Our next Yogi Travel Guide is for Ubud, Bali. Ubud is a spiritual and cultural hub in Bali, tucked away in the mountains and surrounded by lush rice fields. There is a mystical magical healing energy to Ubud that is palpable once you spend some time in its true essence. Over the years the small town has boomed and turned into quite the health and wellness mecca. Many come to Ubud for holistic retreats, yoga and spiritual growth. Due to its new found popularity, the town is increasingly becoming more crowded, but we encourage you to roam the town and outlying villages to find your secret gems and Bali magic. Wake up early to attend the food markets, observe the daily offerings of canang sari, attend a spiritual temple ceremony, and connect with the locals. There is much to explore and the people of Bali are truly kind and open hearted. To get you started, see our favourite places below plus insider tips from local yoga teacher Les Leventhal.
Kafe + Garden Kafe - Basically our home kitchen when in Ubud, a frequented stop, amazing selection of fresh juices, smoothies and healthy food. Try the Liver Detox Shot, the Before Yoga Energize Tea made with local herbs and spices, and do try the traditional dish Bubur Injin (delicious black rice pudding). Two locations, Garden Kafe is located at the Yoga Barn, perfect for an after yoga smoothie and meal; the other location is the original Kafe, located on Jalan Hanoman.
Alchemy - raw, organic, vibrant food! A must when visiting Ubud, so much goodness to try here: delicious salads, smoothies, juices, amazing raw chocolate, try the coconut bliss bar and stock up on superfood supplements
Bali Buddha - an Ubud staple, with new locations around the island to keep your belly blissed. This café and health food store has you covered. Come here to stock up on supplies for a picnic or stay in and have a wholesome meal or superfood smoothie in there open air restaurant
Sari Organik - one of the best parts of this restaurant is walking or scootering through the rice fields to get here; once you arrive, you can pick fresh vegetables and edible flowers for your meal. Enjoy local and organic food, fresh as it comes garden to table (with two locations, we recommend the one amongst the rice fields)
Juice Ja - a chill spot with warm service in the heart of Ubud. This cafe has a good selection of healthy food, smoothies and juices. The fresh whole coconut on the stairs always lures us in and the bliss balls in the cooler keep us coming back.
Bambu Indah - want a little something out of the ordinary? This beautifully rustic eco resort is where you can come for a rotating daily menu that is locally inspired with fresh organic produce.
Ubud Sari Health Resort - we would come here for some cleansing smoothies and juices and relax in there tropical cafe nestled amongst the rainforest, lots of people come here to attend week long health retreats
Soma - quirky café with a real creative vibe that has local and organic at its core, try there ojas drink (a blend of spices and cashew milk)
Fresh smoothies and juices - almost every restaurant offers interesting smoothies, juices and healthy drinks featuring lots of superfoods such as cacao, maca, turmeric, spirulina, aloe vera, wheatgrass and of course lots of fresh fruit and vegetables - enjoy the bounty
Yoga Barn - an amazing open aired studio with the most incredible teachers, they have a range of classes every day in many different styles. Also be sure to check out their workshops and special events such as kirtan, astrology workshops, meditation courses and movie nights. Combined with onsite accommodation, an Ayurvedic spa and a Garden Kafe, this is an oasis destination.
Radiantly Alive - yoga classes and holistic modalities to support a radiant life
There are lots of guesthouses and resorts for every budget in Ubud, some of our favourites are below...
Bali T House - a cluster of open aired Japanese inspired Balinese homes, book your rental for a few days to a few months
Yoga Barn - yoga barn now offers accommodation and packages for yoga and meals so you never have to leave
Uma by Como - beautiful modern Balinese architecture and craftsmanship, a chic place to splurge and be nourished
Bambu Indah - incredible boutique hotel with a mix of world class innovative bamboo architecture and rustic restored antique Javanese Bridal homes. Bambu Indah is a well orchestrated Bali jungle experience.
The Green School - tropical dream school for kids and adults alike! A dream project from Canadian designer John Hardy, home to some of the worlds most stunning Bamboo architecture (see more from Ibuki luxury bamboo design); weekly tours available.
John Hardy Jewellers - If you liked the Green School, you might be interested in John Hardy's first love, Jewellery. John Hardy's estate is set amongst gorgeous bamboo architecture with a special beeswax walled showroom, which houses this famous jeweller's collection. There are tours and a daily lunch where you can join in with staff and special guests for a wholesome meal eaten with Hardy's silverware of course.
