Yoga Barn: My New Happy Place

It’s such a silly name, Yoga Barn.

With a name like that, this yoga center in Ubud, Bali (Indonesia), might as well be a place where cows and horses and chickens practice yoga. I’d love to see a cow do Gomukasana (“Cow-Faced Pose”); a horse do Ado Mukha Svanasana (“Downward-Facing Dog”); and a chicken do Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (“Pigeon”).

But, alas, you won’t find farm animals here. Yoga Barn attracts a colorful assortment of yoga enthusiasts — a.k.a. humans — from around the world to practice in one of the most magical places on the planet.

It’s one that, in my opinion, looks nothing like a barn. But you be the judge:

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Yoga Barn was my home, my nucleus, my focal point during my week in Ubud, Bali. It’s what drew me to this destination halfway around the world from Chicago.

For years, I’d heard about Bali as a place that had a wonderfully vibrant yoga community. I often polled fellow yogis while attending global yoga retreats and when I was studying in Mysore, India: “Where else have you studied? Where else have you practiced? Where should I go next to further my understanding of yoga?” Bali consistently came up, and Yoga Barn was the place to study, to practice, to go deep.

All the glowing recommendations have certainly held true.

Yoga Barn is a giant treehouse of yoga. Tucked away from one of Ubud’s main, scooter-heavy thoroughfares, down an alley-like street, this is a sprawling yoga center nestled within a canopy of palms and greenery. It includes several well-kept yoga studios of various sizes, a garden cafe, a juice bar, therapy rooms and a guest house. The setting evokes the magical home where the elves from “Lord of the Rings” lived.

The chirps of birds and crickets supply the background music to this environment, co-mingled with accents and languages from around the world. I met Belgians, French, Japanese, Canadians, Indians, Danish … the list goes on. It’s not uncommon to be waiting for a studio to open for class and overhear yogis from Europe and Australia talking about how long they’ve lingered in Ubud and where they’re off to next. The international flavor found here reinforces how strong, ever-expanding and friendly the global yoga community is. It’s always been pretty easy for me to strike up a conversation with any yogi in the world when the topic is … yoga. This was definitely the case at Yoga Barn.

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While the space itself is heavenly, it’s the classes and teachers that keep the positive energy here flowing. Yoga Barn offers an eclectic mix of all-levels yoga classes, everything from Vinyasa Flow to Yin Yoga to Kundalini Yoga, as well as meditation classes, talks, kirtans and group sound-healing sessions. I loved the diversity in offerings. It inspired me to sample and explore, versus just take “regular” yoga classes. During my time in Ubud, I participated in a few classes each day, mixing Vinyasa and Restorative Yoga classes with unique meditation classes such as Tibetan Bowl Healing and Gong Baths.

It was a “yoga buffet” for an entire week. Yum, yum!

YogaClasses

And then there are the teachers. As a teacher of yoga and meditation myself, I am inevitably practicing with the lens of both student and teacher. So I’m constantly learning from all teachers — and Yoga Barn attracts some stellar ones. I was particularly impressed with two: Emily, whose openness in revealing her own vulnerabilities fostered a great sense of connection and self-empowerment; and Greg, whose intention-setting and crystal-clear cues made for an incredibly grounded, yet challenging, practice.

Naturally, all of the teachers have sprinkled their unique yoga fairy dust upon me. I take something away from each of them. As a result, I’m armed with new information, ideas and sequences to share back in Chicago, both on and off the mat. And I can’t wait!

I also can’t wait to return to Bali to practice — perhaps someday teach? — at the Yoga Barn.

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In the meantime, if you’re inspired to spend time at the Yoga Barn, here are some tips to make the most out of it:

  • If you know that you’re going to practice at least five times during your stay in Ubud, opt for the class cards. They come in 3-, 5-, 10- and 20-class packages. The savings can be significant. For instance, one class is 130,000 Rp (US$10). If you purchase a 10-class package, as I did, the total cost per class drops to 90,000 Rp (US$7). Note: These are absolutely insane prices for 1.5-hour yoga classes, compared to class prices in places such as New York, San Francisco and Chicago!
  • Quality mats and props are available for all students to use, so you don’t need to lug anything with you. I stopped bringing my travel mat because I preferred Yoga Barn’s mats.
  • If you plan to practice regularly at the Yoga Barn, try to stay within walking distance. Ubud is a relatively large town; if you stay near the Ubud Palace, for instance, it will be a haul on foot (30 minutes) unless you have a motorbike. I stayed at the Sarin Ubud Villa, near the Monkey Forest, which was less than a 10-minute walk. Super convenient!
  • Show up an hour ahead of time for the popular evening meditation classes (e.g. Tibetan Healing Bowl, Gong Bath). This is important because only 50 or so people are allowed to participate. All you need to do is sign up, then you can leave for 45 minutes and return right before class begins.
  • Sample the juice bar and cafe. It’s a great spot to meet people and the food is delicious and healthy. I liked grabbing breakfast here before/after morning practice.

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