When it comes to accessible, affordable, available yoga studios on Bali, there are two big names most yogi keens will have heard of. The Yoga Barn in Ubud and Serenity in Canggu. The people you meet in one place are likely just arrived from the other, or about to head off to the next. A pretty decent way to botanise your way around the island, if you ask me!
But say you only have the chance to visit one of them,
which is the better pick?
In this post I will break down the differences between the two studios in terms of location, facilities, prices and on-site accommodation, which will hopefully ease your decision making.
Ubud. Ubud is the mecca for soul searching Eat Pray Lovers. And despite how the crowds only seem to get bigger each year, there is certainly something magical about the place. Due to the higher altitude, the temperature is a little bit cooler in Ubud than by the sea and there are several beautiful walks to be had along the rice fields surrounding the heart of the village. Most of Ubud is definitely walkable. The place quiets down quite a bit after 10pm, so there is not much of a night scene.
For vegans there is plentiful of inexpensive grub to be had; just a few hundred metres from Yoga Barn you will find not only one but two All You Can Eat Buffets that are suited for vegans and just about any place you go will understand the concept of vegan, would you need to alter an order.
Canggu. The sunsets in Canggu are just out of this world. Each night mother earth puts on an epic show down by the beach as the tides and surfers roll in. Grab a Bintang and a hot cornhob berfore you sit down to enjoy the show. There is definitely more of a night life scene here than in Ubud, but it does not bother the one who doesn't wish to get involved. As the village stretches out quite a bit, plus it tends to get really hot in Canggu, renting a scooter to get around is not such a bad idea.
Canggu has only been on Bali's tourist map for a few years, English is a bit less widely spoken but there are plentiful nice vegan eateries around where you do not have to double-check the ingredients.
You might also like: Top vegan eats in Canggu, Bali.
Both of these yoga studios are indeed stunning, albeit in their own way. The YogaBarn is in a more classical balinese style, with deep colours and heaps of plants growing from every possible angle. It is a large complex where the classrooms are set overlooking the jungle tree tops. The teachers are well-spoken and experienced, and the circa 17 different classes each day run on a consistent schedule. (For instance, Hatha is always at 3:30pm). A big minus on my behalf is that the on-site restaurant serves chicken. To me, being all zen whilst munching on a bird carcass makes zero to no sense.
The interiors at Serenity plays more with light and mirrors, making it a haven for sunffiti to flourish. The classes held are smaller in size. A thing to bear in mind if you are a complete beginner to yoga is that the teachers appear a little less experienced here and at times it does not feel super safe. But as long as you use your common sense and do what feels right to you, it should be all good. The restaurant at serenity is 100% vegan and for Canggu measures the prices are decent.
The prices for yoga are very similar at both studios, although Serenity might just be a tad cheaper on singular time classes. Both places offer package deals like "5 classes", "7 days unlimited" etc. These prices listed are correct as of June 2018.
All in Indonesian Rupiahs.
Single class 130'000IDR
5 classes 500'000IDR
10 classes 900'000IDR
30 days unlimited 2'600'000IDR
Single class 110'000IDR
5 classes 500'000IDR
7 days unlimited 900'000IDR
includes 2 x 1 hour traditional Balinese massage
30 days unlimited 2'200'000IDR
The YogaBarn offers dorm-style accommodation at USD 25-30 (~350-420k IDR), or privates between USD 85-90 (~1'200k IDR) per night which then includes breakfast at their Garden Kafe. Certain rooms have pool access.
Serenity Eco Guesthouse has dorm-style rooms (I have stayed in these and they are fabulous!) on site for about IDR200k, or at one of their branches for IDR150k. Their double rooms start at about 500k for A/C and 300k for fan. All accommodation at Serenity includes a breakfast at their restaurant and access to the pool. If you stay at one of their branches they offer a pick-up service with their solar powered golf cart to get to/from yoga class or breakfast.
so which one?
I thoroughly enjoyed my stay practising at both studios and would happily recommend them both. While Serenity offers better prices on both yoga and on-site accommodation, it might just even out seeing as Canggu tends to be a little pricier than the many eateries in Ubud. Both studios offer great value for money - so what it comes down to is really where you would prefer to base yourself. Within walking distance to the beach or in Bali's spiritual heart surrounded by jungle.
Were I to go back I think the smaller classes and proximity to the beach (water sign all the way baby!) in Canggu wins me over, along with knowing that I can eat anything of the menu.