Changing lives and perceptions in Ubud
If you want to rid your body of toxins, break down emotional barriers, heal the wounds of love… or anything else really, Ubud might just be the world capital for spiritual retreats, some of which include Balinese rituals and spirituality into the curriculum.
Bali Soul Adventures, for example, was founded in part by Kok Ratih, one of Ubud’s remaining royal princesses. With her as a guide, programs include access to sacred temples, spiritual sites and ceremonies that are not normally open to foreigners.
Jeremiah Abrams runs retreats focusing on love and writing, which incorporate sessions with Balinese healers, treks to the ancient stone temple carvings at Gunung Kawi, full moon purification ceremonies at Tirtha Empul, as well as performances by gamelan orchestras and the beautifully costumed Barong dancers, who act out stories from the Ramayana through traditional dance.
The Gaia Retreat Center in Tegallantang village, about 1.5km south of central Ubud, feels like a futuristic utopia for the holistic living set. The centre has a yoga space, seven stylish hotel rooms, a crystalline swimming pool and unobstructed views of bright, terraced rice paddies. Guests can relax in the infrared sauna – which uses radiant heat, thought to be effective at purging toxins – and the Oxy-bounce stations – a system where you jump on a mini trampoline while breathing pure oxygen, which some say helps put oxygen back in the cells. There are also martial arts instructors, masseuses and raw food chefs on hand.
Raw food, juice cleansing and detox retreats are on the rise in Ubud, with raw food preparation seminars and certification programs on offer as well. Kate Reardon, a naturopath and nutritionist who runs detox retreats at Ubud’s Natural Instinct Healing said cutting out solid foods from time to time is essential for good health.
“When not digesting properly, disease and malfunctions can happen,” she said. “A liquid diet for a little while can create excess energy for your body to heal itself.”
Ubud is also home to a local hero of sorts, known as the Colon Whisperer. Suki Zoe has been practicing her craft for more than 15 years, and said that a clean colon can help with everything from serious digestion problems to better sleep habits and clearer skin. “You change your oil and clean your teeth, why not clean your colon?” Zoe asked. Her services are in hot demand and can have a waiting list of up to three months, so book early if you want an appointment.
In the past few years, Ubud has become something of a raw food capital, with more vegetarian, vegan and raw food restaurants per square kilometre than New York or Los Angeles. Local favourite Clear Café on Ubud’s main drag, Jalan Hanoman, attracts travellers and expats with their extensive menu of fresh juices and healthy dishes ranging from curries and fish, to raw tacos and salads. They also have fantastic raw chocolates.
For a tasty meal in a sublime setting, try Sari Organik, set in the middle of a rice paddy behind Ubud’s main road. The family-run, open-walled restaurant has spectacular panoramic views of the terraced rice fields and serves healthy versions of traditional Balinese food, such as gado-gado, a cold vegetable dish with peanut sauce and nasi campur, a common Balinese dish with rice, vegetables, eggs and peanuts. They also have an organic farm next door.
If staying in and drinking coconut water is on your personal path to enlightenment, a savvy local businesswoman known as Wayan Coconut has a coconut delivery business. Give her a call (87-861-135-698) and she will zip over on her scooter with fresh coconuts (and straws for sipping) in tow.
Relatively new on the scene, Alchemy in Penastanan village, about 2km south of central Ubud, is a raw salad bar and community meeting point that specialises in mouth-watering vegan and raw desserts. Their raw chocolates, pies and cakes are so rich and smooth, it is hard to believe they are made without refined sugar, dairy or gluten.