This tour explores the diversity of Bali’s geography including white sand and black sand beaches, lush green oasis, the cities of Depensar and Ubud, small outlying villages, mountains, Braten Lake, hot springs, volcanoe and rainforest. We start in the south and travel toward the center, then north and east all the while participating in cultural rituals and traditions.
The island of Bali is famous for its rich culture of dance, artistry and religious festivity. We will have several opportunities to witness various forms of dance and unscheduled celebrations such as odalam (the temple’s birthday) and cremation. A highlight of this trip is attending the Purnam Kapat (full moon in October) temple ceremony.
Bali is the ideal location for a yoga retreat. Just like yoga, the Balinese culture is grounded in Hinduism and it’s philosophy is embodied in the Balinese people. It is pure delight to witness their gentle demeanor, sensitivity and generosity–all qualities that yoga fosters.
We can use the wisdom of of Balinese rituals and philosophy to deepen our own understanding and experience of yoga. Yoga means ‘union’. To practice yoga is to unite the body with the mind and the mind with the soul. Yoga is more than putting the body into ‘interesting postures’ (asanas). It is a journey into learning how to use the breath (pranayama) to move deeper and open the body, preparing for meditation and allowing time for deep relaxation (yoga nidra).
Day 1 Arrival in Bali.
Met at airport and transfer to Resort, a quiet area situated on Bali’s southern peninsula, (about 15 min drive from airport). Deluxe rooms. Welcome dinner at the hotel.
Morning private class at the hotel either in their yard or on their private beach. Day free time to relax–enjoy the hotel facilities: a massage, swim, walk.
Evening attend sunset Kecak dances at Uluwatu on the edge of South Bali. Arrive at approx 5pm. Pura Luhur Ulu Watu is one of the most beautiful temples in Bali – both for its site and for its wonderful carvings. The temple is on the westernmost part of the Bukit- a large table formation in connected to the main island by a narrow stretch of land. It is a raised seabed, emerged from the ocean eons ago, and now gradually being worn down by erosion. The narrow temple site sticks out like a finger 250 feet above the crashing waves. The very end of the temple is where the most sacred inner court is located. And, fittingly, this is the part that is becoming smaller and smaller over the years, as the edge of the outcropping drops into the sea. It’s almost as if the temple as a whole is being offered to the sea. The temple is hewn out of black coral rock, which is exceptionally hard. The stone carvings here are particularly fine, and have stood the test of time. Dedicated to the spirits of the sea, Pura Ulu Watu is considered one of the sadkayyangan, or six most sacred sanctuaries of the island. It was formerly forbidden to outsiders. The Kecak Dance performance combines many of Bali’s sacred dances from trance to Sang Hyang Dedari dance. The story is taken from the Ramayana Epic, where Devi Shinta is kidnapped by the Giant King Rahwana and is protected by Goddess Brahma ( symbolized by fire). The performace takes place at an outdoor theater space while the sun is setting behind the performers.
After the dance performance, enjoy a special traditional dinner at Bumbu Bali Restaurant in Tanjung Benoa adjacent to Nusa Dua. Operated by Heinz von Holzen, the author of the book “The Food of Bali” and former food guru of the Grand Hyatt and Ritz Carlton hotels in Bali, the restaurant is considered the finest authentic cuisine. The ambience, with indoor water fountains, statues of various gods, greenery and music is relaxing and delightful.
After breakfast transfer to Bali Spirit Resort. Enroute we’ll stop at the “Bali Art Market” in Sukawati to bargain for all kinds of handicrafts and textiles. You can buy your traditional Balinese clothing here for wearing at the full moon puja at the temple.
Afterwards, we’ll visit Goa Gajah (elephant cave) dedicated to Ganesha and Shiva-also sacred to Budhists. Lunch at the fabulous Lotus Cafe on the banks of the Water Palace. The restaurant serves healthy Indonesian cuisine including organic greens!
Afternoon free to enjoy the facilities at Bali Spirit, a private retreat on the edge of Ubud on the banks of the sacred Wos River. Terraced gardens and sun-drenched pavilions lead to a spring fed pool perched above the rushing river. During your stay, the hotel can offer the following activities upon request: batik painting, balinese painting, temple offering creating, Balinese dance, Balines music anf cooking classes. Additional fees quoted by and paid to the hotel. There is also a complimentary shuttle service to the shopping areas of Ubud. Emerald Suites. Evening, 630-730 pm, attend meditation at Bali Spirit Yoga Studio (approx 15 min drive).
Purnam Kapat (full moon in October) in temple at Depensar.
Morning vinyasa yoga class 9-1045 am at Bali Spirit Yoga Studio.
Afterwards, attend full moon the ceremonies and festivities. We will want to wear Balinese dress used for prayer: kamben (sarong), kebaya (traditional blouse) and selempot (waist sash) for women and kamben, selempot, jacket, saput (outer cover for sarong) and udeng (head wrap) for men. Purnam Kapat is one of the most sacred full moons for Balinese Hindus. We will attend a tremendous ceremony at the temple with gambelan and dance and many grand offerings. The ceremonies usually begin at 12 noon with a parade in the streets and finish around 11pm.
