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Bali, Health & Wellbeing, Travel Tips

Five reasons to go on retreat in Bali

September 22, 2015

I have just returned from five glorious days at Bali Bliss Retreats. A retreat in Bali (or anywhere for that matter) should go on everyone’s bucket list. (Even better, every year if you can make it happen!) Whether you’re travelling on your own or going with a friend here are five reasons you should go on retreat:

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1. You will really (really) relax

How many holidays do you spend racing around? Do you come back feeling more exhausted?

The notion of a holiday used to be to ‘retreat’. Now we make our holidays busier than our lives.

Taking five days out on retreat, away from your phone, booze and itineraries, will make you truly, truly relax.

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2. You will reap the benefits of yoga

Yoga is for everyone. I repeat. Yoga is for everyone. You don’t have to be a yogi a hard-core devotee to benefit from a retreat.

Yoga increases flexibility, muscle strength, mindfulness and concentration, bone health and much more.

More importantly, every sequence has options, so you can take it easy, or as hard as you like.

A good teacher will guide what is best for you.

1509-Bali_Bliss-9485 3. You will make new friends

Look at this bunch. Mothers, daughters and solo travellers from Canada, Australia and Sweden.

If you’re anxious about travelling alone or don’t have someone to go on a retreat with, my advice would be to just do it!

(You won’t be alone for long!)

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4. You will eat great (healthy) food 

The best part of a retreat? You don’t have to think about anything, including the food.

Check out the array of beautiful Balinese fruit, juices and muesli on the table.

A retreat will take you back to basics (good clean food) and remind you that this type of eating isn’t boring at all.

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5. You will get outside your comfort zone 

Who would have thought I could fly?

By following a program of clean eating, activity (the fun kind), and trying new things you will get outside your comfort zone.

(Which is where all the fun happens.)

So what are you waiting for?

The fine print

Bali Bliss Retreats run on the below dates:

3-7 October 2015
7-11 November 2015
16-10 April 2016
21-25 May 2016
18-22 June 2016
3-7 September 2016
1-5 October 2016
5-9 November 2016

Packages and pricing can be found out here.

Or email info@baliblissretreats.com

Namaste

 Ashleigh XXX

Image Credit: James Mills Photography 
Bali, Musings of sorts, Travel & Wanderlust

The Bali Files: Freediving in Amed (and why I love it)

September 15, 2015

Of all the sports that I thought I would be hooked on freediving is the last thing that springs to mind. The thought of going under water without breath, riddled me with anxiety and worry. I never really enjoyed scuba. But once I tried it I was hooked.

My unplanned foray into freediving happened in May, when I went to El Nido in the Phillipines. You can read about it here.

We had the opportunity to go freediving again in Bali this month with Fusion Freedive & Yoga. I excitedly booked into two days training in Amed. Amed is a black sand bay where the depth goes to around 30 meters about ten metres out. What a great way to train. No boats required. No bogans in sight as this is mostly a dive destination with people doing their courses and yoga during the day. (We stayed at Bubu Racok homestay which I highly rate.)

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On arrival at Fusion, we meet Hanna our guide and get geared up. After biking to the end of the bay we hit the water and warm up, by doing some drills going down to five then ten metres.

So many people ask me how many minutes I can hold my breath for? The diving we do is not for time, but rather for depth. Descending down the rope to even ten metres adds a whole different ball game to holding your breath on the surface. Your lungs compress. Your ears hurt. You need to equalise (as you would with scuba). You need to keep your head straight (looking at the rope) to relax your muscles. All this time, your instinct is telling you “get some air.”

You have to tell your mind to be quiet and learn to relax. As Hanna puts it, “scuba is nice to look at fish, freediving is a sport.”

We warm up to prepare for our deeper dives by doing a couple of exercises such as going to ten meters, hanging out there once you feel the ‘urge’ to breathe then coming up slowly. This builds confidence in being under the water and learning to trust your ability and oxygen. The Ginger Hunk is more advanced than me so while on day one I am trying to get to 15 meters, he is doing drills like going down then up, then going after a short break. Hanna reads both our levels on each dives and gives us tips on how to improve. This is another reason I love freediving. We can both challenge ourselves and train together. We finish day one after I eventually throw up my breakfast, after bobbing around in the water for too long.

Day two begins and we start much the same, but Hanna adds more training into the mix. We learn to rescue each other from ten meters below, practising pulling each other up from that and encouraging the other person to breathe. (Most black outs happen within five meters of the surface, not down below as you may think.) While doing this exercise I realise I love the feeling of kicking down rather than pulling on the rope (free immersion.)

