Jimbaran Bay is a traditional fishing village on the south-west coast of Bali overlooking the Indian Ocean. White sandy beaches, crystal clear water, coconut palms… Paradise awaits!
Our own Ali Johnston ventured out to experience yoga in Bali and came back with incredible experiences to share. Here’s her first story.
by Ali Johnston
As the days get shorter and a cool crispness returns to the air, it’s time to think about an Australian winter escape. Bali here I come!
After visiting Kuta and Seminyak, centres for brand-name shopping, partying, restaurants, and luxury accommodations, I was keen to escape the hustle and bustle.
Ready for some zen yoga, I headed down to the picturesque coastal village of Jimbaran Bay, located on the southwest edge of the island.
My first yoga session was set on the plush lawn of the Intercontinental Resort Bali, overlooking the bay. Stunning sweeping views at the crack of dawn made it a little easier to handle the early start, still jet lagged.
Ready for my private yoga session, I was greeted by Gede Purwanta, a local Balinese, and well-known yogi. The practice was broken into 3 distinct phases. We commenced with Hatha Yoga, focusing on breathing in for 7 counts and out for 7. Each breath was directed to a different area as we progressed around the body.
Next we practiced a series of asanas, focusing on holding each for extended periods. We finished with a deconstructed Surya Namaskar, broken into 17 steps, starting gently before picking up the pace to finish one complete round in one breath. There’s a challenge right there! The speed and fluidity with which Purwanta moved was inspirational as only a lifelong Yogi could perform.
Just around the coast is the magnificent, multi award-winning AYANA Resort and Spa Bali. In a class all its own, with luxurious rooms and private villas set on 90 hectares of cliff-top land overlooking Jimbaran Bay. A short trip, only 10 kms from Bali airport it boasts an impressive 5 swimming pools, private beach and 12 dining options!
The gardens are stunning. Bright coloured flowers, manicured lawns, grand trees. Some areas of the resort are very traditional and tranquil, perfect for meditation and reflection, while other areas are vibrant and invigorating with beautiful foliage, and floral gardens. The private beach is a perfect place to ‘zen out’ and watch Mother Nature at her finest.
I joined Pak Juniarta for a dawn session of Yoga in Ayana’s purpose built outdoor pavilion. What I thought was shaping up to be a gentle session turned out to be the opposite. Pak Juniarta’s style was quite different. He raised the bar and challenged you to look within to find that extra bit, to take the risk to go where you had previously not been. He implied the questions, “Why have you not been there? What is it you are afraid of? Why don’t you just take a leap of faith and push through? Because what’s on the other side of fear and pain…?” Maybe it’s time to find out.
For me, when I pushed into resistance, I found freedom. Normally I would have just gently and gradually moved into the poses, but I found when I just went for it, I got the pose. I strengthened myself and put my preconceived limits aside, silenced the voice saying… “Be careful Ali, you don’t want to stretch or injure yourself.”
Pak Juniarta suggested we visualise the pose and move into it without apprehension. That is what I did. Did I get injured? No. Did it hurt? No. What lay beyond was a certain form of emptiness. A sense of release.
In the empty was where I found freedom, movement, and joy.
Thank you Pak Juniarta for expanding my horizons and giving me the opportunity to experience freedom, where I previously felt pain and restriction.
The next morning I had a private session with Pak Oka. Taking my new found way of thinking, I flowed through the Vinyasa session with a feeling of lightness.
Pak Oka’s specialty is in guided meditation and thus the session ended with an out-of-body experience. Unbelievable as it may sound, I reached the heights of meditation. As I was guided to direct my breath to different areas of my body, I quietened the chatter in my head. Using my breath and attention, I could dissolve areas of inflammation and tension. On the final instructions I reached a state of such deep relaxation that I actually experienced my body become so light it floated away.
On returning to consciousness, I lay basking in the early morning sun and in a state of absolute bliss.
Here in Jimbaran Bay Bali I had experienced various forms of yoga, taught by local Balinese gurus. Each a little different, all with the same purpose. Yoga guides, heals, and strengthens, the mind, body, and spirit. Ayana Resort and Bali seemed the perfect place to experience that enlightenment.
Address: Jl. Karang Mas Sejahtera, Jimbaran, Badung, Bali 80364, Indonesia +62 361 702 222
Yoga: Pak Juniarta & Pak Oka
Rp 360,000++ (approx $44)
Address: Jalan Uluwatu 45 BALI , 80361 Indonesia +62-361-701888 +0
Yoga: Gede Purwanta
Jimbaran Bay, Bali
Rp 180,000 ++ (approx $22)
All Images Ali Johnston except for Ayana Accommodation Villa courtesy of Ayana Resort and Spa Bali