We will have more details when closer to the date. Here is what we have at this point: The festival starts with the Caru Ceremony, usually held midday, after this ceremony the woman in the temple make Balinese cakes to give to the Seka Gong (Gambelan group). At this point we can go for lunch at one of the local restaurants. After lunch, we return to the temple for the rest of the ceremony. If this full moon is confirmed to be a Nadi ceremony (big ceremony), we will also see the Maecan – a procession with the Rejang Dancer (this dance is performed by a virgin girl) and the trance procession by the Pemangku (second level of priest in Hinduism), who is in charge of the temple. The Maecan procession is usually held arround 7 – 8 p.m, followed by the trance of the Pemangku. After the priest is tranced by the gods and goddesses, he will inform the Penyungsung (the temple society) if the offerings are complete, and tell where it needs to be fixed to complete the offerings.
Morning hatha yoga class 9-1045 am at Bali Spirit Yoga Studio. Afterwards, enjoy the resort facilities. The resort offers free shuttle to Ubud (10 min drive) for those wanting to shop or stroll independently.
Afternoon (approx 3 pm) an excursion to Alas Kedaton, one of Bali’s Monkey Forests and after a short walk we go to Tanah Lot temple for a beautiful sunset. This is the most visited temple in Bali. The name translates as temple of the earth in the sea, and it’s accessible only during low tide. Like Ulu Watu, this is another of the six most holy temples in Bali.
Day 6 Bedugul /Lake Braten (Central Bali)
After breakfast, we will drive about 11/2 hr up to Bedugul in central Bali stopping enroute at a natural hot springs near Wongaya Gede village in Tabanan Regency. Those interested can dip in the hot springs, then we will continue to Bedugul (1 hr drive). After lunch at the hotel we will take a short drive to the lake where we enjoy a motor boat tour around the lake including a look at Ulun Danu Temple, the picturesque floating temple. Pura Ulu Danu was built in the 17th century on highland Lake Bratan. It is one of the kayangan jagat (directional temples) which protect Bali from evil in all directions. This gemlike temple is half on the mainland, half on a tiny island. The complex is dedicated to Vishnu, the preserver and the god of water, in his guise as Dewi Danu, who protects all living creatures. Small and charming, it comments on the spirit of place without leaving a big footprint. A peaceful, shimmering vision. There is more rainfall around Pura Luhur than anywhere else on very rainy Bali. Moss covers the stones of this temple, and the jungle presses in. You can search for shrines secreted away in the jungle, knowing that the most amazing shrines of all are the orchids and butterflies that live here. The temple represents the spirit of the mountain, which does seem to be especially present here. A hidden treasure. Evening yoga/meditation.
After breakfast hiking at Kebun Raya Bedugul, a tropical rain forest. Picnic lunch. Evening meditation, relaxation at our resort.
Day 8 The Mother Temple
Early morning yoga (7am). After breakfast, we’ll drive past picturesque rice terraces on the way to Pura Besakih, the island’s holiest temple, also known as “The Mother Temple.” Our route takes us north to Singararaja, then east to Kubu Tambahan to reach Mt Batur and Kintamani (the volcano). We arrive at about 1030 am to enjoy a spectacular view; tea and snacks are available at Grand Puncak Sari Restaurant near the volcano, if you like.
We continue the drive (approx 11/2-2 hrs) to Besakih. The Mother Temple was built in the 11th. century at an altitude of 1,000 meters (3,000 feet) on the slopes of Mount Agung. All hindu castes come together to worship at Besakih Temple. The temple is named for Naga Basukian, one of the dragon gods that guards Mount Agung – the highest mountain in Bali. The temple has a courtyard of altars and shrines devoted to a number of gods and has the triple shrine which is dedicated to Brahma, Wisnu, and Shiva standing side by side. The elaborate tiered shrine is called a meru and symbolizes the world mountain, Gunung Maha Meru. The meru has a shape similar to the chinese pagoda.
After our visit of Besakih temples, we will drive to the traditional village of Amed on the east coast of Bali (approx 2 hr drive). Lunch at Bukit Jambul Restaurant enroute between Besakih and Amed (approx 35 min drive). This is one of the least densely populated parts of the island and known for spectacular snorkeling and diving.
Day 9 Morning yoga.
Day free to relax, snorkle from the black sand beach, partake in massages, individual meditation etc. Dive packages can be arranged at additional cost. Overnight Dancing Dragons Resort, beach view and beach front cottages (based on availability).
Morning yoga. Independent day. Overnight Dancing Dragons Resort,
Day 11 Morning yoga.
After breakfast, return to Ubud, stopping enroute to visit the Goa Lawah (bat cave) Temple. Many people come here to pray and we are likely to see a cremation ceremony or other such important celebration. Overnight Artini CottageII.
Morning attend sacred Barong Dances in Batubulan village (starts 930 am). Afterwards, visit stone carving studio in Batubulan and continue excursion to visit other crafts villages around Ubud: Celuk (silver & gold jewelry), Mas (wood carving), and Pengosekan (painting). Or If you are not interested in the craft villages (which do have a commercial angle to them) you may elect: Morning hatha yoga class 9-1045 am at Bali Spirit Yoga Studio (across the street from our hotel) and stroll the center of Ubud independently. Our hotel is in town.
Morning hatha yoga class 9-1045 am at Bali Spirit Yoga Studio and free time until transfer to airport for flight home.