Bambu Indah - beautiful eco resort, stay a few nights for the full experience or take a welcomed tour. See the bamboo architecture, restored antique Javanese guesthouses, and organic garden. Enjoy the views of rice fields with a blended drink or meal at the restaurant and say hello to Bali.
Big Tree Farms - local superfood coconut and cacao products done with love. Come for a visit to learn about coconut and cacao production and stock up on these superfoods.
Craft makers - ceramics (Gaya, Sari Api and Eclipse Pottery - ask at Kafe for the new location of Eclipse), painting (Karja), jewellery (head to Celuk village for local artisanal jewellery), stone carving (Batubulan village)
Bali Spirit - large collection of yoga clothes, books, props, music
Namaste - the spirituality shop in Ubud
Threads of Life - fair trade indigenous textiles, baskets, natural dyed fabrics from Indonesia
Stargate - sacred geometry store
La Boheme - a lifestyle brand in tune with nature, inspired by organic forms with a twist of timeless classical French style
Ubud Art Market - find the hidden gems in this dense market
Organic food market - meet the local farmers and stock up on some fresh produce, turmeric, raw cacao, coconut palm sugar and Balinese coconut oil
Locals food market - wake up early to experience an authentic Balinese market for fresh produce
Ubud is also a great place to try a juice cleanse (for more info on how to do a juice cleanse, click here). Take advantage of the fresh turmeric and abundance of superfoods that are added to the juices and smoothies at the restaurants mentioned above.
Balispirit - stay connected with all the holistic happenings in Bali with this online resource and calendar
DAY TRIPS /NATURE/SACRED SITES
Banjar hot springs - sacred hot springs set amongst tropical vegetation
Tirta Empul temple - a holy spring water temple where locals go to purify the body, mind and spirit
Gunung Kawi - 11th century sacred temple amongst the jungle and lush rice fields
FEATURED YOGINI: LES LEVENTHAL
We have the amazing Les Leventhal sharing his Ubud with us today. Les is one of Bali's most beloved yoga teachers. Having trained with Ana Forrest, Tias Little, Seane Corn and Max Strom, Les' vinyasa classes + workshops are steeped in the Forrest tradition and filled with technique and alignment cues for all levels. Les' classes allow space for you to heal your heart, laugh, cry, dance, sweat and just let go. Les teaches classes, workshops, teacher trainings and retreats at the Yoga Barn in Ubud, Bali and around the world.
What is one of your favourite things to do in Bali
I love waking up before the sun rises and listening to all the night animals quiet down and the daytime animals wake up - it's an amazing time for me to meditate and watch how the noises pull on my mind. It also connects me to the chant Asato ma - that piece from darkness to light. OK - and getting a massage, mani & Pedi for $15-20
A favourite Balinese dish you recommend trying
Nasi Campur - please don't leave Bali without ordering this dish, Sate is amazing everywhere, and order a whole coconut anywhere - they're huge, cheap and don't come in a box or can and their full of meat - all for $1
A sacred site/temple you go to to feel grounded and connected
Gunung Kawi - I feel the cleansing in the ritual of mindfulness walking down those 277 steps and next door the sacred water temple, Temple Empul - there can be thousands of people there on ceremony days and full moon days, but something happens when I'm in that water, I hear no noise from people and can actually see the purification
Where do you love to practice yoga / meditation in Bali
At my home in north Ubud and The Yoga Barn in Ubud
A hidden secret gem in Bali to share
My healer - Jiro Ayu, she is mystical, sees energy, a medical intuitive and human
How does your yoga practice inspire your life in Bali and how does Bali influence your yogic life
The inspiration for me comes in all the gifts inherent in thinking I know something and the universe revealing to me its opposite laws of attraction. For example, I thought in some ways my move to Bali would slow many things down and after publishing my book this year, the opposite is true. I am busier than ever but I am constantly motivated by the lessons in the yamas/niyamas with my time, availability, energy required to teach and read, train and replenish. I live a life of devotion, with my sporadic selfishness. So, what I get to do is continue being a student of this practice, just now in a most beautiful setting.
“What I’m teaching comes from my studies and how I incorporate that into my body and my spirit. My voice should only be a guide for you to explore your own body and spirit and the voice of your spirit will speak to you more clearly than anything I would ever have to say. It could be the most amazing thing that’s ever happened in your entire life. Who wants to miss that?" -- Les
Thank you so much to our featured yogi Les! Stay connected with Les through Instagram and his website to find out about his classes, retreats and trainings in Bali and around the globe. Be sure to check out our Yogi Travel Guide for Canggu/Seminyak, Bali as well. Suksma!
Photography by Azulie