When I say ‘Bali’, what do you think of? Rice fields, temples, ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ and of course, the yogi-meditation hippie types!
(And a total disclaimer, I say hippy types in the most loving sense- and I’d most probably fall into this category myself-
Carry around a metal straw and bamboo utensils- yep
Daily meditation- yep
Ok I think I think I could quite easily fall into this stereotype). Now that’s out of the way let’s get back to it!
A silent yoga and meditation retreat…now Hannah you’ve totally lost it. And honestly, I was a little apprehensive of being alone with just my thoughts for a full 48 hours!
So why go to a silent retreat anyway?
For many of us, we get so caught up in the noise of everyday life- social media, texts, emails, traffic jams, our toxic thought, others opinions and so on…
Personally, I was having a fantastic time travelling and I love my remote job, but my mind and body were burnt out.
It was like when your laptop gets so overheated you know you need to switch it off for a while before it blows up or konks out. I’d lost any sense of balance for my health and wellbeing. Ever been there?
So…a week off beginning with a 2-night stay at Bali Silent Retreat was exactly what the doctor ordered!
(And a quick disclaimer, this post is in no way sponsored. But I am asked a lot of questions about going here so wanted to share the experience.)
Bali Silent Retreat, or BSR, is an oasis in the middle of the island, an hour or so from Ubud and under 2 hours from the airport.
It’s got dorm rooms, single and deluxe options which is great as it makes it accessible to so many types of travellers. Compared to many of the other Balinese retreats it’s actually pretty affordable.
When you book you’re charged the cost of your accommodation ($25 USD a night for the female dorm), plus a standard daily charge of $35 USD for food and activities. It’s a strange way to calculate it but something to be aware of when booking.
Arriving At The Retreat
On Saturday morning I had Baby Ketut, the retreat’s driver, come and pick me up from Ubud. You can also find your own transport or drive yourself. However, word of warning, unless you’re super comfortable driving around Bali I wouldn’t suggest you drive yourself there. Some of the roads are really steep and you’re likely to get lost.
Maybe finding a local taxi in Ubud would have been a few dollars cheaper, cheaper, but for the convenience of not getting lost in the backroads, the retreat’s transport was the better choice!
Baby Ketut and I had a great conversation on the way to the retreat. He answered many of my questions about Balinese culture and the upcoming Nyepi festival. Nyepi is the Balinese new year and day of silence across the island. You can’t cook, leave the house, and the airport is closed. The worst though…no wifi for 24 hours!
Just one hour out of Ubud we arrived at the retreat.
After checking in with the office angels it was time to enter the silence!
Life At The Retreat- Ashram Style
The retreat takes an ashram approach. Every guest had their own cubby with plates cutlery etc that you wash up and put away after your meals. In the dorms at least (not sure about the other rooms), you’re given a bag of linens for your bed and are responsible for bringing this back to the reception at the end of your stay.
I actually really liked this approach. Having spent 2 months in South East Asia eating out most of the time and having my bed made up for me, there was something homely about getting to wash my own dishes and make my bed.
I’m also mentioning this as some may think this is a luxury retreat- It’s not, but it’s also so much more than that!
The retreat is quite spread out. You have the main lodge for eating, making herbal teas, and relaxing. You can lounge and read a book from the extensive library collection, all while overlooking the Balinese jungle! The view is just incredible.
Then you’ll find paths leading to all of the bungalows, rooms and the dorm.
There’s a beautiful open barn for the daily yoga and meditation practises, which can be used outside of these times for personal use.
And of course, I mustn’t forget all of the beautiful serene spaces and activities to simply explore or enjoy meditation. These include:
- The jungle walk- Using the mosquito spray is a must!
- Water meditation
- The labyrinth
- Crying bench
- Rice fields walk
- Stargazing bench
And what was fantastic was that everything is so spread out; you never felt like you were imposing on anyone else’s experience of the silence or vice versa.
Food Glorious Food!
And now we come to what us foodies out there really want to know about…what was the food like?
In one word…DELICIOUS!
Everything they serve at BSR is vegetarian, and with the exception of local duck eggs, vegan.
About 80% of the dishes served are also gluten-free (this made me so happy!).
At every mealtime instead of labelling the foods that were vegan, GF etc, they mark which foods DO contain eggs or gluten so it was easy to see what to avoid.
The main meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner), are served with the announcement of a gong up in the main lodge. Honestly, I think if I’d have been there longer it would be like Pavlov’s dog experiment, with the sound of a gong making me hungry and salivate at any time of the day!
You can help yourself to a table of incredible healthy salads, soups, curries, bread, desserts (and of course breakfast foods in the morning like smoothie bowls!)
It was foodie heaven!
In between meals you could snack on coconut bacon, GF cookies, nuts, taro crisps, fruit and of course make yourself some herbal tea.
My body felt truly nourished and the food is grown onsite without nasty pesticides.
This was one of my favourite parts of the retreat!
Most mornings (or maybe it’s every morning) there are off-site mini trips you can go on. They’re included in the price of the stay and are totally optional.
Visiting a Balinese Temple
On the Sunday morning, after early meditation, yoga and big breakfast, I headed to the reception and met up with some of the other guests. Even though I’d only been there for less than 24 hours by this point, speaking seemed really weird, like I wasn’t sure it was ok!
We piled in this adorable little van (without seatbelts or a proper door!) and bumpily made our way up into the mountains.
It was so nice to get chatting to some of the other people on the retreat. They were from all over the world from all different backgrounds, and somehow we ended up in this van in the middle of Bali together!
Eventually, we reached the temple which, as amazing as Balinese temples are, it was the crowds of locals in their bright ceremonial dress that was amazing to see.
We had a fantastic tour around the grounds, learning the many traditions of Balinese culture and made it back to the retreat just in time for lunch!
A regular trip the retreat offers is to the hot springs 10 minutes down the road.
With Bali naturally being a sweaty sauna I wasn’t too sure if hot springs were a good idea. But I was so wrong, this was an incredible experience!
There’s a range of pools to relax in. You can even head into the river and climb up to mini waterfalls!
Would I Recommend Staying at a Silent Retreat?
Whether or not you’re new to yoga and meditation, BSR is such a welcoming space.
And while staying silent sounds a little scary, you’re in such a peaceful environment. Your mind starts to unravel and work through all of the noise built up in our crazy lives.
One thing I regret is only spending 2 nights at the retreat. Next time I think at least 4 days would be perfect!
Have you ever been to a retreat in Bali? I’d love to hear about it!
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