The pre-holiday holiday is about letting go of work, our day to day lives and recharging, in preparation for the big adventure, which is what has led us to Ubud in the first place. Ubud seems to have become the mecca for Yoga acolytes and alternative health types from all over the world as well as those on a “journey to find themselves”. Eat, Pray Love is to Ubud what The Beach is to Khao San Road.
Trendy cafes such as Clear (shoes at the door please) and Kafe, touting organic, vegetarian, vegan and raw fare are bursting at the seams with dreadlocked, harem pants wearing travellers and ex-pats engaged in important sounding conversations around the merits of different yoga classes at The Yoga Barn, the latest documentaries about the cause of the week or the benefits of paleo versus vegan diets, all to the background sounds of the latest Cafe Del Mar Chill Out Lounge Mix. Wait… Am I in Bali or Byron?
There are no shortage of yoga studios and retreats but The Yoga Barn is clearly the establishment of choice for all wanna-be yogis descending upon Ubud, whether for a short few days of R & R or a several month journey of self-discovery. Located down the end of a long cobblestoned alleyway behind a wellness spa and retreat accommodation, it provides a unique, rustic and spiritual space with fantastic views across terraced rice paddies. The vision (www.yogabarn.com) is to provide an inspiring and beautiful environment for the nourishment of body, mind and soul. The on-premise cafe – Little K – offers something different for customers, a culinary innovation in healing foods, with a focus on living raw vegan food (also known as Living Foods). The ambiance is garden-romantic with a lovely rice field view, overlooking the terraced lawn & amphitheatre of The Yoga Barn.
It would seem that Ubud is well-equipped to satisfy all my rest and rejuvenation requirements.
I ambitiously thought we would be able to take a stroll the 3 or 4 kms into town early in the morning, to make it to The Yoga Barn in time for the 9am Power Yoga class each day. We gave it a practice run on Sunday. After a 45 minute walk, in 30 degree heat and 90% humidity, with a number of heated discussions around which direction we should be taking, we decided that following that up with 1 hour and 45 minutes of sweating it out in an ashtanga yoga class was a little bit more than we bargained for. So we organised our classes and a driver for the next day and decided to check out Clear Cafe.
Clear comes highly recommended from both formal reviews and friends so was “clearly” on our list of places to eat. Also there is a strong movement in our household at the moment (due to the addition of personal trainer and girlfriend) towards a vegetarian whole foods diet. Well if I am going to give it a go… this seems like the place to try it.
After three days of hanging out at Clear, post yoga class, with those that appear to be the “cool kids” of Ubud, it has become a fave, although don’t expect a traditional Balinese experience…, its Byron Bay trendy through and through. The cafe itself is a hidden gem, set back from the road and very inconspicuous looking from outside. Once you enter – shoes are removed at the door – the decor is a fantastic fusion of modern design and eco friendly harvested timber with a balinese influence. Food and drinks are equally engaging, in name, description and taste with a strong focus on putting natural wholesome goodness back into our bodies. Inventively named smoothies like Coconut Kiss, One Love, and Chaca Maca are packed full of superfoods and electrolytes, and all non-dairy. Prani Prawns, Majestic Mushrooms, Rabbit Wraps and Love Burgers leave you wondering what the chefs might be high on! And the desserts are to die for…Mudslide Pie, Coconut Key Lime Pie…who said healthy food couldn’t be delicious and decadent?
And eating all that wholesome goodness seems right after close to two hours of sweating, grunting and twisting our bodies into seemingly impossible poses. The yoga barn offers many variations of yoga, from meditative relaxation to a downright exhausting physical work out. It caters for beginners through to advanced, though some classes are suited more to one than the other. It is surprisingly unpretentious and you are encouraged to work at your own level. There is a degree of “rightness” in practicing yoga amidst the rice fields in a semi-open air studio, plus in my newly purchased, hard bargained for yoga outfit from one of the many stalls along the street, how could I be out of place.
I don’t know if I’m just caught in the moment..but right now a whole month of yoga practice and organic living foods is looking pretty good