The ultimate yoga, surf and relax Bali retreat

Surfing, yoga, personal pampering and more surfing. What could be better than a Bali retreat that offers the full package? Even non-surfers will be hooked on the waves.

Acai bowl on the table
  • Jetstar
  • June 2018

A 6am wake-up doesn’t sound like the perfect start to a relaxing holiday, but at Bali's Ocean Soul Retreat opens in new window we are at the whim of the waves.

Soon after the roosters’ crow, we’re speeding through the streets of Seminyak to a nearby stretch of sand, where a quiver of surfboards lay waiting for us.

The brainchild of Melbourne woman Georgie White, Ocean Soul Retreat offers a balanced blend of surfing, yoga, nutritious food and wellness treatments in a paradisiacal villa.

Our week-long holistic retreat caters to all ages and types. Among us are a former corporate executive wanting to refocus her work-life balance, a young widow hoping to heal, and a student searching for direction. And there’s me, seeking some calm from my busy life.

Surf’s up

Five of us paddle out into the ocean, and four of us are beginners. I lack confidence in the water and even in the shallows I am struck with mild panic. I am afraid of failing, and fully expect to. But to my surprise, I manage to stand up and ride a wave – repeatedly. It’s often ugly and wobbly and graceless. But it’s an utterly glorious sensation.

Along with yoga, surfing is now widely recognised as an activity that elevates your mood, reduces stress and improves your general well-being.

This, along with the physical benefits and confidence that comes with conquering a new skill, is why surfing is a major part of this retreat.

Riding the wave

In the ocean, I am completely focused. The waves wash away my anxiety and still my chattering mind. I feel relaxed, content, joyful. It’s also an opportunity to bond with the other women on the retreat, and their encouragement is invaluable.

Our Surf School Bali instructor, introduced as Dedik, possesses a combination of competence and cheerleading that makes me feel safe and comfortable. In addition to Dedik and his Balinese staff, Georgie employs a swag of friendly experts, including Aussie surf guru Carly, who gives us condition reports each morning, accompanies us to the beach, and dishes out tips on how we can improve our technique.

We finish each day with an evening yoga session in an airy pavilion in the garden, where yoga instructor Amanda takes us through a unique mix of hatha, Iyenga and vinyasa techniques.

She patiently gives us individual attention, considering each of our needs and levels of experience, tailoring lessons to our requests.

A meditation at the end of the class gives us a chance to pause and appreciate the day.

Blissing out

In between surfing and yoga, we are free to explore, attend health and beauty appointments, or simply relax.

Ocean Soul uses several five-star villas around Bali. Mine is in one of Seminyak’s quiet back streets, just a short walk from the bustle of town.

Included in the package are several massages and a traditional Balinese healing ceremony.

Additional treatments, from acupuncture to hypnotherapy, a facial or manicure and pedicure, can all be arranged on request. There’s also plenty of time to kick back. With so many comfortable little nooks around the luxurious open-air villa and tropical gardens, it’s difficult to choose where to relax – by the pool, on the rooftop garden or on a sunbed under the patio.

A delicious wholefoods menu, developed by a holistic nutritionist, is prepared by a local chef. After dinner, we retire to our bedrooms, complete with traditional outdoor bathrooms that are a whole other kind of bliss. One week here and a sense of calm has been restored – both my body and mind feel stronger and better equipped to face my busy life. I feel like my priorities have shifted and I plan to continue with the healthy diet and regular yoga practice back home. Who knows, I might even rise with the sun for an occasional surf.