This is how I get to my PB of twenty metres… sometimes it all just feels right.

(Like having a good run, or a shit run, sometimes 10km is easy, sometimes your knee hurts and five is a struggle.)

I am finning down and my ears feel good, and I just keep on going and try not think too much and FUCK, I can’t see anyone at the top anymore and I just keep going down. Ohhh a stinger thing. Wonder what that is? There is the FUCKING end of the rope!! FUCK!  I am down here already! Try not to freak out Ash.Turn around. Grab the rope. Stay calm. Head towards the light. Keep looking ahead. There is Hanna. Give her a wave. Keep kicking. Up up up. Safety. Check. Smile. 

High fives all around. 

*Goes and googles flights back to Bali for more Fusion Freediving to do my level two training. Next stop, 25 meters.

*If you are thinking of giving it a go, then do! It does wonders for your water confidence. Most people can get to 20 after a few days training, then 30 is the next step. After that every meter counts.

Ashleigh XXX

 

Bali, Travel & Wanderlust

The Bali Files: Three days in Ubud

September 7, 2015

What a superb little place this is. It was much more beautiful in person than I thought in the photos. Here is my go to guide for three days in Ubud.

Stay

There is every type of accommodation that you could hope for in Ubud. I had no idea where things were, but soon found that everything in Ubud is very close and easily accessible by taxi or scooter around a 15 minute perimeter. You can find a hostel, or a five-star resort. We booked a room in a villa on Airbandb called Sarin Ubud Villa. The room we had was large, open, high ceilings, glorious bed, and a stunning view of the rice fields. I would like to write a book here one day! The only downside was the open air bathroom. Slightly too open for my liking. But I embraced my nakedness and just got on with it. Super cute pool and bar as well. Close to the Monkey Forest.

Sarin Ubud Villa

Sarin Ubud Villa

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Garden at Sarin Ubud Villa

Eat

What I would do if I had another week here would be to eat everything in the land. So much choice. So much food. Healthy too (for the most part.) For a special dinner, we headed to Three Monkeys, where you can sit among the rice fields. Just up the road is Art Bar, which serves the best Strawberry Mojito I have had. For coffee, eggs or a refreshing green smoothie, Grandpa’s on the main road is a chilled out cafe with free wifi. For the best burger of your life head to Element Cafe. (Yes I am talking about this in the picture below.) Still dreaming about it actually…. you could actually spend two weeks in Ubud and not make it to even half of the places to eat. So many cute juice bars and coffee shops too.

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Element Burger

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Grandpa’s shake

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Three Monkeys

Play 

Cooking courses, hikes, yoga, mountain biking, retreats.  If you can dream it up then it is on offer in Ubud. I took sunrise hike up Mt Batur Volcano. The bus picked us up at 2am (which was a bit nasty), then we started our hike in the dark up the mountain. It was HARD. (Keep in mind that I am at the end of a half marathon program and was feeling kind of fit.) I was sweaty and horrible when I got to the summit which was a 700m climb but it was well worth the journey. On return we hiked around the whole crater edge, which was still steaming in parts, and said hello to some monkeys before the descent. BRING FOOD because they forgot mine! I felt very skinny by the time I reached the bottom. (I am not sure what my money actually paid for, but it was well worth it to see that sunrise.)

Happy to reach the summit

Happy to reach the summit

Any trip to Ubud is not complete without a morning at the Monkey Forest. These babies were so cute, and a little bit naughty. I was originally a bit skeptical of the whole thing, but it was a very beautiful little forest with lots of ravines, trees and greenery. A good place for monkeys to live (in my humble opinion.) The Ginger Hunk seemed to have a way with the monkeys, or he made a good ledge.

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Mumma monkey keeping an eye out

Relax 

So much yoga. So little time. I took a wonderful afternoon class at Radiantly Alive Yoga. It was restorative yoga, where we held a pose for 7 minutes each, with the idea that you flop (not to stretch like yin.) Despite the fact that the class was a little on the crowded side, (and the sound vinyasa was thumping around on the floorboards above), it was the perfect way to get rid of my jetlag. Finish your Ubud time with a wonderful massage at Tamarind Spa, which is set in a beautiful ancient garden. They wash your feet and give you a ginger tea before setting you on your way.

Tamarind pre massage

Tamarind pre massage

There is also a plethora of shops to meander your days away at – but I found this all a little overwhelming!

Perhaps four days next time, to fit in the bike ride and a spot of shopping…

Happy Ubuding!

Ashleigh XXX