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
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