As much fun as it may be to lounge on the beach all day sipping cocktails, then partying into the wee hours of the night, many who visit Bali come for the healing atmosphere of a tranquil island paradise instead. Ubud, a lesser known town in central Bali, is situated inland, away from the “hustle and bustle,” party-like atmosphere found in costal beach towns and is ideal if the mere thought of dancing until dawn leaves you exhausted.
Though less flashy than Kuta or Seminyak, this lovely diamond in the rough still has much to offer and is considered the unofficial cultural center of the island. Many of Bali’s most remarkable spas, healers, medicine men/women, and healing centers are found here. Visitors to Ubud claim to experience an overriding sense of peace and feelings of good health and contentment during their time in this tranquil spot.
Healing in Ubud
For those interested in a decidedly less traditional (by western standards that is!) experience, consider Balinese healers and medicine people. Should you elect to go this route, it is best to enter with an open mind and without preconceived expectations. Most of the island’s healers work out of his or her own modest homes, so do not expect the sterile clinic-like setting of a professional doctor’s office, nor the serene and tranquil setting of a spa. Instead, allow yourself to be open to whatever your healer asks you to experience, and give yourself over to the idea of a more non-traditional approach to medicine. You may just find yourself pleasantly surprised by the results!
The island’s most well known healer is Ketut Liyer, the medicine man who was made famous in the American best-selling novel (turned Hollywood Blockbuster) Eat, Pray, Love. Liyer, a gentle man, promotes himself as a healer, medicine man, painter and fortune-teller. His healing sessions are comparatively short (often lasting less than half an hour) and will cost his visitors around $28. Unlike many in his trade, he does not participate in common healing practices such as chanting mantras. Instead, he employs a more personal and intimate method of diagnosing ailments by staring into his patient’s eyes, reading their palms, and observing the functions of ears and noses.
Another popular healer is Wayan, who runs the Traditional Balinese Healing Center out of her home. Wayan is known by her clients to be no-nonsense, but to operate on a somewhat unpredictable time frame. With an extremely devoted following, she has become known for her ability to accurately diagnose a myriad of physical ailments and prescribe her version of treatments for them (usually herbs and natural remedies). A session will not necessarily follow any set time frame and may last anywhere from an hour to most of the day.
If a traditional spa experience is your medicine of choice, there are a number of excellent options here. One of the most well known is the Ubud Bodyworks Healing Center, founded by Ketut Arsana, and specialising in various forms of massage, body scrubs, healing flower baths, and yoga. This studio is actually part of much larger network of healing centers, all of which are part of the Ketut Arsana compound. The Santam Bhuana Foundation, a spiritual learning center and the Ubud Auru Retreat Center make up the rest of the group.
To treat your body as well as soothe your conscious, Spa Hati has become a widely popular choice. The spa is run as a non-profit organization in which all proceeds earned are donated to various charities and many of the individuals who work here do so on a volunteer basis. With traditional offerings such as massage and body scrubs, you will be able to enjoy the full Balinese spa experience while also supporting a good cause. There now, don’t feel better just thinking about it?
Those who seek conventional forms of massage such as deep tissue style will certainly be able to find numerous offerings in the spas across Ubud. Balinese masseuses are highly trained and well versed in most common styles of massage. Everything from hot stone massages to relaxation and exfoliation massages have a place in the overall healing culture of Ubud, but for a unique experience many choose to experience the Balinese style of massage instead.
The Balinese style, obviously developed in Bali, draws from customary medicine systems of Asia (specifically China and India). Balinese massage techniques include a combination of acupressure (not to be confused with acupuncture) and skin rolling. It also often involves a technique known as flicking. Both firm and gentle stroking, percussion, and often, the application of essential oils are also common techniques used by Balinese therapists. Lastly, the masseuse may also incorporate hot stones into the session, though that varies from patient to patient. The overarching goal of Balinese style massage is to stimulate the lymphatic system, effectively increasing the flow of blood throughout the body. Secondary objectives include relaxing the patient in general and loosening any facial restrictions he or she may be experiencing.
The decision to partake in any form of alternative medicine may seem daunting to someone who has never experienced such methods. The practice of healing one’s body and mind is a highly personal and individual journey. It is our sincere hope that should you choose to experience any of the Balinese healing practices, you will not only enjoy, but also benefit positively from them. We have a collection of villa resorts in Ubud with extremely knowledgeable staff that will be able to assist you in finding a style of treatment and a practitioner who is a perfect fit for you. Namaste.