Whether you are a regular yoga practitioner or brand new to yoga, embarking on a Bali yoga retreat may still fill you with questions. Like any new situation in life, our brains love to create potential scenarios, and when details are unknown, we like to try and fill in the gaps. As many of us have learned throughout life, expectations do not always support us. Rather, expectations can lead to disappointment if they are not met, or perhaps even worse, creating expectations can sometimes prevent us from doing something in the first place due to the ideas we create in our mind!
We wanted to take a moment to dispel some of the thoughts you may have around what a yoga class is like on our Bali yoga retreat, and also help to answer some of the frequently asked questions that we get from guests when deciding whether or not a yoga retreat is for them. In this day and age, yoga has proliferated to such a huge degree that there can often be confusion around what yoga even is! A yoga class these days can run a very wide spectrum, from a traditional Hatha yoga class that involves meditation, chanting, pranayama (breathing exercises) and asana (yoga poses), to a class that involves hip hop music, goats or wine!
It’s not up to us to define what yoga has evolved to today; we believe that any style of yoga can have benefits and appeals to different types of people. On our Bali yoga retreat, classes are a little different each day and have different themes that are explored throughout the week. However they also have similar elements and are designed to suit all guests, no matter their experience.
Let’s dive into a few of the most commonly asked questions, to help you put your mind at ease when it comes to yoga on our Bali retreat!
Do I Need To Have Done Yoga Before?
No! We welcome many beginners to yoga on retreat. Classes are designed to suit all levels but also pay extra attention to making the practice accessible to everyone, especially those new to the mat. If at any time in the class you feel like you need to take a rest, you can! Child’s pose is a resting pose that is shown to students and can be taken at any stage to allow you a moment to reconnect to your breath and slow down. We also offer a ‘Yoga Lab’ which is a yoga workshop at the start of the retreat week, breaking down some of the common yoga poses in a workshop environment. Here you can ask any questions that you may have that can be hard to ask in a normal class setting.
What If I Am More Experienced – Are Classes Suited To Me Also?
Yes! Within each class, modifications will be given to students who are more experienced with yoga and looking to be challenged. Our teachers are highly experienced in teaching varying levels of students in a small class situation. Having said that, our classes are not geared to advanced practitioners. The good news is that if you are on the yoga package and are advanced, you also have a pass to our partner yoga studio in Canggu, which offers classes for beginners all the way through to advanced practitioners. We also offer private classes with our experienced teachers, which is an excellent opportunity for anyone wanting to deepen their practice in a one-on-one setting.
Do I Have To Be Flexible?
One of the benefits and aims of yoga is to help you to build and develop a greater range of mobility and flexibility. You do not need to already be flexible before coming to class. If you cannot reach your toes (this seems to be a common benchmark for people who think they can or cannot do yoga) that is 100 percent okay! You do not have to be able to touch your toes to do yoga. In fact, it has nothing at all to do with the practice. One of the great things about our small group sizes is that you have plenty of assistance and guidance from the teachers who can always help you to modify a pose if for any reason you experience discomfort. You may find that over the course of the week your flexibility does improve – this is one of the benefits of yoga that happens over time with a consistent practice. Keep in mind, too, that we all have unique body shapes and bone structure. Some poses are much easier for others simply because of the way their body naturally is and vice versa. Our yoga classes are a supportive space where you have the opportunity to focus on and enjoy your own practice and your own body.
Am I ‘Too Old’ For Yoga?
That’s a little like asking are you too old for breathing or for moving?! Because essentially, that’s what yoga is – breathing and moving. Yoga is beneficial for women (and men!) at every stage in the life span. In fact, yoga can become even more beneficial as we age to help us remain limber and mobile. We have had 18-year-olds in our Bali yoga retreats as well as women in their 80s! While much of the media-saturated world displays yoga primarily with images of young, flexible, athletic-looking women, this really isn’t the case when it comes to a regular yoga class, especially on retreat. No matter your age, you will not feel out of place and each class will cater to all ages and levels to ensure that everyone enjoys their own unique practice.
Will There Be Hands-On Adjustments?
In yoga classes, the teacher will often adjust students in a pose to help them find proper alignment or to help them deepen the pose. These adjustments are helpful and can often prevent injury or simply allow the pose to be more fully experienced and enjoyed. Not everyone likes hands-on adjustments, and some people love them! On our Bali yoga retreat, some adjustments may be given by our experienced teachers. If you would rather not be touched for any reason at all, you can simply let the teacher know before class. The adjustments, if given, are done in a gentle, mindful and respectful way to ensure your comfort and safety.
Are The Yoga Teachers Western or Indonesian?
We have a two full time western yoga teachers on our Bali yoga retreat. Our teachers have been with us for several years and are passionate highly experienced and trained, and love introducing women to the practice of yoga and/or helping to deepen an existing yoga practice. Having full time yoga teachers on retreat also means you share your retreat journey with them and they are close at hand if you have any questions or need any clarification around your yoga classes or practice.
I Have Injuries – Is It Safe For Me To Practice?
