Perched high on the limestone cliffs in Uluwatu is Bali Bliss Retreats – a beautiful yoga retreat that we were lucky enough to call our home for a relaxing five-day detox. Located in one of the most spectacular spots on the island, Bali Bliss Retreats is an incredible mix of yoga, meditation, massage and blissed-out-good-vibes.
Run by Nadine Lafleur (AKA Miss Bliss), Bali Bliss Retreats offers a chance to truly unwind and focus on your health. Whether you’re looking to do a detox, improve your yoga and meditation practice or just kick-start a healthier routine, this is your place. So when Bali Bliss Retreats invited me to experience five days of rest and relaxation, I jumped at the chance.
While my life may look like an endless summer holiday, I actually work really hard. I work a four-day week in advertising as a writer, run my brand THIS ISLAND LIFE, travel for work around six times a year, and hit the gym five times a week. This year I’ve been sticking to a strict eight hours of sleep per night rule, but with zero down time I was still feeling pretty burnt out.
From the moment I arrived at Bali Bliss Retreats, my body, mind and spirit became the number one priority. I can honestly say that by the end of the retreat I was feeling incredibly relaxed and well rested. I was definitely more present and mindful, and even a little stretchier. The retreat helped me develop techniques for a healthier mind and body that I’ve been able to incorporate into my everyday life back home.
What I loved about Bali Bliss Retreats is that everyone was there for a different reason. Some guests wanted to enhance their yoga practice, others had just come out of a break up, some people just felt a little directionless and others wanted to get healthy. I was there with my photographer and videographer Michaela, but the guests were a mix of solo travellers, families, couples and friends. Most people were staying in Bali longer and had added five-days at the retreat to the beginning or end of their trip.
So if you’ve ever wanted to do a yoga retreat in Bali, here’s everything you need to know…
Uluwatu is a 45-60 minute drive from Denpasar Airport, and a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of the island’s busier areas. With limestone cliffs hugging the coastline, Uluwatu is famous for its spectacular sunsets and incredible views of the Indian Ocean. While most yoga retreats in Bali are found in the lush mountains of Ubud, Bali Bliss Retreats have tapped into a part of the island that has something even more zen than fresh mountain air – THE OCEAN! Uluwatu is home to some of the best waves in the world and Bali Bliss Retreats have taken full advantage of this. Operating out of Uluwatu Surf Villas, they are one of the only properties in the area with exclusive access to their own private beach where you can paddle out for a wave. One morning we saw a pod of dolphins swim past and watching the sun go down is the ultimate way to end your day.
We started the day at 6am with sunrise morning yoga and meditation in the yoga studio. The yoga studio features a thatched-roof and traditional Balinese architecture, and is surrounded by perfectly manicured tropical gardens. After our morning pre-yoga rituals it was the perfect way to wake up before the Indonesian heat kicked in. With views of the ocean it was a picture perfect start to the day ahead. We finished the yoga component off each day with an afternoon class that was always a bit different. One day we did partner yoga in the studio, the next we did yoga outside on the grass where we were able to watch the sun set over the Indian Ocean as we held our poses, and on one particular afternoon we tried our hand at AcroYoga – a form of yoga that incorporates acrobatics, which I’m happy to say is much easier than it sounds.
One of the things I liked most about this retreat was the cleansing rituals we took part in each day. At home I practice oil pulling and start my morning most days with warm water and lemon, and on this retreat I was able to add a few more. We started each morning (in the privacy of our own bathrooms) with tongue scraping before we brushed our teeth. We also had a glass of warm water and lemon juice before our morning yoga class and neti potting – a practice that involves pouring salty warm water up your nose. While not an actual cleansing ritual, we also got a massage everyday – something I’d like to become a daily ritual back in the real world 🙂
Raw food is a great way to gain more energy, improve mental clarity, lose weight, improve digestion and get glowing skin, so I was excited to try the raw food menu at the retreat. Breakfast is a choice of chia seed porridge, coconut pancakes or a vegetable frittata (the only non-vegan option). Lunch is an incredible smorgasbord of raw salads and dinner is themed around a different type of cruising each night. On our first night we were treated to Indian with cauliflower rice, another night it was Pad Thai inspired zucchini noodles. We started our breakfast each morning with a delicious smoothie – the banana, papaya, spinach and coconut one rocked my world.
The accommodation at Bali Bliss Retreats is everything you’d expect from an island getaway. Each villa has three bedrooms, three outdoor showers and two bathrooms. There’s a huge communal area in each villa to chill out with your flatmates, an infinity pool, incredible views and everything you need for outdoor entertaining. While the rooms aren’t crazy luxurious, they’ve got all the comforts you need in a traditional authentic Balinese design. The owners of the property have a tiny kitten called Rebel Rose and two awesome dogs that include a little French bulldog! The kitten introduced herself on our first night by jumping into the outdoor shower while Michaela was under it, and proceeded to make our villa her home. She was the cutest thing ever and I’m not even a cat person.
The Area (close to Padang Padang Beach!)
With free time each day, there are plenty of things to do if you feel like exploring island life outside the retreat. Uluwatu Beach, Single Fin and all the local warungs are just a short walk away. Padang Padang Beach is a 10-minute drive from the retreat and a great spot for beginner surfers and stand up paddle boarding. One of the cutest things I’ve ever seen was a tiny baby on a surfboard with her dad wearing a pink life vest. Michaela somehow found this little surfing baby on Instagram – she is amazing! The area is also home to Uluwatu Temple – a Hindu temple set on the top of the cliffs with an incredible view of the Indian Ocean. Each night they hold a cultural show where Balinese men perform the ‘Kecak Dance’ to the sun setting over the ocean. We spent our last night at the retreat taking in the enriching show.
With over 10 years experience practicing yoga, retreat owner and yoga teacher Nadine Lafleur (AKA Miss Bliss) was a fantastic guide for our journey into rest and relaxation. Having recently furthered her yoga training in Mexico, she was ready to put them to use at our chilled out yoga studio in Bali. While we were all at different levels of yoga and meditation, she was able to create yoga classes that catered to all of us.
How to get to Uluwatu, Bali:
Getting to Bali is easy and usually involves a direct flight into Denpasar Airport. Bali Bliss Retreats is a 45-60 minute drive – your package includes transfers to and from the airport.
What we did:
A Bali Bliss five-day package that included five days and four nights at Uluwatu Surf Villas. Prices start at $1999 for a double/twin room. Details here.
When to go:
Nadine will be running the next retreat in 16-20 March 2015 and there are also retreats in April, May, June, September and October. Secure your place here.