I’ve been practicing yoga since I moved to San Diego in 2012 and Bali is a yogi mecca! I really wanted to go on a Balinese yoga retreat, but I also didn’t want the yoga retreat price tag. Retreats at places like The Yoga Barn looked amazing but were out of the backpacker budget for us.
I ended up finding Shanti Toya Ashram on bookretreats.com and it was perfect!! It was under $600 for both of us for 6 nights and included twice a day yoga classes, workshops, a cultural tour, 3 vegan meals a day, and a massage! Plus with “ashram” in the name I knew it was a must-do. (I had recently read Eat, Pray, Love!)
The whole thing was a bit out of my comfort zone, the rooms were very basic and quite the downgrade from our Ubud hotel, but that’s part of the experience, less focus on material things and more creating more space for introspection. No meat, no alcohol, and no phones for a week! It was just the cleanse we needed.
Yoga at Shanti Toya Ashram
The yoga was incredible and I really improved my practice. There was also daily meditation and workshops like chanting (there was even one on group laughing which was awkward and humbling!) And no technology meant plenty of time to read and journal by the pool.
Cultural Activity at Shanti Toya Ashram
I thought the included cultural activity would be cheesy, but it was really cool. We visited a temple, had local cuisine, and watched an ox plow through rice paddies (We could have participated but we skipped to avoid leeches!)
Don’t be that girl…
There was another yoga retreat group who was doing the same cultural tour, and one of the girls was an influencer who was solely doing it for the ‘gram. I mean we all want those awesome photos, but I have never seen someone so preoccupied with the perception of what she was doing vs actually experiencing it. It was sad and annoying to be around to be honest.
The best part about Shanti Toya? The people! Not only were the fellow retreat members really cool to connect with (there were people from all different walks of life all over the world yet we still shared common goals), but the staff was incredible.
Funny story: We had a massage/healing session from a “shaman” who was a little more chainsmoker and a little less enlightened than one would hope, but the ritual was still pretty cool. It’s one of those things if you take it seriously you’ll benefit from it. Part of the massage was a negative thoughts release and we got to act like we were throwing up this egg from our body and then throw it in the woods. Weird, but hey we felt better afterwards.
We had a fantastic experience at Shanti Toya. If you get the chance, definitely do a yoga retreat in Bali!
Note: We visited Bali in April 2019.