In many cases, yoga is a wonderful way to help your body recover and repair from injury. We do check any injuries with guests prior to arrival on retreat so that our yoga teachers can be fully briefed beforehand. If you are dealing with an injury, you also have the chance to talk in person to the teachers when you arrive on retreat so they can be fully aware of your needs and possible limitations. Our teachers are highly experienced and are trained to offer modifications when needed in regards to injury. We do also ask you to check in with your own self and body throughout the classes. If something doesn’t feel right or you experience any type of pain, please do come out of the pose. In yoga, you are the best person to assess how each pose feels for you. There is no pressure to ever push yourself or do any pose you do not wish to do. Props can also be helpful for anyone with an injury and these will be recommended by your teachers also.
Should I Prepare In Any Way Before Arriving On Retreat?
Nope, there is nothing you need to do prior to arrival on your Bali yoga retreat in order to prepare. If you feel more comfortable about trying a yoga class in a local studio before you arrive then of course you may, but if you arrive fresh to yoga for the first time, that is fine also. Come with an open mind and prepare to explore the experience, which is different everyday, no matter how experienced you are! While yoga is often represented in slightly intimidating ways through the media, chances are you will be refreshed when you arrive and realise that everyone is, in fact, capable of practicing yoga.
What Styles of Yoga Are Practiced?
On our Bali yoga retreat we love offering guests various ways to experience and explore yoga so we can experience a variety of styles throughout the week. Having said that, classes are generally based around a Hatha and Vinyasa style of practice. Hatha yoga is about creating balance in the body, and poses are held for around 3-5 breaths to help you really feel each pose and experience its benefits. Vinyasa yoga is about linking the breath with movements, so as you move between poses, they are often linked by a sun salutation (if you don’t know what this is, don’t worry, you will be shown!) and poses are often guided by the breath – for example, ‘lengthen on the inhale and fold on the exhale’. This is done to help you connect with your breath and disconnect from your wandering mind, and also to find a greater depth in the poses. Throughout the week you will also experience Yin Yoga, Yoga Nidra, and also Yoga Beats. We will dive into these in the next few points for you!
What is Yin Yoga?
Yin Yoga is a beautiful, slow-paced, therapeutic style of yoga. Yin postures are more passive postures, mainly done either seated on the floor or lying down. There are no dynamic movement and usually no standing poses at all. Yin Yoga is unique in that you are asked to relax into the posture, allowing the body to soften and release naturally without pushing or straining. It is not uncommon for postures to be held for three to five minutes, even 10 minutes at a time. Yin Yoga allows us to work on the deeper tissues of the body, such as connective tissue and fascia, and many of the postures focus on areas that encompass a joint such as the hips, sacrum or spine. Our Yin Yoga classes on our Bali retreat are held in the late afternoon or evenings and are a truly beautiful and nourishing way to unwind, reconnect, slow down and let go. Find out why we believe all women need to try Yin Yoga in another blog post here.
What is Yoga Nidra?
Yoga Nidra is often referred to as “yogic sleep,” and is a meditation and conscious relaxation practice that is intended to induce total physical, mental, and emotional relaxation. The practice invites you to rest in a state of being between sleep and consciousness, which is a space that’s conducive to deep emotional and physical healing, rewiring your brain, and self-exploration. Yoga Nidra is an effective way to access the parasympathetic nervous system, which in modern life, is essential to help us de-stress. Yoga Nidra doesn’t involve any yoga poses, you simply lay on your yoga mat and can use props such as pillows, bolsters or blankets to make sure you are comfortable. You will be guided by the teacher in the class as you relax to direct your attention to your body or breath, and help you to conjure up imagery that helps you more easily transition into a relaxed state that leaves you feeling thoroughly rested afterwards. These classes are given in the evenings to help you drift off to a peaceful slumber.
What is Yoga Beats?
Well, we want to keep this one a bit of a surprise! Yoga Beats is a fun class that is held on a Thursday afternoon, one of the final classes on retreat. It is often held outside (weather permitting) and is designed to help you open up and have some fun. Yoga can often be taken pretty seriously, and this class is about helping you reconnect to the child-like nature within you and move in a way that makes you feel free and uninhibited. You are in a safe space and will be guided by your instructor. This class is always a lot of fun and often a highlight for guests. It’s is a non-traditional class that you most likely won’t find in your local studio back home, so make the most of it!
What Other Classes Do I Have Access To?
If you are on the Refresh Yoga or Ayurveda retreat package, you also have access to our partner yoga studio in Canggu, which offers a great range of classes for you to experience. These classes are traditional in their approach to yoga and classes include meditation, pranayama and often some chanting, as well as yoga poses. It is a beautiful studio with very experienced Western teachers and our guests enjoy experiencing yoga in this inspiring setting. They offer classes to suit all levels. You also are welcome to enjoy a special aerial yoga class at another studio in Canggu on the Refresh Yoga and Ayurveda package. This class is great fun and perfect for all levels, especially beginners, seeing as it is uncommon for many people to have tried this style of yoga before! You are supported in a ‘yoga swing’ which offers a unique way to practice yoga poses and also inversion (upside down poses). We have had guests of all ages and experience levels attend the class and this is always a highlight of the week. The class is very safe and the teacher is highly experienced.
