I came upon the Spirit Bali Yoga Festival by accident. I happened to have just arrived in Ubud and indeed Bali for the first time.
Somebody at the hotel I was staying at mentioned that a local yoga studio, Yoga Barn was holding an Ecstatic Dance night on the following Friday however, when I enquired with Yoga Barn, they informed me that their normal Friday night Ecstatic Dance had been cancelled due to the festival and most specifically because the opening night of the festival would be one massive Ecstatic Dance with performers and DJs.
On hearing this I decided I would see if I could get a ticket to the opening night of the festival. I ended up getting a music ticket for the entire festival which meant that I could go to all the music and ceremonies. The tickets for the festival were expensive which is to be expected, given that the festival was a week long.The six days, seven nights festival pass was $850 – $650, however, the ticket for music ticket was in my view excellent value at about $160 which included access to certain meditations and yoga classes throughout the week.
The festival ran from the 2nd of April to the 8th of April.
The Opening Ceremony
The opening ceremony of the festival was held at Yoga Barn itself in the centre of Ubud. For me, the opening ceremony was worth the cost of the ticket alone.
Local performers from Bali came on stage first followed by acts and DJs who were both local and who had come to Bali for the festival. Each and every performance were spectacular. Standouts included Kamau Abayomi who is currently one of the regular DJs playing at The Yoga Barn’s ecstatic dance in Ubud performing a piece of music choreographed and danced by Kadek Dewi Aryani. Once the performers had finished, the DJ, Brian Hartman provided an amazing DJ set well into the night.
Watching the performers and dancing in the beautiful tropical Bali heat to the fabulous music was a highlight of my trip.
The festival venue Bali Purnati was located 20 minutes drive from central Ubud, however, the festival provides a shuttle bus service throughout the festival days and you can purchase one general shuttle bus to get to and from the festival.
For me the first thing that struck me when I arrived at the festival was the atmosphere – there was just a really beautiful relaxed chilled out energy. I did not stay at the festival late into the night so I cannot speak to the late nights however, I can certainly attest to the fact that during the day and at the ceremonies unlike some festivals, there was no druggie vibe at all.
The festival theme was “Return to Source” which was defined by the organisers as: “a recognition of the unified inner life of all living things, the Being from which all beings arise, the consciousness that sees through every pair of eyes. It is the sacred silence found in deepest meditation. And it is the music that streams from heart-centered awareness to bless all with ears to hear.”
The Music and Ceremonies
For me the highlight of the yoga festival was the music and ceremonies. The superb DJ, Temple Step from Australia who has collaborated with artists including Deya Dova and Peruquois, provided many of the DJ sets. Other great DJs alongside Temple Step were Brian Walker and Rob Weber (RAIO).
My favourite ceremony was the “Anchoring the Light” Cacao Ceremony described as a “Space for singing and dancing our players, shedding that which doesn’t served, and celebrating the immense beauty of life in planet earth.”
Cacao (the pure base of chocolate), known as “The Elixir of the Gods”, is a sacred plant medicine that has been used ceremonially for thousands of years across Central and South America.
The ceremony itself was extremely powerful given the sheer number of participants. The music and performance elements of the ceremony brought it to another level.
In fact, one of the key things that struck me about the music events in general was not just the music which was excellent, but also the performances which were always incredibly visual and ornate.
There was a huge collection of yoga workshops available during the festival, which ran from 08:00 to 17:00 daily, with yoga styles including Hatha, Tantra, Mantra, Prana flow, Anusara, Yin, Kundalini, Vinyasa, Ashtanga.
With music ticket I was also able to attend some of the classes on offer including a fabulous tribal dance class given by Chocolato which incorporated “Anke Dje” ceremonial drumming,
The yoga classes I attended were all excellent and I certainly did not hear many complaints from any of the other attendees I spoke to.
I am absolutely delighted that I cam across the Spirit Bali Festival. For the 2019 line up see here.