Checking cynicism at the door at the Yoga Barn, Ubud, Bali

Lying prone, the gentle sound of music that errs worryingly on the side of New Age filling my ears, I’m beginning to wonder exactly what I’ve let myself in for. And when the tutor asks ‘what we’re hiding from’ by living busy lives, I’m fully channeling my inner Mark Corrigan and wondering ‘What kind of hippy free-for-all is this anyway?’

The short answer is the Yoga Barn, Ubud’s most-recommended spot for those looking to stretch their sinews and maybe find some inner peace while on the road. Airbnb hosts, friends and fellow backpackers have all told us to check it out, so here I am, on my back and starting to fear the worst.

Unsurprisingly, once I dispense with my well worn cynicism and begin heaving my limbs into ever more awkward positions, there’s absolutely nothing to worry about. Taking a more open-minded approach, our first class, in restorative yoga, turns out to be fantastic. Our teacher, Bex, is helpful in getting us into poses and doesn’t push any of us first timers too hard. By the end of the 90 minutes though, I’m dripping with sweat, but primed to give myself over to this yoga lark more readily.

That’s fortunate, as we’ve paid up for a three-class package, costing 285,000 Ruppiah, around £20. A steal by UK standards I’m told. The rice field setting and ‘chill vibes’ certainly make it preferable to taking a class at an ageing south London leisure centre, anyway.

48 hours later, we’re back, this time for a Yin yoga session. Yin focuses more on your joints rather than muscles and, promises our no-nonsense American teacher Denise, will hurt like crazy while we’re doing it. She’s not wrong. 10 minutes in and we’re rolling our hips across strategically placed tennis balls, which yields insane pain in the pelvis. Removing the balls though, the relaxation that comes is astounding.

The class is mostly conducted with us yogis on our backs, so extra padding in the form of extra mats and blankets is a must. But pulling and tweaking tendons and joints so deeply is incredibly satisfying. It’s even more of a workout than the restorative session.

However, it’s our last class at the Yoga Barn that really feels like a full scale body blitz. Yin Yang yoga is held by Tanya, an ever-smiling Canadian who stalks the studio, helping us stretch our hands to the sky while our legs are astride and bodies twisted. Within 15 minutes, I’m drenched. The stretches continue apace as my knees begin to tremble with the effort. Focusing on deep breaths is all I can do to stay upright and in position. Fortunately, Tanya tells us, this is all you need to do to stop from tumbling from your mat.


The last half hour is given over to meditation. My cynicism tries to rear its head, but is quelled by deep breathing and a return to that same prone position we started with during our first lesson. Come the end of the 90 minute session, I’m as calm as I’ve been since we left on our six month journey. And much less sniffy about the hippy side of yoga too.

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