Nestled between the picturesque rice fields of Bali’s art and cultural capitol of Ubud and the sacred Agung River, lies a vibrant oasis created by one of the global yoga community’s favorite musicians, Michael Franti and co-visionary Carla Swanson. Since opening its doors in 2011, Soulshine Bali, has hosted a steady flow of spiritual retreats led by an impressive line up of international yogis, healers and artists.
When I arrived to Soulshine in March 2014 to attend a week long women’s yoga retreat led by Radiant Health Retreats of Boulder, Colorado I was immediately captivated by the lush tropical beauty of the property, the stylish eco-chic design of the hotel and the overall positive vibration that radiated from both the land and staff.
After settling into my charming bungalow equipped with the essential outdoor shower, antique bath and canopy bed fit for a queen, I set out to explore my new surroundings including a stroll through the adjacent rice fields to the local temple. I rested alongside the river banks that the locals enjoy daily–in their birthday suits–before taking my own dip into the enchanting emerald infinity pool surrounded by Ganesha statues and a reclining Buddha adorned in bright orange flower malas. Enticed by the exotic smell of spices permeating the air from the cafe above, I soon found myself savoring every bite of the tastiest Gado-Gado in Bali, local organic greens and fresh young coconut.
I felt inspired to hear Mr. Franti’s music playing over the cafe stereo, “I let go of a broken heart, I let go to an open heart, I let go of my broken dreams, I let go to the mystery…” “Well,” I thought to myself, “that pretty much sums up and sets my intention for the week!”
The very core of the land and people of Ubud is deeply rooted in healing tradition, making it the perfect locale for spiritual retreat. Stemming from the Balinese word Ubad, meaning medicine, Ubud once served as the the source of plants and herbs for the entire island. Today culture and ceremony, including daily offerings and blessings, remain customary to everyday life of the Balinese. The sense of gratitude felt at once tangible and contagious.
Our small group of 7 women, led by teachers Sue Van Raes and Dayna Seraye, allowed for an intimate sharing space to develop throughout the retreat. Daily yoga and meditation from the thatched roof shala, overlooking sprawling rice fields that stretched beyond the horizon, set the scene for heart opening connections and deep personal transformations. Workshops entitled ‘Desire Mapping’ and ‘The Pleasure Project’, coupled with daily study of celebrated Hindu Goddesses, offered each participant the opportunity to explore her own divine feminine power and embrace her sensual essence–an invitation that for many western women is not always extended back on the home front!
Excursions to the local water temple for a purification ceremony, traditional balinese theater, the abundant monkey forest, moonlight dinner amongst the rice paddies, and a sunrise hike to a nearby volcano added the perfect amount of social activity and team building off the mat.
Soulshine offers a wide variety of retreats throughout the year as well as the annual Soulshine Festival, a weekend long celebration of music and environmental sustainability led by Franti and friends. The festival provides a way to give back to the community by benefitting Bumi Sehat’s natural birthing clinics in Bali and Aceh, Indonesia and the Green School’s Indonesian Scholarship Fund which provides free education for Indonesian children. More Info: http://www.soulshinebali.com
This year’s Bali Bliss Retreat will be held from April 11th-17th. More Info: http://www.radianthealthretreats.com/join-us-in-bali