BALI BLISS RE­TREATS

Gemma Suther­land finds an oa­sis of calm at a cliff-top sanc­tu­ary where nat­u­ral food, open-air yoga and ocean views work their magic

Sunday Mail - Body and Soul - - TRAVEL -

I’m sit­ting in lo­tus pose in an open pavil­ion on a cliff top in Bali when it hits me. A warm breeze is wash­ing over my face, the sun is slowly sink­ing and my usu­ally yoga-shy part­ner is next to me, eyes closed with a small smile on his face. We’re con­tent, peace­ful and re­laxed. It’s not of­ten that we recog­nise and revel in mo­ments of joy, but this is def­i­nitely one.

We’re at the Se­mara re­sort in Uluwatu for the fourth Bali Bliss Re­treat, which has re­cently been re­branded from its orig­i­nal name of Lux­ury Re­treats Bali. It’s the venue where Jen­nifer Hawkins got mar­ried and the view is breathtaking. Man­i­cured gar­dens run down to a cliff that drops steeply to the ocean, so there’s the con­stant sound­track of gen­tly lap­ping waves to what­ever we do. The re­treat lo­ca­tion has since moved down the road to Uluwatu Surf Vil­las (pic­tured), which we’re as­sured is just as lovely.

The five-day yoga and detox pro­gram delves into Ayurvedic prin­ci­ples and the days start with a se­ries of cleans­ing rit­u­als: tongue scrap­ing, le­mon with wa­ter and neti pot­ting. Our lovely re­treat fa­cil­i­ta­tor Mor­gan demon­strates this tech­nique, which in­volves putting warm wa­ter into one nos­tril to let it run out the other and cleanse the si­nuses. After much laugh­ter we master it, and come to ap­pre­ci­ate the clear feel­ing.

This is fol­lowed by an hourand-a-half of yoga and med­i­ta­tion, then break­fast. The detox meals of mostly raw food are on the small side, but we ad­just. “Raw food” isn’t any­thing to be frightened of, and the ve­gan and veg­e­tar­ian dishes are tasty and imag­i­na­tive, with break­fast in­clud­ing chia por­ridge and ba­nana pan­cakes, lunch fea­tur­ing salad and veg (which, ac­cord­ing to Ayurvedic prin­ci­ples, you can eat as much of as you like so we fill up), and din­ner in­clud­ing dishes such as a warm vegtable stack.

The rest of the day rolls on peace­fully. We have three highly ben­e­fi­cial mas­sages dur­ing our stay, and the reg­u­lar health dis­cus­sions are held after a 2pm med­i­ta­tion, which is a bliss­ful ses­sion that makes me re­alise how much joy I get from al­low­ing my­self the time to do it.

At 6pm there’s a yin (restora­tive) yoga prac­tice (all yoga is clev­erly catered to all lev­els), and a divine post-ses­sion calm lasts through din­ner and on to an early night.

It’s just the right mix of re­lax­ation, pam­per­ing and ac­tiv­ity. I learn a lot and chill out a lot in our five days, and that’s pretty much per­fect in a health re­treat. This is still a new business, and there were a few mi­nor teething prob­lems, but it’s im­pos­si­ble not to feel re­laxed and lighter after this ex­pe­ri­ence.

At the clos­ing cer­e­mony, we share what we’ve got from the re­treat and there are a few tears. Peo­ple have been quite touched by the last few days. I also feel sad to leave and, sur­pris­ingly, so does my part­ner. “But I’m re­ally glad there’s no more yoga,” he says.

The detox and yoga re­treats are run six times a year at the Uluwatu Surf Vil­las

Yoga is held in an open-air pavil­ion, which over­looks the In­dian Ocean

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