It was early January, and I had just come from a month in the Philippines with a pretty poor record of practicing yoga. Once I arrived in Ubud, a gorgeous jungle yogi paradise set on the Indonesian island of Bali, I bought a card at Yoga Barn and got excited.
Yoga Barn is the perfect place for the yoga-curious. Its teachers offer beginners classes as well as classes and workshops for more advanced students who want to deepen their practice. The schedule is packed with 11-15 classes a day, each of them different, and when I was there in January, 16 different styles of yoga were on the schedule.
Months ago, when Ubud was just a daydream I’d pieced together from Instagram images, one of my friends told me that her time there shook everything up – in a good way. I didn’t quite follow, but I loved that she said it, and I’ll admit that I wanted to experience some of whatever it was that shook her. So, in the two weeks I spent in Ubud, I went to seven classes at Yoga Barn: restorative, laya, vinyasa, acro (twice), kirtan, and nidra. I dug right in with a sense of experimentation and wonder.
After an airport nap, over-night flight, and early morning transport from Denpasar to Ubud, my boyfriend and I sought a little therapy and relaxation with Yoga Barn’s evening restorative yoga class. It was held in the upstairs studio, an elevated hut that comes with everything one would need for the practice: mats, bolsters, blocks, straps, blankets, water, and all-natural mosquito repellant. We left the class feeling incredibly relaxed. As we noshed on sushi rolls at an open-air Japanese restaurant across the street afterward, we fell totally in love with Ubud.
Our first yoga experimental class was Sunday morning laya yoga, recommended by a friend who told us to go into it free of expectations or assumptions. The three-hour class was based in kundalini and incorporated a lot of up and down movement with coordinated breath. Much of the class focused on vocal expression, releasing built-up tension, and letting sounds involuntarily move through us. As a student laughed hysterically on the other side of the room and others orgasmically moaned through poses, the teacher noted that if any of us were annoyed by the sounds of others, it was a good thing; that means it’s working. Accept it and move past it.
Feeling the need to get back to basics the next day, we signed up for a good ol’ vinyasa class. The flow incorporated a 15-minute inversion practice break, which was fun for about half of the class and confusing for the rest. On a whole, though, it was just what we came for – an energetic sweat session in the afternoon Balinese heat.
My next two classes were acroyoga, and I was surprised by how unique each class was. We didn’t do a single warmup or pose in the second class that we did in the first, and it was almost a completely new group of people. While both classes focused on the acrobatics component of acroyoga, the first one was much more playful. We warmed up by doing a tougher version of wheel barrel – this time with feet hooked on hips and no hands from the partner walking upright. We stacked plank on plank and did synchronized pushups. We got into teams of three for assisted handstands. The second class taught me several new poses, which was exciting and inspiring. After a much shorter warmup, we practiced flag, flying child’s pose, and moving from a easy throne to shin stand.
After the second class, my boyfriend met back up for an acro jam on the patio just outside the studio. We met a few others from the class, as well as seasoned acro yogis, to practice and play.
The following Sunday night took me back to The Barn for kirtan, another friend recommendation. Sitting in a semicircle facing three musicians, we closed our eyes and chanted together in Sanskrit, sharing the energy and power of a group sing-along and slowing down the tempo as the class came to a close. The 15-minute savasana at the end put me into the most relaxed state I’d experienced in quite a while, and I walked out peaceful and totally happy.
My second time in Ubud, I returned for a yoga nidra class. Again, it came as a recommendation – this time from my boyfriend’s mom, who had become familiar with it during her yoga teacher training in the states. I heard how relaxing people find it and went into the midday class half expecting to take a nap. Instead, we were instructed to walk the line of total body and mind relaxation without completely succumbing to sleep. With the teacher as a guide, the intention is to do a full body scan and focus on one body part at a time. The teacher then moved onto describing a place and telling a story while we were instructed to visualize the imagery using our subconscious minds. Towards the end, I found it difficult to get out of the discomfort in my physical body (cold, laying on the floor) and get into a state of relaxation. But I don’t think I fell asleep, so at least there’s that.
Even though I may have decided some of these forms of yoga aren’t for me, it’s hard to say anything bad about my time practicing at Yoga Barn. Each class opened my eyes to new people and practices, taught me something about myself, and gave me something to work on – mentally or physically.
First, the restaurant: It’s really good. It’s reasonably priced (about $3-$4.50 per dish) and offers everything from pre-yoga energizing drinks and cashew nut lattes to Ayurvedic kitcheree and macrobiotic main dishes. And it’s super tasty.
A juice bar – which sells drinks, popsicles, and quick treats for before or after class – is also just outside the studios.
The upper studio holds 35 people, and the lower studio holds 30. FYI, they do strictly hold to that number and turn people away once a class is full.
Showers (with liquid body soap) are available to use post-class, free of charge. There’s also a water cooler near both studios.
Individual classes are about $9.50, but cards are the way to go if you’re planning to attend at least three. My boyfriend and I each bought the five-class card for $37. If you’re in town for a long stay and want to try it all, you can purchase a 30-day unlimited card for around $190.
Yoga Barn, located at the end of a small alley in Ubud, is in walking distance from tons of hostels and guesthouses. If you’re heading south from the palace on Hanoman, the alley will be on your left. The sign, which is found at the top of a list of other destinations down the same alley, is a little difficult to spot from the main road, so also keep an eye out for Zen, and turn there.
Yoga Barn hosts movies, yoga teacher trainings, workshops, and retreats. Check out www.theyogabarn.com for schedules, current prices, and directions.