Also known as “Island of the Gods”, Bali’s unique culture and traditions provide the perfect base for the island’s blossoming spa and wellness sector. The island has long been famous for its wealth of luxurious spas and retreats, particularly since the success of the 2010 movie “Eat, Pray, Love” starring Julia Roberts. Bali’s holistic Tri Hita Karana (Three Sources of Prosperity) Hindu philosophy provides a guiding light in the daily lives of Bali’s local community, who seek psychological and spiritual wellness through its practice. Many of the hundreds of spas and wellness retreats spread across the island now also focus on the holistic health of guests, and combine yoga, meditation, detox and spa treatments to relieve symptoms of stress and tension. Indeed, in recent years the island has seen a surge of visitors who make their way to Bali specifically to experience its wellness culture.
Lombok is one of the Asia-Pacific’s hotspots for tourists that enjoy taking the plunge with a spot of scuba diving whilst they are on vacation. A lot of the best dive trips in the region are to the Gili Islands to the northwest of Lombok, however, a number of attractive dive sites are also scattered nearer to the island. Strong currents from the Indonesian throughflow bring a wide selection of exciting marine life to the location, including sharks, eagle rays, turtles and manta rays.
Located in Jimbaran Bay, the Ayana Resort and Spa is perhaps one of the best places for visitors seeking to luxuriate to the max. The spa offers a range of unusual treatments, including the Amazing Jade package, which begins with a Jade Stone foot bath before a twenty four point foot reflexology and Jade Stone Facial. Inspired by Swedish techniques, the deep tissue techniques of the treatment use warm and cool Jade stones to balance out the yin and yang of the body. Couples in the mood for a romantic treatment may opt for the Diamond Miracle, which begins with a therapeutic foot soak before moving onto an ocean splash rose bath, which uses petals from 500 red roses. This is followed up by a traditional Balinese massage using oils bound with silk and pearl, and a facial that uses a combination formula of sea quartz and diamond dust. Strawberries and champagne are the cherry on the cake of this opulent experience.
Say Yes to yoga
The rich combination of Bali’s natural beauty, religious tradition and ancient culture have helped earn the island a reputation as perhaps the yoga capital of the world. Visitors that want to embrace their inner yogis are spoilt for choice in terms of the wide range of classes and retreats around the island. The Yoga Barn, situated near Ubud, provides an inspiring, tropical environment for guests who want to nourish their bodies and minds. The centre offers a range of classes and workshops which cover many traditional yoga styles, including Classical Hatha, Vinyaya Flow, Power, Pranayama, Restorative, Yin and Anusara. Visitors can drop in to take part in one of the daily classes if they don’t want to commit to a full yoga retreat. The centre also offers training for yoga teachers.
Another of Bali’s yoga hotspots can be found in Pantai Berawa at the Desa Senai centre. Like the Yoga Barn, a number of yoga disciplines are taught at Desa Seni’s daily classes, including Anusara and Kundalini yoga. Anusara teachers look for the good within themselves and their students, and hence do not try to fix or correct students’ alignment in poses. Instead, it is the job of the Anusara teacher to cultivate the student’s existing goodness, and facilitate a bit of lighthearted fun.
Alternatively, Kundalini yoga combines a mixture of dynamic postures, exercises, breath, mantras and meditation to stimulate the body’s muscular, glandular, digestive and circulatory systems. Students tap into the Kundalini energy at the base of the spine to open up the body and cleanse the mind. Desa Seni’s yoga programmes are accessible to all levels.
Delve into a detox
Holidaymakers who have over indulged in sweet Balinese treats and creamy coconut milk curries may feel the benefits of a detox programme. Many retreats and spas across Bali offer specialist detox programmes, many of which include healthy food, yoga and other cleansing procedures.
Tucked away on the northeast tip of the island is the Golden Rock Retreat, which offers four, seven and ten-day detox programmes designed to help guests relax and unwind as they cleanse and re-energise. While some of the therapies featured in the programmes are physically driven, many also work on a spiritual level. Treatments at the Golden Rock include Bio Magnetic Resonance, enemas, FAR infra-red sauna, herbal steam sauna, massage, nutrition, ozone therapy and oxygen therapy. The four-day cleanse package includes three massages, one reflexology session, trampoline and zen chi machine sessions, as well as meditation, yoga and chi gung. Nutritional elements of the programme encompass bowel and liver cleansing shakes.
Bagus Jati is another of Bali’s premier detox destinations, and set in the idyllic tropical forests in the hills above Ubud. All of Bagus Jeti’s programmes are designed to eliminate harmful toxins from the system and to clear the build up of everyday stress. Like the golden Rock Retreat, detox programmes at Bagus Jati feature nutrition, detox, yoga, meditation, stress-relief and anti-aging treatments. Typical meals include fresh fruits and vegetables supplemented by mineral water. Guests also have free use of the health and wellbeing amenities at the centre, which include a pool, gym, Jacuzzi and herbal steam sauna.
For many travellers, wellness treatments like yoga and detox would not be complete without meditation. The Prana Veda Sanctuary is located on the northern shores of the island with stunning views of the Indian Ocean. Set in a tranquil, tropical garden oasis, the sanctuary is perfect for visitors in search of a little stillness away from the crowds on the busy beaches. In English, the Sanskrit “Prana Veda” translates to “wisdom of life energies and the centre offers meditation, yoga and aqua healing to accompany each guests’ holistic wellbeing. Meditation classes can be taken privately or in groups. However, aqua healing is perhaps one of the Sanctuary’s more unique features. The guest steps into the Sanctuary’s heated pool and relaxes in a state of free floating whilst being held and stretched by a therapist. The movements and stretches induce a feeling of weightlessness that allow the guest to be transported to a place of complete stillness. Aqua healing takes inspiration from watsu, water dance, shiatsu, osteopathy and physiotherapy.
Balinese Healers, located in Denpasar, is another choice for travellers who want to learn the art of meditation from local people who are passionate about sharing their knowledge and skills. The centre offers classes with several different types of mediation, including Pranayama, Mantra, Mudra and Chakra.
Posted by Wayne Hue