Bookends to the first day: Yoga and Legong dance

Luckily, my early morning yoga class did much to restore Ubud’s new age stereotype. I walked into an idyllic terraced jungle garden, with a raw organic cafe flanked by gurgling fountains and a two-story bamboo thatched yoga studio rising up from the surrounding rice paddies. Not a bad way to start the day. The class itself was a bit too hippie for my taste – rather than correct specific muscle movements the teacher blissfully urged us to breathe deeply and connect with our inner chakras. My chakras are probably going to find a different yoga studio but I loved the setting, just tucked behind one of the main roads of Ubud.

Tropical yoga paradise

I was definitely not supposed to take this picture but it was too hard to resist

This evening, I battled jet lag to attend a show by the Tirtasari troop performing traditional Balinese Legong dance. This type of dance is typically done by young women arrayed in fantastic costumes, including gold and floral headdresses and elaborate sarongs. They make dramatic facial expressions and perform lots of fancy footwork while loud music from what seemed to be versions of xylophones, sitars, and hand drums permeates the room. It was fascinating and impressive.

Young legong dancer in her elaborate costume

One of the things I’ve found to be so interesting about Bali is that you literally can’t cross the street without encountering some new element of the culture: daily dance performances in the local palaces, offerings in people’s home temples, and artwork arrayed on shop walls and people are always happy to stop and explain the significance to you.

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