** Watch my vlog on the latest self-care retreat I did in Bali. If you are unable to watch the video above, you can watch it on YouTube here.
If you find yourself constantly overwhelmed, stressed, anxious – then a yoga retreat is definitely something you should look at. Yoga retreats feel exactly like a holiday with a focus on nourishing the mind, body and soul, to help you recalibrate and hit the ‘reset’ button on your life.
Taking a retreat for yourself is a great way to practice self-care and prioritize yourself. However, retreats are getting popular worldwide and an organized retreat package can get significantly more expensive than the usual holiday (upwards of $2000 for a week or two).
If you know where to look, you can save yourself quite a bit with a DIY yoga retreat without losing on the experience.
I have been doing my own DIY yoga retreats for the last 3-4 years to Ubud, Bali, and hence will focus my post on the island. The steps taken to plan a retreat in Bali will not be very different for other places – feel free to adapt them for your very own flavour.
Just a quick disclaimer: I believe that there are merits to going on an organized retreat, and I do pay for many of these. But for those of you who want something less painful on your pocket, then this is the article for you.
Why Bali is the Easiest Place Create a DIY Yoga Retreat
If you are new to a DIY retreat, it is recommended that you start with a place that offers most, if not all elements of a retreat at arm’s reach.
Bali is one of such places – yoga is part of its culture, spirituality and healing traditions are found in most places, and the island itself exudes magical zen vibes to nourish your soul. In particular, Ubud is one of the favourites of most yoga lovers. The town was featured in Elizabeth Gilbeth’s Eat, Pray, Love. Since then, it has flourished into a wellness hub with many people coming for spiritual retreats or to retire.
In addition to having the right amenities and environment, the prices in Bali tends to be cheaper than those offered online or organized by agents. You will have the flexibility to splurge on five-star bungalows or live with locals in a homestay (my personal preference).
With a DIY yoga retreat, you are not restricted by a fixed program. Your schedule is flexible, so you can adapt and make the best of your experience whether as a yoga student and tourist.
How to Create Your Own Yoga Retreat in Bali
First Things First
The most important thing for your DIY yoga retreat in Bali is to commit. This means to choose your dates now and book your flights.
There’s only one airport in Bali so this works regardless of the place(s) you choose to hold your retreat.
Once you’ve got this done, let’s move on to planning for the retreat!
Choose a Town in Bali
Choosing where to base yourself in Bali will determine the experience you will get. Besides Ubud, which naturally is the place to fall back on for yoga lovers, there are other towns which may better serve your needs.
Below are my favourites when it comes to a yoga or self-care retreat:
- Ubud: For yoga, meditation, spirituality, vegan and healthy food
- Canggu: For yoga, surfing, beach
- Lombok: For an island experience that goes beyond yoga
Perhaps the only two towns I would not recommend are Kuta and Seminyak. These places are great for the party animals, but not for someone who is looking to recuperate and take a mind-body-soul retreat.
Select Your Yoga Studio
Once you have decided on your base town in Bali, you will have no problem finding a yoga studio. The list below are those I have tried or are recommended by others.
Do spend some time researching on which studio works best for you, as each studio has a different vibe, skill level, type of class offered, etc. What works for one may not for another; To make the most of your retreat, it is crucial to choose a studio that fits your needs.
- Radiantly Alive: By far my favourite – and my base for the last vlog
- Yoga Barn: Fun vibes but crowded and commercialised
- Ubud Yoga House: Friendly vibes, small maximum class size, personalized classes
- Intuitive Flow: Quiet location, smaller and more personalised classes
- Taksu Yoga: Sanctuary in the heart of Ubud, smallest class size of the list
- Spacious Yoga: Mysore-style Ashtanga yoga with Iain Grysak at a raw food cafe
- Samadi Bali: One of the favourites in Bali, this studio runs a variety of yoga styles for different levels; Organic vegetarian café on site and weekly organic market
- The Practice: Beautiful bamboo studio that follows the traditional tantric Hatha Yoga style
- Serenity Eco Guesthouse & Yoga: Serenity Yoga is a beautiful Yoga studio situated in Serenity Eco Guest House, surrounded by mountain and rice-field views. A variety of yoga styles are available, including sound healing and meditation.
Test the studio you have shortlisted by purchasing a one-day pass before buying a week- / month-long pass. If you really like the studio, there will be options for unlimited or long-term class passes.
Find your accommodation
Regardless of the town in Bali, there are plenty of accommodation options to choose from depending on your budget and need.
- Hostels: Commonly found across Bali, great for backpackers or budget travellers
- Homestays: Similar budget to hostels but you get your own room and experience the life of a Balinese within their home compound.
- Hotels & Resorts: Plenty of options around, ranging from affordable to luxury
- Villas: The most lavish of the list, you can choose those that come in Balinese décor and a private pool
- Private Rentals: Rented homes are becoming popular with platforms such as airbnb.com and homeaway.com. It’s another great way to meet locals, but do be careful and do your due diligence before booking
Shortlist healthy places to eat
If you are in Ubud, there will be no shortage of healthy fare. Vegetarian and vegan options are all around town.
For those of you who would like to try local-style dishes, you can’t go wrong with the warungs – family-owned businesses. These places offer healthy vegan food at affordable prices. My favourite warungs include
- Warung Sopa: Amazing Nasi Campur (vegan-style), soups, juices and salads
- Dayu’s Warung: Plenty of vegetarian options including salads, soups, and Indonesian classics. You can also buy their healthy snacks, juices and Kombucha by the bottle.
- Sawobali: This is not really a warung but is highly affordable – the tasty vegan buffer comes at 75K Rupiah. I usually get the vegan cakes which are absolutely delicious.
- Warung Biah Biah: Offers non-veg and vegan options; One of the most popular places in Ubud.
Decide on Activities Besides Yoga & Meditation
There are many other things you can do in Bali besides yoga. Walk on the streets and you’ll find many vendors promoting day trips around the island.
I usually hire a private car or take a scooter taxi (when solo) for day trips. Some of the more memorable places trips include:
- Mt Batur sunrise trek: For those of you who do not mind waking at 2 am and hiking in the dark. The view’s worth it of course.
- Bali Instagram Tour: Get the best views of Bali for the gram
- Ubud sacred temples: See some of the oldest temples such as Goa Gajah, or receive a purification bath at the holy spring water temple, Tirta Empul
- Uluwatu temple: Watch the sunset over the Indian Ocean and attend a traditional “kecak” dance
If you are not one to travel much, why not pamper yourself with a spa? You can treat yourself to full serviced spa treatments – massage, facial, manicure / pedicure, sound healing, etc. – in Bali without breaking the bank.
Alternatively, you can also take a mindfulness walk up Campuhan Ridge Walk in Ubud, or sit at one of the open-air cafes to people watch and chill.
Because this is a DIY yoga retreat, you can customise your non-yoga activities as you like it. Usually, your hotel or homestay will be able to arrange private care hires or tours, so remember to check things out with them first before arranging on your own.
I hope that this post has helped those of you thinking of taking a mental break from work to create your own retreat. In case you need any help, I’m always here – just email me or comment below.
Until next time,