Contributor: Sandra Fang, Yin Yang Japan Ambassador
I’m Chinese Canadian from Vancouver, Canada. It’s been more than seven years since I first landed in Japan fresh and naive after my university graduation.
As a yoga teacher looking back at my youth, I have so much gratitude for being able to do what I love right now.
Known as the Land of Gods, Bali is a magical island in Indonesia. The charm of this island ranges from its beautiful beaches, spectacular mountains, lush green rice terraces, to its unique culture. Bali has everything to offer nature lovers. It is also a paradise for yogis around the world to come for retreats, teacher's training, or just a few days to rejuvenate the body and mind.
The Yoga Barn is the biggest yoga studio in Bali. It is located in the heart of Ubud, which is a vibrant town full of Balinese culture, international gourmet, and chic boutique shops. Follow a small alley from the busy street of Jalan Raya Pengosekan and walk about 100 meters into the rice fields you will find The Yoga Barn. No other yoga studios I have been to can compare to its scale. It has five studios to accommodate regular lessons and workshops, an organic farm with a few bungalows, an Ayurvedic Rejuvernating Center, a Holistic Healing Center, and a cafe that serves healing foods featuring local products. This 50 acres of space is truly a little green yoga village tucked in the nature of Bali.
During my stay in Bali, I took a couple of lessons here. The main studio is an open-air artistic practice room that fits at least 70 people. The class was filled up by foreigners. At times I had completely forgotten that I was in Indonesia. The fragrance of the green, the warmth of the sun, and the chirping sounds of the birds reminded me that nature is the home of our bodies. After the class I had a fun chat about yoga and the life in Bali with the native Balinese instructor, Murni, at The Yoga Barn’s Garden Cafe. In the morning after the class, many yogis stopped by for a healthy breakfast before heading out.
Yoga Movement in Bali
Tourism in Bali has grown dramatically in the past 10 years. Murni recalled, “When I moved to Ubud in 1998, there were only two restaurants on Hanuman Street. Now countless shops and restaurants are lined up and it’s still expanding.” This tourism boom was the foundation of the yoga movement here. Bali is the birthplace of Bali Spirit Festival, an international festival celebrating yoga, music, dance, and holistic lifestyle. Four years after its first event in 2008, in 2012, the festival attracted 6000 guests during its five days of festivities from more than 50 countries, including 1000 Indonesians.
Do the Locals Practice Yoga?
In The Yoga Barn, most of the teachers and students are foreigners. Do the locals practice yoga? “99% of the students at The Yoga Barn are foreigners,” Murni told me with a reluctant smile, “Sometimes I lead a community class to the local women, but it’s hard to motivate them to continue. However, there’s a community yoga class in Denpasar on every Sunday morning on a beach. More than 100 people join the class every time, including many local people.”
Technology’s Impact on our Lifestyle
Besides teaching classes, Murni also plays an active role as a volunteer teacher for the outreach program aimed at Balinese Youth. Speaking of the lifestyle of this young generation, Murni said that she missed those days when she was a kid and played outside in the nature. The lifestyle of this generation is changing. Even in Bali, the urban kids are attached to technology and games. “One day I was volunteering in a small village, I saw some village kids played outside and ran around happily. I felt like I miss those moments! We are seeing less and less of these things. I want to tell people how important it is to be in touch with nature.” The positive energy shines out through Murni’s smile.
Bali is truly a paradise for people from around the world to come for a relaxing vacation. In a fast-paced world like this, we need more places like Bali. I hope that this magical island continues to maintain their unique culture and abundant nature. Bali always reminds me to find a quiet and pure land within myself. I look forward to coming back here someday soon.