Shades of Yoga recently added a brand spanking new location and venue for their yoga teacher trainings that I was lucky enough to be a part of. The location is the beautiful area of Uluwatu, famous for its magnificent beaches, stunning sunsets, and surf. The venue is Hidden Valley Resort, a somewhat secluded holiday oasis where I was about spend the next 24 days and nights. The following is a personal reflection on the training itself, the lovely region of Uluwatu, and the magnificent adventures you can partake in on your time off!
Before the first day of training was to begin, I arrived late at night and immediately fell into a deep slumber in the resort’s oh-so-comfortable beds.
Myself, and the other students I was to meet the next morning, spoke about the feeling of sleeping on a cloud every night. A private room for the duration of your training is included in the training package and on top of that, your room is part of an extremely nice resort with immaculately clean facilities.
As I woke on Monday morning and opened my curtains, the sun shining now, I was introduced to Hidden Valley’s beautiful grounds. The resort boasts four swimming pools, a two-story open-air restaurant, an outdoor yoga studio, and the most accommodating staff who became our immediate friends.
It wouldn’t take long at all to begin to call this place “home.”Each morning we began the day in seated meditation followed by a practice of pranayama and yoga asana as the sun rose and the cool breeze entered into the yoga shala, the space that we would be sharing together – learning, teaching, and growing – for the next three and a half weeks.
And what a special place to share this journey with one another!
After morning practices, we would head to the breakfast buffet awaiting us upstairs. We had an hour to replenish ourselves before getting immersed in a morning lecture of varying topics from anatomy to philosophy and other days, a detailed look at postural alignment during posture labs. Our two-hour lunch break was ours to do what we wanted.
Mostly we would review our course notes, go for a quick dip in the pool to cool off and of course, eat lunch, from the all inclusive resort menu, which offered plenty of delicious options. The afternoons were filled with more study and asana, which kept us busy until we capped off the day at 5:30pm each evening. If we were quick, we could grab a taxi and head to the nearest beaches to admire the sunsets that always put on a show for us. Or we could simply relax, take in what we have learned and accomplished throughout the day, again enjoying dinner at our leisure.
The days went by quickly and we were amazed at how much knowledge we were taking in. To keep us on track, the teacher was really good at conducting quick review sessions each time we met up to begin another lecture.
We often felt overwhelmed by how much information we were consuming on a daily basis but always remained excited and optimistic about learning more!
Most of the days in which we were in class from 7:30am-5:30pm we would simply be too tired to go off and explore Uluwatu but on Saturdays and Sundays, we took full advantage of getting out there and seeing what the place was all about.
One afternoon, we donned our best temple attire and went to the infamous Uluwatu Temple to watch the sunset atop the temple cliffs (and successfully avoided any thievery by the local monkeys who swarm the temple grounds!) You can spend hours walking around the temple, with its many different sections and walkways, all overlooking the vast Indian Ocean. The temple also hosts a nightly kecak and fire dance, a local Balinese inspired performance that is a must-see!
Most Sundays were left for beach relaxation and exploration. I have traveled around Bali a fair bit but I must say the beaches in and around Uluwatu are some of the best I’ve come across.
Bingin Beach was a great place to sit and have a casual brunch at Kelly’s Warung while watching others attempt their very first surfing lesson. Getting to Padang Padang Beach is an experience in itself as you descend through a limestone cave, which leads you out onto the sand (again, be careful of the monkeys here).
Padang Padang is a great place for a swim and a quick shop, practicing your bargaining skills from all of the beach stands. Padang Padang also holds a live music reggae party right on the beach each Saturday night if you’re feeling up for a boogie.
Finally, it wouldn’t be a trip to Uluwatu without a visit to Single Fin and Sunday’s Beach Club. Single Fin is known for their big parties each Sunday evening, however any evening is a wonderful time to go grab a bite to eat and watch the sunset from one of their 3 cliff top levels.
If you prefer to have your dinner on the beachfront with your toes in the sand, try Sundays Beach Club. This popular and unique spot boasts an infinity pool at the top of their venue and from there, guests can enter into an inclinator which takes you down to the sand where there is a restaurant and bar set up directly on the beach.
You can use their paddleboards and engage in other water activities when the tide is right and then relax into your evening by enjoying a beach bonfire with s’mores on a Sunday night. With all these fun and exciting places to visit, you’ll quickly consider extending your visa in Bali so you have more time for exploration once your teacher training ends!
The all-inclusive set up of this particular yoga teacher training program made everything really easy, especially for those who may not have traveled independently much on their own before.
Because your accommodation, meals, and bonus extras like surfing lessons and massages are all organised for you (and right there on site!) prior to arriving, it really helps to make the whole experience feel less stressful and overwhelming.
Some may feel wary about jumping into a course or holiday that is all-inclusive in nature, however, I can vouch that the resort, food, leisure activities, and of course the quality of the yoga programme with Shades of Yoga were all top notch!
Approaching the end of training is always such a bittersweet feeling.
You’re amazed at what you’ve learned and accomplished. You’ve developed forever friendships with those who have laughed and cried alongside you throughout the process. You’re nervous yet excited at taking all the skills and knowledge you’ve learned, returning home, and sharing the gift of yoga with others. There were ups and downs, challenges and rewards, but the experience of yoga teacher training is one that few people ever forget.
When reflecting on our experience, as we sat together at lunch one day, we joked, “This is so cool, I’ve never lived in a hotel before!” It may sound silly, but it was surely true. The experience at my teacher training in Uluwatu was life changing. It surely would not have been as gratifying without the wonderful accommodation, the beautiful beaches, the other students who became my lifelong friends, the added bonus of massages and surf lessons and of course the amazing support and wisdom that the Shades of Yoga teachers bestowed upon us.
Thank you Shades of Yoga for providing me with such a rewarding and unique experience!