Today I checked into Yuliati House, another transformed family compound, although this one seemed a bit more traditional and genuine compared to In Da Lodge. It was nestled on a quiet, little street just outside of the town center and I was relieved to find people going about their daily routines rather then haggling every white face they saw. My room was on the top floor of one of the two floor homes within the compound. The room was tidy and comfortable, with and ensuite bathroom which included a bath tub (not at all the norm). It also had a balcony which overlooked the lovely garden/common area of the compound. Upon arrival I was taken directly to my room and offered an iced sweet tea, while Ketut (if you are keeping track, this would be Ketut #3) took care of checking me in. I spent the rest of the day walking around my new neighbourhood, which I just fell in love with immediately. Locals performing daily rituals, school children playing in the street, and a general peacefulness. Wow, I could certainly get lost here.
The view from my balcony
Children playing soccer and women going about their daily ritual
Discovering my Inner Yogi
Towards the end of the day I came across a yoga studio, about a 20 minute walk down the road from Yuliati, and decided to wander in and check out their class costs and schedule. As you walk into Yoga Barn, there is an immediate calm that falls over you. The studio is set in a lush garden with tranquil ponds and trickling fountains. The main studio and reception area is a tall, circular building in the center of this oasis, and a few smaller studios are scattered about. Students are here and there around the space stretching or practicing inversions, one is even balancing on a tight rope suspended about a foot off the ground. There is an air of quiet and spirituality. Up at reception I found that several packages were available and for only $45 I could get 5 classes - less than $10 a class - coming from NYC I was immediately sold! As luck would have it, it was a Friday, and so I got to partake in their weekly free yoga session - so that's 6 classes for $45 - sweet! I hurried back to my B&B to get changed and made my way back to the studio, my stomach a pit of nerves. I had gotten pretty good at my yoga practice in college, when I was taking 2-3 vinyasa classes a week, but I hadn't practiced since moving to New York because A- I couldn't find a class I really liked, and B- it's really expensive to join a studio in NYC. I was surprised that the class wasn't uncomfortably crowded, being that it was free, and it had a pretty good mix of beginner to advanced students. The people were immediately friendly and welcoming, putting me at ease. Ian was our instructor, a westerner, I think originally from California. He started off the class by turning up the music really loud and gathering everyone in the center of the room for an impromptu dance party. Not really my style, but it was hard not to have a good time when everyone was goofing around pulling out their wackiest dance moves. Once everyone was sufficiently warmed up and laughed out the music was turned off and the yoga began. As dusk set in we hardly needed the soothing tribal music that normally accompanies yoga practice, as the bird song was more than sufficient. I was delighted to find that yoga hadn't left me completely, and while I was a little stiffer than I once was, the moves came back to me easily. The flexibility would come back in time. By the time the class was over 90 minutes later I was so serenely happy and relaxed. I thanked Ian for reminding me why I loved yoga so much, and made a silent promise to myself never to let myself fall out of practice again. So this is what I will be doing for the next 5 days in Ubud. No more tourist traps, just daily yoga and taking in the culture of this amazing place.