Do Classes Involve Meditation?
Yoga classes on our Bali retreat do involve short periods of meditation. These are often guided meditations and may include inspiring visualisation techniques or simple cues to focus on the breath or areas of the body. If you have never meditated before, do not be concerned! We encourage you to be comfortable, and if you find focusing during meditation challenging, you are not alone! Meditation is a practice. There is no end goal. Our minds are designed to think and wander, the practice of meditation helps you to become less attached to the thoughts and find a place of greater stillness. We also offer a meditation class on one evening of retreat that is optional for guests if they wish to dive deeper into meditation without the yoga.
Do Classes Involve Chanting?
For those new to yoga or spirituality, the idea of having to chant in Sanskrit or sing Oms can be intimidating or unnerving. These aspects are a beautiful element of the yoga tradition. The sound Om is said to be the vibration from which the entire world was created. It is the mantra of our highest self or highest potential. It attunes us with our own true nature, and connects us to the greater world of which we are intrinsically a part. The chanting of certain Indian deities is also a common element in yoga history and lineage and is also done to call upon the unique strengths of these deities so we too can embody their wisdom. Having said all that, classes on our Bali yoga retreat rarely involve chanting, although you may get to experience the chanting of Om at the start or end of class. Of course, you can simply listen if you would rather not chant, yet it is a special experience if you wish to give it a try!
Are Classes Taught in Sanskrit?
Our guests on our Bali yoga retreat come from all over the world and speak many different languages, yet we do not assume that you will be well versed in Sanskrit, which is the ancient yoga language! Teachers may tell you the names of the poses in their Sanskrit words, however they will be taught in English. Sanskrit is a language of vibration, and it is said that the names of the poses in Sanskrit actually speak to different energetic places in your body to assist your body to access that pose on a deeper level – pretty amazing right?!
Are Classes Outside?
We are so blessed at Escape Haven in Bali to have a beautiful open-air yoga shala that is situated amidst lush nature and beside a flowing river. We do offer mosquito repellent and there are fans which help keep the shala cool and the air flowing. There is nothing quite like experiencing yoga in Bali with the sounds of nature around you. It can often be hard to go back to a studio setting once you experience this beautiful space!
What Should I Wear?
Something comfortable. You do not need to wear the latest and greatest yoga fashion clothes! Wear something that you can move in and ideally something that is breathable, seeing as Bali is a warm tropical climate all year round. Leggings, a singlet and a sports bra that is comfortable and supportive for you are ideal. There is no laundry onsite (we do offer a laundry service offsite), so you may wish to bring a few changes to last you through the week.
Do You Have Props? Do I Need To Bring Anything?
We have a fully-equipped yoga shala with high-quality mats and props, including blocks, bolsters and straps. If you have never done yoga before, these props can be helpful to allow you to access some of the yoga poses a little easier. Your teacher will assist you and suggest or recommend props that you can use if and when needed throughout the class. The aim of the props is to help you feel more comfortable. They are not just for beginners – we ALL have unique bodies with different ranges of motion and the props help us to find the pose that works best for us
Do I Have To Attend Every Class?
On your Bali yoga retreat everything on the schedule is optional and it is up to you to decide what you wish to do from day to day. If you feel that one morning you really need the extra sleep in, or one afternoon you decide you would love to witness the sunset at the beach, by all means, you are welcome to do so and skip a class! We do find that most guests do attend the majority of classes. Each class is unique and, in a retreat environment, being able to attend yoga each day, even twice each day, really does create a special journey that cannot be replicated by studio classes back home! We encourage you to check in with yourself and follow what feels right for you. If there is any concern you have that is holding you back from a class though, you can always raise this with your retreat leader or yoga teacher to help you find an answer or solution.
What If I Really Don’t Like It?!
We are all different, and what appeals to one person may not appeal to the next in the same way. If you come to yoga with an open mind and give it a try and really find that you don’t enjoy it at all, then of course, you do not have to attend. The yoga teachers are with you throughout the week and are there to help you connect to yoga and enjoy the practice. You can chat to them at any stage about your needs and feelings. Perhaps you are disliking the classes for a reason that can easily be managed and resolved. However, it is entirely up to you. If yoga isn’t your jam, spend the time doing something else that you enjoy. After all, this is your retreat week.
Well, we hope this article has put your mind at ease and you feel a little more at peace about yoga classes on retreat. If you do have any more questions that haven’t been covered, feel free to contact us anytime. We look forward to helping you connect with and deepen your yoga practice in beautiful Bali.
Your Escape Haven Bali Retreat offers a luxury wellness experience for body, mind and soul
We invite you to experience our award-winning Bali retreat. If it’s time to fill up your cup and reconnect with yourself on a deeper level, we’d love to help you rejuvenate, unwind, reawaken and experience the very best of Bali. Dive into transformational yoga and meditation classes, exhilarating surf lessons in the warm waters of Bali, fun fitness classes and restorative healing sessions. How much or little you do is all up to you.