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Close Your Eyes To Look Within: What We Can All Learn From A Balinese Yogi Named Yoga

His life's work? To blend Western and traditional Balinese healing.

Bali has an abundance of creative and spiritual souls. From locals to tourists to expats, there’s a common thread of being drawn to this tropical paradise for more than just the beaches and the monkeys.  The creative energy is strong and ripples through all areas of the island, thanks to the traditional Balinese healers and western practitioners and yoga teachers and artists and otherwise creative folk that inhabit it.

Whether you come looking for a yoga teacher, a traditional Bali healing experience, a Western alternative therapy or to explore the cultural tradition of art, there’s plenty of options when it comes to finding that healing touch, especially in the central region of Ubud.

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There are many local healers (often called ‘Balians’) to find here, though most are not experienced or aware of Western forms of body work. There are many yoga teachers here as well, though mostly they are travelling yogis from all parts of the world, rather than local Balinese teachers.

This is why I Ketut Yoga is a unique being. His life is an amazing (and rare) blend of East meeting West, as he is local Balinese man fusing the traditional roots of his culture with Western forms of healing.

Currently training to take over his long line of family history to become a priest, Yoga (yes, Yoga: the name is purely coincidental) is also working through his training to become a Balinese healer. He teaches at one of the leading international yoga studios, Radiantly Alive, and works as a massage therapist and acupuncturist.

A self-confessed creative soul, Yoga knew at five years old that he would be an artist. At twelve, he could carve ganesha from stone. “Artistic talent melts to everything you do. ” he says.

As he studied massage therapy at in his early twenties, he became more interested in working with his hands another way. This took him overseas to work in resorts, building his exposure to and experience with Western therapy and traditions. And almost ten years ago, he began his own yoga practice, just as Ubud began to be known as the yoga mecca of South East Asia.

His passion for yoga and massage led him to dive deeper into the energetics of these forms of healing and movement. He found that Western techniques of healing focused more on the physical, while Balinese had a much larger focus on the spiritual. He yearned to integrate what he knew of both worlds so that his therapies could offer an entire body-mind-spirit experience of healing. After all, as Yoga says, ‘The body consists of matter and energy.”

I personally attend his yoga classes each week, and his classes (usually taught with no music) infuse an embodied energy of space and stillness. More Hatha-based in his long held poses and basis of alignment, he also gives his healing touch in his gentle direction and cueing. One of my favorite lines from a class is “Close your eyes to look within”. Simple and profound, it’s a clear example of the energy that he himself embodies.

I asked I Ketut Yoga what the secret to a happy, healthy life is. His answer? “To be kind-hearted, compassionate, generous and accepting. To receive what has been given, body and mind, and to do with it what we can in this life.”

Yes, please.

(If you travel to Ubud and would like a different experience of yoga—or of a different form of healing in Bali—then get in touch with I Ketut Yoga or attend one of his classes at Radiantly Alive.)

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