Yoga: Bali Style

I have a confession, and beg the yogis out there to dig deep into their compassionate hearts before they give me a piece of their minds. My confession is this: there’s something about American yoga studios that makes me want to run for the desert. What is it that drives me away – the crowds? The sweat? The egoes? My ego?

In contrast to my avoidance of city studios, I go out of my way to find a local yoga instructor every time I visit a foreign country, especially if it’s a ‘developing’ one. I was pleased to find that I wouldn’t have to look far during my trip to Bali – both Amankila and Amandari hosted private classes several times a week. Surrounded by jungle at one location and with an open air view of the South Pacific at the other, I discovered the answer to why I avoid American yoga studios. Maybe I simply need to seek out a class that offers a more natural setting!

Yoga Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
Ketut Bandiastra Cahya instructs Melanie Webb in yoga at Amandari, Bali

I’d heard much about the famed yoga retreats of Bali, and, not a regular student, welcomed the chance to attend classes with a local teacher, Ketut Bandiastra Cahya. The son of a Balinese priest, Ketut also offers classes on his family compound outside of Ubud, at Taman Hati Yoga and Meditation Centre. Exuding a confident warmth, Ketut never uttered a single ‘asana.’ His cues were simple, his postures flowed, his message was pure: “Check the mind, the body, the feelings: Harmony. Smile. The purpose of yoga is happiness.”

The ocean air and jungle melodies provided the ideal setting for Balinese yoga instructor and Utah fitness trainer to compare notes after class. Ketut confirmed my feelings on yoga, that it doesn’t matter what style we do – Bikram, Hatha, Ashtanga – or the difficulty level of our pose or ‘asana.’ What matters is the intent with which we approach the practice, and the state of mind we reach doing it: harmony. Harmony with our mind, body, feelings, and surroundings.

Namaste, Ketut!

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