly affordable.
I did four lessons there while I was in Ubud. I had bought a five class card – 450,000IDR = £25 – and though they do have a massive class schedule, there were only a few types of yoga I really wanted to try out, some of which I’m afraid were too early and sleep got the better of me. Well, I was on holiday after all. 🙂
There are two main asana halls, a smaller one at the back of reception, and a massive one upstairs,
and I ended up having two different classes in each of them. Here’s what I got up to;
Yin Yoga with Tina
I’d been looking forward to doing some proper Yin Yoga since I first did it atop the Sydney Tower Eye, so this was the first class I went for. It was similar to what I’d done before, but this time we used a lot more bolsters and blocks to support our bodies.
Because there were so many new people Tina gave an excellent explanation of the purpose of Yin Yoga, and how it works – holding the poses for longer to soften up the connective tissue of the joints – before we got down to the asanas themselves.
Unfortunately I didn’t do so well in the postures as she concentrated a lot on the hips, and there were a lot of forward bends which I just can’t do. My hamstrings are too tight and I can’t even sit upright with my legs out in front of me, never mind getting any part of me on my knees/thighs.
I enjoyed the class, and I’m glad I went, but I was looking forward to something a bit more vigorous the next time.
Restorative Yoga with Tina (again)
Unfortunately I slept through the class I was going to attend, the Morning Flow at 7am, so instead I went for the Restorative Yoga session, as it was the only one I could fit into my schedule that day.
This one was upstairs, in the early evening, and we had the same teacher as the day before (this was her normal lesson; I think yesterday she had been filling in).
Our lesson started with us donning mozzie repellant, as we were warned they would be coming out in about 30 minutes. They were right, they did, but not so you’d really notice, or at least I didn’t anyway.
I had hoped that ‘restorative’ would mean ‘invigorating’, or ‘energising’, but in fact it was meant ‘resting’ and ‘relaxing’. To be honest, it turned out to be very similar to the Yin Yoga of the day before. A few different asanas, but also a lot of the same forward bends we’d done previously, so once again I wasn’t able to get the full benefit because of my intractable hamstrings.
Yoga Nidra with Gypsy
After my previous two lessons I really wanted to do something more vigorous and challenging. However, there was only one opportunity to have a go at Yoga Nidra in the schedule, and that came the next day. So off to that I went!
Yoga Nidra, for want of a better explanation, is like one big, long, final relaxation. There’s a bit of breathing, and some meditation, but the lion’s share of the lesson is done lying in shavasana, which we did length-ways on a bolster with the soles of our feet together and cushions supporting our knees.
There’s to be no strain while you do it. The idea is to mentally relax every part of the body, and with that the mind, taking the time to do it in great detail and often imagining different types of light at different areas. The final part is a relaxation of the mind, sending it out into the Universe and allowing yourself to feel a certain oneness with everything.
Yes, I know, very hippy, lol. But I tell you what, it was very interesting to do. And I didn’t fall asleep once, which is amazing (for me anyway, hehehe). I came close a few times, but I managed to stay focused and not let The Snooze over-take me.
At the end I felt quite relaxed, and a wee bit spaced out. The teacher recommended taking it easy as you headed back into the world, and I could see why. If you hadn’t done this kind of thing before it’d be too easy to wander off into traffic or something equally as dangerous. So everyone took a moment to have a sit down and a drink of water before once more braving the insane roads and crazy drivers of Ubud’s tiny roadways.
Hatha Flow with Carlos
So, Hatha Flow. Finally I was going to get the exercise I had been craving. Well you know what they say, be careful what you wish for…
Hatha I was familiar with. It’s what you do at the Sivananda Centres. Flow I’d heard about, mostly in the context of Vinyasa (though I’ve yet to do a Vinyasa class as it doesn’t sound like the thing for me). How the two related to each other I didn’t know?
What we ended up doing was a lot of asanas in a big long sequence, our ‘relaxation’ being to hold ourselves in Down Dog (Inverted V) before moving on to the next bit.
Again there was a lot of people of mixed ability in the class, and I noticed a few left early, though whether it was because of the yoga or they had somewhere to be I don’t know. The teacher was very enthusiastic, and obviously knowledgeable, but he didn’t explain things in great detail sometimes, and his accent was a little hard to follow too, so much so that even I got confused now and then (and I kind of know what I’m doing, so it must have been especially difficult for new beginners).
But mostly it was ok. The asanas were quite challenging, though he gave alternatives for those of us (notice I said ‘us’, lol) who weren’t quite up to it. I found it hard not having as much relaxation as I’m used to, and had to bow out now and then to just rest up in Child’s Pose (the suggested alternative to Down Dog). But by then end of it I felt like I’d gotten the workout I’d been after, and then some, and I was glad I’d gone to the class.
After each class it was nice to just hang around the centre for a bit, relaxing and re-hydrating before heading back out into the world. There are loads of little nooks and crannies you can deposit yourself away in, not to mention the excellent cafe that I frequented on more than one occasion.
That’s the real plus of the Yoga Barn I reckon, having somewhere quiet to hang out in Ubud, away from all the hustle and bustle of the main road. We all need that bit of time out now and then, and the restorative power of somewhere peaceful to sit and relax should never be under-estimated. 🙂