SO MANY PEOPLE DREAMT ABOUT PARIS GROWING UP. I dreamt about Bali. While my friends raved about Paris, I imagined breathtaking beaches. I longed to witness the vibrant Balinese culture. Most of all, I wanted to feel the serenity of a yoga experience in Bali. Joining a yoga retreat was at the top of my Bali travel wish list.
Then…I saw the prices. The cost of Balinese yoga retreats ranged from $750 USD- $1700 USD. Needless to say, that was beyond my budget so I quickly closed the chapter on that dream. It wasn’t until a conversation with a friend changed my mind. My friend shared that after student loan payments, she couldn’t afford to even travel outside of her driveway. I heard myself tell her that if she could make a goal, adjust her expectations, and set a budget—she could travel anywhere. Thankfully, I decided to take my own advice.
MAKE A GOAL: IDENTIFY PRIORITIES FOR YOUR EXPERIENCE
I took a closer look at what the retreats included, and found many services that I simply didn’t need. For example, the retreats included mantra chanting and ayurvedic treatments. What I truly wanted were yoga classes. Rather than pay for an entire retreat, I took classes at various centers.
The best part about opting to create your own budget Bali retreat is that you aren’t limited to one yoga center or location in Bali. I had the fortune of taking classes at four different centers.
The Yoga Barn
My favorite center in Ubud was the Yoga Barn. The atmosphere is just unmatched. Once I stepped foot in the Yoga Barn, I felt at peace.
The Yoga Barn offers a diverse mix of classes that are suitable for all yoga levels. Beginner Yogis, like myself, can learn the basics in level 1 classes. There were also meditations, pilates, and dance classes to choose from. Best of all, there are drop-in classes available throughout the day.
I had the opportunity to drop in on a class led by Les Leventhal. The studio was packed by yoga enthusiasts who were especially excited to learn from this famous teacher. Like a true novice, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Les made an impression on me like no other yoga instructor. First of all, I was shocked to find I was drenched in sweat during a yoga practice. Moreover, he filled students with inspiration. He urged us to avoid rushing to find the answers, and instead be patient with our practice and ourselves. After that session, I completely realized I needed a whole lot more practice and patience.
Class Prices: 120,000 Rupiah per class (approx $9 USD)
I also throughly enjoyed the Radiantly Alive yoga center. This center, also located in Ubud, offers a worthwhile experience.
I dropped in on a roll and release class. Of course, I had no idea what that involved. Essentially, you roll your entire body on a tennis ball. At some points, it was extremely relaxing. At other times, it was outright painful. The goal of the exercise was to press into different areas of your body to highlight and relieve pain. As a runner, it was particularly painful in my calf and shin area. My shouts of agony throughout the session were worth the relief I felt the next day!
Class Prices: 140,000 Rupiah per class (approx $11 USD) 170,000 for an all-day unlimited pass (approx $13 USD)
I also took the trip over to the neighboring Gili Islands and took classes on Gili Trawangan.
The Yoga Place
This center is located on the hillside and offers yoga on the beach and hilltop meditation. Alll yoga classes are suitable for beginners! The center is cozy and peaceful. I didn’t get the chance to try yoga on the beach, but I absolutely loved the hilltop meditation experience. (Don’t forget to pack bug spray!)
Class Prices: 80,000 Rupiah per class (approx $6 USD)
The center is conveniently located on the main road near the jetty. The open air yoga studio is a good break from the hustle and bustle of Gili Trawangan.
Class Prices: 100,000 Rupiah (approx $8 USD)
ADJUST YOUR EXPECTATIONS: ECONOMIZE FOOD AND LODGING
Another thing I found when I looked carefully at the retreat packages was that food and lodging were the most expensive components of the package. Although staying on the studio premises is more convenient, staying close-by at local guesthouse is more realistic for the budget traveler.
Guesthouses are the best way to travel in Bali. You have the opportunity to learn about the culture by staying in private rooms hosted by a local family, and you can save a fortune.
There are wonderful guesthouses starting at $150,000 Rupiah a night (approx $11 USD). It can be difficult to find the best prices online. One option is to book a night or two at a local guesthouse online. Once you arrive, you can scan the area and negotiate for better prices elsewhere.
I can’t forget—breakfast is the best part of a staying at a guesthouse!
Food is another opportunity to save big. Food is very inexpensive in Bali. You can save even more by skipping the expensive options in the yoga centers and eating at local restaurants for $30,000-$50,000 Rupiah (approx $2-$4 USD).
SET A BUDGET AND STICK TO IT
Once you have estimated yoga classes, lodging, flight, and food costs—set a budget! It’s easy to overspend on vacation. So give your budget wiggle room for shopping or whatever else your heart desires. Stick to it! Although your vacation is a dream, it isn’t your only dream. Stick to your budget so that you don’t rob your savings accounts and your ability to keep traveling.