Just minutes from the hustle and bustle of Ubud, Satyagraha is an oasis of peace and serenity with organic vegetable gardens, a tea plantation, dense banana groves and a magnificent sprawling wantilan house that is available for rent. It is part ashram, part education facility that brings the benifits of yoga to children. I visit to write about their kids programs and stumble across the class for village elders. Classes take place in a spacious open air pavilion surrounded by tropical foliage and stone statues. I visit late one afternoon, one by one the elderly Balinese trickle in, dressed in tee shirts and tracksuit pants. Some arrive on foot, others have ridden by bicycle from surrounding villages and their ages range from around 60 to 95. It is clearly quite a social gathering and the pavilion is soon ringing with the sound of laughter. Deborah arrives, a tall blonde American with a huge smile and everyone becomes silent as she leads them through a series of asanas. She is considerate, patient and gentle and I am impressed with the agility and strength of the group as they twist and stretch.
“There is no sense of us and them, just a sense of unity”
Holidays in Bali have traditionally been associated with things beginning with the letter ‘S’, such as, Sun, Surf, Sand, Sex, Shopping. But increasing numbers of visitors are being lured to the island for another ‘S’ word and that is Spirit, or as the catchphrase has become Bali Spirit. They have discovered that the island’s subtle energy and deep-rooted spirituality is highly conducive to healing, meditation and yoga, and people are heading to the hills of Ubud, long considered the spiritual and cultural heart of Bali.
Further entrenching Ubud’s reputation for all things holistic is the Bali Spirit festival. The second annual festival, billed as a celebration of yoga, music and dance brought together 20 yogis and teachers, 75 performers and over 1000 festival goers. The festival kicked off with an opening ceremony on the evening of the 28th April, in the gardens of the Purnati Centre for the Arts. It looked like a fairy land, with sparkling lights, white marquees and lush tropical foliage and there was a palpable air of anticipation and excitement as we stretched out on the sloping grass for the evening’s entertainment. There was a traditional Balinese blessing; African reggae music; American folk music and a fire dance fire show, just a small taste of things to come over the next 5 days. Continue reading “Bali Spirit festival 2009”