Away from the tourist crowds and hidden in the hills of North Bali, this retreat centre lets you switch off, stretch it out and get cultured.
Words by Sophie Longley
When most people think of booking a yoga retreat in Bali, Ubud and Canggu are often the go-to destinations. But while Bali’s wellness scene is dominated by the bustling south, there’s a hidden gem located in the North of Bali that offers an alternative experience away from the tourist crowds.
Sitting in a remote part of Lovina overlooking rice paddies and farms, Santhika Retreat Centre is a treetop wellness destination with a difference. With close to a hundred steps to climb before you even enter its doors, it’s a far cry from most of Bali’s luxurious poolside havens. But if you’re looking for a yoga retreat that immerses you in traditional Balinese culture (with enough time to spare to indulge in spa treatments and cooking classes) then Santhika is certainly worth the climb!
Santhika’s rural feel and early morning wake up calls, courtesy of the local wildlife, makes it the perfect setting for the retreat’s daily yoga classes. Offering a nice mix of Vinyasa, Yin or Kundalini yoga twice a day, it’s ideal for those who want to experiment with different yoga styles, while being surrounded by an idyllic Balinese backdrop.
If that isn’t enough to excite your chakras, there’s even the chance to experience gong meditation – by far the most challenging and therapeutic activity on offer. Ever wondered what it feels like to drift off into a semi-conscious sleep to the sounds of someone banging on a gong? It’s not as traumatic as it sounds. The gong meditation is a chance to practice ancient Balinese sound therapy which is said to clear any unwanted energy – perfect for those who want to kickstart a new lifestyle or melt away any of life’s stresses.
Even for devoted yogis, spending two hours each day perfecting a flawless tree or lotus pose can feel intense, which is why Santhika offers trips to some of Bali’s off-the-beaten-track landmarks – just in case you fancy a break from all that stretching. You’ll be whisked off by a local tour guide to bathe in the holy spring water of Pura Tirta Empul, before sipping freshly brewed coffee with locals at a nearby bean farm.
For breakfast, lunch and dinner, your body is nourished by an array of organic Indonesian dishes, including ‘Balado Terong’ (grilled eggplant topped with chili and dried shrimp paste) and the nation’s classic ‘Gado-Gado’. If tucking into delightful traditional dishes isn’t enough to absorb the full Balinese experience, the Santhika Retreat Centre staff offer cooking classes too, so you can whip up these treats when you return home.
To burn off all that food, the staff at Santhika Retreat Centre also hold Balinese dance classes in the evening. You’ll learn the traditional ‘Legong’ style, exclusively performed by women. It involves dressing up in lavish costumes and mastering intricate and powerful moves that’ll surely impress your friends.
After spending seven days here, you’ll soon realise that Santhika Retreat Centre is not your typical cookie-cutter retreat. From the staff who turn into friends, to the deliciously authentic home-cooked food and local experience, this retreat feels like a home away from home…
Santhika Retreat Centre is an affordable retreat in North Bali that offers 3, 5 and 7-day programs for both beginners and advanced yogis and wellness enthusiasts. Visit the Santhika Retreat Centre website for more details!
Words by Sophie Longley
After spending a few years teaching and eating all the Kimchi in South Korea, Sophie couldn’t get enough of Asia and recently moved to Singapore. She’s a keen foodie and when she’s not eating, she practices Muay Thai and café-hops with a good book. Follow her travels on her Instagram page.